St. Peter's has opportunities for parishioners to be long-term missionaries. If you would like to learn more, contact Jill Ashoo firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jerry is working at Shukugawa Bible Church in Nishinomiya, Japan. Nishinomiya is a small city of about 500,000 between the major cities of Osaka and Kobe. During the week, Jerry teaches english classes that include a "bible time" in which he can share God's word with people who might otherwise never hear it. Japanese people are eager to learn english, so this ministry is a great chance to share the word. Less than 1% of Japan is Christian of any sort, and even fewer protestant/evangelical. Japan desperately needs the Gospel, even though they don't realize it yet. God is doing great things in this country, and the enemy is keen to do what he can to stop it. Japan is a really unique mission field in that it's not a developing country, so most of the traditional ideas about "missions" don't apply so well there. Jerry is learning more and more as he is there, and hehopes that God can use him as His tool to spread his Gospel.
Jerry spends a lot of time studying Japanese, and he just started studying koine greek (with the hope that he can understand the new testament more fully and on a deeper level).
Please keep Jerry in your constant prayers.
Updates from Jerry:
Jerry Johnston - April 2013
Dear St. Peter’s Family,
Christ is risen! Alleluia! Spring is finally here. It has been much too long since I last wrote to update about my work here in Japan. As the cherry blossoms start blooming and the weather is finally starting to warm up, I’m grateful to be able to share with you what God is doing in this ministry.
There is a lot of good news. Since the time I last wrote you, about 10 people have accepted Christ and were baptized. I really want to tell you the story about one of them. A young father, about my age, grew up in northern Japan. His older brother became a Christian, and later became a pastor in northern Japan. This young father moved to the Kansai region, and came to our church, interested to hear more about Jesus. After the service, he asked one of our young men (a church member) how he could become a Christian. The young man led him to Christ. This young father then went home, and told his wife how he had become a Christian. Two weeks later, she started coming to church with their baby daughter as well. She became a Christian as well! The two of them started telling their other family members of how they became Christians, and invited their family to come to church. The wife’s father decided to come to church to see what this “Jesus” was all about. He became a Christian as well. About a month ago, the husband and wife were baptized on the same day, and on Easter Sunday the father-in-law was baptized. Now, the father-in-law’s wife also started coming to church, accepted Christ, and is preparing for baptism as well! What a joy it is to see people sharing Christ with their families passionately. Japanese people sharing the gospel with their friends and their families will have more of an impact than anything I can say or do. Please continue to pray that Japanese Christians will continue to tell the gospel with the people around them. People in this church really believe Acts 16:30: “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” Pray that they will have boldness to share Christ with their families.
We’ve also started a new spring term in our English Conversation School. This is such an important time in Japan. April is when the new school year begins, and many Japanese people are transferred to different cities by their companies. We have a lot of new students, and they are most open to the gospel. As we have a chance to read the Bible every class and tell our students about Christ every day, please pray that they would open their hearts to him. There is really a sense of openness in Japanese people especially around Spring time. What a great opportunity for them, to be able to let the death and resurrection of Christ transform them into people of faith, trusting and relying on Jesus’ kingship and direction. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17). It is my prayer and desire that the old would pass away, and that many people could come a new life in Christ.
There is a need for prayer in this ministry as well. Recently, a few church members have stopped coming to church, and do not answer phone calls or email. Apostasy is unfortunately a very real thing in Japan, and it is quite discouraging to me personally and to the church body. Pray especially that God would remind these people that he will never leave them nor forsake them (Deuteronomy 31:6). We are always praying that those people will return, but we cannot make the decision for them to continue to follow Christ. It is encouraging that recently a young woman who stopped going to church a year (or two?) ago returned, and was recently brought back into full communion with the church body. She is really now committed to serving the Lord, and it is great to see a passion for Christ in her. Pray that others would likewise be reminded that they can always return to the Lord with rejoicing and gladness
On a personal note, my parents were able to visit me, and stay for a week in Japan. I have been living in Japan for almost 6 years, and it was the first time that my parents were able to come and visit me. It was such an encouragement for them to come! They were able to see where I live, experience the food and language, and especially enjoy fellowship with Japanese Christians. It was so great just for them to be able to understand a little bit more of my life, and the kind of work and ministry I am doing here. It had been almost two years since I saw them last, and hopefully it will not be another two years until I see them again! It is difficult to be separated from my family and friends in the US, but at the same time it is so rewarding to be working in this ministry that I really cannot imagine being anywhere else. God has poured his blessings out on me, and I was especially blessed by my parents’ visit.
