When Tragedy Happens to a Christian

prayforSPUTwo years ago my daughter, Alishea, who grew up mostly in Japan and went to school mostly at home, ventured into the wide world for the first time. She flew to Portland, Oregon to attend college and study music and the Bible. Since she needed to get a job and had never worked in the United States, I advised her to pray about it. It wasn’t too long before I got a nice phone call from her. She had gone into a sushi restaurant to find work and the owner had been praying for a Christian to come work for him. His daughter’s name  was Alicia (same name, different spelling). In short, both my daughter and this man knew that God’s hand was in the situation. He hired her and she thrived there as the only Japanese employee in the Korean-owned establishment. These are the kinds of stories we love to hear.

Alishea has worked at this restaurant for two years and has been able to pay for her education. She always spoke well of her boss and loved her job. When I visited her last summer he gave me the VIP treatment and he fed me all the best food. When Alishea came home for the summer last month he said, “Take your family out to eat on me.” That is just the kind of man he is.

I thank God that He blessed her and guided her to that place. I know that God is in control and I also know that He is good. That’s why it is so hard when tragedy strikes for no apparent reason, in someone’s life – even someone who also believes that God is good and God is in control. These are the kinds of stories we hate to hear.

This morning a church member here in Japan posted a link to a news article about the shooting at Seattle Pacific University. She asked for prayer because her son is attending school there and we soon got word that he is safe and was not injured. We were all very glad that Alishea’s friend, Jeremy, was OK.  But later when she walked by the computer as we were viewing a news article about the event she she suddenly pointed at the picture on the screen and exclaimed, “Oh no! That is Paul!

Satomi and I were shocked to find out that Paul Lee, the 19 year old Christian student who was shot and killed yesterday, is the son of the owner of the sushi restaurant in Portland that Alishea has worked at for the past two yearsShe has become so close to this family and knew the young man personally. Because of this it has hit us hard that sometimes we just don’t know the reason why. Why would our Good God let tragedy strike this family? I just don’t know. Why would someone senselessly take a life? I don’t know the answer to this question either. I do believe that Paul knows the answers now.

paulleePlease pray for Paul’s family, they are the ones left behind who will be struggling with this question and struggling to forgive and release this into our Good Lord’s hands until the day that they finally join Paul in eternity. I am praying for Paul’s dad Peter, his mom Mira, and his sister Alicia. Won’t you join me?





February Update

What is going on?

It has been almost a year since the Great Earthquake hit Japan on March 11th. The church has grown and matured and we have really begun to understand that we are called to be a socially responsible church. Through the outreach we did last year in Sendai we now have a contact at the Kanagawa Newspaper and at the local FM radio station. A friend of mine introduced Satomi to a member of parliment in Uganda who is a Christian and I recently met the Ambassador of Rwanda here in Japan who is also a Christian. As I watch all these connections happen,

I see that Satomi’s burden to bring the African Children’s Choir to Japan will not just be about raising funds to help the orphans in Japan. The children themselves will be ambassadors from God to Japan. Wouldn’t it be just like God to use the faith of poor orphan children to reach the hearts and minds of rich Japanese in Tokyo and across Japan. Thank you for helping to make this possible.

Coming Events

  • Feb 29 – March 4
    James in Sendai
  • March 1-14
    Satomi in Africa
  • March 20
    All-Japan Conference
  • March 25
    Yokosuka Youth Service

March Prayer Requests

James has decided that he wants to finish his Bachelor’s Degree in the United States. He has applied at a number of universities for the Fall, 2012 semester as a transfer student from Sophia University.  Please pray for favor and finances for him to finish college. By making this change he will be able to major in something to do with music and ministry

He will be leaving tomorrow to work five days at the Tohoku Celebration of Hope event in Sendai. He is the translator between the technical team for Franklin Graham and the Japanese company running sound, light, etc. It is wonderful that he can earn some money for college while doing ministry in Sendai. This will be his fifth ministry trip to the disaster zone. He is also excited to be seeing and working with Kirk Franklin and all the other artists.

Satomi will leave this Thursday for two weeks in Africa. She is going to visit the African Children’s Choir (Music for Life) schools in Kampala and Entebbe in Uganda and also take a trip to Johannesburg, South Africa to see the new center they are building there. Her desire is to bring the African Children’s Choir to Japan for the first time and she will also help them with their next Asian tour. I have been amazed to see her burden for this become a reality. God has provided all the money she needs and she already has contacts around Africa who are expecting her. Of course she also wants to visit with our old friends and teachers, the Wagars, who are pastoring a great church in Kampala. We have already seen your prayers make a huge difference. Please continue to pray for her especially during the next two weeks of her first trip to Africa!

