Sunday, May 21, 2017

May 20, 2017

New Office/Classroom

We are excited to announce that we have keys to a new office! This is a true blessing from the Lord. The owner of the building is a Christian and is giving us a very good price. The location is across the street from the Osaka stock exchange, so it is the business center of Osaka and easily accessible from all parts of the city. Other tenants in the building include two different churches, Campus Crusade, and several other Christian organizations as well as a Christian lawyer. We even discovered a great restaurant on the first floor!

Our new space is large enough that we will be able to host smaller classes in here as well. In fact, we are actively working to develop an English school (a pre-cursor to the college) that will start in January 2018. Much is involved in this including: tax status, teacher certifications, marketing, curriculum development, etc. Please pray for us as none of us have experience in starting up a business or school.

Genesis Rooted Campaign

As Genesis International College gets rooted in our very own office/classroom, we need to renovate and furnish the space so that it is comfortable and appropriate for meeting with our students. Due to cigarette use by the previous tenants, the carpet must be replaced and the walls painted. Basic office furniture and equipment, as well as student tables and chairs must be purchased. To keep costs to a minimum, we will do most of the work ourselves. However, an electrician is required for some wiring, and a few other professionals may be needed as well.

Our budget to fully renovate and furnish the new space is $10,000. Would YOU help us meet this need? Would you make a one-time contribution to our "Genesis Rooted" campaign to help us get off the ground? We can't do this without the help of our partners.

To make a contribution, please email us at Please include your name and amount you would like to pledge. You will then receive specific instructions for making your contribution. All donations are tax exempt. Thank you for your prayerful consideration!

Donations Address Change

MTW's donations address is changing (again). If you make contributions via check and mail, please note that the new address, as of June 1, is:
Mission to the World
P.O. Box 744165
Atlanta, GA  30374-4165

If you would like to simplify your giving, you can also make contributions via credit card or automatic bank withdrawals. I do this myself, for the missionaries I support, and have never had any issues with it. Please email me if you would like information about how to set this up.

Thank you for your faithful partnership in bringing the gospel of Jesus Christ to the people of Japan!

MTW Global Missions Conference

Make plans now to join me at the 2017 Global Missions Conference, November 10-12 in Dallas, TX.

Gather with over 2,000 fellow believers for worship, special music by Shane & Shane, teaching by Kevin DeYoung, Lloyd Kim, and Michael Oh. Expand your understanding through over 80 seminars led by missions experts from all over the globe!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Ministry Update - April 2017

Global Professional Seminar

In a world that is so interconnected, we can meet "face to face" online from the far reaches of the globe; we can fly nearly anywhere within one day. And buying or selling something from distant places is nothing unusual.

What is required to be "global" in today's work world? Perhaps the most important ability for global business is English. As the third most common first language (behind Mandarin & Spanish), there are 330-360 million native speakers around the world. Estimates of those who speak English as a second language vary greatly, from 470 million to over one billion people! It is the most commonly used language in the world.

Genesis International College hosted our first "Global Professional Seminar" on March 23 & 24. Beginning with a nice boxed dinner, participants were able to network with each other. We then had a guest speaker -- one night was a Japanese man who shared lessons he learned while working in the US, and the other night was our GIC VP for Academics, John Jung, sharing lessons learned as a foreigner working in Japan. And finally, Genesis team member Marcia Esaki and I each spoke one night, offering practical lessons for working in a global business environment.

Nine students participated in our "GPS" event including a lawyer, junior high English teacher, engineer, and men and women in other various business endeavors.

Guest speaker Hiroyuki Teranishi (a member of my church) addresses the GPS participants on "lessons learned in the US."

A Space of Our Own
For the past two years, GIC has been paying just $300 each month to share office space with Mustard Seed Christian Church. A large space, we've been able to claim a spot each day, and store a few basics in a cubby. They have been a true blessing to our ministry, as we work to establish it in Osaka. However, MSCC will be moving to a new location on June 1. We are welcome to continue our arrangement with them, but the time seems right to establish our own space, where we have options for educational activities as well.

A Christian businessman (seen in the far left of the GPS photo above) owns a nine-story building across the street from the Osaka stock exchange. Two churches and several other Christian ministries are among his tenants. He is offering a large office at a 50% discount, but expecting our rent to increase as our ministry grows. Not only would it be a wonderful work space, but it is large enough to have small classes as well. The timing is providential as we are also looking to start an English school (not the college, yet) as early as October. Additionally, this office is just a 7 minute walk from my apartment.

