Testimony by Mayu Sunamura
I was saved in America at the end of 2017, when as a seeker, I attended the Equipper Conference organized by JCFN.
I’d like to share my testimony about my five year walk of faith from my confession of faith to today. During this time, I learned that God loves me. It hasn’t always been smooth. God has shown me through trials that He is a loving and gracious God, and through trials I have come to know His love, which I will share with you.
・Trials were given to me.
・Through these trials I realized my sins and weaknesses.
・I realized that I couldn’t do anything on my own, so I surrendered to the Lord and relied on His power.
・I’ve been changed and guided by God.
I’ll now through three specific trials that I experienced.
The first trial I experienced was depression. I was diagnosed with depression six months after I returned home to Japan in April 2018. I was a college senior and was very busy with job hunting, internship, and my thesis for graduation. I’d forgotten my confession of faith that I would put God first, and as I lived in Japan, I gradually became more and more self-centered. As I prioritized what I wanted to do, my body and mind became worn out and I became depressed. Through this ordeal, I learned that I was guilty of self-centeredness, of deciding everything for myself. Depression also made it difficult for me to get out of bed. Therefore, I was faced with the helplessness of being unable to do anything without God. In order to surrender to the Lord, I made it a habit to read the Bible and pray. I wrote down the words that caught my attention on a piece of paper and hung it in my room or bathroom so that I’d naturally see it. I bought a notebook and tried to communicate with Jesus by writing prayers. Through humility before God, the Lord showed me to take a leave of absence and postpone my graduation for one year. He then led me to Biblical Counseling, church, and above all, baptism. God drew me back to Himself by weakening me. That is how He prepared me to be baptized.
The second trial was opposition from my family; I was baptized on February 3, 2019. I’d been telling my family for a while that I wanted to be baptized, but in the end, they didn’t understand, and the day arrived. When my family saw me come home with congratulatory flowers and cards, they were upset and angry. They told me that I had betrayed my family. They took away my computer and cell phone. I was told that they would no longer pay my tuition and that I was not allowed to attend church. Through this ordeal, I learned to trust the Word of God and to pray through the Word of God. Matthew 6:33, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. “, was uttered and prayed many times. I asked my Christian friends whom I had connected with through campus ministries and Facebook, using the college computers, to pray for me. The trial continued, and on February 5th, my mother took away the congratulatory card I’d received and tore it up in front of me. My prayers were heard and the next day, my father told me I could attend church and gave me back my computer and cell phone. Then he said, “You are responsible to explain to your family why you were baptized and why you became a Christian.” He told me, “I will take time every Monday to talk to you.” In other words, I was given the opportunity to read the Bible with them and testify about how I had changed since becoming a Christian. The regular times didn’t last very long, but I was given daily opportunities to testify about the teachings of the Bible, especially to my mother, and how God had changed me. Recently, my mother made a Christian friend. My father told me that forgiveness is important, and I was able to talk to my sister, who stubbornly refused to talk about Christianity, about the difference in forgiveness in the Christian faith. No one is saved yet, but God is definitely working in my family.
The third trial was my resignation. I’d started looking for a job in the summer of 2019, worked on my graduation thesis, and finally graduated from college in March 2020. As you all know, that was the time when COVID-19 pandemic started. Graduation ceremonies were canceled, and the company entrance ceremony was online; I had been employed by an IT company and was undergoing training at home every day. I had no opportunity to meet with people from the company face to face, and it was difficult to ask for advice, so I was unknowingly trapped. One day, when I opened my computer at the beginning of the workday, I couldn’t stop crying and decided to take a break and take a leave of absence. After taking a leave of absence, my health improved, and the doctor gave me permission to return to work. However, the human resources department didn’t allow me to talk to my department supervisor. They told me that I was asking too many questions and depending on others, which was not good, and urged me to resign. Through this ordeal, I realized that I’d been looking for worldly wise peace, thinking, “I will be fine once I get a job, and somewhere along the way I will be fine.” I wanted to be accepted by the company, so in addition to the training I was given, I took business etiquette training and stayed in my room after work to study for IT certifications. When I left my job, I was no longer affiliated with school or the company, and for the first time, I realized that my need to belong was very strong. I realized that my desire to belong to the secular things of school and work was truly idolatry. I was so helpless. I asked God, “What should I do? I looked at all the shelves in the bookstore to see if I could get any hints, and when I did, I saw a course for “social worker”. I learned that social workers provide counseling and support to people with physical or mental handicaps, and I thought this would be a qualification that would allow me to use my personality and my experience of being depressed and physically ill and retired. The Lord led me to study social worker I studied for one year from in April 2021, and this year I took the social worker exam and got certified. I’m now working at a group home for mentally handicapped adults, supporting them in their daily lives. I find it rewarding to meet people every day, observe how they are doing, and be close to them. I work alternating day and night shifts, but I started working in April 2022 and have been able to work without missing a single day of work. I’m truly grateful.
Finally, I’d like to share with you a verse that I have often kept in mind. Psalm 119:71 “It was a blessing for me that I suffered. I have learned your statutes through it.” Then, 2 Corinthians 12:9: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” There will always be trials in the future. You will come to know your weakness more and more. It’s in times like these that we must rely on the Lord, boast greatly in our weakness, and sincerely ask the Lord to work in our lives. That concludes my testimony. Thank you very much for your attention.