Ueki Family Newsletter – February 2017

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By the grace of God, I finished my Th.M. at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary last December. As a family, we thank you very much for the continued generous support and prayer.

In this newsletter, we would like to share how God blessed us during our seminary life as well as our next steps.

Th.M. Completed!!

I finished my Th.M. study in December 2016. I praise God for His mercy and grace since I started the program in September 2015. I also want to sincerely thank each one of you for your words of encouragement, prayers, and financial support!

Needless to say, seminary was very challenging. No course was easy at all, especially for someone like me whose English is a second language. Assignments took at least triple the amount of time to complete compared to others whose English was their primary language. Staying in the library from morning till night-time became a part of my normal life. Because of the balance between studying and spending time with family, I reduced my class load which extended my timeline by one more semester. Those 18 months were not beautiful. In fact, it was rather messy.

However, God’s love and grace towards us never changed. His grace not only sustained my seminary life, but he supplied more than enough to allow me to thrive! Each seminary course deepened my understanding of the Word of God and the people of the world. Each preaching assignments let me confirm the privilege and responsibility of being a preacher. Most of all, God always reminded me of the tremendous need for the solid gospel-centered, and grace-based preaching in Japan.

So again, I thank all of you who prayed, encouraged, rebuked, taught, loved, and supported us! All of my achievements could not have been accomplished without you.

Next Destination… “JAPAN”

After a long period of prayer and discussion, God showed us a clear path for the next step—JAPAN!

The last three months were a very challenging time for Sawako and I. While we were seeking God’s direction, we also had our own desires and hopes. Sometimes we talked and prayed, but sometimes our discussions turned into arguments. We prayed and waited. However, during those couple months, God was indeed still working. He closed many doors, but then opened one door. Finally, last week, God clearly showed us a path.

“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” —Proverbs 16:9

We will go back to Japan and live in Chiba City (a suburb of Tokyo to the East). I will join Mission To the World (MTW)/Australian Presbyterian World Mission (APWM) Japan team, and will be starting a new church plant in Chiba City Center as an associate pastor. Also, I will have an opportunity to teach Preaching courses at the seminary.

Japan has always been our ministry focus and our calling, which is why we are very excited to return to Japan and start a new phase of our life!

Start from April, 2017!

We will fly back to Japan at the end of March. In the meantime, as we prepare to move, I will travel to several cities in the US to raise support for the church plant. Please pray for our remaining time in Boston and for the Lord to bless all of the fundraising efforts.

Prayer Requests

  1. Please pray for the move and for a smooth transition:

    We came here with 12 suitcases, and we will go back to Japan with 12 suitcases. We will get rid of many furniture and belongings. We also need to find a house or apartment to live in Chiba. Please pray for the process of moving and for it to be a smooth transition.

  2. Please pray for our kids: John, Jay, Yuzuri, and Joe.

    The kids will say good-bye to their school teachers and friends in the middle of the semester. They will then start a new school year in Japan. It is never an easy process for kids, so they will need special care during this season of transition. Please pray for our children, especially for their mental and spiritual health.

  3. Please pray for Shohei’s and Sawako’s health:

    Sawako has not had her post-cancer follow-up appointments since last July. We will need to make an appointment immediately upon arriving in Japan. Please pray for Sawako’s health and her follow-up appointment. Also, please pray for Shohei’s mental health as he travels and connects with several people to raise support these next two months. Please pray for God’s peace and conviction on him.

  4. Please pray for the ministry in Chiba.

    Many of you know, Japan is one of the most challenging mission fields. According to the Joshua Project, the Japanese are the second largest unreached people group in the world — making up 0.3% of evangelical Christians. We are going to a spiritually dark place. It is true that we are thrilled to return to our home country. However, the transition from life in the US to ministry life in Japan will be challenging for us. So please pray for our life in Japan and ministry in Chiba.

  5. Please pray for our financial situation:

    As we move back to Japan and start a ministry, we will need financial support. Currently, we are at 55% of the goal. To reach 100%, we need $2,500 in monthly donations and a one-time donation of $12,500. Please pray for our financial needs and please prayerfully consider supporting us.

Ueki Family Newsletter – October 2016

It has been already 14 months since we moved from Nagoya to Boston. Time flies! We are so grateful for your prayers and support! Thank you very much!!

Life in New England

Fall in New England is extremely beautiful. Leaves turn from green to vivid yellow and red. Cool and fresh air brings us the smell of the forest. Squirrels go here and there actively collecting acorns to prepare for a cold winter. If people were asked when is the best time to visit Boston, they will definitely say fall is the best. So if you are considering visiting Boston, please come now!

When we see this beautiful nature, we wonder how much more God ’s blessing through our human relationships is amazing. We are surrounded by wonderful people, wonderful seminary faculty and fellow students, wonderful people in church, wonderful friends in Japan and wonderful supporters all around the world! And we are here in Boston because of your prayers and support. What a blessing! We are grateful for you all! We are grateful for your love and support as we spend this precious time and training for ministry in Japan. Thank you!

Fall Semester

I am taking my final semester for the Th.M. degree. This semester, I take two classes related to preaching in the Japanese context. One class is called “Cultural Exegesis for Preaching.” The class aims to understand the specific cultural context and apply our preaching to the people in the context. The students pick one specific cultural context, do research, and apply it to their preaching. I chose young adults in Tokyo. I did some research and interviewed a pastor in Tokyo. But it’s not a class only about research. We will preach from our studies and apply it to the specific context. I always appreciate these classes because they’re very practical. Although I am excited to preach in class in a couple weeks, I cannot wait to preach to real people in Japan!

