Before I share my testimony from GRC, I would like to share how I got to know Christ.
How I Got Saved
“It was good for me to be afflicted
so that I might learn your decrees.
I know, Lord, that your laws are righteous,
and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me.”
Psalm 119: 71, 75
I am currently 23 years old and live in Okinawa, attending college. I was born and raised by a non-religious family in Okinawa. After graduating high school, I went to a liberal arts college in Wisconsin, USA. When I was in junior high, I learned English from an American pastor. The first time I heard the name of Jesus Christ was when I heard the pastor’s testimony. My homeroom teacher in high school was a devoted Catholic and even when I went to a public college in America, the two best friends that I made were Christians. On top of that, the guy that I dated at that time was a Japanese Christian who went to a different college near by. Even with these connections, I still thought that Christianity was something that would never affect me.
The new romance that started along with my new college life in America brought me pain but also grace. Because me and my former boyfriend thought that leaving home meant freedom, we were blind and couldn’t see anything but each other. He became my idol. Around the 2nd year of our relationship, we were at the verge of breaking up. During that time, maybe I have appeared to be enjoying my life, but I was a complete mess and heartbroken. After he had broken up with me, the heaviness of my past sins were constantly taunting me. What is that love that I though I believed in? Does love really exist? Who am I and where am I going? Because I thought I cannot keep going like this, I started to practice Buddhist Meditation. My Christian roommate saw me wake up at 5 A.M. in the morning to do my Buddhist Meditation, so she said she will do the same and started reading the Bible and prayed. In the beginning of a new semester, my roommate said, “You could just sit in the pews and watch, so let’s go to church together.” Even though I went to church half heartedly, I couldn’t stop crying during the worship time. Even if the Bible story sounds like a fairytale, I still felt something in my heart. Since then, I started going to church every week. My best friend included me to her devotion time every morning and she prayed for me with her Christian friends as well. Even when we discuss about the Bible til dawn and I become hasty, she was still gentle and patient with me. Gradually, I realized that I was a sinful human being that always looked down on people and that I live in a completely different world from my friends who are full of love and forgiveness. I saw their life of joy by trusting in the Lord and thought “I can’t believe now, but someday I want to.” This became my prayer and silently, but surely, that prayer was answered.
In November 2014, I participated in a retreat called Cross Training hosted by InterVarsity (IV). Through learning the Scriptures, I received assurance, and accepted Christ on the second night of the retreat. I prayed “I will give everything to you. Please use me.” My best friends had tears of joy when they heard the news. One of my best friends who I knew since Freshman year told me that she has been praying for my salvation since then. When I heard that I realized that everything was according to God’s amazing grace that he had planned for me. In Christ, I was healed. And in Christ, I was able to become myself.
I was planning to graduate college in May 2015, but due to some family circumstances, I went home soon after I got baptized. In the midst of disaster, I knew that what my family needed was the Gospel. So having the sense of mission that God has given me, I went home. However, the new life without any Christian friends around wasn’t easy at all. I had a weekly Skype meetings with the leader at IV that encouraged me and I searched for a home church for over 3 months. Eventually God led me to Urasoe Joy Church. Because I was seeking to have Christian friends that are around my age, I was also able to get connected with KGK through the church as well. Since joining KGK from June, God started to give me the yearning to spread the Gospel in Japan.
The first time I heard about GRC was when I first met Rev Oshima who is the head of the Okinawa KGK. When I shared my testimony, he quickly told me about GRC and JCFN, and connected me on Facebook as well. By hearing and seeing young people who have the same passion, I was inspired and encouraged. Wanting to know those people and hear God’s word, I instantly decided to go and bought the airplane ticket. Because my non-Christian family didn’t really understand my reasoning to attend the conference, I couldn’t ask them to help me financially. I prayed “If it is your will, please allow me have some scholarship money.” God answered my prayer and was able to receive scholarship.
I was astonished by the energy of the Holy Spirit on the first night of GRC. It was amazing to see the passion from the participants. Even though there are people from different ages, background, area in Japan, and even countries, they all had the same passion towards God. I couldn’t stop crying since worship time. During the message from Rev. Seki, I experienced true repentance and forgiveness. My eyes were opened. I realized that I devalued the death of Jesus on the cross and what it really meant to me. I was able to present all of the sins I thought I had already asked for forgiveness, and experience true freedom.
Through Rev. Matsumoto's preaching from Acts chapter 8, I was able to reconfirm the truth that it is the Holy Spirit that leads us, not ourselves.
My Small Group was formed within my age group. On the second day, we each shared our testimony. That Small Group time was very valuable. I was encouraged and thankful to have met these sisters in Christ. Even though we have known each other for few days and came from different places, it is amazing how we could share and connect through our Lord. We were inspired and encouraged by of course sharing our testimonies, but also sharing how we do our devotions and how we share the Gospel in our working environments. On the last night of GRC, we made a circle and took each others’ hands and prayed. When we were praying for each other, we felt strongly that God was in this process of allowing us to meet.
The reason why I was able to attend GRC was because of meeting Rev. Oshima in June, receiving scholarship, and most importantly people who have strong passion towards God that have organized and prayed for the conference. When I think back the conference that was full of God’s grace, I cannot thank and praise him enough.
I believe I will never forget this experience that I had at GRC.
I thank God for the salvation, forgiveness, assurance in His will, my beloved brothers and sisters in Christ, and His dream.
After coming back from the conference, this verse is constantly in my head.
“for, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?”
There is a 70 year old man who is a co-worker at the hospital I volunteer for. He said, “I have never met a Christian and never heard the Scriptures and praise songs until I came to this hospice.” I was surprised. Whether it be my high school friends, relatives, or neighbors, they have not heard the Gospel before. That fact made me really sad. When I do rounds at the hospital, I couldn’t stop crying and praying for those who are facing death everyday without knowing Christ.
Our God is not to be ashamed of. God does not forget His people. Our God is not be devalued by us. He has not given up on this country and he has not given up on my family and friends. I am here now because He kept on pursuing me for 22 years.
If that’s the truth, why should I give up?
It says, “Do not be afraid” over and over in the Bible. But this is how much we are afraid and without courage.
But it is true that God is that one who makes our path. The one who leads the front is God. The one who supports this weak heart is God.
God, I feel that your light of life is shining in Japan. Jesus, please shine your light in everyone’s hearts. Please help us keep our eyes open to see the light of your Word.
Please let me walk in your will in this country as a person whom you love to death.