October 2010 Newsletter

The Mercers in Yokosuka – Prayer Newsletter

October, 2010

EQUIP Japan: This photo was taken at the Biblical Church of Tokyo last month where I attended the John Maxwell EQUIP training. Going left to right, first is Pastor Sam Webb, a senior leader in our church movement. Standing next to him is Felix Camacho, the Governor of Guam, a member of the church that Pastor Sam is currently pastoring in Guam. Governor Felix came with his wife just for this conference. Next is my pastor, Scott Douma, followed by me and then two men who are helping me out in the Yokosuka church, Stephen Zimmer and Masayuki Fukushima.

I’ll be teaching two of the EQUIP sessions in Yokohama this Saturday. I’ll be teaching in English with a translator from the Yokohama church and this bilingual course will be used for the Bible training school. Please pray for me that the Holy Spirit will teach through me.


James’ first vehicle

James passed his scooter driver’s test and has his first driver license and a church member gave him a 50cc scooter and a helmet. This is a huge blessing for James. No more bus. Now he can ride his “bike” to church to teach music lessons, to Starbucks for his part-time job, and to the train station for his ride into Tokyo to his college.

Please pray for financial provision for James who is in his second year at Sophia University now and has only a 1/3 scholarship. He has a big tuition payment due in November.


Alishea leading worship

I snapped this picture recently while some of the young people were practicing music for our youth service. We now have a special second service on the last Sunday of every month at 3:00pm for the youth. Alishea has become one of the key leaders in this group.

Please pray for the young people that are being saved in our city. Some are struggling with peer-pressure, habits, and tough situations. We are working hard to create an atmosphere and culture of discpleship. With prayer, these young lives are going to be transformed into powerful leaders.

Our next event is this Sunday, October 31st. We have a worship service, party, potluck and movie planned from 3:00pm to 8:00pm.

 

Special Prayer Request

We are about to go to the next level in our growth as a church and I have been feeling that I need to pray more and ask our ministry partners to pray more. So I am praying more personally and I am asking — would you please take a little time and pray for us in the next two weeks?

On Friday and Saturday, November 5th and 6th, we are going to have our first Ladies Victory Weekend in Yokosuka. This is an overnight retreat with lots of teaching, praying, counseling and impartation. The purpose is to set free, to equip and to commission new believers to live victorious Christian lives.

Kaku Sager is going to come and help Satomi as she leads this event along with several of our ladies who are small group leaders. We would greatly appreciate your prayers – especially for the following ladies who will be teaching:

Victory Weekend Teachers

  • Satomi
  • Kaku
  • Miwako
  • Ely
  • Marga
  • Teresa
  • Donnette
John 8:36 – So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

My multi-talented wife

Satomi was recently asked to write a lengthy devotional for a Japanese language Christian magazine. It should be out in November so I will send a link when it is published. Besides keeping our family going and leading a growing church, she is staying close to God in her devotions. Recently she has been telling me about a growing burden she has for orphans in Africa, and especially a ministry called the African Children’s Choir. She is praying that she can visit Uganda and that the Choir can visit Japan. I’m sure she would appreciate your prayers too.
 
Signing off until next month…
Aloha, Yorokobi and Shalom
(Love, Joy and Peace)
Ray Mercer and family
 

How to become a financial partner in our ministry to Japan

You can send a one-time or monthly financial gift to help support our work in Japan by clicking on the following link and following the instructions:
 
 Our mission organization, Every Nation, is a member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountibility (ECFA). All contributions are tax-deductible in the United States and we are committed to the highest level of non-profit financial accountability.

Summer 2010 Newsletter


 The Holy Spirit is changing lives in Yokosuka.  Share the joy!

 

Group photo from our recent church barbeque in Umikaze Koen, Yokosuka.

Summer Harvest – More Baptisms

 

Nine new believers baptized in September
Japanese, Filipinos, and Americans added to the church

 
 
YOKOSUKA – Our summer baptisms at Tatarahama Beach in Yokosuka are a joyful time for the whole church. We had our biggest baptism to date in September. Nine new believers committed their lives to Jesus and followed him into the waters of baptism. This is a big step for Japanese believers especially because it signifies that they are not just adding another god to worship, but actually dying to the old life and commiting to obey Jesus as Lord of their lives.
 

Family News

 

Attending a wedding in Shimada

 Alishea is visiting the orthodontist at the Dental University in Yokosuka every month. She is enjoying the fact that her teeth are straighten out nicely and she hopes to get her braces off by the time she graduates high school in 2012.

