As I write this note, I am watching the "Newshour" and the reports about Hurricane Katrina.For the people of Kobe, it reminds us of the devastation of the earthquake in 1995.Our hearts are moved with compassion.We join you in prayer for these who have lost so much.
Here school started today for the children of Japan.It isn't the beginning of a new school year that is in April, but back to school after the summer break. For the Nishi Okamoto Christ Church it was a busy summer.
We had guests from our sister church, Seattle Japanese Baptist Church, Rev. and Mrs. Aita.They brought greetings, a message and pictures of their church, and we sent pictures and greetings home with them.
We had a seminary student with us for 2 weeks of field work.Mr. Yoshihiro Yamabayashi.He got here just in time for our area Jr. - Sr. high camp.This year we sent 4 youth from our church.Our daughters, Ami (grade 11) and Alisen (grade 7), and Anna Banno (grade 7) and Hiroshi Ooka (grade 8).Tomoko and Associate Pastor Takahashi, were part of the camp staff, along with 2 other young ladies from the church.When I went to pick them up at the end of camp, one of the pastors who attended the camp came to me and said, "The girls from Nishi Okamoto were really special, you must be happy."Of course I was happy to hear that kind of report.I greeted one of the college students who was helping at the camp, and said, "How was camp?"She looked at me rather seriously and said, "The girls from Nishi Okamoto Church are so special!"I said, "Thank you, I think so too."What a blessing to be getting those kinds of greetings, even if I wasn't exactly sure what was behind them.
But Tomoko reminded me that Alisen shared her testimony at camp.Often they ask one of the high school students or college helpers to share, but since Alisen was baptized last Easter they asked her.Ami and Miss Riyo Mito, one of our young adults who studies dance, did a dance during one of the worship times.And Anna is simply one of the most caring, compassionate and encouraging young people you could meet.Maybe what was said to me had nothing to do with this, but was simply the Holy Spirit touching lives and giving me a word of encouragement.But it reminded me that our efforts to do ministry with children and young people are special.We may not even always be aware of how lives are being touched and how people are growing, but the Lord is faithful.
I should add that while Tomoko and the girls were at camp, Andy, our 5th grader, and I spent one day at the water slides.Just watching him have fun, made it a special day for me.
- Today our prayers are with the people devastated by Hurricane Katrina.
- Today, we give thanks for your prayer for our family.
- We give thanks for our partnership with you.
- We ask for prayers for the children and youth of Nishi Okamoto Christ Church.
- We ask for prayers for the seminary students of the Japan Baptist Union.
Grace and Peace,
John and Tomoko Armagost
ABC-USA missionaries in Japan