How to give:

Earthquake Update 3/24

Many of you have given towards the relief efforts here financially and I thank you. We have received donations and prayers from sister churches all over the world. I was amazed when I slowed down and realized how many people around the world are praying for Japan. We have gotten donations from China, South Africa, even Haiti. It is amazing how our nation has changed in two weeks. Satomi wrote on her facebook, “Do you feel like you are in a disaster movie?” I laughed but sometimes it feels like a disaster movie that will not end.

To this point we have sent 10 tons of supplies in 4 trucks to various places in northern and eastern Sendai. We now have key contacts at churches, refugee centers, and even made two stops at a Buddhist temple where many homeless families were staying temporarily. Young James went up with the second team and took 2 tons of supplies with one of the leaders from our church in Yokosuka and a driver from the church in Shimada. Thank you for your prayers for him – I watched closely on the GPS and prayed a lot while he was in Fukushima and Sendai. The land north of us is totally devastated, especially along the coastal areas where the tsunami hit. He shared with me that in the worst hit areas it is getting dangerous. Because of lack of food, shelter and basics, there is looting and even talk of murders and other crime. There are still many places which have not received relief and it has been two weeks since the 9.0 earthquake and 30+ ft high tsunami.

Through a providential connection two days ago, I found a church in Setagaya Tokyo which was in contact with an old-folk’s home in the northern part of Sendai which was low on food. They had received no supplies since the earthquake and there are 70 residents and 50 care-givers living in the rural facility. I was able to call my friend Keisuke and Pastor Rick Justus who were just then making a delivery in northern Sendai and direct them to stop by the old-folk’s home with much needed food and supplies. Please pray for the residents and caregivers there as I hear some have the flu now. We want to bring masks, rubber gloves, adult diapers and other needed supplies in the next truckload.

This Saturday P. James Coble from Yokohama will be leading team #4 into Sendai. They will stop at Yokosuka Church, where we have collected another 1 or 2 tons of food and supplies to load. The week following we are hoping to set up a base camp in central Sendai on the property of a local church which was wiped out by the tsunami. We are negotiating now to buy a small prefab house and bring it up to the property for the pastor and his wife to set up a base for relief efforts and ministry in the community. Today I found and rented a covered two-ton truck for one month. Once we set up the base we hope to begin regular deliveries up to this base an others that we have already established. Also providentially a man in my church has offered the use of his 4-ton truck with crane to help us set up the prefab and move old damaged containers to the base camp site to use for storage. We have the beginnings of a good long-term plan but need lots of prayer!

In Yokosuka our local FM radio station has been to the church to interview James, Satomi and me after he came back from his trip to Sendai. He is praying hard about possibly taking a semester off of college since it looks like it will be months most people have shelter in the affected area. Even in Yokosuka we are still living with daily aftershocks, many of them in the M5 or M6 range. We are also facing radiation and rolling three-hour power blackouts which are scheduled now to last through August. At least we now have gasoline and the panic buying of bread and other staples has stopped for now.

The kanji character for crisis is 危機 which means danger + opportunity. Please pray for us to have the love and peace of God to meet the danger part fearlessly. The opportunity part is obvious. This is the reason why we are here – God wants to show how much He loves Japan and we are privileged that He wants to use us. Thanks for all your prayers, love and financial gifts. You are our partners – expect to hear good news from Japan because God is here.

Together for Him,
Ray in Yokosuka

Earthquake update 3/12

Dear friends,
The situation seems to have mostly stabilized here in Japan – at least in the Tokyo area. We spent all day today (Saturday) contacting church members and friends in Yokosuka and Tokyo and making sure everyone was OK. Some church members had been stranded when the trains stopped yesterday and had to walk for hours in the cold, or spend the night in train stations or other shelters. But today all made it home safely. In Yokosuka and elsewhere the power was out including traffic lights. We finally got power back early this morning. Aftershocks have continued all day today. Yesterday there were several large quakes but today they have been prety minor. As I am writing this (10:17pm JST) there is another tremor – maybe a 2.3? I am getting pretty good at judging earthquakes now… Normally we do get small quakes here every couple of months and life just goes on. But I have never experienced such a huge, rolling and swaying earthquake – lasting about 3 minutes. We have talked to many neighbors, both at home and around our church building whom we hadn’t had a chance to talk with much before and now we have a kind of common bond. That is one good thing that has come out of it. To give you an idea of the magnitude of this event, here are a couple of bits of trivia from Reuter’s News service about the earthquake:

  • Italy’s National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology said the earth’s axis shifted 25 cm as a result of the earthquake, and the U.S. Geological Survey said the main island of Japan had shifted 2.4 meters.
  • The earthquake was the fifth most powerful to hit the world in the past century. It surpassed the Great Kanto quake of September 1, 1923, which had a magnitude of 7.9 and killed more than 140,000 people in the Tokyo area.