James has just started his second year of university in Tokyo. He is working hard to put himself through school and has taken a lot of roles in the church too.

Satomi is celebrating her birthday tomorrow and we just celebrated our 23rd wedding anniversary last Sunday. 10-10-10 only comes around once a century so it is fitting that I got to celebrate my marriage to a girl who is one-in-a-million on 10-10-10.

How to stay in touch?

 

Thank you for your prayers and support

Youth Camp

 
James leading worship at youth camp
 
YOKOHAMA – About 90 young people gathered at Yokohama Grace Bible Church last July for four days of seeking God’s Presence and direction. James led a diverse group of kids from Yokosuka and every one of them came back with great stories of how God had touched them. Three of these kids got baptized the following week.
 
 
The Yokosuka gang at camp
   

Prayer Requests

  • New youth are coming in and some have problems, addictions, even trouble with the police. Please pray for truly changed hearts and the power of the cross of Christ to work in their lives. For true discipleship to happen in the small groups. For leaders to be raised up.
  • We are now planning our first Victory Weekend in Yokosuka. This is an important step in our discipleship process, an overnight retreat for new believers to get true freedom and launch into their Christian lives. Please pray for the preparations, the teachers, and the new Christians. Kaku Sager will come and help us teach our first Victory Weekend which is scheduled for November 5 and 6.
  • Ray will be flying to Sapporo this weekend to minister with Pastor Scott Douma and visit a Bible College their with ties to our church in Hokkaido. Please pray for the ministry and the believers in the church in Sapporo. Also please pray for the Yokosuka Church leaders who will be ministering this weekend without Ray. Neal Kawamoto will be preaching in Yokosuka and Satomi will translate for him.
  • For increased financial support during this difficult economy and sinking exchange rate. 

How to partner with us?

 

To send a secure, online, tax-deductible (in the U.S. only) gift designated to our work in Japan click on the link below or paste it into your web-browser. You can use your credit card or checkbook to help us continue making disciples, training leaders and planting churches. If you have any questions or want to find out what needs we currently have, please contact us directly.

https://admin.everynation.org/giving/?P=010229

Our mission organization, Every Nation, is a member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountibility (ECFA).

 

Best free personal anti-virus software

UPDATE!

If you run Vista or Windows 7 you now have a new free anti-virus option called Microsoft Security Essentials (or MSE). When I first reviewed this product (before MS officially launched it) it was going to be a paid subscription option. Since there were free options available, I decided to ignore MSE and review only totally free options. Last summer I set up a new computer for my father-in-law running Windows 7 and when it came time to delete the 60day trial of Norton and choose a free anti-virus product for him I remembered MSE. In recent updates, PandaCloud has begun showing popup nagware screens urging users to update to the “Pro” (literally – “Pay” version). So I was very happy to find that MSE is now available as a totally free add on for all licensed Vista and Win7 users.

MY NEW BOTTOM LINE RECOMMENDATION (for Vista and Win7 only)

The following article now applies to WinXP machines only (please see update above for the best choice for Vista / Win7) 

—— original article published in Dec, 2009 ——

QUICK SUMMARY

Anti-Virus Products – Fear and Bloat
Virus software is sold based on fear. For most users it is the fear of the unknown – because they hear the buzzwords like “worm”, “trojan”, “hacker”, “rootkit”, and don’t really have any technical understanding of what these dangers actually refer to. Virus companies always tend to take advantage of this fact by adding more and more unnecessary features instead of focusing on the basic core feature set which is really all that most users need – anti-virus. So as product lines mature, the product usually goes from “virus protection” to “firewall”, “link scanner”, “e-mail scanner”, “malware”, and even into meaningless items like “shields”, “innoculation”, “cleaner”, and so on.
My History with Anti-Virus (skip this if you are not into geeky details)
Even back in the days when Microsoft was making the radical switch from (16-bit) Windows 3.1 to (32-bit) Windows 95 I felt that virus companies were adding too much bloat. Years ago, I switched from using McAfee’s anti-virus to Norton’s anti virus product. Norton began to evolve its product line to include products like “Total Internet Security Suite.” Well, who wouldn’t want total safety, right? The problem was, these companies started focusing more and more on feature bloat and less and less on efficient use of system resources like memory and cpu. So eventually the virus “suite” in my computer was using just as much processor time and memory as my office productivity suite and slowing my computer down to a crawl. I stuck with Norton Anti-Virus for several years – always using the basic package and not installing the huge bloated versions. ( I also looked at ClamAV for my servers because I was administrating a couple of email servers and I realized early that the best way to deal with email virii was on the server *before* the email ever got to a Windows client. Now I am a big fan of GMail for email anti-virus – let them do the work. Much better!)