Please pray that God will direct in these next days as we need to sign a lease by the end of this month in order to make appropriate arrangements for a June 1 occupancy.

Likely new office space for Genesis International College, complete with an "interesting, but must change" pastel wall!


May 11-15
Part vacation, and part ministry trip, I will be in Sydney Australia where, in addition to exploring a bit of Down Under's largest city, I will be speaking at a missions conference of "Student Outreach to the World" (SOW), an MTW university ministry on a number of Sydney campuses.

June 5-12
I've been invited to attend the Honolulu Bible Conference. With Japanese-Americans making up the largest minority culture in Hawaii, interest in missionary work in Japan is greater in Hawaii than in other states. At the conference, I'll be able to share the vision God has given us for GIC and hopefully recruit potential new missionaries to our team.

June 14-23
From Hawaii, I will fly home to Iowa to spend time with my mother.

Prayer Points
Praise God for a successful GPS event in March, and for the connections we made.

Praise God for the Dantzler family who were able to visit Osaka during the GPS event. They are officially applying to serve with MTW. Laurence will join our staff as a chef (enabling us to operate a cafe outreach ministry) and as a business faculty. Candace will be mom to their five children, and may help with English education part-time.

Pray for our team as we are making active work of establishing an English school (pre-cursor to the college). Much research and planning is required.

Continue to pray for a new GIC president. We now have three potential candidates. I anticipate two of them will likely visit Osaka in the Fall.

Culture Corner
Everyone knows that raw fish, or sushi, is a common food in Japan. But did you know that other Japanese delicacies include raw egg (for dipping other foods), raw horse (I tried a little recently), and raw chicken? Raw vegetables, however, are not commonly consumed in Japan. To each his own!
Raw horse with scallions, wasabi & soy sauce. 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

February 21, 2017

New Missionary Arrival!

Arriving on Christmas day, Tim Bentson makes four new missionaries to join the Genesis team in 2016, more than doubling the size of our Osaka presence! Praise God for bringing laborers into the harvest!

A native of Tacoma, WA, Tim previously served 2.5 years with MTW in Chiba. As he was there when I first visited Japan with my church's gospel choir, he likes to claim credit for recruiting me to Japan.

Tim will be serving with the Genesis team for two years, fulfilling his internship requirement for future ordination. He will be working with a very small PCJ church in south Osaka, teaching a little English with a new church-plant in neighboring Nara, and working with Genesis English events. Upon completing his two years here, he will return to the States to finish his final year of seminary, and then rejoin our team long-term as a church-planter.

Please pray for him as he readjusts to life in Japan (he's been away more than six years), as he settles into his own apartment next week, and as he gets into his ministry activities.

Genesis Cafe Reinvented

We have had two events at our new venue! (As mentioned in the December update, Genesis Cafe lost our previous location due to the coffee shop closing.) We've been very happy with our new location. Swissotel is a very classy place, and the students have really enjoyed it. Additionally, the acoustics are so much better than our former location -- it's easy to actually hear our students! We are eager to build upon the relationships we have formed, and we anticipate that hotel employees will soon be attending the event as well.

Thank you for your prayers and financial
partnership in bringing the hope of the
gospel to the people of Japan!

Prayer Points
Praise God for growing our Genesis team to seven adults! Pray that God will continue to draw the faculty, staff and church planters needed to launch our college and to plant new churches in Osaka. Several prospective missionaries will be visiting our team in March! Following the 2011 earthquake, MTW Japan began to pray for 70 new missionaries (based on Luke 10) -- for 35 foreign missionaries and 35 new Japanese pastors or missionaries. We are amazed, six years later, at God's response to those prayers. I don't know the actual numbers, but we have seen significant growth among foreign missionaries, and decent growth among Japanese pastors.  Soli Deo Gloria!

Pray specifically for a permanent college president. There are currently two men interested, but neither is feeling particularly called just yet.

Pray for Tim Bentson as he adjusts to life in Japan, settles into his own apartment next week, and gets into his various ministries.

