The Rev. Nathan and Sharonette Bowman are ELCA missionaries in Kumamoto, Japan, serving in parish and social service ministries. To support the Bowmans, or another of the ELCA’s nearly 250 missionaries, go to www.elca.org/missionarysponsorship.
Merry Christmas. As we are preparing to honor God for his compassionate love for us, let us take time to reflect on the fact that it pleased and delighted God’s heart to give Himself, the greatest gift of all, to us.
As Christmas quickly approaches, in the midst of the many Christmas services, we are again challenged to remember the 830 children in children’s homes throughout Kumamoto Prefecture. This year marks the 25th Annual Christmas Toy Drive. By this time next week,we will need to have purchased gifts for these children, most of who are taken from their homes because of relentless abuse. Others are developmentally disabled and cannot be managed by their parents. Sometimes the parent is developmentally disabled. A few have no parents, having disappeared, died or abandoned their children anonymously. (Kumamoto still has the nation’s only “baby shelter.”) The presents that we look for are those that have a connecting function, where the child will need to play with another child to enjoy the gift to its maximum value.
As we were also planning for next year, we came across some amazing toy patterns from some wonderful people at Toymaker Press (toymakerpress.com). Nathan hopes to build some of these for the children in any spare time he may have next year.
Looking back on this year, together with the rest of the nation, we were stunned by an earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster in northern Japan, for which many of you gave generously. The relief work continues among those who have been devastated.
We had the joy and honor of being able to visit with some of you this last summer. Our next scheduled Home Assignment is in the summer of 2013. As soon as we returned to Japan, it was like we had never left. The opportunities for ministry are vast, and we try to be faithful to our Lord, Jesus Christ, as we serve on behalf of you. Thank you for your partnership in the gospel this year, for your prayers, support and encouragement.
May you find delight, joy, strength and the love of God in the gift of Jesus Christ.
Nathan & Sharonette Bowman