What do roses, our blonde American kids and cafes have in common? See if you can figure it out in episode 5 of Life in Japan, as we secure our new cafe/church location. To celebrate, we visit the famous Rose Garden in Ikuta with our family. That’s right, all these things are related, and they’re all right here in Noborito. Hope I didn’t give anything away now…
Watch the video and see what else is in the works below
When we visited Japan for the first time 5 years ago, I could see the potential of worship to really alter this country. In a nation so moved by music, there is a huge opportunity to share God’s love and the truth through music that no one has really harnessed the potential of it yet. But by God’s grace, we want to change that. This video is the first of many planned. These are songs that we do every Sunday in church, songs that the Church around the world has been singing for years, but still have not reached into Japan. As God gives us grace, we will continue to produce these simple but powerful videos to reach people wherever they are — on a train, at work, at school or at home. Most Japanese have never considered coming to a church, but a video could be the bridge to help them meet God. Please consider sharing this!! It is produced under the name Diflen Tokyo — the name of our local youth and worship movement.
Kind of like the von Trapp family
Recently Ruth and the girls have also joined the worship revolution and have been writing songs. These songs are fun, have great words, dance moves and catchy tunes. I began producing some of them and we are doing them at church! These songs really shook up the Christmas and Easter services! Ruth and the girls have many other ideas for songs for us to eventually complete an album of fun songs aimed at kids and families throughout Japan. Ruth is already putting together a Christmas program full of singing, drama and an unforgettable Gospel presentation. Check out the video from Easter and just try to get this tune out of your head!
In April we said good-bye to our beautiful families for a week while we went to the SEND International missionary retreat near Mt Fuji to begin working on a brand-new international worship project that will bless Brazil, Japan and many other countries. Under the team name of DIFLEN (Discipling and Forming LEaders in the Nations), we got the project off to a great start. It was a dream come true, setting up studio and working together with my brother-in-law Bruno and the amazing team that is coming together here. We are starting from scratch, writing new songs aimed for the church to sing! Check out this one-minute video about that time.
Pray, for the Battle is Underway
As we move forward on these things, it seems like sometimes everything else comes apart. Family members get sick and need to go to the hospital. Accidents happen. Many other “necessary” distractions come into play. We are well aware that the enemy is vehemently against these worship projects, the proclamation of the Gospel in Japan as well as the establishment and growth of the Church as a whole. Please, PLEASE pray for our encouragement, protection, holiness, energy and unity among our team. The day that we were working on finishing the video, Bruno’s son Paul had to go to the hospital and my daughter Anna went to the emergency room twice the following day! Your prayer covering could make the difference in us completing projects on time or fighting for each and every note we play. We love you!
A Word for 2017
It’s a New Year, it’s time to thank God for all of the highlights of last year! For our family, that meant the birth of Joshua last January. We can’t imagine our family without this expressive, active boy! And in April the girls began 1st grade at our local Japanese school. Even though it’s all in Japanese, they are really doing well, making lots of friends and doing well in school. Our church hit several milestones, including our two largest services ever — one in June and the last for Christmas here at the end of the year. Over 170 were in attendance, most of those visitors were there for the first time! How exciting that they heard wonderful music celebrating Christ and an excellent message about the Gospel. Ruth wrote a song for the kids to sing that I produced and it turned out amazing. I’m so proud of her! It will be a part of a kids worship project sometime soon. And our cell group continues to grow, even having over 55 people in attendance for our holiday parties! God has been so good!
Each one of those victories came with a lot of sweat, perseverance and at a large cost. In fact, we continue to pay a large price to continue in these good things that God has set before us. But even if you can’t find many highlights from your 2016, you can rejoice in God’s faithfulness and be glad because a new year means new beginnings — it means a fresh start. Praise God for fresh starts!
How can we ensure that this year will be everything that God wants it to be? I believe the key lies in giving our lives completely, wholly over to God. No more of setting our own goals for the next year and then asking God to bless them — it’s time to ask God “What are YOUR goals for me this year?!” and then go after them! To do that, we must believe that He is GOOD. He desires what is best for us.
Taste and see that the Lord is good.
Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!
Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.
His Goodness allows us to fully trust Him with our lives, giving everything to Him even when we don’t understand what He is doing. His goodness revealed to us is the very thing that enables us to trust Him radically, and when we do He PROMISES to direct our paths into the very best that He has for us.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do,
and he will show you which path to take.
If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land.
Trust in the Lord and do good.
Then you will live safely in the land and prosper.
Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you your heart’s desires.
Commit everything you do to the Lord.
Trust him, and he will help you.
Hallelujah! Want to know God’s will for your life? Just do as Romans 12:1-2 says, and HE WILL SHOW YOU HIS WILL:
And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
To live in the supernatural, we must die to our natural selves, our earthly desires, so that we can receive the fullness of what God wants. And what He plans for us is so, so very much greater than what we could even imagine for ourselves. Trust Him completely — your 2017 may not be struggle-free, but it will be supernatural!
Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.
August 6: Heaven View Christian Fellowship Church Service, Peoria IL at 5:30 pm
August 7: New Life Christian Church Services, Morton IL
August 14: Sandwich Federated Church Service
August 18: Peoria Area Open House at New Life Christian Church starting at 6pm
August 21: 1st Free Moline Service
August 21: Quad Cities Open House at 1st Free Moline starting at 4 pm
The girls will have 5 weeks off for their summer vacation, and we will be making the most of it! Come see us at one of the these places and times, especially the open houses, as we will be sharing about the exciting things happening in Japan and how God is moving powerfully here. We will have snacks at the Open Houses, so we will be asking for RSVPs if you are planning on coming. We can’t wait for you to meet Joshua and see how the girls have grown up.
Before our big trip to the States, we have a couple of other important trips planned. On April 16 a massive earthquake rocked the southern Japanese island of Kumamoto. It was the largest earthquake ever recorded for that area, and in a moment the lives of everyone living there was turned upside down. Our church sent a team from our DIFLEN (Discipling and Forming Leaders in the Nations) missions’ school down to the area to help and minister to the people. What happened was miraculous. As the team served, God’s love was poured out in such a tangible way that many people gave their lives to Jesus and many were healed. One lady told a team member that she wanted to raise her hand to accept Jesus, but was not physically able to. When they prayed for her healing, she was instantly healed and raised both hands all the way up in the air and started to praise God! Now we are planning a second trip, and I will be going with this team from our church — an international team of missionaries and Japanese church members that will continue to share God’s love in tangible ways. The trip is scheduled for June 16-22. Check out this video we made from our first trip to Kumamoto.
Then on July 9, our family boards a plane for the first time in over 2 years (since we moved to Japan). We are taking to the skies on 14 different flights for 7 weeks of travel. The first few weeks will be spent in Brazil, where Ruth’s brother Paul will be getting married! Around all the festivities planned will be an extended family reunion on Ruth’s side of the family. Then we come back for a busy 4 weeks in the States, including the schedule above and a couple other family reunions on my side of the family.
We can’t thank you enough for all yours prayers and support for us. We can’t wait to tell you some of the things that God has been doing — even recently — and how powerfully lives are being touched here in Japan. And we are all looking forward to a time of catching up, both in Brazil and in the U.S. God bless you! See you soon 🙂
Our big news, in case you haven’t heard, is that Ruth is pregnant! We have always dreamed of having 4 kids, and now we are well on the way to seeing that happen. Baby Reutter is due late next January. The girls are very excited and Becca thinks it will be a boy and we should name him Joshua because he was such a strong man in the Bible! Go figure! We’ll find out soon enough if it is a boy (our track record has been to the contrary so far).
Speaking of new life, at our recent church baptism, we baptized three people from our cell group — 2 Japanese and an ex-pat from America. God is doing wonderful things in our church and in our cell group. We have a number of people attending our cell group right now very interested in the Gospel and our prayer for them is for the revelation of God’s love in Jesus. Our big goal for the end of the year is to raise up 4 different leaders to lead their own groups. Please pray with us for an out-pouring of grace to see that happen. It is a God-sized goal and we look to Him to do it through us.
The girls have been learning more and more Japanese, and their teacher says they are doing a good job of making new friends and playing with the other kids. (I was excited because I was able to read most of her letter that she wrote us in Japanese.) They just started summer break and will be taking some extra Japanese classes to help strengthen their Japanese. We keep praying that they will continue to adjust well and make lots of friends with whom they can share the love of God. They love dancing in their ballerina class and they share dad’s love for music.
I (Nate) continue to study downtown Tokyo in Shinjuku. I have been studying over a year now and would like to continue studying as long as possible. The full program is two years long, and even after two years people often aren’t fully fluent. Just having to learn 2,000 different kanji (drawings) for words is challenging enough, let alone a brand new vocabulary and grammar. But we press on, and Ruth is studying as much as possible at home while taking care of 3 kids, a husband and a cell group (all while being very pregnant and feeling it)!
Sarah is no longer a baby — she just turned 2 years old and is an all-out toddler; babbling, saying her letters and naming colors. She has turned into quite a little comedian that keeps us quite entertained. Her favorite activities include flying through the air, writing on things she shouldn’t and going outside to play in the dirt.
Last but not least, this Sunday begins a 3-week fast leading up to the 70th year anniversary of the end of World War II. Our church is praying for breakthrough for our church and the Japanese people. During this time, please be praying with us for God to do a new work. For more information about the heart behind the fast, see this recent emailing from PAZ.
We praise God for each one of you and thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your sacrificial support. God’s Kingdom is advancing in Japan, and it’s advancing because of you! We pray God’s rich blessings on you and your families. We love you!!