Giving you a little view of Japan without leaving your home!

Prayer letters, curious subjects, events, people, customs, and more for you to enjoy and learn.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

FOR LONG LIFE, BE HAPPY


105 Years Old, Saburo Shochi Came to Vancouver during his Lecture around the World
Shochi, who was born on Aug. 16, 1906, has traveled around the world at least seven times, with six of the seven tours made after he turned 100.  Wearing his signature silk hat and a bright red cloak, 106-year-old Saburo Shochi cut a fine figure when he arrived at the Best Dresser Awards at a Tokyo hotel in November 2012. He whipped off his cloak to reveal a striking yellow jacket.

Asked about the secret behind his dandyism, Shochi answered, “Changing clothes every day,” a comment that brought a chuckle from the ceremony participants.

Many people who live long lives look happy. According to a recent study, happiness is the key to longevity. Shochi, a pedagogy specialist, is living proof that being cheerful and positive leads to a long, healthy life.

Last summer, Shochi went on a 32-day speaking tour of nine countries, including the United States, South Africa and Russia. His trip was all the more remarkable because it earned him recognition as a Guinness World Record holder as the oldest person to have completed a round-the-world trip via public transportation.

During the tour, Shochi smiled and greeted people in their local language. He was warmly received and dubbed a ‘handsome boy’. “If you keep smiling, people around you smile, and everything goes smoothly,” he said.

Prof. Kazuo Tsubota, an anti-aging researcher, interviews people of 100 and older and observes that all of them are cheerful, positive and seem content overall. He recommends writing down three good things that happen each day before one goes to sleep. Doing so will make the writer even happier!
Source: Yomiuri News

If you have happiness on this earth you have nothing at all.

  So I was great, and increased more than all that were before me in Jerusalem: 
also my wisdom remained with me. And whatsoever mine eyes desired I kept not from them, I withheld not my heart from any joy; for my heart rejoiced in all my labour: and this was my portion of all my labour. Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun  .Ecclesiastes 2:9-11
Our lifetime on earth is as short as a breath, but eternity is forever. Happiness is fine for a short time and a good way to be healthy but opt for joy that lasts into eternity and in turn have joy that is always a part of good health even when you aren't really happy!

 Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation.   Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation. Isaiah 12:2, 3

Salvation is for eternity and also gives you happiness and joy while you live on earth!! 
We hope Mr. Shochi also finds true joy!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

October Prayer Letter

Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.
 Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:  Psalms 103:1-2

How can we, mere sinners saved by Grace, bless an almighty eternal holy God?  These verses give us three things to do in order to give to God a blessing.  1) Give the deepest and truest part of us, our soul, a command that our lives will be ordered in such a way that our attitudes and actions are pleasing to the Lord; 2) Don't do this halfheartedly or timidly, jump on in with your whole being! without reservation and with total trust in the Lord;   3) Take steps to remember God's goodness and providence in our lives and in the affairs of men,  don't overlook or forget all the bountiful blessings He give us all the time.  Count our blessings!  We count each of you as part of the blessings that the almighty God has given us.  Thank you for being willing to be used for His glory in this way.  Let's continue and abound in the time God graciously gives each of us.

Even after 30 years, there can be moments of "Lord, this is so hard and takes so much time to plant and water". When Vicki experienced a few of those thoughts this month within 24 hours the Lord gave two new opportunities: a long time contact agreed to begin the six-week Christianity Explained Bible course!  We have known the Urayama family for 28 of the 30 years we have been in Japan and have witnessed through various opportunities.  We reported recently that Ken had been able to attend a piano concert by Rui Urayama and he spent the night with the family in that city.  That evening provided some insight to the family.  Ken has stopped by several times after Monday night English and Bible study class in Horonobe to visit Dr. Urayama at this small town hospital where he has an apartment and is on 24 hr call except weekends.  Ken prays with him every time he stops by and this time told him about the 6 week study. Dr. Urayama agreed to begin this study. When Ken asked him if he needed a Bible the Dr. said he had one of his own and showed it to Ken!! What a blessing to have this new deeper opportunity of study with Dr. Urayama and we covet your prayers for this study and for his salvation as well as his family.