Pray for a new event coming up March 23-24: an "English Business Seminar" for business people to network, hear from a Christian speaker on business issues, and to improve their English.

Culture Corner
Valentine's Day is a big deal in Japan, but it's not the same as in America! Here, women are supposed to buy chocolates for the men in their lives, including their male colleagues! Men have NO expectations! But just one month later, on White Day, it's the men's turn to buy chocolates for the women! At least we know how much to spend and who to spend it on after Valentines' Day!

Monday, December 12, 2016

Finding Purpose in Life

I recently volunteered as a judge for the Kobe University English club's annual speech contest. While I very much enjoyed interacting with the students, I left the event somewhat depressed.

Over the course of the day, I listened to speeches from first and second year university students who had previously submitted their scripts, and then were to recite the speeches from memory.

One young man entitled his speech "You Should Have More." He went on to try to convince us that we must laugh more every day as this will affect not just our overall happiness, but our physical and emotional health as well.

Top contestants at Kobe University English Club Speech Contest

Another young man spoke on "Circumstances May Justify a Lie." He advocated for telling lies with skill, as they are necessary to avoid negative consequences, and also to prevent others from having any feelings of guilt.  For example, if you are meeting a friend, but arrive early, and your friend arrives late, you should tell him that you also just arrived. Helping others to save face in this way is very common in Japan.
My co-judge and I gave first place to a young woman who spoke on suicide. Entitled "Treasure Yourself," she offered advice on how to help friends who may be suicidal. For example, you should point out their strengths, such as athletic, academic, or musical abilities. After each speech, one judge was to ask two questions of the student. I asked her what she would say to a friend who wasn't particularly talented in any area. She pondered this for a few moments, and then said, "I would say, 'You are my friend.'" I liked her answer. But I wished there had been even more depth. I wished that this young woman and all the contestants would realize that each person has innate value as someone created in the image of God.

Other students advocated for such things as keeping your home or room orderly, valuing Japan, identifying your strengths, eating azuki beans (they are healthier than western snacks), or using a motorcycle. All of the speeches had something in common: they promoted one thing that you can do to give purpose to your life. Without this one thing, one must suppose that life will spin hopelessly out of control.

It saddened me that these students all think there is one thing they can do to give their lives meaning and direction -- that they don't see their innate value as image-bearers of God. Can this all be attributed to the significant cultural differences between eastern and western thinking? As I read through the scripts in preparing for this newsletter, I realized it's actually a cultural difference between Christians and those who do not know the hope of the gospel. Our neighbors in the States are also looking for that one thing that will make them happy, successful, and able to live with purpose.

Romans 15:13 tells us, "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope." And in John 16:33, we read "I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world."

Whether in Iowa, Mississippi, New York or Osaka, as Christians, we are called to always be prepared to answer those who ask us "for the reason for the hope that is in [us]" (1 Peter 3:15). This challenges me as I am not always joyful in the assurance of my salvation, but often look for inferior things to give me purpose. But these things never satisfy.

Please pray not only for the lost and searching people of Japan, but for those in your own neighborhood, and even in your family, who do not have the purpose that only a relationship with Jesus Christ can give us. And then look for ways to share the joy you have in knowing that God has a plan for your life here and now, as well as eternally.

End-of-Year Contributions
If you are interested in making an end-of-year contribution, please consider giving toward the work of the gospel in Osaka, either directly to my missionary account for to Genesis International College. Having been pushed into the role of team leader and interim president after the departure of our team founder, my expenses have been greater than originally budgeted. God has provided well, but it is likely that I will need to return to the States somewhat sooner than originally planned due to the additional strain on my budget. You can make a one-time contribution by clicking here, or you can email me if you'd like to pledge monthly or annual support.

If you would like to contribute directly to the expenses of Genesis International College by clicking here. If you'd like to be a regular donor, please email us here.

Thank you for your consideration!

Recruiting Update
I traveled to the States in October to attend the annual "Fall for Japan" conference in the Baltimore area. I also made a stopover in Minneapolis to visit with a prospective GIC president, and was able to spend a couple of days there with my Aunt Lyla and my mom, who flew up from Iowa. Please pray that God will continue to draw the right person to the position of president, as well as college faculty and church planters.
 Enjoying the fall colors of
Minnesota with my mom

Genesis Cafe Finished?
Since July 2015, we have hosted a monthly "Genesis Cafe" event at a local coffee shop. We've been able to serve over 100 people in their English abilities, and to build relationships with them toward sharing the hope of the gospel, all while building a reputation for Genesis that will serve us in our future recruiting efforts.

