Monday, December 5, 2011

The Fruit of Our Lips: Thanksgiving and Praise

English Ministry Report for November 2011

The month of November is the month of thanksgiving. Not only because of the yearly tradition that we celebrate this event, but also of the many things the Lord has done in our midst and for these we are thankful to Him.

Our Thank Jesus It’s Friday! (TJIF) worship service at the YWCA last November 4 was our 8th meeting since it started this year. We are thankful to God for giving us the opportunity to offer this worship experience close to where the students are and to the universities where we do have outreach Bible studies. This certainly lends support to the campus ministry too.

Celebrating our church’s 64th anniversary on the first Sunday is something we are also thankful to God for. The psalmist said, Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! 
(Psalm 133:1-3, NKJV) The three congregations from the different services and representatives from the branch churches have joined together for a day of worship, fellowship and rejoicing in God’s faithfulness to the Assembly Kyoto Church. It is something that doesn’t happen often except on special occasions such as this. Indeed it’s a beautiful sight to see and feel our connectedness in Christ when we get together as one.

Lighthouse English Café (LEC) is another form of outreach to our community and English conversation students at church. We are grateful to God for sustaining this ministry as it winds up its second year of offering coffee, tea, sweets, and free interaction with both local and foreign English speakers. Most importantly, God helped us to create programs that tackle life issues as well as biblical themes that introduce people to a living and loving relationship with Christ. Last November 26, the last meeting for this year took place. Those who attended were able to enjoy games, good food, meeting new friends and testimonies of His grace. In addition, I shared a message on why it is important to be thankful to God and gave ideas on what are some of the things that we could be thankful for. Finally, the guests received their early Christmas gift of the season’s song selections in both English and Japanese.

The International Congregation held its annual Thanksgiving Dinner last November 27th. The menu included veggies, mashed potatoes and corn soup, and rotisserie chicken for the main dish. For dessert, there was pumpkin pie.

The real focus of the evening however, was on how people expressed their gratitude to God. There was singing, sharing of testimonies around each beautifully decorated tables and a sense of solemnity in simplicity and gladness of heart in the Lord, who is the Source of “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning” (James 1:17, NKJV). Swee Ho Lim, a doctor from Singapore who attends our church with his wife and daughter, shared about how he saw the hand of God in His life. He said that they were preparing to come to Japan since over two years ago. He almost changed his mind in coming because he got his family’s visa to Japan on the same day the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami struck on March 11th. Despite of it they came and he is still enjoying the blessing of being in Kyoto City, with our church and on how the Lord is using him and his family in serving the Lord. Brother Swee Ho is now leading a group of men from our church to a weekly Bible study and discipleship.

Indeed, space is not enough to express our thanks to God. Yet our hearts rejoice in the goodness of our great and benevolent Heavenly Father!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

September Highlights

“I’ll see you in September when summer is gone,” Sonny Curtis wrote this line in his song a generation or so ago. This somehow is true for many in our international congregation who are now back after being away for vacation. But, this past month will probably be best remembered for two significant events that took place in the church, namely: the Allan Alipio & Michelle Anne Tonks’ wedding; and, the visit of Rev. Dominic Yeo together with one of his pastors in Singapore, Pastor Derrick Yeo.

It’s a historic first for the international congregation to witness an international marriage from among its attendees after the 5 o’clock service here in church last September 18th. Allan is from the Philippines and Michelle is from Australia. There was another international wedding before but it was held somewhere else.

Select guests attended this solemn occasion from both the Christian community and some Japanese friends. The Ricohermoso children formed part of the entourage, while Atsuko Waka and Haruka Shitabayashi provided the special songs and church musicians accompanied them. Pastor Keiko Murakami delivered the homily with translation by Moto Harada while yours truly, officiated the ceremony. Michelle’s mother was also in attendance. The joyful celebration was a tribute to the redeeming power and love of God who brought this couple together after an untoward incident in their relationship.

On the other hand, Rev. Dominic Yeo who is the Senior Pastor of the 7000 plus members of Trinity Christian Center and the current General Superintendent for the Assemblies of God in Singapore came to preach with power to our congregants on September 25th. He exhorted the people to step in faith and claim breakthroughs for their lives and for the church. When it’s time for the altar call, most of them came forward for prayer and in response to the challenge. The spiritual exercise continued till late as people stayed on for corporate prayer. It was truly a real blessing to behold!

