Testimony of R35+ ministry

Blessings Given by God for Being Involved in the Ministry

Akana Nakamura

In 2016, at the age of 35, I was saved in Canada (Toronto) where I was studying for a short time and returned home. Immediately after returning home, I connected with a JCFN small group, which was my first encounter with JCFN. I then attended GiFT events in Tokyo and EC, where I was blessed to meet many people. However, many of them were a little younger than me, and although they were all very friendly, I found myself drawing a line between them and myself and not being able to fully fit in. There was something in my heart that I could not share even if I shared it with them. After that, I was led to seminary and my life changed, so I stayed away from JCFN small groups and meetings for about 2 or 3 years. When I attended GRC last year, all the members in the same group at the regional network were “adult” sisters in their 40s or older, and we wondered, “Wouldn’t it be nice to have a ministry for the older generation of GiFT members?” We talked about this. And so, “R35+ (up)” was launched for returnees and those who have feelings for returnees over 35 years old. The origin of the name “R35+ (up)” comes from the idea that “we who are older (up) should look up together to God who is even older (up). As a ministry verse, Matthew 11:28 says, “Come to me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. I will give you rest.” We meet every three months, mainly for small group sharing.

At the beginning of the ministry, a leader needed to be appointed, and I was asked to step into that role. This is my first time. I was not a leader, and I was not confident. However, during the GRC, I remembered how strongly God wanted me to reach out to the lonely returnees scattered all over Japan, and I wanted to respond to God’s call. Was this gathering really needed? Was this really God’s call? I was anxious. However, my fears were removed when I saw the smiles on the faces of the participants when they returned to the main session after their small groups, and heard the comments from the participants: “I am glad I attended,” “I was blessed,” “We needed a place like this,” and “Please keep doing this. I was filled with a joy that cannot be expressed in words. This was a joy I had never felt before as a participant.

Seeing Christians who are younger and brighter than I am, saved in my mid-30s, I wondered “Why didn’t God save me earlier? What in the world can I do now?” I complained to God about it. I am amazed that God heard this whisper and led me to God’s work that I/we can do because of who I/we are now. God is amazing. From the beginning of this ministry until now, I have felt that this belongs to God. I tend to be prideful and think it is my own strength when people compliment me or when I succeed, but it is strange that I don’t think “I/we are doing it” when it comes to this ministry. I think this is the blessing that God is giving us through this ministry, to be able to say in prayer without pretending, “God, this is your ministry. At the same time, I feel that it is also the greatest blessing to know the realization and joy of being a part of God’s work and the joy of seeing God restore people. We hope that through this ministry, God will heal, encourage, and draw even more “adult” returnees and supporters of returnees to Him. With thanksgiving to the Lord for everything.

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