Whirlwind. If I had to choose one word to adequately describe these past several months, that would be it. Through it, however, we feel that much has been accomplished in a number of key areas.
In May I had the opportunity to help facilitate the tri-annual International Fellowship of FWB Meeting, this time in Brazil. There I served with Dale and Sandra Bishop as interpreter for our Japanese delegation of pastors.
May also brought Daniel and Megan home from college for the summer!
June brought us our annual E-TEAM high school ministry team. These high schoolers were in our area for five days, then in the Sapporo area for the remaining five. While here, they stayed in our home. Our teammates, Doug and Miriam Bishop and Rusty and Brenda Carney were mostly in charge of this team while they were with us. During their time in Eastern Hokkaido, they were able to do two separate home stays. Many of these non-Christian families that hosted them came to church with them on Sunday. For most, this was the first time ever in a church, or to hear a gospel message.
As the E-TEAM rolled out, the THP (The Hanna Project) volunteer team rolled in. Seventeen volunteers from Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee and Missouri came to help repair and remodel the Bihoro FWB Church. Bob and Sue MacGill came several days earlier than the THP team, and remained several days after to help pull off this large project. For approximately 10 days we hosted 21 guests in our home. Besides Linda’s already full schedule of schools (Japan’s summer school break is 3 weeks in August), taxi-mom runs and teaching, I don’t have to tell you busy she was. We praise the Lord for these who were willing to sacrifice their time and use their talents and hard work for the ministry here.
While Linda continued her “normal” busy, in mid-July and early August Daniel and Andrew worked in the fishing industry here. Before the last of the volunteers from the church renovation left, Megan and I loaded up the sound equipment and headed for the 18 hour ferry ride to the main island to meet the next group, “West End,” a small music outreach group composed of college students.
After three concerts in Tokyo, we toured them through the Tsunami Disaster Area, where there are still tens of thousands displaced, and living in temporary housing. There, they did a string of concerts, encouraging the victims and sharing the gospel in testimony and song. Most of these places are where we have continued to be involved for the last four years. We then brought them back to Hokkaido for concerts in the Sapporo area, and in Eastern Hokkaido where we are. One of these was an outdoor concert at our house. We were very pleased with the turnout, the message presented and the excitement in which they were received.
One of the last events for “West End” before we sent them back down south on the ferry was our All-Hokkaido one night youth camp. Immediately after sending them off, we held our Eastern Hokkaido two-day (tent) camp for our church kids and English students. This year we had almost 50 kids! And it poured down rain! However, we also believe God poured out His blessings on the camp as well.
All too soon it was time to say goodbye to Megan and Daniel again as they headed back to college. School started back about the third week in August and September has mostly been filled with doing the finish work on the Bihoro church project, and participating in annual meetings.
We are really looking forward to these next few months for two reasons. One, our schedule shouldn’t be so crazy busy facilitating visiting groups. But secondly, and most importantly, these are the months we can carefully follow up on so many of the contacts made through these summer ministries.
Please continue to keep our ministry team in your prayers. (Snows, Carneys, and Ishiis) We feel like we are entering a very strategic stage, and are at the start of moving forward with some innovative initiatives. One thing we have found – as we see God’s hand at work, we see Satan trying to work harder. We experience this first hand, and take both as an encouragement that God is moving. We are thankful that Pastor Ishii’s life was spared this past fall when he experience sudden and almost fatal heart trouble at the young age of 44. After emergency surgery and a long recovery, he is doing much better, although his ministry routine will significantly change. Thank you for your prayers!
Our passion is summed up well in our missions’ statement: ‘We exist to labor with the Body of Christ to fulfill the Great Commission’. Does this involve partnering together to plant churches in Eastern Hokkaido … in areas where there are no churches of any kind? Absolutely.
Over the past 6 years, our mission and support have been under a ‘general giving’ funding system. Ideally this meant all monies went into one central account that covered the budgetary demands of both the home office and field personnel. To be very frank, this has not proven to be the case. The simple fact is that our budgetary needs were not being met through the funds received under this system.
In the December 2015 annual FWB International Mission board meeting, the pressing need for more income was discussed at great length, and the unanimous decision was reached that we need to go to a ‘designated system’ of giving, very similar to what we had prior to 2010.
In light of this shift we would like to ask you to make a monthly commitment to support us as we labor the next five years in Eastern Hokkaido, Japan. You can designate to our account, the money will go directly there and will not be zeroed out at the end of the year. For those of you who have been giving to the General Central Account per our request when we moved to this system a few years ago, we are asking you to now designate that specifically to the Nathan and Linda Snow Account. Please be assured that this move is sanctioned and encouraged by our Home Office. Feel free to contact FWBIM or us directly (email@example.com) when further clarification might be helpful.
Your faithful monthly support is vital in helping us as we ‘labor with the Body of Christ to fulfill the Great Commission’. Simply put, if we are not able to make this significant transition, we can’t remain here and continue to share the gospel in Japan. Many of you have been partners in our ministry here for over 20 years now, and we don’t take that lightly. From the bottom of our hearts, we say thank you! Making this transition will be a monumental task. We covet your prayers and your support, and are looking forward to adding supporting partners to those who have been so faithful to support the work here for a long time now. Please keep us in your prayers.
On an exciting and fruitful note, two young adults have been studying the Bible with us weekly. Mr. Miyana is a young man living in a remote area with no church. His desire is to mature in the Lord and be used by Him to reach others. He commutes two-and-a-half hours to come study the Bible with us on Saturday night, spends the night with us, attends church here in Abashiri, then returns home where he works (as a government employee) to be a light there in his town.
Ms. Aya, a resident of Abashiri here, is in her own words, “believing,” and praying for God’s direction in following through with baptism. We are praying with her about how her decision will affect her family relationships, as they are opposed to her faith in Christ. Please pray for Ms. Aya as she moves forward, and even that her family will be won through her new life in Christ. Our first contact with her was through an English outreach class at the Abashiri Church.
Please realize that Ms, Aya and others, without your support, would not have these opportunities to hear the gospel! That’s God, working through YOU, to send us, to share HIS marvelous gospel!
Thank you, and God Bless You,
Nathan and Linda Snow