As many of you know from reading our email updates, we’ve been wanting to visit some¬†new churches recently, and on Christmas Eve of last year we decided to try out Koriyama Baptist Church. From the very first day, we fell in love with this church. For starters, there’s a great lady going there named June who offered to translate the sermon for Jen (since she’s bilingual)! This has been a great blessing for Jen, as you can well imagine. Finally, a church where she can understand the Word as it’s being preached! Mike, too, has benefited from the sermons, partially due to the speaking style of Pastor Tajima, which is simple and easy to understand (mostly ūüôā ). Another thing that greatly encouraged us was the fact that this church is engaged in gospel ministry and active evangelism, something that the church in Funehiki is lacking in. The attendance is pretty good for a Japanese church–the little one-room church building¬†gets pretty crowded, which is a great thing! And the demographics of attendees include every age from really little to retired, and we’ve already made a lot of new friends there. Plus, most Sundays they have lunch after worship, which is a great way to get to know people and get more involved. Overall,¬†the whole¬†place feels “alive”–and we ourselves feel more “alive” whenever we go there. Praise God for the work he’s doing there!

Now for¬†a few pictures…

Koriyama Baptist Church - Old Building

The front of the current building . They’re actually building a new building behind this one, and when it’s finished they’ll tear this one down (it’s sort of old, and would actually detract from the new property). It gets¬†pretty crowded inside…

Koriyama Baptist Church - New Friends

See? Crowded. The three folks in the foreground¬†(from left to right: Chandan, Shige, and Christine) are¬†now good friends of ours. Chandan is an American English teacher and prospective future missionary; Shige is a native of Kobe and is a really cool and fun guy that Mike has enjoyed befriending; and¬†Christine is one of the pastor’s daughters, bilingual and is completely crazy! ūüôā Actually, come to think of it, they’re all crazy–every one of ’em. But they’re all¬†great folks; we’ve really enjoyed getting to know them.¬†Please pray that Shige would come to know Jesus as his personal savior (he’s asked for prayer and he comes to church, which is great, but he’s not yet¬†believed in Jesus¬†for himself.) Thanks.

Koriyama Baptist Church - Kids Reading Manga

Gospel ministry in action through manga ( Japanese comic books ). The comic they’re reading is called Lammy , and is the first explicitly Christian comic magazine I’ve ever seen. It’s got a Bible story, a message on grace, a few different comic strips, and even a visual¬†searching game called ” Where’s The Lord Jesus? ” It’s sort of like “Where’s Waldo”, but with Jesus instead of Waldo (and other Biblical stories in the background). It might seem hokey to some, but personally I’m glad that there are efforts to reach the Japanese covenant children¬†(which are falling away from the church at an alarming rate).

Koriyama Baptist Church - New Building Site

And here’s Jen standing in the site of the new building, which will be three or four times as large as the current building.¬†It’s really¬†exciting to see a Japanese church in this stage of its growth; we’ll post some pictures from the completed building when it’s finished.

Mike with Wooden Sledgehammer

And here’s¬†me helping out¬†with the construction effort¬†by grabbing a nearby old-school¬† wooden sledgehammer and posing for the¬†camera. Don’t ever let it be said that I don’t help out in my own way…

We’ll actually be going there tomorrow, spinach salad in hand for the church potluck lunch (ah, the nostalgia!). It’s so nice to finally find a church where we can feel at home. Thank you, Lord!

Viva the adventure…