In October, we were informed that the coffee house would close at the end of the year. On December 7, we hosted our last Genesis Cafe event at Gloria Jean's Coffees. God provided a wonderful location and a staff that was always eager to help us -- not an easy thing to find in Japan!

After much consideration, we have found a new venue at the Swissotel. How does an upstart ministry get into an international hotel? Through a "chance" meeting some months ago at a local Mexican restaurant where I met the Swissotel food and beverage manager! We are so thankful for another example of God's providential care for us, long before we even knew a need existed! The hotel has even expressed interest in having their employees participate in our events.
Final night at Gloria Jean's
(Click for larger image)

Prayer Points
Pray for our new event at Swissotel, for all the details before our first event on February 1, and that many students will attend and hear the hope of the gospel.

Pray for the many Christmas events hosted this month by churches and missionaries around Japan. Japanese people enjoy Christmas as a date night, or with their families having KFC takeout and a Christmas cake. But they do not know the real significance of Christmas. I was in a Christmas musical again this year at Mustard Seed Christian Church. Some 320 people attended the first show last Sunday, and another 390 attended this Sunday! Pray that the gospel message will penetrate each of their hearts for the glory of God and the salvation of His people.

Pray for GIC missionary Tim Bentson who is at 95% of his support and hoping to arrive in Japan by the end of the year, in time to join all MTW Japan missionaries at a retreat in the mountains of Nagano. (Click here to learn more about him, or to partner with him either monthly or one-time.)

Monday, October 10, 2016

October 1, 2016

New Missionary Arrival!

Genesis College is very happy to have received another new missionary in Osaka this past month! Frank Harrellarrived from West Point, GA on September 9. Frank has an M.Div. degree fro
Covenant Seminary. He felt a call to missionary service at a young age, but has only spent two months in Japan prior to moving to Osaka for long-term missionary service. He will be starting language school this month, planning to study full-time for two years. His primary focus will be church planting, along with teaching some classes at our college. Frank is living with me, so you can pray especially for him! With the Rose family who arrived in July, our Osaka-based team has doubled from three adults to six! Praise be to God!

ELI Workshop

Genesis' third English workshop was a success! Nine students attended our English Language Intensive held August 29-31. One-third of our students fit our eventual Genesis College target group: young adults who, for various reasons, did not attend a university. The "task-based learning" lessons were especially well received by these young men and lady.

I have interviewed a number of these young people (including some from previous events) to learn about their past, their goals, and how we can best serve them. Our team will be brainstorming next week regarding this, and whether additional ELI events will help us help them, or if we need a different strategy. Your prayers are welcomed!

Stateside Recruiting

I will be attending the "Fall for Japan" missions conference in Baltimore on October 21-23, looking to recruit faculty members, church planters, and a college president. I'll spend several days before the conference in Minneapolis, visiting with one particular presidential prospect. Please be in prayer for this time, asking God to provide the people we need to serve in Osaka.

It's not too late to register for the Fall for Japan conference! Click here for more information!

THANK YOU for your
partnership in the gospel!

Prayer Points
Praise God for bringing Frank Harrell to Osaka, for providing for all his physical and spiritual needs! Pray for him as he continues to adjust to life in Japan, and begins language school next week.

Praise God for blessing our three-day English event at the end of August. Pray that He will also provide wisdom and direction for our future events -- that they will be strategic in accomplishing our goals of practical help for young Japanese people and effectively sharing the gospel with them.

Pray for my time in the States in October, that God will provide the people needed for the college and for church planting, and that He will give discernment in meeting with the one particular presidential prospect. Also praise God that my Mom is able to fly to Minneapolis for a few days, where we will stay with my aunt.

Pray for me and my new missionary roommate, Frank. At 47, adjusting to life with a roommate may be a challenge. So far, so good!

Culture Corner
Japan's national sport is sumo. Dating back to at least the 8th century, sumo began as a prayer for a fruitful rice harvest, then evolved into a public sport in which two men fight in a circular ring, with one winning when the other was either knocked out of the ring, or any part of his body besides the bottom of his feet touched the ground. Sumo is a living Japanese tradition, containing ancient customs and dress.

