Thursday, March 3, 2016

Kite flying in the park. Spring is almost here!

Although I hear that the northern United States is still getting snow, spring is almost here in Shin-Urayasu, Japan.  We are looking forward to things coming alive again and especially the blooming of the cherry blossoms.

We recently went to a kite flying event in our community.  It is held every spring and is a good chance to spend time with our neighbors.  It was a little chilly that day but the sky was clear and we all had a great time.  (The organizers also provided hot miso soup and hot chocolate to keep everyone warm.)

Robert was able to see several men from the Dad’s group he is a part of and Lisa connected with several moms from our Mom and Kids Club.

We are so thankful for the privilege to live and work in Japan.

Thank you 

Thank you to the many people who responded to our 
End-of-the-year letter.  
We were able to raise $14,705.00 in special giving now 
And an additional $200.00 in ongoing monthly support.  

We are so grateful for the prayers and ongoing financial support of our ministry partners.

We are excited about 2016.  We continue to make friends in our community and pray that God would continue to build a strong and vibrant church in Shin-Urayasu.

Because the harvest has come.”  Mark 4:29

Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Shin-Urayasu summer festival is always a much anticipated event in our town.  The people that plan the festival each year are committed to creating a small town festival feel.  This means that instead of having professional venders come in with all the typical festival type foods, all of the festival booths are local businesses and local people selling home cooked meals.  It is a lot of fun and really gives you a sense of what the summer festivals in small rural towns are like.

I remember when I first came to Japan and I was living in Chiharadai, which is a small town in the country, that the festival was very similar.  Both create such a friendly atmosphere and a wonderful place to meet all of your neighbors on a cool summer evening.

In the center of the park is a small stage where performances are held throughout the evening.  Local dance clubs, musicians, and traditional singers all perform for the community as they enjoy an alfresco dinner on the lawn.  The highlight this year was a performance by the teachers from the local kindergarten.  The teachers, dressed in glittery outfits, preformed a Jazz inspired dance.  It was wonderful and so many of the kids in our community have been taught by these ladies.  (Our Isabel included.)

Our church was able to have a booth again this year.  We made 2500 cookies and were able to sell them all.  It is such a wonderful opportunity for us to be a part of the community.  We have a banner with the church name and one with the name of our children's program.  It is great way to make others aware that we exist and that we want to be involved in community life.  It was a lot of fun to work the booth and to have the chance to meet so many of our friends and to make some new ones.

We are so grateful for our friends, support team and churches who pray for this community and the work of the church here.  We continue to see God work through our church and pray that many in this community would come to know Jesus.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Our family has been back in Japan for three months and are settling into our new apartment and schedule. Thank you so much for your prayers for us.  Currently our team leader, Craig Coulbourne, and his family are on home ministry assignment in Baltimore, Maryland.  Everyone at Shin-Urayasu Grace Church is very busy without them and we are really looking forward to their return in October.  

Starting a church with a team of missionaries has a few unique challenges.  One of these challenges is the fact that the missionaries have to return to their home countries to raise additional financial support.  Our family returned to the United States last year and in September the final member of our team, Karen Darda, will be returning to Australia for seven months.  For several years, things at the church will always be changing.

With Craig in the United States for six months, we have had a different pastor give the sermon each week during worship.  Over the weeks I have come to appreciate what these pastors bring to our church.  Most of the pastors are from the area and it has been wonderful to hear updates on the other churches in the Presbytery.  On weeks that we have lunch together, it has been good to hear the stories of God’s faithfulness and to hear about new ideas for reaching out to our community.  Most of us are busy with ministry at our own church and do not get to visit other churches that often.  During this time, the other churches have been coming to us and it has been a blessing.

A further blessing has been the opportunity to pray for each other.  When the missionaries return to their home countries, the churches that we visit begin to pray more effectively for our church in Shin-Urayasu.  It is encouraging to know that people around the world are praying for our church and asking God for many people in our town to believe in Jesus.  The same is true as we pray for each other.  The visiting pastors bring prayer requests from their churches and we have the opportunity to pray for their needs. It is a privilege to come before our Heavenly Father and pray for the churches in Japan.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Akemi Elementary School, our neighborhood school and the one that Isabel attends, just celebrated their annual sports day.  

(undōkai  運動会 in Japanese)

The students start preparation for sports day several weeks in advance as they practice for their events.  As part of the sports day, the students preform a Japanese style dance and some amazing gymnastics. 

Sports day plays an important part in the life of our community.  Since all of the students in the school live in Shin-Urayasu, it is a time to catch up with your neighbors, and celebrate the students hard work and achievement.

Our family has become much more connected to this community since our first sports day four years ago.  Lisa knows several moms from her cooking circle, moms and kids club, and the school PTA meetings.  I am getting to know more of the dads from a dad’s group that I recently joined at the school.  We are so thankful for the friends that God has given us in this community.

Many of Isabel's and William's friends from school have come to events at the church.  We are thrilled to be a part of Shin-Urayasu Grace Church.  A church that did not exist four yours ago!