Kids School

One of our biggest worries was our kids’ schooling. But it has turned out to be the biggest blessing. Our kids love school! John spent a successful 7th grade and now he is an 8th grader. He started cross country running and he is one of the top 5 runners in the school! Jay entered 6th grade in middle school. Jay was scouted by a soccer coach and started to play soccer now! Yuzuri is in 3rd grade and plays with girls in the apartment all day. The biggest surprise is our youngest Joe. He became a Kindergarten student! Since Sawako’s first pregnancy, she has been with at least one child all the time for 14 years. Now she is done!!

What’s Next?

I am graduating seminary in December. What’s next? Well, it’s not clear yet. One of the opportunities is to go on to doctoral study. By God’s grace, my Th.M. study was very blessed and professors recommended me for Ph.D. study. Thankfully, one professor offered to be my supervisor if I apply to the program. If the Lord is willing, I want to pursue this opportunity and contribute to Japanese preaching studies. Another possibility is to serve in a church in the US and prepare for ordination. To do this, I need to do an internship for a year in the church. I believe both study and ordination are important preparations for my ministry back in Japan. Please pray God’s clear path for the next step!

Prayer Requests

  1. Please pray for our next phase:

    We need make a decision for the next step as soon as possible. Please pray for God to give us a strong conviction for in this. And please pray for our faith and obedience to follow His direction.

  2. Please pray for our health, physical health, mental health, and Spiritual health:

    For a certain reason, Sawako had to cancel her post-cancer checkup this month. We need to figure something out but it is very challenging right now. Please pray God would provide a constant check-up opportunity. Also please pray for Shohei’s mental health, as he both finishes up his study and searches for the next opportunity. Please pray for God’s peace on him.

Ueki Family Newsletter: May 2016

Thank you very much for your continued prayers and generous support. Ueki family is doing well and enjoying life in the US. It has been so long since our last update. We are very sorry for not being able to keep you updated throughout, but we would love to share our life with you up-to- date now in this newsletter!

Life in the US

The first year living in a foreign country is always challenging. But thankfully we are settled here in Boston well. Shohei is surviving seminary life (actually he is enjoying it very much). Sawako is also enjoying her life with her new friends in the seminary and church community. John, Jay and Yuzuri are enjoying their schools. And Joe enjoys playing with his friends in the apartment community. We praise God who has been faithful and gracious to each one of us!

We are also blessed by our new church as well. The church is called First Presbyterian Church (FPC) Northshore. They have multiple programs we can join. Sawako joined the women’s Bible study group. Although it is very challenging for her to do Bible study in a foreign language, she enjoys the study and friendship with other members very much. Now, we are involved in their church planting as regular attenders. When we started to go to FPC, they just started their new satellite church planting in another town. Since we did church planting in Japan, the atmosphere and environment are suitable for us. So we decided to be settled in this campus.

Fall and Spring Semesters Ended!

Last Friday, I (Shohei) finished my second semester. Including last Fall semester, those 8 months were very concentrated and full of rigorous study time. While I faced many challenges, the blessings of the studies are tremendous. One of the highlights is from the course called “Preaching for Special Occasions.” The students learn about preaching for special occasions such as weddings, funerals, baptisms, and even after dinner speeches. We preached once every two weeks on each of these topical occasions. I found many cultural differences between America and Japan regarding these special occasions. But the common ground is that we are called to preach the Christ-centered gospel message in any and every occasion with love and sincerity.

Kids School!

The kids enjoy their school lives very much. John is in 7th grade in middle school (Wow, John is in middle school already? Unbelievable!). Jay is in 5th grade and Yuzuri is now a 2nd grader. And, Joe is still staying home now but he is going to be a kindergarten kid this coming fall. In fact, Joe is an English fluent speaker now. And one headache we have as parents is that Joe speaks more English than Japanese! In order to remember his Japanese, we had to make a rule, “No English at home.” Please continue to pray for our kids’ education and growth.

What’s next?

Shohei was supposed to finish all Th.M. study and graduate this May, but we decided to extend to one more semester. One of the main reasons is balancing between study and family. While study is very important in the seminary life, I cannot do anything without my family. So, we decided to reduce course work and spend more time and energy with family. Thankfully, God blessed Shohei’s study and also family time and bonding, especially during spring semester. Shohei will take two courses in fall semester and then will graduate.

Prayer Requests

Your prayers are always appreciated. We believe your prayers are the strongest weapon and protection as we live our lives and follow His mission. So, please join our prayers!

  1. 1)  Please pray for our family unity:

    Praise the Lord for His blessing and grace for our family! Please pray for us that we with continue to love and serve one another with sacrificial love!

  2. Please pray for our health, physical health, mental health, and Spiritual health: Thankfully, the kids are all well and energetic! Sawako is monitoring her post- cancer checkup. She also has been feeling the symptoms of hypoglycemia lately. She went to Harvard Diabetes Center and checked her health issue. Please continue to pray for Sawako’s health.
  3. Please pray for Shohei: Please continue to pray for Shohei as he continues with his fall semester in September and finishes his study. Also please pray for him as he goes to Indonesia for attending Lausanne Younger Leaders Gathering (YLG) in August. Please pray for Sawako and kids while Shohei is away from the family.
  4. Please pray for our financial situation: Since we have decided to extend our stay, we will need some financial support. With health insurance and apartment rent, we will need $11,250 more in needed donations. Please continue to pray for us.