Even though this was the biggest earthquake to ever hit Japan (8.9 on the Richter scale and 8.8 on the Japanese scale) most of the destruction came from the tsunami that hit Northern Japan shortly after the quake. Japan is well built to handle earthquakes and the people are trained too. As were were standing outside after the first quake and talking with our neighbors, I noticed that the traffic lights were out. After about 30 seconds, Alishea said “look” and pointed at the nearest intersection. The old, retired men who direct traffic for the school cross-walks every school day had immediately moved into the intersection and started directing traffic. It was like this everywhere. When we drove home later we saw school kids walking home with their “earthquake hats” on. Each kids has a quilted book-bag that doubles as an “earthquake hat” when you put it on your head. So we are getting through the quake OK and our church building and house are still standing. But no one was prepared for the tsunami that hit the coastal towns up north.
Maybe you have seen the graphic video images on the news of the huge wall of water sweeping away buildings, cars and anything in its path? One town called Rikuzentakata was literally washed away by the flood. There were 300-400 bodies washed up on the beach and spotted by helicopters, but because more tsunamis were feared no one could even go and collect the dead. Now there are search and rescue teams coming from many nations to help and Japan will need it. Tomorrow we are going to have a prayer meeting for Japan during our Sunday morning service and pray for God’s help and salvation for Japan. Satomi has been burdened all day that we need to do more and we are considering whether we, or someone from the church should visit Sendai personally in order to make contact with churches and other people helping in the worst hit areas. That way we can see exactly what help is needed. I will email again once it becomes clear how we are supposed to help.
It is scary to know that there is a nuclear power in Fukushima that may melt down, but it is exciting to realize that we have a God who can rescue those who are in trouble both spiritually and naturally. Please be in prayer for the lost in Japan since 99% of the people in this disaster do not have a hope for eternal life with God. And please pray for the church in Yokosuka and all over Japan to rise up in faith. We can shine and share His light to those in the dark, hopeless places.
In His service,
Ray Mercer

February 2011 Newsletter

Jan. 30th, 2011 – Yokosuka Church 4th Anniversary Celebration

The next level

Many leaders helped us get to this point and it is going to take many more leaders to get us to where we are supposed to be next year.



A quick start in 2011 

This is the fastest start of a new year that I can remember. We hit the ground running and the pace is not slowing down at all. Last Sunday we marked our fourth anniversary as a church with a guest appearance by Pastor Scott Douma and our biggest local crowd ever for our 10:30am service. We followed that up with a delicious potluck and then Pastor Glen Nabarrette joined us for an afternoon prophetic meeting that lasted over four hours. The power of the Holy Spirit was amazing. 
Please pray for our first Yokosuka Men’s Victory Weekend this Friday and Saturday. Pray for the men who will attend and also for the men who will be teaching and counseling. Just like our church as a whole, this event will be a mix of Japanese, Filipino and American men.

Every Nation in our Generation…

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January 2011 Newsletter

New Year 2011 with the Yamada Family

Thank you for your prayers!
We were able to drive to Nagoya during the last week of 2010 and visit with Satomi’s parents. Makimi went with us and Satomi’s brother and his family also joined came by during the week. Both Migiwa and Toshiko had some health issues this past year but both looked very good. We were very thankful that they have recovered so well and appreciate all your prayers for our family.
We drove back to Yokosuka on January 1st after having our tradtional Japanese New Year meal together and enjoying several days of reconnecting with our Japanese relatives.

Other Prayer Requests

  •   Special Prophetic Assembly (Jan 30)
  •   James’ finals for this semester (Jan end – Feb start)
  •   First Men’s Victory Weekend in Yokosuka (Feb 4-5)
  •   African Childrens Choir Japanese Website (almost done)
  •   New small groups for Japanese men and women

Yokohama, Minato Mirai 21 disctrict







How to give

You can send a financial gift to help support our work in Japan by simply clicking on the following link and following the instructions:

January 11, 2011                                                                   

Yokosuka Church 4th Anniversary!

