December 2017 Newsletter
Getting Ready for Christmas
By Pastor Craig
Now that Thanksgiving is behind us it’s time to get ready for Christmas. And for many people, the thought is overwhelming. There are gifts to buy, cards to send, lights to hang, cookies to bake, a tree to assemble or cut, rooms to decorate and parties to attend. It’s tiring just thinking about it. That may be one of the reasons that Christmas is depressing for many.
I don’t want to add to everyone’s stress level, but there is one more preparation that’s important not to forget – the preparation of our hearts. This season of the church calendar is known as Advent in which we look forward to and prepare for our celebration of the birth of Jesus. And as we live in Advent, the other preparations we undertake for Christmas take on greater significance.
Some things I like to focus on include our helpless and hopeless situation apart from the coming of Christ, the perfect timing of the Lord’s arrival, as well as the promises fulfilled by His birth from a virgin, in Bethlehem from the line of David. I also think on the accessibility of the Savior to all, young and old, Jew and Gentile, famous and forgotten; and the divine protection over the Lord in His most vulnerable state. As I contemplate His first coming, I’m reminded of the promises of His second coming as well so that Christmas is not just a commemoration of an historical event but an anticipation of a future one as well.
This year at FBC we are making Advent devotionals available to help us prepare our hearts as well as our homes for Christmas. In addition to the weekly reminders in our Sunday worship we’re hoping to make Advent a daily experience in our homes. Instead of
dreading all that needs to take place over the next few weeks, let’s keep the birth of Jesus front and center and enjoy each moment of each day of Advent as well.
Come Let Us Adore Him, by Paul David Tripp is available in the church foyer with a suggested donation of $10.
“In the chaos, inadequacies, and fears that all too often overshadow the Advent season, it is easy to forget that this day, above all other days, speaks of stillness, welcome, and assurance. It tells us that we have been, and are now, completely loved—no matter if we remember all the presents or if the lights on our tree won’t work. This devotional will help us remember the great love with which we have been loved. Read its pages, share it with your family. Enter into that manger scene. And breathe.”
—Elyse M. Fitzpatrick, counselor; speaker; author, Found in Him
“Theology serves us best when it is translated into devotion. Paul David Tripp’s Come, Let Us Adore Him is that rare gem—great theology inspiring great devotion. This book will enrich my family’s experience of Christmas this year, and I believe it can enrich your Christmas too.”
—Ray Ortlund, lead pastor, Immanuel Church, Nashville, Tennessee; council member, The Gospel Coalition; president, Renewal Ministries; author, Marriage and the Mystery of the Gospel
What’s Up with WASABI
by Pastor Mike Kurtz
Some good things are happening with the WASABI Middle School group this year. Starting this fall, the Lees and Nishimuras started leading the monthly fellowship activities. Both families have experience working with youth, and their addition has been a tremendous blessing to the ministry. When it comes to fellowship, building friendships is essential. It’s simply not enough to bring the kids together for Bible lessons on Sunday morning. Building community and relationships through shared activities helps our leaders rub off godliness onto our students. Our hope is that as these relationships build, our students will have one another to lean on when the times get challenging in the high school years.
To help meet this goal, we have been doing some fun activities these last few months! An outdoor movie at the Nishimura house in September, pumpkin carving at the Kurtz home, and an Escape Room activity a few weeks ago have been great ways to bring the kids together. Coming up next: our second annual gingerbread house competition in December!
Please keep our kids in your prayers and our youth leaders as well. These are important years for our middle school students as they become more independent and as they begin making decisions for themselves.
Ministering with Sacred Road
by Pastor Mike Kurtz
Meet Emily Ann Bachand. She is new with Sacred Road having interned for two summers before recently going full time. She works as an assistant to the Children’s Director overseeing ministry for the preschoolers on Sunday mornings, and prepping for Children’s Church, special events, and Kids Club among other things. Emily visited FBC in early November to give an update on the Sacred Road ministry. To celebrate her arrival and the ministry, we threw a potluck after the worship service followed by Emily’s presentation. It was a great reminder of the needs that have been met, the needs that still exist, and the people who serve there day in and day out. We need to keep these people in our prayers!
