Tony’s Japan Missions Trip

Tony Encarnacion

Week 1 – June 4th, 2013 

Hello family, friends, and church bodies,

You are receiving this email because I would like you to be apart of my prayer team as I’m in Japan this summer. I have a Facebook group which I update, but I have to be careful what I put up there; here I still won’t give every detail, but I’ll give a lot more on deep issues. Hopefully I’ll send one each week, but no promises.

So far I’m having an awesome time in Japan. I was surprised at how familiar many things felt to me. Since we arrived it’s been go-go-go and yesterday was the first time we had a break from activity and students.

As such many of the team is still reeling (lots of introverts) and one member feels “lonely in a sea of people”.

Our first night in Utsu a 3rd year boy who I met last year, N-san, told me he was interested in God and wanted to read the Bible!

After the Sendai trip I saw 2nd year boy Y-san, a good friend from last year. He was super interested in the Bible last year and I really thought he faith in God and was on his way to understanding his need for Jesus. However, this time around he seems to have lost all interest and is concerned with living his life the way he wants. This was extremely heart-breaking for me and I find myself using a lot of energy to stay positive around him. I know that this change should drive me to love him more, but it’s tough.

If you ever find yourself at a loss of what to pray for, remember that many of these students know nothing about God or the Bible before they enter BEST club. I started following Christ at 13. It took me 13 years to understand growing up in a Christian home, how much harder is the challenge facing these students with 18 years of information and habits, none of it about Christ. They always need more understanding and faith.

Please pray

  • The team bonds and rests well
  • Myself and other summer friends get to read the Bible and share the gospel with N-san
  • I love Y-san well
  • The hearts and minds of the students are softened and their interactions with us build understanding and faith

Week 2 – June 10th, 2013 

Hello Everyone,

The first regular week in Utsu has passed which means everyone has gotten a taste of how ministry works here. Everyone seems to be enjoying hanging out with students and some strong friendships are already being formed.

After some extended time with God in prayer and a team Bible study, our lonely member is feeling much better.

I had a chance to read the Bible with N-san. I’m not sure exactly how he felt about it. It was pretty spontaneous and I didn’t have a plan, so I just had him join me in my regular quiet time. That day happened to fall in Luke 14 which includes the passage about hating family as a cost of being a disciple . I’m not sure I could properly explain it to a person fluent in English; I just prayed and spoke and hopefully the Holy Spirit took care of it. I haven’t had a chance to talk to him since, but I’m curious to see how he feels after having some time to think about it.

It’s been easy to show love to Y-san and genuinely enjoy hanging out with him, praise the Lord.

This tues night SIJ director Bryan is in Colorado and the student leaders are pretty busy with school, so me and Alanna (my fellow returnee) are running the “Joy Nite” Bible discussion (with guidance from Utsu BEST director Tomo). Please pray that goes smoothly.

Thank you all for your support,

Tony


Update: July 9th

Hello friends and family,

Sorry it’s been so long. At this point I have less than 2 weeks left here in Japan; I can’t believe how quickly this summer has flown by.

I’ve seen God do some amazing things in my life and the lives of others this summer! He’s moving mightily here in Utsunomiya, particularly this past week among the sophomore class. Here are some prayer requests:

Sophomore boy K-san and girl Mi-chan had some excellent discussions with summer friends this past week. K-san learned about sin, how Jesus mends God’s relationship with man, and how myself and another summer friend find hope and purpose in Christ. I wasn’t a part of the other discussion, but I heard Mi-chan had an apologetics type discussion and left it feeling like God does make sense. Both these students, while very involved in Bible discussions, have been very far from faith. Pray that they would dwell on these conversations and that a new faith would begin to blossom.

I’ve talked about Y-san before. He’s connected very well to Alex from the team and they hang out at least 5 times a week. My teammate tells me that much of Y-san’s current philosophy makes him too self-dependent and will eventually lead him to loneliness. Please pray that he will feel loved by those around him, particularly the believers.

Sophomore girls S-chan and Ma-chan have connected extremely well to two girls from the team and are responding. Ma-chan has been meeting for the last two weeks once a week to discuss the Bible with Vivian (team

leader) and this week S-chan started doing the same with Jordan (team member). Also, both have expressed a desire to continue through Skype once we leave! Pray that this openness bears fruit and that Heb 4:12 proves itself to be true.

Getting away from sophomores, God really placed it on my heart to be an encouragement to the believing students here in Utsu.

I finally had a chance to talk with N-san. Turns out while my discussion with him was challenging to hear, but he had already put his faith in Christ during the spring and was deeply not bothered. Since the summer friends’ arrival he’s hungrier than ever and is not afraid to tell his fellow students about his faith despite it being so new. He is a thinking man and loves to talk about philosophy, apologetics, and the Bible. I’ve been making an effort to get lunch/dinner with believing students to share testimonies. I think they have encouraged me more than I have them. To hear God working in such different circumstances and ways than I’m used to, yet finding at the core the Japanese are just the same as me and find true hope, joy, peace, and fulfillment in Christ; the whole experience has been amazing. I have yet to meet with two students. Pray that I get the opportunity, as scheduling time with older students is challenging and I have limited time left. Also, for all of the believing students, pray for their growth in knowledge and spirit.

As a side note, I’ve been practicing with the university ultimate frisbee club consistently. I’ve built some good friendships there and I hope to get some of them plugged into BEST. It’s not easy to bring up the Bible or even start spiritual conversation in the context in which I see them, but in this short time I’ve developed a heart for this group.

Please pray for my side ministry.

Thank you all for partnering with me in this journey and ministry. God Bless You

Tony