The second opportunity that has begun 'again' is after a 3 year lapse!!  For a time period (as with so many of our contacts in this area) another doctor had been studying on Wednesday evenings with Ken and both English and Bible.  Then he moved.  One evening, without any announcement, he showed up at our door! He and his wife live in Sapporo where we sometimes go for shopping of things that cannot be had in this area including supplies for Ken's building projects and for ourselves.  He had come back to Teshio for overnight for a health reason and wanted to confer with the x-ray technician that he had seen originally. The shorter end of this story is that he stayed for dinner and Ken was able to help get him set up with Skype on his laptop which he had brought with him. They  checked out their connection and set up Tuesday nights as their weekly English lesson time.  Dr. Mitsu told Ken that night that he understands why Ken wants to tell him about 'your God' but "I have too many ancestors to take care of so I cannot study about your God right now".  While we would be thrilled to have him again studying the Bible as well as the English, we trust God to open that door again and we pray it is soon.  We will be having a visit with both him and his wife on the evening of the 12th of December. It is Vicki's birthday and the doctor's wife's is the 8th so they want to celebrate our birthdays together. We will travel, Lord willing, to Sapporo that day and be with them, spend the night, shop and come home!  Thank you for remembering these dear folk who truly need Christ! We also thank God for His reminder that patience is truly a virtue in this country and He will continue to bless and help His Word not return void!!

Our plans for our 30th yr anniversary furlough for Christmas through May are all set and the Lord has provided in so many wonderful ways! Continue to pray for our preparation for that trip as well as the Christmas evangelism programs taking place before we leave.  
 
Dates coming up--
December 5-Ken has next check-up on kidney stones
December 7-We hold a Christmas evangelism in Kotanbetsu where the Crosses live.
December 12-dinner opportunity with Dr. Mitsu and his wife; witnessing opportunities
December 23rd- Teshio Christmas program evangelism--fellow missionary Randy Smith and his family will be joining us to add to our music program through strings, flute, and song
December 24th- we leave for USA via Seoul, Korea arriving at Appels in Atlanta on Christmas Day. Preparation for that trip especially final route decisions, meetings, and presentation preparation.

Serving Christ Together,
Ken & Vicki Mansell 
 
Just A Prayer At Night – Your evening is our daytime!
 
 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Challenges of the field of Japan and Long Term Patience Part 3

"Tenkin" - 転勤 -mandatory transfer system in Japan ~~
The long-standing tenkin (job transfer) system in Japan probably stems from the medieval Edo-period custom of keeping the regional daimyo (feudal lord) virtually hostage in the capital city for one year  out of three, as a way of reducing the threat of rebellion by the shogun’s vassal states.
(from https://takingleaveinjapan.wordpress.com/2010/05/27/tenkin/) 

So here we are...living in a farming, dairy, and fishing community with 3 other communities like it to the north, south, and east of us.  These people need Christ as well and God opened several doors for us to move here, live here and become a part of the community.  But that also means we are not in a teeming, bustling community with thousands, maybe even millions of people in one huge location. Still if you are not part of the above mentioned local area working public you will be affected by mandatory transfer at some time--usually from 3-7 years at the most.  This includes school teachers, some hospital staff, police station--policemen, secretaries, etc., fire station--some local non-transfer and some are transferred depending on how many are part of the 'volunteering' part of the force, utility workers, postal workers to some degree except front counter people, nurses at schools, some of the school office staff are local and some are required transfer. You get the picture...many jobs have required transfer in their system and there is no arguing. Yes, you may make requests for where you would like to go next but the final answer will be given from those 'above' you.

Obviously, we want to reach every single person in the Teshio area with the gospel whether they are living here on a family run farm or will only be here for 3 years.  But that also puts our work into a different light.  While we work at reaching the locals, if you will, we are also constantly having opportunities to reach the 'transfer people' or 'traveling folk' as the local people affectionately call them.   Many time, too, these transfer people are more open to the Gospel especially through English teaching at the beginning than those that live here all their lives.  While the local people were interested and came to many programs the first few years, once they knew exactly what was being taught here, they often became more closed to the Gospel beings it represented a change they did not want to encounter--or were afraid to encounter due to possible ostracism. 

What are we going to consider here--
1. We are striving to reach anyone and everyone with the Gospel
2. We are striving to build a local group of believers to be unified in their own outreach into the community themselves.
3.  Eventually hand over the work to a national pastor.

Beginning with number three we find that the concept of no longer being Japanese if one becomes a Christian, the work ethic in this country being so strong and the group within the work ethic even stronger as well as the mandatory transfer within the office make-up means that in many areas it is almost impossible to find young men open to the Gospel, or once saved willing to give up everything and go train to become a pastor and then realizing that he needs to stay in the big cities so he can work at a regular job AND be a pastor at the same time.  Living in the countryside and reaching the lost  is not going to be a choice because he has nothing from which to draw an income.  Therefore, reaching the lost and continuing on with the church as it grows, no matter how slowly or quickly, means that much of the time the churches are pastored by foreigners. 