 About this same time, a few years back now, I discovered Grisoft free AVG. Not only was it apparently built to use modest system resources, it also consistently scored very well on major comparisons of virus software. But the amazing thing was that it was free for personal use!
AVG is still a good choice for Windows users who want a good, free anti-virus software. But there are a couple of negatives that have creeped in over time that have finally caused me to abandon AVG. Firstly, about once a year AVG does a major version upgrade and cuts support for the previous version – forcing the user to upgrade to the new version. This is not such a bad thing in itself because the product is free anyway, right? Theoretically it is even good because the product has good suport and all resources are being devoted to the latest and greatest – no need to try to continue legacy support on old versions. The problem is that everytime they make users upgrade, they shuffle their website and hide the free version very deeply. So I recommend AVG Free to all my friends (believe me, a *lot* of people ask me which virus software they should use) and then my friends go to the AVG site and see the paid version only. Some of them grumble and just pay the fee (which, like most anti-virus products these days is an annual fee) and some of them come back to me and complain because they can’t find it. I guess it is not as bad as products that nag or show constant ads but it is a little irritating that they have to “trick” users into paying like this. Speaking of ads, they have also started showing ads on the product in the last couple of versions. Again this, by itself, is not enough to make me switch if the product is good enough. But the final straw is that I am starting to sense the same bloat in AVG’s product that I saw happen in Norton’s. The newest version (9.0) seemed a bit heavier, and there are now many other options – toolbars, rootkit protection, link scanners, business versions, etc etc etc.

The Current State of Affairs – My Choice For Best Free Anti-Virus Software! (As of December, 2009)
A few months ago I began watching a free anti-virus contender called PandaCloud AntiVirus. The philosophy is right – minimal system resources – and there is a new technology in this product which finally feels like its time has come – Cloud Computing. PandaCloud installs a minimal client app but the virus definitions and most of the processing is done in the “cloud” (another way of saying on their servers). So your personal computer doesn’t have to use so many resources. I like that! Also, I watched this year as PandaCloud beat AVG in a couple of big computer magazine’s test results. These test ranked products based on how well they detect viruses (which is why I use an anti-virus product!) I installed PandaCloud on one computer to try it out about a month ago and within a couple of weeks I had removed AVG and installed PandaCloud on every one of my personal computers at home and at church. I like it! I ran a few test virii at it and they were all easily handled. It is simple, lightweight and unobtrusive. If the computer magazines can be believed it is also better at detecting viruses than any other free anti-virus available and just as good as the most expensive commercial products. PandaCloud is supposed to release a major upgrade in the next month or two. If they show that they can handle upgrades better than AVG I am definitely going to be recommending this product to all my friends and churches that I work with in 2010.

Who will speak up for the little ones?

This is a topic that actually keeps me awake at night sometimes. It is definitely something that makes people uncomfortable to think about, much less talk about. But recently I heard an amazing speech by a lady who survived an abortion attempt in a professional clinic in 1977 and now speaks for the unborn. If you think abortion is a right that needs to be protected you really need to watch this video…

PART 1:
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PART 2:
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My take – why I personally can’t stay silent about this

I know I don’t have the right to judge anyone when I have sinned with the worst of them. So if abortion is in your past please hear my heart – I am not trying to condemn you. But unlike those of us who can speak up, unborn children are totally at the mercy of our world’s propaganda machine. They have no voice but ours. Many think that abortions are usually done only in cases of rape or medical necessity but this site documents the reasons why abortions are actually performed:
http://www.pregnantpause.org/numbers/whyabort.htm 
In summary, this survey (by a pro-abortion group) documents that the three highest reasons given by percentage are:
#1 Woman can’t afford baby now
#2 Woman is unready for responsibility
#3 Woman is concerned about how having a baby could change her life

As a pastor, I have talked to, counseled and prayed for women who feel terrible guilt about abortion. There is forgiveness in the cross of Christ and God will take care of the aborted ones. But what about those of us who bury our heads and ignore the facts of what is happening? Are you willing to be a little uncomfortable and speak out against the lies? Are you willing to tell your elected officials that this is wrong? Who will speak up for the little ones?

A song from the 80s that touched my heart:
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If you actually took the time to watch the videos above I would really like to know what you think. Feel free to start or participate in the discussion in the forum by following the link below…