Sunday, August 22, 2010

Bolingers Newsletter for August 2010

Bolingers In Japan August 21, 2010 I had dirty feet from working at church. As I sat on the edge of the bath tub in my home washing my feet, I found my self slammed on the floor with the bath tub on top of my head and the shower still running. Nothing like this has ever happened in Japan before the man said who was inspecting. It was a new type of Ofuro (Bath) where the tub was clipped on the wall and suspended so that you can wash underneath. They never anticipated a gigantic man to sit on the edge to wash feet. So our neighbor down stairs is having leaking now and we are to blame. Pray we can work things out with the management and the neighbor down stairs. The old saying rings true, “they don’t make them like they used to.” I want to turn things upside down here spiritually, but I never thought a bathtub on my head would be the prophetic symbol.

It has been a great summer. We just passed the 2 year mark in Japan and rejoice to see all that God has done and is doing. We made a commitment to come to Japan for a minimum of 2 years and just serve the Lord. We have had a blast and love this life in Japan. In two years we have established a growing church, been on the Radio, created an ESL school and have had the opportunity to share the Love of Jesus with many Japanese folks. God's hand and blessings are evident and we are excited to see what the future holds. The Japanese are a wonderful people but are not an easy folk to convert into Christianity. We don’t have a magic bullet or a program to achieve instant fruit unto salvation. So far the Lord has not revealed that yet. The process we are finding is agape love over time that grows until salvation. The Word of God is the seed. If you can get people into the word of God their faith grows. It is a Biblical principle. Un-Surprisingly, many missions groups are trying a more mainstream appeal to the flesh to lure people in and then surprise them with “whoops-we-forgot-to-tell-you-we-are-Christian.” I am not trying to put them down but I am opposed to deceitful means to trick the folks to hear a gospel presentation. I have shared the gospel many times and the people are very open to hear and think about the message. You can share with anyone just about anywhere anytime. People want to know what is out there. But the problem is; even though it is something they desire and want; they are bound to a culture that is very strict in regards to changing ones faith. I can only speak on behalf of the folks I live around and work with. I don’t know if my personal opinion applies to the whole. The Japanese here in Iruma are very prevalent in learning about the world around them. The TV in Japan shows more documentaries and group participation learning shows. They are on a constant quest for the best item that will enhance their life. To share a gospel of love with a people who don’t know real agape love is selling apples to someone who wants oranges. The foundations of Japan are firm from birth that they are taught principles and family ties and cultural faithfulness. To go against anyone of these is to rebel against what it means to be Japanese. In America, I can be of German Dutch descent but I am also an American. In Japan, to be Japanese is to be Japanese.。 It is doable with lots of love and patience but it is a work of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the only one who can penetrate the soul of the Japanese person. The Holy Spirit just needs us to be speaking the word of God into the hearing of the people. Just to tell them to repent of their sins and believe in Jesus is just another Noble principle like taught in Buddhism. They already follow a Noble 8 fold path of self denial. They have the Shinto religion of appeasing millions of gods and hoping one will take favor on them and bless them with health, long life and fortune; Even though they don’t really know the religion at all. Most don’t follow it but just are traditionally bound to enjoy the time with family while they perform religious acts. So to throw another tradition on their shoulders is no problem. They just assimilate that theology into their collective thinking and merrily go about their day serving many religions all at once. It is called syncretism.

We see it in America creeping in with the new movements to assimilate other faiths together and have Muslims and Buddhists and Christians all worship their own god in the same place. Many folks here have a Buddhist alter in one room; A family Shinto shrine in another room; and a Jehovah’s Witness Bible on their nightstand just to cover all the bases yet there is no home plate. So we are trying to not present a gospel that they assimilate and synchronize with their own individual faith. We are in prayer to be led by the Holy Spirit into those ventures that will sow the seeds of the Word of God into the hearts of the Japanese. It has been our desire to start a school of ministry or a Bible College extension from Okinawa’s CCBC.

