|The Church (the history of what has been happening)
Sanyo Grace Church had its beginning back in 1989 when TEAM missionary Ralph Cox, with the cooperation of the Saidaiji Christian Church, was surveying this area for the purpose of starting a church. He found this house that had a garage with an extension built on it, that lent itself to small meetings. Short-term missionary families lived in the house. The church started in the garage extension, but moved into the large extra living room after the attendance increased. After a string of short-term missionaries who each labored for the Lord witnessing through English Bible classes and various other ways in the community, the responsibility of the church was transferred to Saidaiji Christian Church (see link below). In the fall of 1994, the Bridgman career missionary family (see link below) came to Sanyo, and have been engaged in developing this church through, English conversation classes, culture and cooking classes, and involvement in the community.The Saidaiji Christian Church has sent one of their elders and his wife to be part of the ministry team.. Recently church attendance has begun to increase, and we are looking forward to what God has in store in the future for His church here in Sanyo. Your prayers make a difference! In the year 2000 we asked supporters to earnestly pray for men. God answered by sending several men into our group. Two of them continues to fellowship with us. (Pray for their salvation.) For the year of 2001 we asked God to send us whole families to become part of this fellowship. We had a few young couples visit, but none have joined yet. We changed the Sunday School time to the afternoon and several children came faithfully. Since before we had no regular attenders in Sunday School, we praise God for the wisdom given to make the change. In Spring 2002, the Bridgman family moved out of the church building into housing provided by the mission. In their new location they continue to make contacts with a whole group of new neighbors. One of those neighbors sent her two children to Sunday School. Church attendance increased and we had our first one day Vacation Bible School in August 2002. New people in church were preparing for baptism (one got baptized in December 2002, another in April 2003) and one of the Sunday school moms (not a believer, yet) had joined the adult Sunday morning English Bible study. The church set up a ping-pong table to reach jr. high kids. Sunday school had a Jr. High devision for the first time in spring of 2003. We need more men and whole families! Please keep praying! God blessed the year we were away (2003-2004) with the ministry of the McGuires. Two women and a single man prayed to receive Christ.
The Bridgmans returned to Sanyo, summer of 2004.
Our faithful Japanese co-workers, the Okazakis, had to leave Sanyo church at the end of 2004. Except for the help of a part-time pastor (Rev. Sano) it looks like church leadership has reverted back to the hands of us missionaries. Pray for national laborers. (2005) Dr. and Mrs. Yoshii, friends since 1997 have started coming to Sanyo Grace Church. Pray for their assurance salvation (We are talking about baptism soon). We are now studying Rick Warrens book The Purpose Driven Life in Japanese as a congregation. Game nights at our home and an evangelistic concert put on by the hand-bell choir from Christian Academy in Japan have been new ways that the Lord has given us for outreach. Sunday school attendance has wained and we have no kids in English classes. We sense that God is openning a new era of our ministry in Japan. Paul just joined a ground golf club of senior citizens. Japan is rapidly becoming a nation full of those over 60. We sense that God wants us to be effective in reaching them, too. Keep praying for God's wisdom in reaching people for Christ in Sanyo (now known as Akaiwa city). Summer of 2005, Christopher Fine and Josh Griffiths from Clarksville AR were our summer workers. Besides passing out about 4500 tracts, they taught American games to kids, and shared their testimonies at several Japanese churches and at a church youth camp. Praise God for the good work they did here.Praise God for the salvation of Dr. and Mrs. Yoshii. We have been witnessing to them off and on for the past 8 years. Many prayers have been offered for them. They are our first Christian couple at Sanyo Grace! They were baptized on October 2, 2005. A special evangelistic concert was held on October 16th, and one couple from the ground golf club came. It was their first time to come to a church funtion. Pray for Mr. and Mrs. Sugino. 2006.The Lord brought several Christians to the church. Mr. and Mrs. Yoshitani, Mrs. Oomori, Mrs. Taniai, and Mrs. Monden have joined our fellowship. We had one boy in Sunday school, but he moved away in December. Special meetings in the spring and an evangelistic concert in the fall were well attended. It was a special blessing to have Mr. Artie Hunt (from the Bible Church of Little Rock) minister with us here in October. We started having specialmeetings at our home for kids at Christmas.2007. We had our first ever Easter evangelistic meeting for kids at our home. Mr. and Mrs. Yoshitani became official members of the church on July 22. We also have found suitable land to build a larger church building.Pray for financial provision for land and building .We were blessed to have Dick McGuire and the pastor of his church in Michigan visit us in October 2007. We were encouraged by their ministry. Mr. Igarashi, a Christian businessman and his wife, have recently started coming to Sanyo Church.Thanks for praying for the church during 2007. We have seen the congregation grow into a more united body with their own vision for growth and evangelism. Miss Ishihara saw this web site (the Japanese part) and has joined with us. She has just accepted the Lord! (January 2008) We had record attendance for Easter Sunday! We had special evangelistic meetings with Dr. Keiko Fujii on September 28th. 21 people attended the meeting and were greatly blessed by the message. The Lord has provided land for us and the purchase of the land was approved at a church business meeting on November 2. The actual purchase of the land was on December 22nd. We are starting to plan the building and hope it will be completed by the summer of 2009. Mr. Igarashi and Mrs. Taniai are officially joining Sanyo Grace Church. God has provided a retired Japanese missionary to pastor the church while we are on home assignment! Pray for someone to continue the English ministry. Praeise God for the financing for the building. Pray that the churh will be able to pay back the loan quickly.
Please pray for God's continued blessing.