Greetings from Japan!
Summer in Japan is a season filled with many festivals. During these festivals, a small local shrine is carried throughout the neighborhood on the shoulders of volunteers. Children follow behind, chanting and dancing. They are asking the local gods to prosper and protect their neighborhood. Many of the people don't actually believe in the gods, but it is tradition and part of their culture. This makes it even harder to reach the Japanese people because many of them think to stop participating in these activities would mean ceasing to be Japanese.
Therefore, we are always looking for creative ways to show the Japanese that the gospel message is for all people, including the Japanese. Christianity isn't just another foreign religion for foreigners; it is a personal relationship with Jesus that is available to all people, including the Japanese.
One of the things we like to do is invite people to our home so they can see how we live and how God is a part of our everyday lives, not just a special occasion religion. This has been difficult to do during COVID as people are hesitant to visit other people's houses because they don't want to risk spreading the virus to their friends. However, we were able to invite some of Olivia's friends and their mom over. We had a special lunch and a fun craft time for making button bracelets. Eryn had been able to purchase a wide variety of buttons from America, and they were all surprised and impressed by the different shapes, colors, and sizes. It was a great time of fellowship, and the mom asked questions about the different Bible verses we have up in our house. Please pray with us that this family's hearts will be softened to the gospel.
Justin has started his graduate studies at Liberty University. He is pursuing a master's degree in Biblical Studies. He has also procured a position as a teaching assistant at Liberty. He is enjoying furthering his education while obtaining experience in teaching. Ax has finished his airplane airframe and power-plant certification. He finished at the top of the program and is now an FAA-certified airplane technician. Ax is in his junior year, finishing his Bachelor of Aviation Maintenance Management at Liberty University. Hunter is continuing to swim competitively while studying some college classes online. Many of the competitions have been canceled due to COVID, but they have recently started holding some of the events. Hunter was able to go to the state competition. Olivia is studying seventh grade and still enjoying ballet. She was chosen to dance a solo in her recent recital.
Thank you so much for your continued prayers and support of our ministry in Japan. There is such a heavy spiritual darkness in Japan since so much of its culture is tied to Shinto and Buddhist practices. Your prayers support us each day, and your giving enables us to remain in Japan and share God's light with the Japanese people who would otherwise have no other opportunity to hear of God's love. You are changing the lives of the Japanese people!
Your Missionaries to Japan,
Hiro and Eryn Bamba, Justin, Ax, Hunter, and Olivia