Rev. Yeo and his associate were in Japan for the Kansai Conference of the AOG. Seven representatives from the English service participated in the said conference and so were doubly blessed to hear Rev. Yeo when he spoke again at the church.

Many things are happening in and out of the church that space limitation prevents me from detailing to you the work of God among us. Anyway, please continue to pray for our Missions Month in October and wait for my next report on the forthcoming retreat. God bless us all!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A Time for Every Activity Under the Sun

While the heat of summer scorched the city, many people from our congregation had taken time to escape and relax elsewhere. My family, including.

It doesn’t mean, however, that nothing significant happened in the home front. We still had our regular activities going and going and going. We even had Chill & Grill, a summer barbecue tradition in the church garden. This year, 101 adults and children attended it. Some wore yukata (Japanese summer wear). There were games and an ample supply of kakigori (shaved ice and flavored with fruit syrup). A worship service capped the whole event with many non-Christians in attendance.

Though without a bang, a new discipleship group has started meeting on August 26th. Brother Swee Ho, a surgical doctor from Singapore, has agreed to lead the four young men into deepening their relationship with God and being accountable to each other through Bible study and other spiritual disciplines.

More information on our other initiatives are found and updated in the English website,

Please continue to pray for our upcoming events such as the retreat on October 8~10 and the speaking engagement of Rev. Dominic Yeo, the Senior Pastor of Trinity Christian Centre and the current General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God of Singapore on September 25th.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

July Is Not Quite Over Yet

News Nuggets

Thank Jesus It’s Friday!, a once a month worship service held at the Kyoto YWCA, marked our fifth gathering last July 1st. It was a rainy day, but people still managed to come for an evening of praise and worship. The next one will be held on September 2nd. In August, the place is scheduled for renovation.


Sakura Christ Church is an hour drive from Kyoto City. Beginning in July and almost weekly, I go to this church to assist them in their worship ministry. Keiko Murakami-sensei leads and organizes events for the said church since the current pastor is still recovering from an illness.


It’s really encouraging to see new people come to our campus outreaches at Doshisha and Kyoto universities. Learning the Bible in English is a rare opportunity for our contacts and is like hitting two birds with one stone.


This year’s theme for the English Camp held at the Utano Youth Hostel is, “Building Bridges.” A total of 26 people participated in the two-day intensive course featuring multi-tiered class lessons, songs, games, and other surprises. This year, the oldest attendee is an 82-year old woman and the farthest is from Yamanashi Prefecture.


Motomichi Harada, who earned his PhD in quantum physics in the U.S., is joining our ministry for about ten months before embarking on his seminary training.


Our Lighthouse English Café ministry is continually evolving. Thanks to the creative collaboration of our ministry team that crafts each month’s program. Truly, each month’s activity is something to look forward to. However, due to the room’s limited space we can only accommodate around thirty people each time. We praise God for our regular guests and volunteers.


The summer season has begun. Usually, we see the exodus of people from our church during this month – not only to escape the heat of summer but also due to transitions happening in people’s lives and careers. We had a farewell fellowship for Curtis Peters (Canadian) last July 24th. Next, Hiroya Iwabuchi is going back to his hometown in Hokkaido after finishing his studies at Ritsumeikan University. Early next month, we will also send off Millicent and Princess as they return to Ghana, Africa after a two or three-month research stint at Kyoto University.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Sounding off

Recent Milestones

  • It passed by quietly, but my family reached our 10th year of doing ministry in Japan on June 2nd of the current year. We've spent the last five years in the Kansai Region.
  • Last June 5 (Sunday), I finished a series of messages on I Peter that began sometime in January 2011.
  • New forms of ministry initiatives have been started with amazing results.
  • A little less than 20 nations and all continents are represented in our international service on Sundays.
  • Increasing our leadership base and intensifying intercessory prayer in the life of the church.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow. To Him be the glory!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


I am re-posting here an updated prayer list from Anne Kathleen Winters. This was posted on the CRASH website this early morning of March 16th, the fifth day since the historic 9.0 earthquake that hit Japan.

Thank you very much for holding us up in your prayers.