For those who may not be familiar with Sacred Road, this is a ministry that moved onto the Yakama reservation to minister alongside the Yakama Native Americans. It’s hard to believe the ministry began in 2003 – so much has happened in those 14 years! Here’s a snapshot:
Native American children in the town of White Swan, WA are born into a bleak and seemingly hopeless situation:
- Approximately 75% of the children have some form of disability
- In a typical school year there is a 65% drop-out rate between grades 6th-12th
- The rate of unemployment is 75%
- 70% of teens are functionally homeless
- Four out of five children are subject to physical or sexual abuse before they reach 14 years of age
- All Yakama people are deeply affected by drug and alcohol abuse
- Only 2% of Native Americans claim to be Christian
Sacred Road’s strategy to bring hope to the hopeless is accomplished through efforts to redeem, restore, and rebuild the people of the Yakama Nation who are lost in hopelessness, including:
- Discipleship Groups – which have resulted in no child being lost to suicide in SRMs thirteen years of ministry.
- Youth and Children’s Ministry – over 100 baptisms and Yakama teens serving their own community through service projects.
- Kingdom Kids After School Center – serving elementary and middle school aged children to help them with various curriculum.
- Hope Fellowship Church community – 140 people regularly attending the weekly worship service
This year, many of you supported the Christmas project through generous donations. Your support helps Sacred Road love the Yakama people in real and tangible ways. Thank you for making Christmas a little more special for children in need. We’ll hear more about the project in a future article.
Testimony of my mom’s salvation
by Yasuko Aoyagi
My mom is saved!
(It is not my mother’s testimony but my view of how she was saved.)
First of all, I’d like to say “Thank you, my Lord” many times because He did listen to my prayer for decades and answered in his perfect time. I cannot believe this truth even now, but it is true my mom is God’s child and my sister in the Lord now! Hallelujah! I am pretty sure my prayer was God’s will, then her salvation was secured by God my Lord, not by a human being like me. And my Lord let me understand clearly that her faith is through the Holy Spirit.
“No one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit”. (1 Corinthians 12:3)
“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9)
I have to tell you that it was a blessing that my mom and dad let me go to Christian kindergarten, middle school, high school and college in Japan and even when I believed in Jesus as my Savior at the age of 17, they didn’t oppose my baptism at that time. This was amazing and God’s blessing.
However, their mindset was something like ‘our child has her own world and we have ours’, ‘I am me and you are you.’ They didn’t deny my decision as to become a Christian, but they thought Christianity was something unfamiliar to them and not in their territory.
They didn’t accept Christianity, but they were not against my marrying a Christian, Yoshiyuki Aoyagi. On the contrary, they were delighted to welcome him as their son in law. It was a blessing too. We had the wedding ceremony at our church and my family had an opportunity to listen to God’s words. And after a year, my mom began to come to church often because she wanted to see and get together with her first grandchild. At that time, we lived far apart but she visited us often to see our first child Shinichiro and came to Sunday service too.
One day my mom and I sat together and listened to the sermon from the back seat of the chapel. She held Shinichiro in her arms and suddenly he cried out. In that church, there was no nursery room, so we went upstairs with the crying baby, where we could listen to the sermon through a TV and speaker. But I totally forgot to tell my mom to leave the chapel and go upstairs with crying Shinichiro. When he cried louder, I finally told her to leave the chapel. But it was too late, some people looked at her without saying anything. They probably wondered why she didn’t leave with the crying baby. My mom might have felt something uncomfortable at that moment. After that day, she refused to go to church. She visited us at home but no longer attended church with us.
Sixteen years later, 2 years ago, my dad passed away in Japan and I was in the US then. I didn’t expect it to happen so early, so I was deeply sunk in grief and regretted not telling him the Good News.