The local group that begins with one in a community that becomes interested in Christianity as a result of various means such as English learning which leads to Bible study, through attendance at special events that they might feel more comfortable attending, can lead to another and then to another.  But many of the times the interested party is a woman--they don't feel as threatened and even some times feel of greater value through what they learn from the pastor and his wife and the Word of God.  Then even if they get saved they might face emotional persecution from both the husband and his family especially if they live in the same house. When there are two generations living together the new wife is considered to be the 'lowest' person in that house and depending on the mother-in-law's temperament or upbringing herself may treat the other woman with respect or much much less.  The newly saved wife may either not feel free to share her new found faith right away or go for years before becoming strong enough in her faith to make it known.  Case in point--we have one believer who was in the home of two generations and her father-in-law was one of the main laymen in one of the local Buddhist temples and a local business man (had the only plumbing business in town). While not treated badly she was threatened by her husband that she should NEVER talk about her faith because it could greatly undermine their business and their relationships within the community. When she discovered she had to have some female related surgery in another city she was thrilled because it meant that she would be away from the home and in the hospital for a month and she would have roommates that she could actually freely witness to.  She did and eventually lead two of them to the Lord; one while there and one through continued witness through letter writing over the next couple years.  She also lead her own mother to the Lord when she went and visited her over a period of time. She has since been more open in her witnessing but her husband remains quite closed to the opportunity to witness to him.
We have seen several women come to know the Lord but most are still either 1/ very fearful of sharing the Gospel with other members of their family; 2/ they have to also work to support the family and rarely have a Sunday off; or 3/ they had to move on when their husbands were transferred.

That leads us to one of the chief challenges to having a continued growing ministry within a small community--transfers.  We have been thrilled over the years as people have transferred in to our community. Sometimes it has meant that we have had new people to try and reach; sometimes they have already been saved when they came to Teshio and were THRILLED that there was a ministry within such a small northern community. They continued in fellowship for the term of time they were here in Teshio.  With those that came for study and seemed interested but were transferred before they came to know the Lord, we pray that the seeds planted and watered here would continue to be watered as the system moved them to a new community but the Lord moved in their hearts when reached by others. 

And lastly, sometimes we saw a person come to know the Lord and know our time with them was short so we must do what we could to stabilize their faith while they were with us and then pray they would be transferred to a town that had another ministry near by they could continue to be discipled and encouraged.  A family that moved into Teshio came as a couple with a young daughter--the wife was saved but the husband wasn't.  He was an English teacher and greatly desired to talk weekly with a native English speaker and his wife wanted to attend church. A study time was started and they came on Sunday mornings. As a result, the husband was saved, baptized and growing in the Lord. Then came that year where he HAD to transfer to a different school. That lead to his working in a larger city down in the southern part of the island of Hokkaido where we live.  We still keep in touch at times and are encouraged that we were 'here' when it was God's timing to work in his life and when he moved it was to a town that had a Baptist church that he could attend and become a part of.  His family has grown in size and they have needed to stay in that area.  We would have loved to  have him be a part of this community for a long term basis but God had other plans for him. 
Conclusion:
Our work here is going to continue for faithfulness is what God asks of us 
~~3Joohn 1:3 ¶ For I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth.
 4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.
 5 Beloved, thou doest faithfully whatsoever thou doest to the brethren, and to strangers;
 6 Which have borne witness of thy charity before the church: whom if thou bring forward on their journey after a godly sort, thou shalt do well:
~~I Corinthians 4:1 Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.
 2  Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.
~~1Timothy 3:11 Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things.
It may come slowly but God says
~~Romans 5:1 ¶ Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
 2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
 3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;
 4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope:
 5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us
~~Heb 12:1 ¶ Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
 2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith;

Pray with us
~~ that we would continue to find ways to reach those always around us even though walls still have not tumbled to make them more willing to be open to the Gospel of Christ.
~~that we will remain faithful
~~that the devil will be defeated in his lies so deeply engrained in the Japanese customs and minds so that our beliefs are just 'for foreigners'
~~that we will be here for both the local people and the people who come and go again and for their hearts to be open to God while they are here.


SPIDER SILK VIOLIN STRINGS


Shigeyoshi Osaki makes violin strings out of spider silk and claims that – in the right hands – they produce a beautiful sound.
 
His latest creation is making waves among musicians who praise the sonorous quality of the spider silk violin strings for their ‘soft and profound timbre’.

His passion for the violin inspired him to create something with a musical twist. Thousands of the tiny strands are wound together and produce a strong yet flexible cord that is perfect for the instrument claims Prof. Osaki.

Osaki, professor of polymer chemistry at Nara Medical University has been working with spider silk for 35 years. “Spider silk strings can have all sorts of applications in our day-to-day lives,” he said and suggested the material be used for surgical sutures and for bulletproof vests. 

The silk Osaki used came from 300 female Nephila maculata spiders. Known as golden orb weavers, these spiders are native to Asia and are among the largest anywhere, with bodies an inch long and legs stretching up to seven inches.

Each string is made up of about 5,000 individual strands of silk twisted in one direction to form a bundle. Three such bundles were then twisted together in the opposite direction.





