Akihiro Yabe

"Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD." Psalm 150:6

When I first heard about the GRC from my wife at the beginning of summer, I sneered. My granddad was not doing well at all and my little family had planned to fly home the first week of September. I made the assumption that participating in the conference would be impossible money-wise and with the difficulty of taking days off from work. After the visit to granddad, I firmly believed that going to the GRC was unrealistic. If something happened, I couldn’t rush to granddad as transportation from the conference venue isn’t easily accessible. However, an unusual feeling started welling up from deep inside and I struggled between my head, saying “It’s not possible!” and my heart that prompted our participation.

About the same time, I came to know that there was a GRC scholarship that partly covered the fees, but the application deadline had already passed. Though I already gave up, when inquiring to the GRC office, the staff kindly instructed me to submit the application. Even though the scholarship would be granted, the balance was still big. I proceeded even though a deficit would occur when I received an unexpected email from respected Swiss friends of ours. “Wie ist es mit deiner Gesundheit und wie sieht es finanziell aus, habt ihr genug oder können wir euch helfen? Bitte sei ganz offen und berichte uns, ob ihr etwas braucht.” meaning “How’s your health? How’re you doing financially? Do you have enough or could we help you? Be open and tell us if you need anything.” A few days after I openly told them about our situation, money for us to attend the conference arrived. Sachi and I were lost for words and so thankful for God’s grace and our friends’ generosity.

The GRC was a series of ineffable blessings, challenges and encouragements. We reunited with old familiar faces and got to meet new people. Over 400 on-fire Japanese believers gathered, although Christians are less than 1% of the population. The 3 days we spent with them became simply unforgettable.

I had two tremendous experiences. One is that I was overwhelmed by the love and forgiveness of the cross of Christ. Right from the start my prayer and hope for us participating in the conference was “to be drawn closer to God” and whenever I had opportunities to pray with others I asked them to pray for it. Through worship, sermons, fellowship, quiet times and prayers, I was able to feel the presence of God in a very fresh way.

And the second tremendous experience was the conviction of my/our calling to be missionaries in Switzerland and German speaking nations. The time I first received the calling was 10 years ago. Ever since I’d been pondering, repeatedly doubting and struggling with it, but through the events and circumstances before and after the conference I was able to be firmly convinced that this calling is from the Lord.

In April, 2005 I was visiting friends in Switzerland and Germany. During that time through a number of unusual and wonderful experiences I came to believe I was called to Switzerland and German speaking parts of the world. Dating back half a year, I’d already received a calling to be a missionary, but I supposed my calling to be in a developing country, so the calling to Europe was a total surprise and even a shock. (My fresh sometimes says “I would prefer somewhere different.” because being a missionary in Europe is hard financially and intellectually as the standard of living is very high.) From that time on I began life-planning, focusing on one thing, which is, “to serve God and people as a missionary in Switzerland and the German speaking world”. I completed the Disciple Training School (DTS) of Youth With A Mission (YWAM) in Switzerland, obtained a BA in Anthropology and German, learned linguistics and religion at a university in New Zealand, and studied as an exchange student at a German university.

If I’d taken over my father’s company, as there’s much demand from overseas, I could have succeeded and been a good and dutiful son to my parents, which they would have wished. However, with me saying, “I want to become a missionary in the future.” their dream fell apart and dad’s company consequently closed down. I know behind their furious eyes there was huge disappointment and sadness. But I had a privilege of leading my dad to Jesus two months before he passed away, for which I’m extremely thankful to God and it was the best thing I could do for my father.

Although I was preparing myself for Europe, as Sachi and I were led to marriage, God deeply treated me with a heart for Europe and Sachi for Indonesia. Though it caused us so much pain, we were able to give our hearts, passion and burdens for the countries back to Him. Since then for 5 years, I’ve learned so much. My weakness and sinfulness. The width and depth of God’s love shown on the cross. Hope for heaven. The Lord’s heart and passion for lost souls. To love my country. How to live life depending on the Holy Spirit. To love God and neighbors. And something that Sachi and I have come in line with is the burden for Muslims, and the desire to go to the place where God wants to send us.

Thanks to the GRC scholarship and the support of our Swiss friends, my family of 3 was able to participate in the conference held at the foot of Mt. Fuji. While waiting for our train, one train passed before our eyes and on the wall were flags of Switzerland and Japan. The sermons at the conference were also from Bible passages that convinced me of a calling to Switzerland and the German speaking world 10 years ago. Listening to the sermons, I could feel that the dormant passion for missions in Europe was welling up from deep inside. For these 10 years again and again I’ve doubted my calling, had holes-in-my-heart experiences, and considered walking on another path. Owing to my weakness I shed tears, believing I couldn’t serve as a missionary. Nonetheless, the Lord has guided me and my wife this far with grace and mercy, for which we are countlessly thankful.

Early in the morning the next day, I was worshipping God during a quiet-time-walk that is my routine when one verse sprang to mind. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23. I’m the very one who is subject to the punishment and death, but Jesus died in my place on the cross. I was totally overwhelmed by the reality of God’s love and mercy and tears began to fall. As I was soaking in joy and happiness that comes from the salvation, one small “voice” came into my heart: “Will you go deliver this message?” I stopped and fell silent for a while. Breaking the silence, I said, “Yes, I will.” And as soon as I responded, I broke into tears and couldn’t help myself though cars and pedestrians were passing by. A couple of weeks after the conference, my pastor with whom I shared nothing at all about my experience at the GRC said to me that my wife and I would be suitable for Europe.

The GRC was simply a turning point in our lives.

We desperately want for God to save the lost souls in Switzerland and Germany and for this very purpose what is the will of God for our little family? We’ll continue seeking the Lord, be attentive and do what He tells us to do. We would greatly appreciate you remember us in your prayers.

Prayer requests:
- Please pray that I will be able to quickly complete the correspondent Bible collage studies and prepare for the take-off as a missionary.
- We have increasing opportunities to meet devoted Muslims in Utsunomiya. Please pray for us to build good friendships and trust, and to boldly share the gospel with them in the love of Christ.
- We are planning to participate in the SLIM (Servant Leaders in Ministry) conference held in Germany in April, 2016. (The SLIM conference is where Japanese Christian leaders from all of Europe gather.) Please pray that our needs will be met and the application procedures will go smoothly.

GRC Testimony