I didn’t want to repeat the same mistake that I did with my dad, so I prayed and made up my mind to tell the Good News to my mom (2 years ago). Nevertheless, I hesitated to tell her. When I was about to tell her, I said something different to my mom. I was afraid that if she rejected the Good News, she would never be saved? I was struggling with this conflict. Then I ended up not telling her the Good News. But I didn’t give up and prayed to God for her salvation with the Bible verse as follows,
“Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”” (Luke 18:27)
Last year, we invited her here to the US. She was not interested in going to church, but it was within expectation. I continued to pray for His help. Then His answer was to go to a Mariners game with her. I ordered the tickets and encouraged her to go to the game after the Sunday service. She hesitated at first then reluctantly agreed to go to the game and Sunday service. It’d been 17 years since her last Sunday service.
I can’t forget the day when we went to the game, in the bottom of the 3rd inning, my mom suddenly fell unconscious. I couldn’t understand what was happening then, and automatically imagined what if she didn’t come back. I really yelled “Mom! Mom!” then prayed (I don’t remember if I prayed in my heart or with audible words) “Please God, help mom! Let her come back!” After a while, she revived. I told her that God helped her come back and she finally realized God exists.
Three days later, she was supposed to go back to Japan. Even though I couldn’t tell her the Good News, it was His plan I believe, and continued to pray for her salvation.
This year, she stayed here again for 3 weeks. The first week of her stay, I didn’t invite her to the JLM Thursday prayer meeting because she had jet lag. In this meeting, we had an urgent request and members prayed together. One of them said ‘God can move mountains so let’s pray to God for it. The request seemed difficult but we believed only God could manage it.
“You don’t have enough faith,” Jesus told them. “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.” (Matthew 17:20)
Then God answered the request that night. This is the first miracle.
The second week of my mom’s stay, I prayed and invited her to the Thursday prayer meeting, then she faced the second miracle. Actually that night we knew another urgent request was answered by God. My mom and everybody were excited and she said “God did it.” The same night she said she had prayed so many times since she fell unconscious the previous year. She believed God exists so began to pray for many things. I thought God listened to my prayer and answered in his timing. I felt peace in my heart when I heard that she believed in God and prayed many times.
Oct. 22nd, 2017, I finally told my mom the Good News that God sent us Jesus as our Savior, he died on the cross for our sins and was buried and descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again.
She said ‘Yes, I believe’. Hallelujah!!!
“…..there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”(Luke 15:10)
She says she began to pray after she fell unconscious last year. When she prayed for a typhoon to avoid her area, it really did it! People sometimes see a miracle and believe in God. So did she.
She got a Bible from Emiko Fukuyama and she reads it every day. She also says she has read or heard the words long, long before. When I went to Christian schools, she heard some messages during the entrance ceremony and graduation ceremony and in church, at my wedding ceremony and so on.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1)
I believe some words of God were with my mom and protected her for decades. My husband Yoshi said God’s plan is so huge that we don’t know the whole picture, but God used us as one piece of it for her salvation.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Roman 8:28)
Sharing from Mr. Rokuro Mitani
This is a translation of what Mr. Rokuro Mitani shared during the service on October 29th.
Praise the name of the Lord.
I am filled with joy that I was able to come back to Faith Bible Church where I have fond memories. I thank God who opened up the way for this visit. My faith grew while I was at FBC.
I had a desire to start a Christian nursing home that has a foundation of faith and the Bible. In order to learn and get trained, I was working at CRISTA in Seattle. I met Mr. Howard Inouye there and he introduced FBC to us. We did not have a car, so John Tsuji’s father took us to FBC. It was about 43 years ago.
Japanese Language Ministries back then involved about 7 or 8 people. Mr. Ozaki, the leader of the ministry, had a strong faith and was a person of prayer. He served the Lord faithfully and he was a great example. Through worshipping with the English-speaking congregation at joint services, I was also blessed spiritually and filled with joy and praise. Although I did not understand English well, I felt the Holy Spirit work.