As it turned out, the spider silk strings were weaker than the traditional catgut, but stronger than the modern aluminum strings with nylon cores. When the strings were examined with an electron microscope Osaki found that the individual strands of silk left less space between them, because they would deform to different shapes under tension.


Osaki once produced a rope spun from spider silk that he said could theoretically support a 600 kg (1,300 pound) weight. As many as three hundred female Nephila maculata spiders provide his raw materials.

Spider silk is widely regarded as the strongest natural thread known, at least half as strong as steel thread of the same thickness, and much more elastic.
Source: Yomiuri News and Discovery News

Much stronger than steel threads or spider silk is the cord of love God gently uses to draw his own to Himself!

I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love:
(Hos. 11:4a).

The cords of a man are such as parents use in leading weak or young children. It is the opposite of rough ropes which men employ in taming or breaking wild and unmanageable animals.

God’s bands of love are very tender and strong.

Oh! Would we but respond to such incredible tender love!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Do they know of Christ?

The Engel Scale was developed by James F. Engel as a way of representing the journey from no knowledge of God through to spiritual maturity as a Christian believer. The model is used by some Christians to emphasize the process of conversion, and the various decision-making steps that a person goes through before they become a Christian. (Wikipedia)


     +5 Stewardship
    +4 Communion with God
   +3 Conceptual and behavioral growth
  +2 Incorporation into Body
 +1 Post-decision evaluation
New birth
 -1 Repentance and faith in Christ
  -2 Decision to act
   -3 Personal problem recognition
    -4 Positive attitude towards Gospel
     -5 Grasp implications of Gospel
      -6 Awareness of fundamentals of Gospel
       -7 Initial awareness of Gospel
        -8 Awareness of supreme being, no knowledge of Gospel

Without using statistics to indicate where the Japanese are on that scale if they are unsaved, we can safely say for the most part that MOST Japanese are at the -8 level with some overlapping into the -7 state. Maybe they attended a 'Christian' kindergarten when that age.  Maybe they had a Christian roommate in college.  Maybe they attended a S.S. for a short period of time.  But unless they have actually studied one on one with a Christian or made a decision to attend a church to find out more and attended regularly they would not reach the -6 level. So when we introduce the Gospel to the Japanese people it means first of all one thing: You start with the basic of basics: Who is God; What is the Bible; Who is Jesus Christ, and so forth.  If the person is willing, we use a six-week study course (Japanese like set time limited programs) called Christianity Explained. Even this step may be after some time of introduction through conversation and testimony in every day life.  (http://www.christianityexplained.com/CE-Complete-Manual-Book)
At the end of the course we ask the student if they are willing to continue in study as well as approach them concerning their own need and a desire to accept Christ as their Savior then.  Most will choose to go on in their study.
For others we have included a short Bible study time at the end of the weekly Bible study.  Several of our believers have come to Christ as a result of this.  But the key in each was being patient and putting for the truth in small bits, piece by piece. So they don't just add another god to their godshelf but truly come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and reach the "New Birth" step in the chart above. 
Another step that has to be overcome in these steps toward a true acceptance of Christ and becoming a repented, born again believer, usually happens between -3 and -2 steps.  They may come to understand their need and have a desire--so what stops them---group unity. A desire to not break up the 'wa' of first of all their family circle; next would be (depending on the age level of the student) their peers either at school or at work and thereby you have just encompassed their whole life view.  Japanese will go clear around a thought in order to not cause discomfort or trouble for another person.  The view of others around you begins at home in early childhood years...babies are kept with their mother in their own beds (futon) sometimes until they reach school age.  The tie that is begun then continues as the mother watches over that child's school years day by day, year by year and encourages family ties in various ways until the person as an adult, is an individual but not with individuality.  Thereby, creating a 'chain' so strong that to break it and embrace 'Christianity' and tear that family a part will often keep that person from Christ. Or when having already accepted Christ, but not yet told the parents, will cause a break after the fact.
 
Case in point:
1.  We had worked with a 30 yr old man in a job here in Teshio, which at the most, meant he would be around for about 7 years before being transferred out.  After studying for some time and attending the morning service regularly, he told us he wanted to accept Christ and be saved. He was excited about this step and eager to continue in his studies.  Several weeks later he said he wanted to be baptized and needed to tell his parents who live in southern Japan.  We told him we would be praying for this decision and the action and for his family to accept his decision.  Within 24 hrs. he called and said he would not be following Christ any longer; that we were not to come see him; he would not be back again and no he would not tell us what had transpired!! We were heartbroken! With a western minded thinking one cannot fathom that type of emotional stronghold on a 30 yr grown man through his family. We have no idea what was possibly threatened if he went through with his decisions.  Several attempts were made via phone and going to the house to see him and he completely refused all advances and said he would call the police. That didn't stop us but his complete turn around did eventually mean that we had to leave him with the Lord! All we can pray, is that at some point in later years, where ever he was transferred in his job, God built upon this man's knowledge and he again followed Christ.