Monday, May 11, 2015

( Cherry blossom viewing.  Shin-Urayasu, Japan)

We arrived back in Japan just in time for cherry blossom season.  We spent a day in the park viewing the cherry blossoms with friends and relaxing after the long flight from the States.  Viewing the cherry blossoms is very important in Japan and everyone finds some time to go while the trees are in bloom.  

The Japanese poet, Motoori Norinaga (1730-1801) wrote:  “If I were asked to explain the Japanese spirit, I would say it is wild cherry blossoms glowing in the morning sun!”

Many of my Japanese friends have explained to me that Japanese people love cherry blossoms because they are like life.  Fleeting.  They last just a short time and then they are gone.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Robert and Lisa Stewart
Mission to the World Missionaries to Japan

Japan is a beautiful country filled with wonderful people.  The Japanese people are hard-working, resulting in a country that has very few poor people and low unemployment. They have almost a 100% literacy rate. Japan has health care for everyone, a lower infant mortality rate than the U.S., and the longest life-expectancy in the world.  

Yet, sadly, more than 99% do not know God’s grace through Jesus Christ.

The truth is that Japan also has the highest suicide rate in the industrialized world. More than a million young people are so traumatized by the pressure of society that they refuse to even leave their homes. Beneath the surface, the Japanese are hurting deeply.  Japan’s greatest need is the gospel of of Jesus Christ.  

Mission to the World is working diligently to bring God’s glory and grace to Japan.
MTW’s Tokyo church planting team has been working in the East Tokyo area since 1989. They have taken the lead in starting the following churches and church plants over the last 15 years: Oyumino, Chiharadai, Kokubunjidai, Makuhari, Honda, and Toke. Two of these churches, Honda and Toke, were started by the first church planted in Oyumino. Multiplication church planting - starting churches which start other churches - is one of the keys to seeing the small percentage of evangelical Christians in Japan grow.  This kind of church planting needs to be happening all over Japan. Toward that end, the MTW Tokyo Bay Team spun off of the Tokyo team in 2011, so that there could be another base from which multiplication church planting could begin.  

Outreach began in Shin-Urayasu in the Spring of 2011.
Urayasu City is best known as the home of Tokyo Disneyland.  However, there were other reasons calling the Tokyo Bay team to this location.  Shin-Urayasu is a section of Urayasu City being developed on a 1.5 square mile piece of land along Tokyo Bay.  When all of the building is complete, it is estimated that there will be 40,000 people living in this area, and there was no church of any kind.
The goal of the Tokyo Bay Team goes beyond a church  plant in Shin-Urayasu.  Many models of multiplication church planting are needed in Japan.  For this reason, the plan from the beginning was that the church planted in Shin-Urayasu would be a church which plants other churches.  Our prayer is that the Shin-Urayasu church plant will become the hub from which a network of church plants will be born, and that, within that network, many young Japanese church planters can be identified, trained and sent out.

Robert and Lisa Stewart, with their children William and Isabel, are a part of the MTW church-planting work in Japan. For many years Robert and Lisa worked with the MTW Tokyo team’s school for missionary children.  

In 2009, the Stewarts were invited to join the newly formed MTW Tokyo Bay team as assistant church planters. They moved to Shin-Urayasu City in 2011 eager to see a church started in a town that had no churches.  The Tokyo Bay team has focused on outreach through Bible studies, Bible programs for children, and participation in community events.  

Shin-Urayasu Grace Church started worship in March of 2012.  The church is establishing itself in the community as we seek to love God, love each other and our community.  Praise be to God.  

the time is Now! 

We pray that God would call many more Japanese to a saving faith in Jesus Christ and that Shin-Urayasu Grace Church would be a thriving, Christ-centered church committed to reaching the community, Japan and the world with the gospel of Jesus. “I tell you, now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation.”  2 Corinthians 6:2

We believe that God called us to start the church in Shin-Urayasu, Japan 
because the time for them to hear the gospel of Jesus is now!

We rely on the financial support of our church and individual partnerships.  Each year, we seek out new monthly support to fund ongoing programs and missionary support in addition to special gifts to make up our financial shortfalls for the year.  We are asking God to provide the following financial commitments by the end of 2014.

$1,500 in new monthly support
$12,000 in special gifts

Mission to the World Donations
P.O. Box 2589
Suwanee, GA 30024-0982

Give online at:
Tax deductible contributions for 2014 must be received by 12.31.2014

Contact Information:
Temporary Mailing Address: Until March 2015
Robert and Lisa Stewart
1710 Alvarado Court
Longwood, FL 32779

Cell: 850-743-9749

Pledge Card: print and return to Mission to the World donations address

Monday, February 25, 2013

Our MK's

Our kids with friends they brought to a church outreach event.  Please continue to pray for our kids as they are "light" at school.  Going to Japanese elementary school is challenging, but we are seeing the fruit of this struggle in their lives.  Our children, along with Andrew Coulbourne (the son of MTW team members), are the only foreigners at their school!  They are all adjusting.  Our family's circle of relationships continues to grow, so we have even more opportunity to reach out to our neighbors with Christ's love.