Pastor Joseph Ricohermoso


Bullet-point Prayer List

Postby anne.winters » Mon Mar 14, 2011 8:06 am

At 2:46 PM local time, March 11, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake struck Japan off the eastern coast of Miyagi Prefecture. This is the largest recorded earthquake ever to have struck Japan, and one of the five largest recorded earthquakes in the world.

  • Days after the earthquake, heavy aftershocks are still being felt throughout Japan, with no way of knowing how long these aftershocks will continue. Some experts have said that there could be strong aftershocks of up to magnitude level 8 for six months. Please pray that the earthquakes will cease.
  • Pray also for the buildings that survived the initial shock, but are being hammered by the aftershocks. Many buildings still stand, but were weakened, and because of this strong aftershocks are very dangerous.
  • The devastation from the initial earthquake was compounded by heavy tsunami that hammered the east coast. Sendai City was hit the hardest, both by the temblor and the tsunami. Some towns were entirely obliterated by the tsunami. At 6 PM on Sunday, March 14th, tsunami advisories across the eastern coastal region were finally lifted, but with the threat of strong aftershocks, the threat of tsunami still loom. Praise God that these tsunami have ceased for the time being. Please pray that the affected areas remain safe from further tsunami.
  • Due to the seismic activity, the ground level in much of coastal Japan actually sank, so sea water that came in during the tsunami is not receding. This is hampering relief efforts. Please pray that relief teams will be able to work safely in these areas.
  • In the wake of the earthquake, fires raged throughout affected areas. Pray for the victims of these fires and those who have lost their homes.
  • Hundreds of people are still stranded in damaged areas. Rescue is difficult due to the remaining tsunami water. Please pray for their swift rescue.
  • Casualty reports are still coming in. The death toll estimates keep rising. There are over 2,500 confirmed dead. It is possible that the death toll could exceed 10,000 in Miyagi prefecture alone. Pray for those who have lost their loved ones. Pray for those who are trapped and injured, as well as those who are missing friends and family.
  • Tens of thousands of people have been evacuated from their homes in the coastal areas and the area around the Fukushima nuclear power plants. Conditions for these people are terrible. There is a shortage of food and water; some people are getting little more than a single rice ball and a bottle of water to sustain them for a day. Night temperatures in northern Japan are bitterly cold, and there is no electricity for heat in many of these areas. Please pray for them, and all who are having to stay in public shelters.
  • The future is uncertain and grim for those who have lost everything in this disaster. Pray for hope.
  • Relief workers are working around the clock to rescue survivors, but reaching many victims is proving incredibly difficult due to the rubble and water levels. Pray for the relief workers, that God would grant safety and stamina.

  • In Fukushima Prefecture, two nuclear power plants are under a state of emergency. At the Fukushima Daiichi plant, there have been three reported explosions so far, injuring over a dozen workers. The number 4 reactor has broken out into flames two times. Pray for wisdom and strength for those who are struggling to get this situation under control, and for the workers who are risking their lives to prevent this situation from worsening.
  • Everyone within 20 kilometers of the plant has been evacuated, and those from 20 to 30 km away are being advised to stay indoors and take precautions against exposure. Pray for those who have been evacuated, and for those who are trapped indoors and frightened for the future.
  • Elevated radiation levels have been detected as far away as Tokyo. To constitute a health risk, these level would have to be hundreds of times higher than they currently are. The Japanese government is taking appropriate measures to protect its people. Please pray for people to be calm and to refrain from overreacting in fear.
  • Many of the stories being spread are alarmist and based on little more than panic. These stories are causing more fear and stress in a situation where people are already taxed to their limits. Please pray for the spread of proper information.
  • Pray also for the weather. With radiation being diffused into the air, wind or rain could carry it into populated areas and expose people. Pray that any wind will carry radiation out to sea rather than into populated areas.