2.  A young woman of about the same age started coming to English. Then she added coming to services and came to the point of admitting that she was a sinner and needed Christ BUT (and all Japanese come to this point at some time, where they have to make a decision to continue or to stop) she could not and would not reject all her ancestors and break the chain of praying for them and to them: for after all, who would carry on for them if she accepted Christ as her Savior.  She understood that she needed to be saved from hell but she couldn't accept that what she had been taught all these years was false and that those ancestors she so faithfully prayed for could no longer be helped. All she could see was the chain would be broken and she would not be the one to do that. She quit classes and never came to another service.  Eventually she moved to a small village near Teshio and is involved in the Buddhist worship there.  


While the times of hurt and sorrow over a soul either new to Christ or almost there come and go over the years, we must be faithful to just keep giving the truth and leave the matter to Christ as to their final decisions.  God is the giver of life and salvation. We are just the instruments...may we be found faithful.

So, Why So Long?? Part 1

As the 30th year of our arrival in Japan came and went this month (on the 7th) some review has been done in thinking about the work here, the hopes, prayers, plans, and actions that have gone into seeing the Japanese in this area come to Christ!!  And that proverbial question, "So how many do you have attending every Sunday" came to  mind once again.  It's easy for Americans to think in numbers--not that they only think numbers and not souls, but that at times, while not intentional, seems to be the base of what gives meaning to a 'successful' church work! Especially after 28 years in this same location, we must have a thriving work!  Well if you by 'thriving' you mean a consistent witness in the area, consistent services throughout the week, classes that lead to Bible studies, and steps made that bring individuals to more of a saving knowledge of Christ? Yes, then we have a thriving work! If you mean a medium size number of people that meet regularly Sunday by Sunday, Wednesday after Wednesday, year after year, that are constantly knocking on doors to reach others and we are seeing others baptized and joining our local work on a regular basis, then no, you will be disappointed.
"What? Well then what are you doing there after all this time?  That doesn't sound like a very successful ministry to me."  There are moments of discouragement even in our lives when Satan tries to tempt us with the fact that numbers are not a part of our work and certainly we must be failing in our call for church planting here in northern Japan.  But God in various means has, over the years, continued to send us encouraging steps that reminds us through various 'moments' in time as well as His Word-- "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord." (I Cor. 15:58)
So let's share a little of the differences here in Japan as to why we feel it is important to keep on keeping on in this work and why we know that our labor is not in vain.  This will probably be too long for one writing so will divide it up for your study and convenience.
So let's begin with who the Japanese are:
1. a land of one people versus a land of people who are, for example, Americans but come from many backgrounds so this means that
     a.  they mostly participate in the same    Ancestor Worship, they have Many Idols of Deities, they all believe in Evolutionism, and they believe in the  concept of the Basic Goodness of Human Nature.
b   b.  they will almost always begin an answer to a possible discussion on the truths of God's Word with "well, that's fine for you but we Japanese....." 

So....anything outside of what the typical Japanese will say and believe is not Japanese; therefore, it is not worth considering.  This is the number one wall we face when trying to reach any one person.  And that is just the first wall they might have in their minds without truly even thinking about it.  While they might not understand all that the think they believe and do (customs), it is Japanese so it is right and 'who we are'.  Therefore, anything outside of that realm is not Japanese. 

We pray often for openness of heart to even begin to think that it is OK to listen to the foreigner give his thoughts about what they think is just another religion.  This has to be a first step of acceptance--which does not mean they think our way is truth and alright for them, but they must first have made a decision in their minds that they are not betraying their basic Japanese makeup by listening to us and taking part in any study for further truth.
   Many of our contacts will not even step into the building here unless they know they have a reason to be here (such as English learning) so we use English to build relationship and we use our car port/deck--many will come up and visit with us on the deck outside the building.  It's one of the 'steps' for breaking down walls!
 
   Continuing next time!  Lord bless your ministry to others --be patient!







