FABIO AND ELIZABETH -
BEGINNINGS IN JAPANWe met in Japan in 1999, Fabio, a native of Brazil, and Elizabeth, a native of the United States. We were married in April of 2001. Very shortly afterward, the Peruvian pastors of the church we were a part of had to return to Peru and left the responsibility of the church in our hands. We served there for about a year and a half, during which our first son was born, and then we began to feel the Lord call us for a season in America.
SERVING IN AMERICA - Hispanic Ministry
We arrived in America in September of 2003 and began to search for our "home church". We visited many nice churches over the next nine months, but nowhere that we felt was home. Until the first Sunday we visited Living Word Church in Lansing, Illinois. Both of us felt that we were at home, from that first Sunday.
The second Sunday we were at Living Word Church, one of the pastors, John Leitzel, began to speak to us about beginning a Hispanic ministry at the church. We were more than eager to do just that! We began with ESL classes at the church, but within a year, we felt sure that it would be more effective to simply preach the gospel to those who were truly hungry for the Gospel, because most all of those that came for ESL classes wanted nothing more than just to learn English! So we changed our course a bit and began to have Spanish Bible studies in our homes during the week, while finding ways to reach out into the HIspanic community with evangelism, and Fabio began to provide translation on Sunday mornings so that the Hispanic visitors could listen in Spanish through an ear bud.
Praise the Lord, we saw several come to the Lord during this time, several were baptised, and many were discipled. We were able to see the group mature in the Lord and come to the place where they were truly standing firm. The only "problem" is that as they came to this place of greater maturity in the Lord, they began to desire to get more involved in a church community. You see, even though they attended church with us, they were never able to get to know other members, nor sing along with the worship music, nor get involved in any other ministries at church, nor even really serve in any capacity, due to the language barrier.
So, after a season of a few months of discussing this with them and taking time to pray about it and encourage them to pray about it, we felt the Lord was asking us to release them to attend a Spanish speaking congregation. It was bittersweet for us, but we are very happy to say that they are all doing very well. We continue to stay in touch with them, and they are continuing to grow in the Lord! We praise the Lord for the opportunity to lead them to the Lord and see them grow up in Him.
THE NEXT STEP - BRAZIL
About the time that the Lord was asking us to release them to a Spanish-speaking church, He also began to move in our hearts, stirring us up with the word, "GO". We didn't know where to though, nor when, so we prayed. We prayed and sought counsel, and prayed some more and knocked on some doors, and kept praying. After about a year and a half, we were sure of what the Lord was leading us to. It is a long story, but we will skip to the end: the Lord was saying BRAZIL. He made it very clear the direction He had for us in the last few months before we left America, even finally confirming it in a very tangible way the same day we asked for a "fleece".
I was at work (doing a siding job) and towards the end of the day, I was in prayer, asking for a clear "sign". I was picking up scraps and nails from the ground, and as I glanced at the ground to my left, I saw a piece of brick that surprised me when I read in it: BRAZIL! It was as if those letters were screaming at me. That is when I finally surrendered fully and said: "OK. Let's do it!"
So, in December of 2009 we landed, and that is where we have been, in Santa Catarina in the southern part of Brazil, for over seven years. We began serving primarily in street ministry, among prostitutes, druggies, homeless folks and in the public schools. That is where we realized that the ROOT of society's problems is really the lack of family structure. As the Lord burned this passion in us more and more, our eyes were opened to see the great lack of vision in this area, even in the church. We began to shift our focus in 2011, and it has been our primary focus since 2012.
We have done family seminars, talks in various places, small groups, counseling one-on-one, as well as producing material on the subject. Through the published material, the leaders we have trained, and making our courses available online, we plan for this ministry to continue in our absence. You can see our ministry facebook page here and the ministry website here.
THE CLOUD MOVING ON: JAPAN
From the time we left Japan in 2003, we have felt in our hearts that one day we would return. We had no idea of the journey the Lord had prepared for us in the meantime, but we did feel sure that both in the United States and in Brazil, we were there only for a season and that one day the Lord would take us back to Japan.
About the time of the birth of our sixth child, Annaliese, the Lord began to move in our hearts that the time was drawing near. And so we came into yet another season of much searching, praying, knocking on doors, seeking counsel, praying some more, to be very sure of God's leading. It is not easy to move eight people across continents! Again. But in His faithfulness, God has once again made it abundantly clear, and we are now on our way.
As I write this update, we are less than three weeks from beginning our journey from what has become our home over the past seven years. We will go from here to Santos, then to Miami, then wind our way up to Chicago for about three months, and then on to Japan. In the beginning, we will be received by a church in Machida, in the Tokyo area, where our first focus will be for Fabio to study Japanese and for our family to get acclimated to life in a new country.
After this initial period, our goal is a town near Nagasaki, in southern Japan that has a population of 43,000 and not one church. Not ONE! Well, once we arrive, there will be one with eight members. :)
"How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent?" --Romans 10:14-15
*The Gospel cannot be known without mouths that will speak.
*The Gospel cannot be known without feet that are willing to sacrifice everything to go.
*Those who have left everything behind cannot stay and preach without those who send them.
*Both those who go and those who send cannot stand strong in their positions without intercessory warriors who will stand in the gap diligently on their behalf.
Three Ways To Get Involved:
*PRAY! (Intercede for us and the ministry.)
*SEND! (Support this ministry financially. Click on link for more info.)
*GO! (We will be very happy to receive short-term volunteers and church teams once we are in Japan!)
The Tsukayama Family:
Fabio, Elizabeth, Joshua, Dominique, Israel, Johann, Olivia and Annaliese