God has allowed us to start a church within another churches facility. This makes me chuckle as we had in California hundreds of Korean and Chinese churches operating out of other church facilities. Here in Japan though it raises eyebrows. That is okay. This wasn’t our choosing but the Lords. The facility is large enough to have students stay on campus. The problem is there is a lot of work for renovations. The current church has a small congregation that is unable to make repairs and is trying to stoke the flames and grow a church. Some have asked us why we don’t join the other church. We are in prayer but find their Pentecostal distinctive is significantly different that causes us to remain separate. It would be great for us to work together yet the Lord hasn’t provided that opportunity.

Calvary Chapel Iruma is cruising along. We meet on Sunday afternoons so as to not conflict with the other church. It is working great. We have a few faithful and are so blessed to see them come. They are enjoying the study. They are praying with us for some help with worship. I am playing guitar but it is really mechanical. I need to choose songs I know even though they are 20 years old and not try to play the new songs. I appeal to the School of Worship and Bible College to send your graduates to Japan. We had a summer outreach at the church with our ESL kids and their mom’s. We had a great time with a dozen or more kids loving the games and wading pool with slip-n-slide. Pray for their salvation. On Sunday, we have been going through the Bible and are in the last chapter of Luke. It has been great and fun to serve the Lord in this way. We have our Thursday night prayer meeting going and it has made a huge difference in the church. I have begun to meet with Pastor Shuji Noda from Ai no Kyoukai. We have similar visions. Pray we can through the word understand and appropriate the Calvary (Biblical) distinctive that has blessed us for so many years. I have also been meeting with Mr Nohata on Friday evenings. He recently prayed to receive Christ and wants to learn the Bible. We have been going through the Parables of Jesus using an ESL Bible study that is bi-lingual. I am unable to teach in Japanese and am reduced to short child like phrases. The points are simple and easy. Pray he grows in faith.

ESL classes are going great. I am not a good teacher and lesson planning is a chore. I need direction so that I can see some results. I have some books on how to teach ESL but they don’t give you lesson plans with options for activities. We just need prayer to progress and learn as we go. I am finding singing everything works best. Pray I sing on key.

The Radio station is just humming along. The month of July yielded a visit from Toshiko Yokota my Japanese teacher from CSLA. She attends CCCM and gave a really excellent interview on the radio program. She has a Master degree in world religions from UCLA and a PHD from UCI in Ancient Japanese literature. I asked her, “Why, of all the religions of the world, would you choose Christianity over the others? All offer roads of salvation so what was it specifically about Christianity that made you settle on that?” She just said, “That’s easy…God’s Agape love.” Then she just talked about her experience and testified to the validity of this love and its huge impact on transforming her soul. God blessed the show and we had a great time. Pray for many more interviews like that. Pray that listeners will be changed. Pray we can expand the radio ministry.

Family time has been great. We took a couple of days and visited Mihoko’s Uncle in Nagano (Olympic city) with her mom and dad Mr. and Mrs. Hori as well. We had a good time and shared with their younger brother (of 5 Hori men) the love of Christ. I was worried when the younger brother came in for tea one evening and started to read palms. I told him I read Psalms and it changes the patterns in my life. He didn’t quite get it. We went and visited a Ninja town and got to do things like real ninja’s do.

We went to Summerland which is an amusement themed water park. The City Hall had free tickets to families with handicapped children. We fall into that category with Rachel and so we had a blast. They had limousine bus service from the city hall door to door and back it was cool. These were like airplanes inside. The water park was over crowded and we had to wait over an hour to ride one slide ride. We didn’t do that again. The kids were content to just play and enjoy the time together.

We have had some interesting things happen with three computers having problems. Dan’s Mac fried the hard drive and he lost a lot of things. Mihoko’s computer had a blue screen about some spooling error. I took it to a computer store and they did a diagnostic test which some how reset the computer so we got home and it worked praise God. Mihoko’s dad had lent us his computer and it too had a problem and we went the same store who did the same thing and now it too is working again. Dan had to buy a hard drive and new OS.