Wednesday, October 16, 2013

September Prayer Letter

Dear Praying Friends,                                                                                
 
Isaiah 43:10 Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.
God gave us this verse as a mission call to Japan.  Today as we write this, October 7th, 2013, by the grace of God, marks the end of the first 30 years of fulfilling that call here in northern Hokkaido, Japan.  I recall on that day as we boarded the airplane out of Los Angles and we watched the lights of the Pacific coast of the United States fade away in the darkness, I silently sang the national anthem and thanked God for His calling.  In the years that have passed, many things in the United States have changed:  Economic, politics and morals have declined greatly.  There is a great need for those biblical Christians in the United States to abound in taking a stand for the Lord in the grace of God.  We are thankful for each of you that do this so that we and many other missionaries throughout the world can continue to give the gospel to the people God has called us to.  You too have a calling of God.  It is the same one we have; only the location is different.  May God bless your witness this day for the Lord.
Memories abound of God’s goodness not only here in Japan but also in His training period through the years since we got married in 1974.  Little did we know that each step we took in obedience and all along the way were part of His boot camp training time.  Helping us learn to trust in each other, walk along with each other and know that God was leading and helping us making decisions (first 3 years); leading Ken back into some schooling to finish one degree (1 yr) and at the end of that moving us to Minnesota where we were quite content in the assistant pastorate work we were involved in (2 ½ years) when God moved on our own hearts to go into full time church planting on a foreign field.  That led Ken to go back to Bible school one more time (2 yrs) to get some more training specifically in missions. While there we were involved in AWANA and jr. church, all the while seeking where God would want us to go.  It’s not an easy decision when the entire world needs the Gospel!!  Here is what Vicki wrote about our call to Japan on our 20th anniversary—
During his senior year at that time, a senior missionary from northern Japan, specifically the island of Hokkaido, came to visit on campus and tell the student body of his desire of reaching the northern rural area of Hokkaido, Japan with new missionaries where he had been ministering for quite a few years.  So many missionaries called to Japan stay in the southern larger populated areas.  His desire was to see more come north. And not only north to Japan but by a special program of new missionaries working with a veteran missionary for two years to lead them patiently through the ropes of everyday living, learning the language, and dealing with people in the difficult country of Japan. We praise God for that patient guarded teaching.
 Ken was on campus that day hearing the missionary speaker in chapel.  The campus chapel time was always broadcast on the local Christian radio station so I listened while at home.  When Ken walked through the door of our home that afternoon I don't remember which of us started talking first, but it was both of the same thing—what do you think about northern Japan?
We prayed, discussed the program, met with the missionary several times as well as several pastors that were working with him, got the counsel of our pastor and my Dad. What a blessing it was to meet and pray with him and when we asked him what he thought this was Dad's reply, "Your mother and I have been praying for several years now that God would send someone to help in this needy area.  Never did we dream our own daughter and son-in-law would answer that prayer." -----
After Ken graduated in 1981 we began our year and half of full time deputation with much fear and trembling but also joy that God had shown us his will.  God blessed and there is no way we can share all that He has done in these last 30 yrs. But this one thing we know: We fail, but God picks us up; We try and God works through us; We plant, water and pray that the seed will grow into true salvation and that the seed will not be plucked out.  That’s the way it was when we first started and that’s the way it continues. Japan is still a hard field to reach with the Gospel but we will patiently keep on planting and watering and waiting for the increase.  May we always be faithful for our God is Always Faithful and His mercies are new every morning.
 
Serving Christ Together,    
Ken & Vicki Mansell           Just A Prayer At Night – Your evening is our daytime!

STRANGE CREATURES IN DEBRIS


Debris dragged out to sea by the 3/2011 tsunami arrived on the other side of the Pacific Ocean bringing unfamiliar creatures as well as concerns that invasive species will threaten ecosystems on the West Coast of the United States.

A 20-meter-long pier was swept away by the tsunami from the fishing port of Aomori, and arrived on a beach near Newport, Oregon more than a year later in June, 2012, bringing with it many species of marine life native to Japan.

Locals who flocked to see the unexpected arrival were shocked, not only by the immense size of the pier but also by the many species that had hitched a ride, which included sea chestnuts, crabs, sea anemones, starfish and oysters. Marine Science Center counted more than 90 species.

Among the new arrivals from Japan are wakame seaweed and crab species that are highly reproductive, more so than Oregon's indigenous varieties. They are considered invasive species that could have an unwelcome impact on local ecosystems and the locals tried to destroy all the specimens with blowtorches.

The debris that has already reached U.S. shores is only a tiny fraction of the total. The Environment Ministry believes about 1.5 million tons of debris were dragged out to sea by the March 11, 2011 tsunami, and the ministry calculated that about 41,300 tons will arrive over time, meaning that U.S. communities should probably expect more unwelcome Japanese sea life.

Source: Yomiuri News

 There is something infinitely worse than 1.5 million tons of debris. It is the muck that human beings carry around in their bosoms.

Proverbs 30:12 There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed from their filthiness.


The Bible urges us to get rid of the sin in our hearts.

Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. James 1:21


Our sin is an abomination in the sight of a holy God.
Only the shed Blood of Jesus Christ can wash our sins away.

 Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil;...  Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
Isaiah 1:16, 18

Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.... Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.  Psalms 51: 2, 7



Please do not put off knowing for sure on anything of such eternal importance! Accept the salvation of the Lord today!!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Smiling Umbrellas


Koji Mizutani had a simple message when he displayed 100 ‘smiling umbrellas’ in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 2010. “I want to send a ray of hope to ease the friction of war and conflict where bombs were dropped,” he said.