Please continue to pray for me. Financially, I am doing just fine, and I really have no worries there. God is continuing to provide. I need prayer, however, with my ability to manage my time well. It is a challenge to balance the English Conversation School schedule, Bible studies, prayer meetings, special events, tutoring, along with my personal Japanese language study and personal devotion time. Please pray that God would make me a better steward of the time that he has given me. Also, I am really looking for a new way to reach out to young, college-age students (especially young men). These young people are the future of Japan, and they really have the most free time out of any age group in Japan. Pray that God would give me an opportunity to find a way to bring them into the church and connect them with Japanese Christians that will be able to disciple them. This is really my heart’s desire, to see young people rise up and become strong Christians, firmly rooted in the gospel and the confidence in the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.
I cannot express how much I appreciate your support, your prayers, and your words of encouragement. We are members of the same body of believers, and we are partners together in the gospel. I love you all very much, and I look forward to the time when I can see you again. I am praying for the construction of the new building, as well as the local ministry of St. Peter’s. God is doing some great things in Tallahassee, and I pray that he will continue to build you up to do his work and ministry in the areas he has called you.
(I love you in the Lord!)
Ken and Kay Mayo
Ken and Kay Mayo serve with Wycliffe in the European, Mediterranean and Central Asian regions. Originally Kay was trained as a literacy specialist and Ken as a translator. Since the Mayo's first assignment to Mexico in 1979, they have served in administrative and training roles while living and working in numerous countries in the Americas, Africa, Europe and Asia. Over the past ten years they have focused on helping with strategic planning and specific leadership and team management training needs for those working directly in translation projects. Their specialties include Leadership, Organizational and Personal Development, Basic Management Skills, Team Building, Strategic Planning, Career and Vocational Counseling, Critical Incident Stress Management, Debriefings and Interpersonal Skills.
The Mayos have two children and six grandchildren. They are based from their home in Tallahassee. Look for them at the Veritas service.
Please keep Ken and Kay in your prayers.
Find out more about Wycliffe at http://www.wycliffe.org
"Husbands, love your wives"
The mother tongue translators for the Mbam cluster* of languages in Cameroon, West Africa, had gathered to say farewell to their SIL translation consultant, Patricia Wilkendorf, who was leaving for an extended time in the U.S.
Patricia had given a lot of thought to how she might encourage the translators to keep translating clearly and accurately, using all the resources of their language, while she was gone. She decided to tell them the story about the Hdi people and how God helped them recognize their word for unconditional love (see “God so ‘dvu’-d the world…”).
When it was her turn to speak, she began to tell them the story in their common language, French. You’ll remember that God prompted translator Lee Bramlett to ponder the Hdi word for love. Lee realized that he’d heard the Hdi people use two forms of the word—‘dvi’ and ‘dva’—but he’d never heard ‘dvu,’ which language patterns suggested should be possible.
Patricia told her audience that Lee asked the Hdi translation committee, “Could you ‘dvi’ your wife?” “Yes,” they said. She explained that ‘dvi’ meant that the wife had been loved but the love was gone.
She sensed that her listeners were tracking with her. They didn’t have a grammar construction like that, but they knew what it meant to stop loving a wife.
She went on: Lee asked the Hdi men, “Could you ‘dva’ your wife?” “Yes,” the Hdi men said. ‘Dva’ love depended on the wife’s actions, Patricia explained. The wife would be loved as long as she remained faithful and cared for her husband well.
There were murmurs of agreement as Patricia’s friends acknowledged that, yes, they understood the meaning of ‘dva’. In their culture, too, wives were often treated like servants, receiving love as long as they were useful and faithful.
Then Patricia repeated Lee’s next question: “Could you ‘dvu’ your wife?” To the Hdi men, she said, that would mean, “Could you love her even if she never got you water, never made you meals? Even if she committed adultery, could you love her then?”
The Mbam men’s response was immediate. They laughed—exactly as the Hdi translators had done. It was clear that, like the Hdi men, they were thinking, “Of course not. That would never happen!”
Quietly she quoted Lee’s next words: “Could God ‘dvu’ people?”
Silence. Total silence. And then, one by one, these men who were responsible for conveying God’s truths to their communities began to click their tongues, signaling their recognition of a surprising new truth. God loved them unconditionally. The idea was as new to them as it had been to the Hdi translators. God loved them not because of what they did or how they loved Him, but because it was in His divine nature to love them. He would never stop, whether or not they loved Him, whether or not they served Him, whether or not they were faithful to Him.
When she thought they were ready to move on, Patricia quoted Ephesians 5:25: “Husbands, ‘dvu’ your wives, just as Christ ‘dvu’-d the church…”
Again silence reigned—silence longer and deeper than before. She could almost see the thoughts swirling around in their heads. Were they really to love their wives that way? Unconditionally? No matter what the wives did or didn’t do? Impossible. Unheard of. And yet, if the God of the Bible told them to…if He had set the example in Christ....