Our faith grew at FBC. Pastor Gosden, Pastor Inouye, Mr. Ozaki, and many others prayed for us and we went back to Japan. At the last worship service before we left, they sent us as missionaries to Japan to start a Christian nursing home. Since then, people at FBC have been praying for us and we continue to have an important partnership. Japan Kings Garden has been blessed and bearing fruit abundantly. It is because of your prayer and partnership. I would like to express our gratitude on behalf of Japan Kings Garden.
It was a struggle after we went back to Japan. We did not have a house to live in or much money. We did not have building funds, land, or an association in order to start a nursing home. With common sense, it is impossible to start a nursing home in such a state. I believed the promise of Philippians 2:13-14 “… for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. Do everything without grumbling or arguing, …” We started to sell detergents and collect old newspapers to create funds. We prayed and visited churches every day to seek partners to start a nursing home. There were unbelievable trials one after another. However, with God’s help, we were able to receive permission from the government and complete our first Kings Garden in Tsukuba. Throughout the whole time, FBC had been praying for us and sending us donations. Without your help, Kings Garden would not exist in Japan. I give glory back to our Lord.
The last Kings Garden project I was involved with was Gifu Kings Garden. God reminded me of the importance of prayer. Since the fund was 20 million yen short, I asked our prayer group to pray. A few days later, someone gave us an anonymous contribution of 9 million yen. When we renovated the facility, we needed to come up with 6 million yen. While we were at our prayer meeting, one person came to my wife and whispered that she would donate that amount. It sounds unbelievable but it is a true story. When we are united and pray, God will listen to our prayers.
We had prayer meetings at 6:30am from Monday through Saturday at Tsukuba Kings Garden. We sometimes had 90% of the residents gathered, sang praises, read the Bible, and prayed. We prayed for unsaved residents, for those who were sick, to be able to build a special elderly nursing home for those who were bedridden, to be able to have a chapel and clinic, to extend our facility to Kawagoe, and for many other requests. It is God’s mercy that all of our requests were answered.
The end of our life is important to all of us. Instead of not being able to do anything and just waiting for the day we die, we move forward to the day of Christ. Even when we cannot do anything, we can pray. It is our privilege as Christians. My wife and I pray for CRISTA and FBC during our devotion every morning. I am almost 88 years old and was diagnosed with a cancer. I believe this is the last time for me to visit FBC.
I would like to follow the faith of Faith Bible and live my life to the end by worshipping the Lord with you all.
Bill’s Book Blurbs
by Bill Hamasaki
Evidence That Demands a Verdict by Josh McDowell
I can still remember the first time I heard Josh McDowell speak. During my college days at UW, he came to campus and spoke on the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. I didn’t know who he was but there were signs all over campus about his coming. After hearing his talks, my Christian faith grew by leaps and bounds. I didn’t know there was such credible historical evidence for Jesus and His resurrection and for the Bible.
After hearing his talks, people kept coming to him for copies of his notes and research. He put them together in book form but no one wanted to publish it saying it would not sell and that no one would read it. First published in 1972, it soon became a best-seller and the fourth edition has just been released, written and updated together with his son, Sean McDowell.
In this book, the author presents evidence for the historical Jesus, and his crucifixion and resurrection that “would stand up in any court of law today.” He also provides research on the historical reliability and authority of the Old and New Testaments that shows the vast superiority of the Bible over every other book of antiquity. Other topics include the many Old Testament prophecies fulfilled in Jesus Christ, His deity, biblical archaeology, the uniqueness of the Bible, and much more.
The author also shares his testimony of how he came to Christ. After being challenged by a group of Christians, he set out to prove them wrong. “I decided to write a book that would show them that Christianity was a joke-intellectually and historically.” After discovering the overwhelming historical evidence for the Christian faith and the realization “that he loved me enough to die for me,” the author committed his life to Christ.
This is one of those books that has stood the test of time. Many have testified how this book has helped to deepen and articulate their faith. Even if you have a previous edition of this book, the just released updated and expanded edition is a must have resource. It provides “all new and expanded chapters to challenge the latest attacks from Christianity’s critics.”
Faith Bible Church Children’s Musical
“Miracle On Main Street”
Sunday, December 17th
9:30am and 11:00am Worship Service