After traveling to the United States and seeing girls whose smiles were wonderfully hearty and carefree, he experienced an inspirational flash. The smiles expressed what Mizutani thought was ‘extreme happiness’.

Believing that a smile represents the very best in what design can offer, Mizutani reduced his workload and began his quest. He visited 26 nations and photographed about 40,000 beautifully smiling subjects.

Printing smiling faces on panels and umbrellas was his hope of expanding the circle of ‘smiles and happiness’.

To mark the 65th anniversary of Hiroshima’s atomic bombing, Mizutani displayed umbrellas featuring the smiling children he photographed from around the world. He also used this opportunity to listen to survivors' experiences.

A 100 smiling umbrellas ‘bloomed’ on August 1, in front of the ‘A-Bomb Dome’ in Hiroshima, where citizens read peace messages.

A similar event was held in Nagasaki on August 7 at Nagasaki Peace Park in front of the ‘Peace Statue’.

“Because the two bombed cities experienced much despair, I hope they can now be filled with smiles,” Mizutani said.
Source: Yomiuri News

Until you follow Christ, you have no true hope.

Romans 12:12
 Rejoicing in hope; 
patient in tribulation; 
continuing instant in prayer;

 Ps 146:5 ¶ Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, 
whose hope is in the LORD his God:

 Jeremiah 17:7 Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, 
and whose hope the LORD is.

When you have real Biblical hope, rejoicing is the ‘new normal’.


Romans 15:13 ¶ Now the God of hope fill you with all joy
 and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, 
through the power of the Holy Ghost.

Begin to hope and your heart will soon brim over with joy and peace!

John 15:11 These things have I spoken unto you,
 that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.

Choose Christ and you will understand the deeper meaning of a smile!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

August 2013 Newsletter

Dear Praying Friends,                                                                                          August  2013
 Genesis 24:27 And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of my master Abraham, who hath not left destitute my master of his mercy and his truth: I being in the way, the Lord led me to the house of my master’s brethren.
Many times we are asked, "How did you know the Lord wanted you in Teshio, Hokkaido, Japan as missionaries?"  The whole process of God's leading us to this rural town in northern Hokkaido is rather long and strewn with various details.  However, the main thing that continued to show itself was the small phrase in the verse above. “I being in the way, the LORD led me".  Just as trying to steer a car that is not moving, is more difficult than steering a running and moving car, so it is with knowing and following the Lord's will for our lives.  We continued to be busy serving the Lord right where we were at the time and God directed our path through Bible reading, preaching, prayer and Godly counsel.  It is in this confidence that the Lord led us to Japan and on to Teshio and gave us the faithful supporting churches and friends, that has helped keep us here for thirty years.
ruikencrpd.jpgSoon after we arrived in Teshio, we met a doctor and his wife in a nearby town via English conversation classes.  Over the years we have remained friends and recently one of their daughters won one of the top prestigious piano contests here in Japan.  She was going to have a recital in central Hokkaido.  Vicki could not attend due to conflicting responsibilities, but Ken attended.  We remember hearing a cute three year old play the baby grand piano in their small apartment 20 years ago.  Now this beautiful 23 year old, who is continuing her studies as a senior at Boston Conservatory of Music, was playing before hundreds of people on a grand piano amazing pieces of memorized classical music.  Their family graciously allowed Ken to stay in their home and he felt like one of the family.  God gave many opportunities of witness during that time.  Pray with us that this family would truly follow the Lord Jesus Christ.
aP1200705.jpg   With the Dan Cross family attending regularly now and their desire to see the Gospel presented in their community in any way possible, they asked if we would come and do a short couple hour “Joyful Kids” time with neighborhood children and any moms that might stay.  We were thrilled to work out the details including games, songs in both English and Japanese, a Bible story via large picture cards on Noah and then a treat time with homemade ice cream that they had helped crank during the game time and chocolate chip cookie bars.  Seventeen children attended, ages 4-12 as well as three mothers stayed for the whole activity.  The Crosses report that several mothers have mentioned since that time that they were glad they came.  Although location is a difficulty at this point, we trust to be able to continue to do some special activities in this town and build upon the testimony already being given by the whole Cross family, at work, at school and in the neighborhood!!
   We just finished studying the Rich Man (in hell) and Lazarus (in the bosom of Abraham/paradise) from the book of Luke with Hitomi Tsuzuki.  What a picture of the eternity of pain and desire for our family members to not go to hell.  Our hearts continue to hurt because again Hitomi said she still understood her need and that she WAS going to go to hell, but she could not go to the next step of accepting the gift of salvation. We praise God for each step of progress in her understanding and we know we will truly never comprehend the deep strong hold that family, work pressures and the Japanese society have on those that are seeking. We can only keep faithful and continue giving them the plan and need in their life and ask God to work the miracle that only He can do. Thank you for supporting us in this effort. Keep it up through your prayers!
   Baptism was again a portion of a study we have been doing on walking with the Lord.  Mrs. Sonoda was present and Vicki,  Rie Cross and Mrs. Sonoda had a long time of discussion on the reasons behind Mrs. Sonoda’s need to be baptized not being fulfilled.  She desires and understands but we now know there is deep opposition within her home from her unsaved husband even on a personal level with daily issues.  We continue to pray for our dear believers who need this step but have so much opposition in their lives.  We continue to ask you to pray for victory for our believers even when so much is against them especially when they are wives of unsaved husbands. May God bless their testimony before their spouses as each one perseveres and lives for Christ as she can.  
Serving Christ Together,     Ken & Vicki Mansell     
      Just A Prayer At Night – Your evening is our daytime!