The Kids are doing great: Nathan hit 12 in April and has grown to Mom’s height almost eclipsing her. His voice is changing and so is his attitude. Pray we can work out differences of opinion. Pray mom and dad allow him to grow up and make his own choices. He is getting stronger and is a real big help at the church; I tried him out using a chain saw to cut a tree up and he had a blast. He was so exhausted after all the cutting and then I pointed out we still had the root to dig out. He almost fainted. A severe lightening storm rolled in with big rain and we stopped until next time. He was so happy but still hates lightening.

Rachel just turned 9 and is becoming quite a young lady. She is our great helper to mom and has a willing heart to serve anytime and anywhere. I use her and Jane a lot in the ESL classes. The kids love them and the motions they do as they sing songs. She has been healthy but there are some difficulties with her hearing and breathing. Her adenoid glands are swollen and shut off her breathing when she sleeps so she snores and stops breathing sometimes (Apnea). She had tubes in her ears but one fell out and so we are planning to have that put back in soon. Pray we can find a solution to the adenoids. Some say surgery to take them out. Others say they grow back. Some say wait. Pray we do the Lord’s will in this.

Jane is just a bundle of sunshine where ever she goes. She has accumulated the Japanese language perfectly as mom has said. I just don’t get it? She didn’t look at any grammar notes and sentence patterns and study vocab flash cards. Yet she has tons of vocab and excellent sentence patterns. Dan is mortified. He has computer programs and books and flash cards and teachers and Bible studies and he feels like he’s eating sand paper some times. He is still unable to conjugate his verbs correctly and use the right relationals.

Mihoko is doing great. She is the Proverbs 31 wife. She does it all. That keeps her busy all week long. She has been blessed by some ladies who have been coming to a Women’s Bible study in the book of Daniel. The group is growing and it is encouraging. She is also working on translating materials and our website. She also translates Sunday Mornings for the church service. God bless her. Pray for the peace of God to reign in her heart. Pray Dan can acquire the language faster to help her more and take some of the burden.

We have also been participating in a ministry to the less fortunate with Grace Christian Fellowship. They have a ministry called Manna. It is a bread donation ministry through Costco that donates day old bread to the churches. We pick up three times a week. I pick up on Wednesdays and deliver the bread to three sometimes four different churches. We didn’t realize the impact this ministry is having on the community around us but so many people are benefiting. We had a summer vacation one week and didn’t pick up and deliver bread. We had one young man waiting at the church all day for us to come. We felt bad and went and bought him groceries. There are quite a few out of work and they are on unemployment but that is nowhere near what these families need to survive. The bread becomes a point of contact and blessing into lives that we’d otherwise not be able to sow seeds of faith into. Praise God for the manna ministry. Pray we can bring the most glory to Jesus through this and see many come to faith. Grace Christian Fellowship gives bread to more than 10 churches. Several hundred people are impacted by this ministry.

The world is an uncertain place. To return to the states would greatly lead to absolute uncertainty in our future. We are very confident that for now Jesus is leading us to stay where we are and continue to bless all those he brings us to minister to. Time is short and though there may be still a lot of work to do in the states we find the condition of Japan a greater and higher call for us. We will remain on the mission field until our commanding chief the Lord Jesus Christ calls us home. We are endeavoring the march forward to run the race so as to win and reach for the prize of this calling.

Pray for us to keep the vision God gave us when coming over here or to make changes as he is directing.
Pray for the Japanese to break from tradition and to embrace Jesus only.
Pray for the Noda family as they begin married life together and work to grow the church.
Pray for Nohata San to grow in faith
Pray for Honda San to continue to be that salt and light with us in laboring to love folks into the church.
Pray for Iwamoto San to come to salvation. He is struggling with the resurrection of Christ.
Pray for the Bedow family; the busy schedule; school starting soon; CD to go to production
Pray for them to get the new equipment for their concerts. Pray for their house the ministry that was going to build a new one had to change plans for now.
Pray for the Holy Spirit to cause us to meet those people he is working in.
Pray we are able to grow the church.
Pray for things hindering the growth to be removed.
Pray for the ESL classes: Salvation for students and parents and creativity with lesson planning.
Pray for Dan’s language acquisition.
Pray for Rachel’s adenoid problem and her hearing also pray she can sleep well.
Pray for the manna ministry to bless many folks and bring many to faith in Jesus.

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