Nghi and Jessica Tran

Summer 2017 Ministry Update

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Looks like a vacation, doesn't it?
It has all the elements...beach, water, sunglasses, and hats, but what's missing? Shovels and swimsuits! This is us in Japan. More specifically, this is all 6 of us on a "school outing" in Kamakura with Nghi's Japanese class doing what we're called to do. Be present. Learn language. Build relationships. So our kids got a mere 20 minutes to peek into a couple tide pools before continuing on to visit a temple, eat soba, and visit a teacher's home. Was it worth the two hour trip there and back? Yes! Do we have a great idea for a fun spot to revisit? Yes! One of our core values is "We will minister together as a family." As much as possible this is our goal.

LANGUAGE LEARNING
Another core value that truly characterizes our almost one year of being in Japan..."Language is ministry." (E. Thomas Brewster)

宣教師も普通の人間です。
せんきょうしもふつうのにんげんです。
Senkyoushi mo futsuu no ningen desu.

The C&MA requires missionaries to spend two full years for language learning. As for us, we are one year into our study of this complex language. In terms of speaking, Japanese has less sounds than English. For that reason, there are many words that sound exactly the same. Writing is even more complicated. The three lines written above are actually the same. Each line represents a different writing system. The first line is a combination of Kanji (Chinese characters) and Hiragana (Japanese characters). The second line is all Hiragana. The third line is all romaji which is often used for foreigners who begin to learn the language. Since newspapers use many Kanjis, only people with a high school education and up can read it.

The meaning of this sentence is, “Missionaries are also normal people.” We live life as normal people do. We eat, we sleep, we work, we play. The new normal for us is to do these things in a different culture using a new language. Every morning, we take our four kids to school. We ourselves also go to school. Language learning is our full-time job during this period of our missionary life.

THE NEED
Having been in Japan for more than 10 months, we have witnessed both the positive and negative sides of Japan. A very clean and beautiful country with advanced technology, Japan welcomes millions of tourists each year. Yet, we see a tired and overworked people even to the point of death. Suicide rate (http://www.businessinsider.com/japan-rethinks-work-life-balance-after-suicide-2016-12) relating to overwork is increasing. People sleeping on the train, idols on the corners of streets, sexually explicit magazines available in public, homeless and drunk people on the streets…Recent studies show young people in Japan rank among the least happiest in the world (http://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2017/05/01/commentary/japan-commentary/japanese-teens-glum/) .

The need for the Gospel is even more urgent where on average there is one church for every 16,000 people. The numbers are worse in northern Japan. Seventy percent of Japanese pastors are age 50 and older. Since the population is aging quickly, churches in Japan are also declining at the rate of -0.4%. see Church (https://omf.org/blog/2017/01/17/japan-mission-church-infographic-team/) stats (https://omf.org/blog/2017/01/17/japan-mission-church-infographic-team/)

THE GOOD NEWS
God has "many people in this city" (Acts 18:10). We witnessed the baptism of a 76-year-old man who was prayed for by his wife for more than 20 years.

Nghi also met a pastor who was a businessman and quit his job to enroll in seminary.

Two weeks ago, Narita church held an opening ceremony for their new school which has a capacity of 120 kids. This school is supported financially by the Japanese government and yet is allowed to have Christian influence in their teaching.

Imagine young children at Hallelujah Kindergarten ages 1-5 listening to Bible stories and singing praises to Jesus in a land where Christian population is less than 1 percent.

Pray with us!

~The concept of "wa" (harmony) is especially important for the Japanese people. It is a unique and beautiful value. However, pray it doesn't stand between Japanese people and their faith in God. Jesus said, "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters-yes, even his own life-he cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:25-26).

~Language learning is fun, yet when it is considered full-time job for both parents, it can be very demanding and challenging. Please pray that we do not pursue language learning at the expense of our time with God, raising children in the way of the Lord, having time for one another and time for our friends and neighbors. Also, please pray that we are able to communicate well in the native language the love of God and the hope for Japanese people.

~Pray with us for our future assignment. We are halfway into our language studies and are planning our next steps to choose a place to serve and continue learning about ministry in Japan.

VẤN ĐỀ CẦU THAY!

~Khái niệm "wa" (hoà) là tinh tuý của người Nhật. Xin cầu nguyện để điều này không ngăn trở họ đến với Chúa, đặc biệt trong bối cảnh gia đình và cộng đồng xung quanh. Chúa Giê-xu phán: “Nếu ai đến theo Ta mà không ghét cha mẹ, vợ con, anh em, chị em mình, và chính sự sống mình nữa thì không được làm môn đồ Ta”(Lu-ca 14:25-26).

~Học tiếng rất thú vị nhưng khi điều này là công việc toàn thời gian, nó có thể trở nên một thách thức với nhiều đòi hỏi . Xin cầu thay để việc học tiếng không trở nên một cản trở trong mối liên hệ hàng ngày của chúng tôi với Chúa, trong sự nuôi dạy con cái theo đường lối Chúa, cũng như trong mối liên hệ với nhau và với những người xung quanh. Xin cầu thay để chúng tôi có thể truyền đạt rõ rang tình yêu và hy vọng của Chúa trong ngôn ngữ bản địa.

~Xin cầu nguyện cho nhiệm vụ sắp tới của chúng tôi sau khi đã hoàn tất việc học tiếng. Chúng tôi sẽ đến một Hội thánh người Nhật để phục vụ, tập tành sử dụng ngôn ngữ trong các bối cảnh mục vụ khác nhau trong vòng 2 năm tiếp theo.

Japan

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Updated: March 22, 2018

Children's Names
Madelynn
Hana
Emily
Andrew
Status
Field Assignment
Country of Service
Japan
Address
3-7-23 Koyama, Higashi Kurume Shi
Tokyo, 203-0051
JAPAN

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