More photos  from our Joyful Kids time!




They were amazed at making ice cream!

enthusiastic games

Bible story time!


eating the ice cream!


even the youngest attendee thought it was great!

Monday, August 5, 2013

July Newsletter



Dear Praying Friends,                                                                                            July 2013
Ps 119:33, 34- Teach me, O LORD, the way of thy statutes; and I shall keep it unto the end.   Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law; yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart.
 
  As we approach our thirtieth year anniversary in Japan, our thoughts go back to the years of preparation the Lord graciously gave us before showing His will for us to come to Japan.  We would like to give thanks to all those whom God used to prepare us for serving.  Christian parents were one of the foundations of this ministry.  Both the Mansell and Coats families were faithful to teach the Word of God in our homes and to take us to Bible believing and preaching churches.  Through faithful Sunday School teachers, preachers and special activity leaders, God's statues and laws were taught. Through Bible College and further training, these truths have kept us and given us understanding to observe God's ways.  We pray that there will be a next generation that is prepared not only to go into the fields white unto harvest, but that there will be many churches and Christian parents who are planning and preparing the youth of this generation to send out with full supply of prayers and finances those whom God would call to foreign mission fields.
  July health update—Ken is still being treated for a reoccurring infection in the kidney with the three remaining stones. It is a very rare bacterium and is resistant to most antibiotics. At his next check in September we will find out if the most recent  antibiotics took care of it or not.  Vicki continues to be treated for a frozen shoulder which is improving but also had to go off the prescription muscle relaxers and pain killers due to extreme side effects.  But we still are carrying on and keeping on!
  July is also a special month because the Hokkaido missionaries all get together in central Hokkaido for a day of fellowship and food, BBQ style!  Although it rained for a couple hours, that still didn’t stop the guys from their ‘park golfing’ or the kids from playing and we ladies all just stayed under cover and kept visiting!  It’s a blessing to serve the Lord knowing there are brothers and sisters in Christ who labor together with us on this island. 
  You may remember an anesthesiologist name Dr. Nao (her first name) from Ken’s early hospitalizations for the kidney stones. Through these we became friends with Dr. Nao, had her in our home as well as regular Bible studies for quite some time until she was transferred from the area.  After that time she married another anesthesiologist and they now have a little boy.  They were transferred back to  Sapporo (where we go about 3, 4 times a year as it’s about 5 ½ hrs away).  We were able to be in Sapporo this month and arranged to visit the Hondas in their home. The husband didn’t know if he could be there or not but we did get to meet and visit with him, too, for about 30 minutes before he had to leave for an appointment.  What a joy to be back in contact with Dr. Nao and meet her family. We left a Daily Light (a one year themed verses daily reading from the Bible) in Japanese for them to use.  While they are not saved at this time, we still pray the Word of God will continue to work in their hearts and easier options for us to see them allow for continued witnessing opportunities!
  God’s divine appointments out of the blue are always something to rejoice at and pray for! When Vicki went to her regular eye follow-up (for herpes), which is a scheduled appointment every 3 months, and after sitting down in the waiting area, a woman immediately approached her, identified herself and they talked for about 30 minutes.  This woman had just decided to make the visit to the doctor the day before! She had seen and talked to Vicki several years ago. Vicki was able to give her a tract and they traded cell phone numbers. The woman began reading through the tract as soon as Vicki’s name was called.  God has a plan and we trust there are others that watch for God’s divine appointments to meet this woman’s needs!

Prayer Requests:
1.       A couple hour outreach to children in the town where the Cross family lives on August 13th
2.       Families of believers to be saved and baptism of believers
3.       Health of Mrs. Sonoda; salvation of her husband and father; her mother’s health
4.       Bible study with Hitomi Tsuzuki-her salvation-going through Luke 16-rich man & Lazarus
5.        New inroads to be found into people’s lives and hearts
6.       Praise for the continued enthusiasm of the Cross family for their town and their work together with us here

Serving Christ Together,     Ken & Vicki Mansell           Just A Prayer At Night – Your evening is our daytime!