- from Matthew Johnson,
on udemy blog

Thursday, August 11, 2016

August 11, 2016

New Missionary Arrival!

Our Genesis team is growing! Jesse & Candie Rose and their daughter arrived in Osaka on July 29! The Roses had previously lived in Nagoya, where Jesse taught at an international school for two years. After two years raising support in the States, driving thousands of miles and sleeping in dozens of homes, they are excited to be here, and they even found an apartment less than one week after their arrival! We are very thankful that God has supplied their needs, both financially and in prayer, and has brought them to our team. Please pray for them as they adjust to life in Osaka, and as they begin language school in October.

Summer ELI Seminar

Our third English seminar, or "English Language Intensive," is scheduled for August 29-31.

The Japanese government recently issued new goals to improve English education, which has been very poor, leaving Japan with the second worst TOEFL test scores in Asia. Rather than focusing on grammar and vocabulary, which leaves many students unable to have a conversation, schools are tasked with helping students to use critical thinking and even to debate issues in English. We are taking on this challenge in our ELI seminar with lesson plans full of "task-based learning" activities. Rather than a lecture, which is usually best avoided, the students will be given experiential exercises that will require conversation, decision making, and team work. Through this process, they use English and can be guided and stretched in a safe environment.

Please pray that we will reach our goal of fifteen students, and that God will bless our time with them -- that they will learn and value their experience, that we will build Genesis' reputation in English education, and that our relationships with the students will lead to gospel opportunities.

We are excited to have three teachers, including our new arrival, Jesse Rose, for this ELI!

Spring 2016 ELI

Recruiting Report

Mobile, AL was the site of the 44th PCA General Assembly. I and three other MTW men who are raising support to join us in Osaka spent several days manning the Japan Partnership booth in the exhibit hall, meeting old friends and making new ones, and sharing with anyone who would stand still what God is doing in the city of Osaka! I was greatly encouraged through conversations with a number of young men, one as young as 17, who desire to be church planters in Japan. I also spoke with a number of people about taking on the role of GIC president. More often than not, these conversations led to suggestions of several others who might be better options. These referrals are a huge blessing, and have led to an encouraging conversation with a promising candidate.

Connecting with friends from the 2015 MTW Vision Trip to Japan.

Thank you for your prayers and financial partnership
in bringing the gospel to the people of Japan!

Fall for Japan
Join me at a "Fall for Japan" missions conference at Chapelgate Presbyterian Church near Baltimore, MD, October 21-23. This is the 2nd annual conference, focusing solely on what God is doing in this largest unreached nation. There will be exciting speakers, both Japanese nationals and American missionaries, sharing how God is working in Japan.

Click here to register online.

Prayer Points
Praise God for the arrival of new GIC missionaries Jesse & Candie Rose! Pray for their adjustment to life in Osaka and their language learning, starting in October.

Pray for Frank Harrell as he works and waits upon God for the final 10% of his missionary funding. It's important for him to arrive by October 1 for language school.

Pray for our ELI seminar on August 29-31. Pray that we will meet our goal of 15 students, that they will learn and be highly satisfied with the seminar, and that God will provide opportunities for gospel moments.

Pray for a new GIC president. I am in contact with a promising individual with experience in developing a new college.

Pray for faculty for the college! This sort of opportunity is not one typically on the radar of university faculty. Help us spread the word about this incredible opportunity God has given us to impact lives here on earth as well as eternally.

Culture Corner
On any given summer weekend in Japan, one is able to find a nearby "matsuri," or summer festival. While these events often have pagan origins, most of them now consist of lots of festival food (lots of grilled things on a stick, so often healthier than the deep-fried stuff on a stick at American festivals), and fireworks. Many people, both men and women, wear light-weight summer yukata (traditional Japanese robes), or the men may wear "jinbei" -- matching shorts and robe-like top. (I did this myself, once . . . .)

I attended a matsuri festival last weekend at a friend's 32nd floor apartment in Kobe. From his balcony, we could see an hour long fireworks display along the Kobe port, and in the distance, another matsuri in Osaka was visible. It certainly felt a bit like the Fourth of July, and gave the Americans in the crowd our fireworks fix for the year!