We are going to start our fifth year by re-focusing on hearing God’s voice. We have called the church to fast and pray from January 26 to 28th and will follow that with a special prophetic meeting the following weekend. I have invited two pastors in our group of churches here in Japan to come to Yokosuka and minister prophetically.
The church is growing both spiritually and in numbers. We often have 80+ or even 90+ in attendance on Sunday mornings. I feel a fresh responsibility to seek God for direction. He is the real Pastor and I am the “assistant pastor” working to build the way He wants to.
During the coming year I am hoping to see an expansion of our leadersip. Eventually I would like to be working alongside Japanese, Filipino and American pastors who share the burden and the vision for making world-changing disciples in Yokosuka and who can help turn us into a church planting factory which plants churches all around Tokyo and Japan.
I recently heard of a type of bamboo that doesn’t sprout for four years after planting. On the surface it appears that nothing is happening. But then, in the fifth year, in a matter of months, it suddenly grows 60 to 90 feet. I am praying that our roots are going down deep and sure now so that when God brings the miraculous growth we will be able to handle it!
We are about to go into our fifth year as a church and this is my prayer;
“Then will all your people be righteous and they will possess the land forever. They are the shoot I have planted, the work of my hands, for the display of my splendor. The least of you will become a thousand, the smallest a mighty nation. I am the LORD; in its time I will do this swiftly.” (Isaiah 60:21-22)
Please pray with us for this scripture to come to pass in Japan.

Kings don’t fight alone

One classic message I heard preached years ago by a Nigerian preacher was “Kings don’t fight alone.” In the Old Testament, alliances would be made and counsel would be sought before going to war. I am very privileged to be in this spiritual battle with a team of mighty partners who invest their prayers, their finances and their lives in our ministry of church planting in this unreached nation. That is you! We are really out here on the front lines and we deeply appreciate how you help in many ways. Thank you for partnering with us for so long and so faithfully.
It has been a long time since I have visited the U.S. and I am praying that the opportunity will come again soon. In the meantime though, I also have a great team of fellow pastors that I meet with almost every week in Yokohama for encouragement, accounatability and prayer. We are meeting in the same part of town where the foreign minsters gathered last month for the APEC summit to discuss policy. Please continue to pray that the spiritual seeds we are sowing will change Japan even more than economic or political policies ever could. I’ll keep you updated on our progress. It is going to be a great year.  

December 2010 Newsletter


Merry Christmas from the Mercers! December, 2010

I can honestly say that this has been the most exciting year ever for Satomi and me. We have watched our kids blossom into young adults with a sense of destiny and purpose in their lives. And we have seen God continue to bless and grow the church in Yokosuka.

James has just finished his tests for this term and entered a two-week vacation from college. Alishea is also busy with school, work, church and friends.

 We will be visiting Satomi’s parents in Nagoya the final week of December, and returning to Yokosuka on New Year’s Day (while there is less traffic).

 Please accept this “green” Christms card from us with our blessings: DOWNLOAD CHRISTMAS CARD HERE…

Talent Show

We had our second annual church talent show last Sunday evening and many friends came to visit. For some it was the first time to visit a church. Christmas season is a great time to tell Japanese people about Jesus. For the last two Sundays our building has been full, with over 90 in the mornings. There were even more for the Christmas lunch party and talent show last week.

Thank you!

I can’t express how wonderful it is to see the Lord answer the prayers of my kids. Last month James received several special financial gifts from people, some anonymously and some with  heartfelt words of encouragement. Because of this, he was able to pay his college tuition for another semester.
We really do thank God every time we remember you.

First Victory Weekend in Yokosuka

Thank you for your prayers for our first Victory Weekend. It was a great success and six ladies in our church (see bottom row above) are walking closer to God in Yokosuka. Not only that but our leaders (see the top row above) were stretched and challenged too. It was a time of growth for the whole church and an important milestone in the discipleship process at the Yokosuka Church. Special thanks to Kaku Sager (not in the picture) who came out from Shuzenji to help teach, counsel and translate.
Please continue to pray for us as we prepare for our first men’s Victory Weekend, planned for February 4th and 5th. My hope is that each of these precious believers will be inspired and empowered to minister to others and disciple the next generation in Japan for Jesus Christ.John 8:36 – So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

 Blessings to you from us

May the Lord bless you this holiday season as you remember all the wonderful things He has done.
“The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.” (Numbers 6:24-26)

How to become a financial partner in our ministry to Yokosuka, 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.

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.


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