Lectio Divina

Sachi Nakamura
Translator of Christian books, Spiritual Director, and JCFNBoard Member

“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28–30, NRSV)


Summer will be over soon. How has been this summer for you? You might not have had much room to enjoy your summer vacation with such intense heat every day in Japan. In U.S., the wild fire in California has become a grave concern. I hope each of you have safely spent this summer.


Today, I would like to introduce you Lectio Divina, a method to listen to the Scripture and pray (or to read the Scripture while praying). Some of you may be already practicing it. Or perhaps you have never heard of it.


At the end of summer, in time for the new school term or for the new year, I wish to calm my mind and listen to the Scripture quoted above. If you feel any sensation of invitation from God by reading this, please try this practice with me.


First, take a relaxed posture and breathe deeply several times. When you breathe, pay special attention to exhale thoroughly. While breathing, be reminded that our life-supporting breath, which distributes oxygen throughout our body via blood stream, is also a symbol of the Holy Spirit who dwells in us. When we face the Word, the Holy Spirit sheds his light on the Word as well as on our inner thoughts. And the Spirit also tells us what we need today through the Word.


In a relaxed posture, adjust your breaths, and calm your heart. Perhaps many thoughts might come to your mind and they might keep you from calming down. It might take several minutes to be ready. If you think of something you must take care of, jot it down on a piece of paper and set it aside.


“Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening” 


Do you observe the calmness of your mind? Then, read the Scripture above, slowly and several times. Pay attention to each word, each phrase, and take your time to relish them. It might be a good idea to read it aloud. In this Scripture, which word or phrase has left an impression on you? Was there any word or phrase that stood out to you as if an image coming in front of your eyes from those pop-up picture books?


Next, think of the word or phrase that came to your mind (or struck you or intrigued you). Like a ruminating cow or savoring a candy, slowly and repeatedly relish the word or phrase that caught your attention (or struck you or intrigued you.) Do you recognize any emerging image or scenery from that word? Do you feel God’s message to you through that word? What kind of invitation you might feel? You do not have to force yourself to rationalize or try to apply logical thinking. Surrender to the leading of the Holy Spirit and take your time to meditate.


Next, respond in prayer about the message told, the vision shown, or the image given in meditation. Perhaps it will be a prayer of thanksgiving. Perhaps a prayer of praise. Perhaps a prayer of petition. Be free to respond. If you do not come up with much words of prayer, that is fine.


Then, let’s calm ourselves in front of the Lord. At this point, we no longer try to speak or listen; we surrender ourselves in the presence of the Lord, in His arms that wrap around us. Accept the invitation from God and just simply enjoy the fact that you are in His presence.


May the love of God, the mercy of God, the peace of God, keep us today as always.


(Reference: Lectio Divina)  Japanese Only



From North America East Coast: Higakyan – East Coast Japanese Youth Camp – 2018

Hidekazu Imai

     This year I joined “Higakyan” – East Coast Japanese Your Camp – for the first time and was blessed with the refreshed understanding of the love of the Lord.  I have started a job early this year flying a commercial airplane all over the country based on New York.  My job as a pilot requires the utmost attention to be responsible for the lives of all passengers; one mistake could easily cause devastating fatalities.  The pressure of the responsibility was building up over the time and I was getting stressed.  I struggled to deal with the stress by myself in vain, and not by asking God for help.  My mother tried to redirect me time to time that worries and fears were not originated from God, but I was not understanding her words.  It was in such a time that my brother and sister-in-law, Kentaro and Arisa, suggested me to join Higakyan 2018 as a staff member.  It sounded inviting, but I was not sure if I could fulfill the responsibility of the leadership.  Rev. Kurisu welcomed me, however, just as I was, which made me very happy.

     Higakyan is a youth Christian camp in Japanese for middle and high school students.   It takes place at a camping ground in the midst of great and beautiful nature in Pennsylvania.  Kids and staff enjoy Bible studies and various fun activities in this wonderful setting.  Just to mention one, everyone seemed to enjoy the tubing in Delaware River.  Every evening we gathered together to listen to His messages given through Rev. Nishikori, and afterwards shared our reflections and thoughts at the small group meetings.  One of such messages in particular, titled “The Missing Piece”, reminded me of my past.  I wanted to feel satisfied and used to try many things, but was never fulfilled.  His message reminded me, made me re-realize, that it’s only God who could give us human the ultimate peace.  As I listened to Rev. Nishikori speaking, I was reminded of the time I accepted Jesus for the first time; it was at another youth Christian camp, such as Higakyan.  I was blessed once again with realization of His lover, just as the theme of this year’s Higakyan says, “Return to the First Love”.  I trust Him and wish to walk with Him; I shall seek His help first in my time of trouble rather than relying on my own understanding and strength.

Next time BBWIT comes please join in!

Hi! Megumix here!

It’s the peak of summer! I’m tired of listening to greetings in Japan, “is hot, isn’t it?” I pray that everyone reading this blog will be encouraged in body & spirit.

Today I’ll introduce an event we’ve decided to hold annually on Marine Day (July holiday in Japan). Introducing “BBWIT” it’s a leadership camp conducted by JCFN. Listen to the theme, I’d want more people to come and join us at BBWIT. At BBWIT I want to learn what I need and dig in deeper with others involved in returnee ministry. BBWIT stands for [Bridge Builder’s Whatever It Takes] Grab hold of anything and make it yours! Is that how you feel?


This year’s two themes were “mentoring” and “Let’s develop a seminar for receiving returnees” Concerning mentoring we looked at what Mrs. Mayumi Pohl has written, “The importance of mentoring”.

Mentoring in reality takes various forms and styles, and I also have a mentor, in my case it is “scout” style.

When I was talking to someone about my troubles they said, “Megumix, you need a mentor”, this person offered to mentor me.

In the event Q & A time, I asked this question.


“What does a mentor do to prepare, to meet their mentee?”

Answer: “There’s no special preparation.”


Well (· o ·)! I was so surprised.

The mentor is older in faith, usually older in age, and looked up to, so I thought that it was reasonable preparation.

But there are reasons why there is no special preparation.

Rather than preparing something just before meeting with mentee, I think about the mentee and regularly pray for them until I meet them the next time.


When I heard the answer, I realized again that I’d been encouraged by someone who knew me well and prayed together and walked along side me in my life, and my heart was warmed.

When you want to resolve the daily-accumulated problems of life, you tend to want to rely upon your own power and it helps having a person that makes your eyes turn to God instead of yourself.


Well the second half of the event, we broke in to groups, and for 10 min. in our groups we discussed “Let’s develop a seminar for receiving returnees!”

Since we look from our personal view, we had to think about individually doing what we ourselves experienced as returnees and just talk about returnee ministry, but put ourselves in the other person’s position.

We divided into three groups, one group discussed hold seminars at university student’s gatherings, one group discussed how rural churches church that want to receive young people into their congregation, and the third group were general BBWIT participants. 40 people are in the average rural church.

Each group made PowerPoint, made videos, included a testimony and made presentations.

Although each group’s, way of speaking and approach was completely different, the common theme came out from all groups,

“We eat together”

After all it is important to eat together! ! !

Jesus blessed meal times, and placed importance on it.

Although the time was a short, it was a high quality seminar.

Based on the “Returnee Receiving Seminar” that each group made at BBWIT, I think that we can do things that can be used in lots of places, even if it takes a little time to refine the format.

In this way, JCFN can hold leadership camp every year, and we will learn from one another.

Those attended BBWIT, please join us! We look forward to your participation next time.~ ☆


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