Patricia was caught a bit off guard. She’d meant to encourage her Mbam colleagues to seek out the very best ways to represent Scriptural truths in their mother tongues, and they had grasped her intention. But she hadn’t predicted the extent to which they’d begin to engage with the Scripture and catch a vision for a whole new way of relating to their wives.
These men had discovered one of the defining elements of Christianity: God expects his followers to respect and honor women; men are to love their wives and to care for widows and orphans. That’s not a given in most societies, but it’s a distinguishing characteristic of communities that have been transformed by God’s Word.
Translated and understood, God’s Word has incredible power to change lives and communities. It transforms the way people relate to God and the way they relate to others—including women. It gives them a whole new worldview.
* Mbam is the name of a cluster of languages. The languages represented at the meeting were: Nomaande, Nuasue, Nugunu, Nulibie, Numaala, Tuki, Tunen and Yambetta. The list does not include all the languages in the cluster.
Adapted from a letter titled, Husbands, Love Your Wives, published to staff of Wycliffe USA on 17 January 2013.
Photo courtesy of Patricia Wilkendorf
Bob Creson is President and CEO of Wycliffe USA.
Cuba: Justine Finely-Simonds
This summer I spent the month of August in Cuba. For the first 10 days, I traveled with a large group of other missionaries from St. Peter's, and for the last 20 days I traveled alone. The day that the group left for Miami, my emotional connection to home left with them. With my faith as my only defense, I immersed myself into what life in the little town of Cuatro Esquinas really is. I earned my daily shower by working on several farms in the area and helping to maintain relationships with several churches in surrounding towns. What happened to me spiritually in that time is hard to put into words, but I can at least say that I have never been surrounded by so many beautiful people who are true to a life of discipleship. The heart I came with and the heart I left with are utterly and perfectly irreconcilable. Just like Peter calls everyone to a life of holy living, I do not want to be conformed to the desires that I formerly had in ignorance. I have been shown a better example of servanthood through our brothers and sisters in Cuba and by the influence of the Holy Spirit in their lives and mine.
I feel called to these people in Cuba because of the striking simplicity of their happiness and the relevance of their lives to the Gospel. They are the poor. They are the oppressed. Yet, they still find food on their table to feed me. They are exactly who Jesus was talking about. You are also called to serve, and I pray that everyone at St. Peters can find a way to involve themselves in missions here. Go outside of your house, and let the door close behind you. You will be led to another person who has also found life in Christ and an opportunity to share that precious life with others. What you do every day is crucial because it is another day that God has blessed you with to do something good for his Kingdom. What are you going to do today?
(1 Peter 1:14)
Uganda: Mimi Burbank
We are saddened to report that "Mamma Mimi" Burbank died on November 28, 2010, in Kasese, Uganda, where she has served the people for the past several years. Her son, Charles Dean Burbank, wrote, "She passed away doing what she loved to do, in a place that she called her home."
Uganda: Heather Williams
Heather Williams was in Uganda for 6 months:
I worked with the Children’s Ministry of South Rwenzori Diocese. My big thing was training the people who were working with children. We would have workshops in the different archdeaconries which sometimes lasted a couple of hours and sometimes a couple of days. There was one weekend that ended in a daylong local Sunday school competition, including football (soccer) games; that one was fun. Workshop weekends also included me preaching about the importance of children’s ministry and teaching a sunday school class on Sunday. On weekends when I didn’t have trainings, I would teach sunday school at the cathedral and go hang out at with the Compassion International kids at Kasese Child Development Center. At KCDC we mostly played games, colored and, on one special occasion after I received a package from my parents, decorated Burger King crowns. Spending time at KCDC was my favorite thing to do. Sure we were probably just playing Simon Says but goofing around and loving on those kids usually made my week. The other thing I did that was specifically "ministry" was speaking in schools during chapel. I would give my testimony or some other short devotional type talk. Besides that it was spending time with my Ugandan brothers and sisters, building relationships and strengthening the ties between the South Rwenzori Diocese and St Peter’s Church.
Uganda: Lindsey Thompson and Lisa Davis
Lindsey Thompson and Lisa Davis travelled to Uganda in May 2009 with Fr. John Wallace, Chris Risalvato, Angela Hobby, and Anna Masi. After the team left, they both stayed for 6 more weeks. Read their blogs!
Uganda: The Bowers and Evan Simington
John and Katherine Bowers
John and Katherine Bowers lived in Uganda for 7 months. Catch up on their adventures by reading their blog.
Evan Simington was in Uganda for 3 months. Read his blog.