  • Public transit systems in Tokyo and the surrounding areas are taxed to the limit by this disaster, and the transportation companies are no longer confident that the infrastructure can handle rush hour traffic. Please pray that this transportation situation can be resolved.
  • Millions of homes in northeastern Japan are without power. This has led to Japanese power companies arranging planned blackouts to conserve energy. Millions of people are still without water. Pray for the power plants and water facilities to be able to resume their work, and pray for those who do not have these essential supplies.
  • Pray for the Christians of Japan, that we would be able to mobilize relief efforts and provide for people's needs, both physical and spiritual. Pray also for the impact this is having on regular ministries, that Christians would be able to help their neighbors to remain calm, and that we would be able to provide comfort for the grieving.
  • Pray for areas where food, medicine, and drink shortages are occurring. The Japanese government has assured its citizens that there is enough food, and has had to advise its citizens to stop buying up supplies, so that relief teams can carry supplies to those in disaster-struck areas. Pray for people to remain calm, and for relief teams to be able to get hold of what they need to help the suffering.
  • Gasoline shortages are starting to become a very large problem. In many areas, gasoline rations are in effect. Pray for gasoline for those who need it.
  • On Sunday afternoon, Shinmoedake volcano on the island of Kyushu erupted, spewing ash and boulders into the air. So far, no casualties have been reported. Pray for the safety of the people of Kyushu.
  • Pray for the Japanese economy, for which the outlook was grim even before this disaster. Since the earthquake, massive losses have been posted, and there is no telling what impact this disaster will have on the economy for the long term.

  • Pray for relief teams that are on the ground, assessing needs in disaster-struck areas, and providing supplies to evacuees. Pray for their safety and maximum effectiveness in providing relief for the suffering.
  • Pray for supplies, especially gasoline.
  • Pray for salvation and hope for the people of Japan, and pray that Love on Japan can do its utmost to spread hope and the love of Christ in this difficult time.
  • Pray for stamina for all those working relief; for enough rest, for emotional fortitude, and unshakeable faith.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Prayer Alert

Japan Calamity on Three-Eleven

The mighty oceans have roared, O Lord. The mighty oceans roar like thunder; the mighty oceans roar as they pound the shore. But mightier than the violent raging of the seas, mightier than the breakers on the shore — the Lord above is mightier than these! (Psalm 93:3–4,NLT)

The earthquakes and tsunami in Japan are two of the most horrific natural disasters in recent history, with over 1000 confirmed dead (at the time of this report) and thousands still missing. In addition to this tragic death toll, there exists a high probability that disease will claim thousands more in the coming months.

With a natural disaster as grave as this, it is vital that the body of Christ responds through fervent prayer and sensible action.

Prayer is the most effective way that we can help. I ask that we make a serious commitment to prayer in this time of tragedy. As Christians, we must keep this disaster at the top of our prayer lists. Every time we hear recent news on this event, we must pray and pray specifically!

The following are some suggested ways to pray:

Pray for the people affected by this disaster every time you hear about it.

Pray for the healing of the injured.

Pray for the families who have lost loved ones.

Pray for those people who have lost their homes.

Pray that disease and the spread of disease are avoided.

Pray that nuclear disaster would be averted.

Pray for the wisdom, safety, and strength of relief workers.

Pray for an opportunity to minister in a tangible way.

Pray that the gospel will be proclaimed and heard by those who have never heard it before.

In addition to prayer, we should take action in every way possible. Here are some Christ-like ways for you to make a difference in this time of need:

Give: You can help fund the efforts in Japan through your financial support. We are partnering with our brethren from many places to bring about the needed support to the most affected. Your faithful gift will be directly given to the relief and recovery efforts.

Likewise, we will accept food, water, and other basic necessities in due time. Please wait for our instructions when to bring those.

Share: It’s easy for people to blame or question God during times like these. I encourage you to take this opportunity to share the love and grace of God with those struggling with the magnitude of this tragedy.

Volunteer: Please consider joining us in reaching out and helping the survivors.

It is my prayer that through the power of the Holy Spirit, God directs you to minister Jesus to those in need, whether it is by volunteering, through your faithful support or prayer.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Heart's Day

As much as possible, I try to avoid being away from my family especially on special occasions. However, this time is different. I attended a conference with fellow missionaries with the International Teams in East Asia. I miss my loved ones and my schedule doesn't allow me to be home in time for Heart's Day.

The conference was very uplifting and the committee did a great job in achieving the goal of this year's theme. Soul care, that is.

We met new faces and heard wonderful testimonies of what God is doing in the Eastern hemisphere. I can't document the stories here, but I would be very happy to share some of them orally when I get home.

See you soon!