Blessings Dear Loved Ones & Prayer Partners!
We hope and pray that the heat you are all experiencing this summer is coming from the love of His Son that is burning deep inside of you! A fire that won’t go out! Please help spread those flames to all you meet each day.
We told you last month that as we were finishing the newsletter we were off to watch Zack compete with his classmates in the National Tournament. We have wonderful news to report…Zack and his team finished in the TOP FOUR of all the teams in the country. They lost in the semi-final game to the eventual National Champions. They played a total of 5 games and Zack averaged 26 points and 19.5 rebounds per game. Now you might say, the Japanese are too short…so easy for him, but Zack plays center and in all but one game he was 4 to 6 inches shorter than the other teams center. The boys, and the coaches goal has always been to reach the top 8 in the tournament, but have never gotten past the top 16 round and then reached it only once. In the top 16 round this year, their 3rd game, Zack got hurt in the 2nd quarter with about 2 and ½ minutes to go. He pulled one of the ligaments in his left knee and tore the muscle in his upper thigh. He came out of the game and his team quickly gave up 12 points to the other team. At half time one of the mothers (luckily a professional masseuse) gave him a massage that really helped. He played all the second half even though he was limping badly, and ended with 30 points and 22 rebounds! He said he never felt the pain, but was only worried about making their goal. His heart was so big. The tournament is continuous with no rest days, so that night and next morning more massage and off they went for the top 8 games against one of the top teams in the country. The boys played great and Zack was able to rest the last 5 minutes of the game as they had built up a huge lead. He ended with 38 points and 25 rebounds. The next morning was the game to decide who would play in the national finals. The boys were so excited and got off to a great start. At about the 3 minute mark Zack took a knee in the left thigh that was where the torn muscle was. The hit took him down, and was very difficult for him to get up. He told the coach he was OK, but you could see that he could hardly walk. He played the entire 40 minutes of the game. The opposing center is a large boy (6’9) from Senegal in Africa and is a very strong player. Because going into this game Zack had been averaging 30 points, every time he touched the ball 3 players converged on him. With his weak left leg he was unable to spin or move, so his offense was limited to only 13 points, but even barely able to walk, he still struggled for 19 REBOUNDS!!!! His team couldn’t over come the overall size and speed of the other team and lost the game, but not without a great fight! We are so proud of all the boys and their efforts, but of course of our baby! He is now considered one of the top 5 players in the COUNTRY!!!!! We can’t be more proud and thank-you all for your prayers and support for him and all of us.
A wonderful benefit of his achievements is that during the tournament Kim and I were interviewed by one of the National Sports Newspapers and our picture and story about our work as missionaries was told. So even though you may think that Zack’s basketball has no spiritual purpose, God can use anything and everything to help us bring Him honor and glory.
Our mini VBS outing was a HUGE success! On Tuesday morning August 10th we met outside at a local park to tell the story about Jonah. We had SEVENTY TWO people show up! All of the children were accompanied by either a mother and in several instances by father’s, too. Of the 72 people, that attended, only 8 are Christians!!!! So praise God that so many would come out in the heat of the summer to learn more about the wonderful love that God has for each of us. All of the members are either our students or Mako’s. If you remember, Mako is our friend from Singapore that first came to join us in our Tuesday morning Bible Study, then joined our Sunday English service, got baptized and now share’s God’s love where ever she can. We do 4 parties a year together, with 3 (Christmas, Easter and mini VBS) with Christian messages, at Christmas we put on the Christmas play, Easter we use the ‘Resurrection’ egg kits to tell the story and during the mini VBS we choose a different story each year. Our last party is only for fun and to build up the trust and friendship of both the students and the parents at Halloween. In all 4 parties we do the main events in the morning followed by a lunch we either cook or provide. We ask that you continually pray for all the people that attend these events, and all of our students, that His Spirit will talk to them and help to open their eyes to the wonderful gift of love that God has for each one of them.
On September 5th we will be hosting the Korean Gospel Singing Group, Ongijyani for our afternoon service. This will be the 5th time they have come to our church. The group is made up of about 10 Korean’s that volunteer to come to Japan to share their love for the Lord. They will be in the country for about 1 month. The group in Korea has about 250 members that practice constantly and different groups travel all over the world singing and praising God. They are so wonderful. We look forward to them coming each year and ask for your prayers that the time that they are in the country they can touch many, many hearts and God’s Spirit will open up the hearts and minds of many people during their trip.
Kim and I are both staying busy reaching out to as many people as we can each day, and God continually gives us new avenues to explore. We ask that you continually pray for our strength to continue and His Spirit will become alive in all we do.
Bo’s father went to be with the Lord the end of July. We thank you all for your prayers and support for Bo, his father and their families. We also want to especially thank those in New Albany that either visited the funeral home or attended the funeral. Bo thought only about 20 people would show up for the visitation, but well over 100 people came to pay their respects. It really touched not only his, but also Heather’s heart. So a special thanks from us to all of you that helped in their time of need.
By His grace, God continues to equip us for each individual challenge and opportunity that He presents. Your prayers and support are necessary to our being here. We ask you to pray with and for us that we always strive to walk before God, wherever that may be, and be used as instruments of His love in all we do. Should God ask any of you to partner with us in our outreach for Him, please send any love offerings to: Bethlehem United Methodist Church, for Baranski John Alan Mission Fund, c/o Becky Wack, 1003 Rowan Cove, New Albany, Ms. 38652.
We hold you each in our hearts and prayers with praise and thanksgiving.
In His love & walking before Him, the Baranski Bunch