Testimony: Allison Smith (JCFN Intern)

Allison has been serving as an intern at JCFN North America for about a year starting this January. She will be sent to Japan as a missionary through OMF International next February, but she will be serving at JCFN to prepare and train until then! This is a great blessing for us. She is currently in Southern California, where our office is located, participating in English conversation classes at several local churches and building relationships with people who are here due to expatriation or international marriage. She is also involved in leading bible studies, evangelizing to those students, and sharing the Word of God. This month we will be posting her testimony. Please pray for Allison and her ministry.


I grew up in a Christian family and I came to believe in Jesus at a young age. I attended Cornerstone Bible Church in Glendora, California, and through the love and faithful teaching of my parents and church, learned about God and grew in my faith. When I was in junior high, I was baptized. Also, at this point, I thought I might like to be a missionary one day. Every year our church would have a missions conference where our missionaries would come and share about the work they were doing around the world. Through these stories, God began to work in my heart, and I thought I would one day like to serve in Kenya. Any chance I had, I participated in short-term service and mission trips, going to Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Mexico by the time I graduated from high school.

In college, I finally thought I would have a chance to go to Kenya on one of Azusa Pacific University’s summer mission trips. However, I was not placed on a team going to Kenya, but on one going to Japan. At first I tried to go to Kenya through another way. However, my mentor at the time said that God sometimes changes plans. She encouraged me to take a step of faith and go to Japan. So, in 2014 I went. While I was there, God began to work in my heart and showed me how much the Japanese people needed His love in a way I would never have thought or imagined. I came back to the United States and started to invest in the local Japanese community, helping with an outreach ministry, attending a Japanese church when I could, and going to different Japanese conferences. It was incredible to see God at work through these ministries! God continued to give me a heart for the Japanese people and my focus shifted from wanting to be a missionary in Kenya to wanting to be a missionary in Japan.

God also was preparing me in other ways for mission work. I spent a semester studying in Ecuador where some of our curriculum was about missions. Here God showed me the importance of partnering with the people we go to serve, listening and learning from them, and being cautious about imposing my way of doing things or my culture on the communities we serve. I also attended Urbana, a large missions conference, and took a course called Perspectives on the World Christian movement, where God continued to grow my view of missions and the work He is doing in the world. For so long I had focused on the part of Matthew 28:19 where Jesus says “go,” but as I learned more about this verse, the main verb was “make disciples.” Missions is not as much about going as it is about making disciples. In Genesis 12:1-3, where God makes his covenant with Abraham, He says that all nations would be blessed through Abraham. God’s heart to reach the nations JCFN North America Director Letter April 2023 is not just something found in the New Testament, but is also seen in Genesis. Wow! God really does care about each of us knowing Him!

Through these different opportunities, a second trip to Japan in 2016, as well as in other ways, God continued to confirm his calling on my life towards missions in Japan. In June 2021, I was appointed with OMF International to go there long-term. OMF’s vision is “through God’s grace we aim to see an indigenous, biblical church movement in each people group of East Asia, evangelizing their own people and reaching out in mission to other peoples.” Less than 2% of the population of Japan are Christian, and it is the second largest unreached people group in the world. The need for new churches and the strengthening of existing churches in Japan is great. Additionally, a large majority of the existing churches have pastors over the age of 50 or no pastor at all. Overall, there is a need for the love, hope, and truth of Jesus in a place where many live without hope and have deep-rooted cultural ties to Buddhism and Shintoism.

In preparation for serving in Japan, I am interning with JCFN where I am serving with various ministries and churches in Southern California. These ministries include assisting in ESL classes, building relationships through English conversation and dinners with international students, English/Japanese Bible study, and attending the Nichigo service and senior fellowship at Wintersburg Presbyterian Church. In February 2024, I plan to attend OMF’s orientation and afterwards arrive in Japan. My first term with OMF is four years. The first couple of years, I will be spending time at their Japanese Language and Culture Center (JLCC) to learn the language and culture. I will also be assigned to a church during each of these years. After this, I will be assigned to a training designation, where I will continue learning the language and also be trained to serve in a ministry context, which will be determined during my time at JLCC. After this, I will come back for home assignment and pray through what the next step is in this journey. I am excited to see how God continues to lead in this journey of faith and how He will work for His glory! 

Akarin’s monthly report April and May

Just recently GRC23 was held with great blessings, and we were thankful.

This month we’d like to summarize April and May and also share the blessings from GRC23.

April was mainly a month of the new school semester and on-campus events, Additionally, the internship church which I chose for my senior year and began serving is in Asahi City, which is located on the northeastern side of the city from Inzai City where I live.

I was involved with the full-scale registration for GRC23, this kept me very busy with recruiting, sending emails, and other tasks.

Yet even in the midst of this, God supported me, encouraged me through my friends, and also through the prayers of the GRC committee, I was able to make it to the day of GRC without incident.

We started by recruiting small group coordinators and small group leaders, and while it was difficult to decide who would be the coordinators and leaders, we also started registration and had to assign the groups at the same time. The most difficult part was grouping people who didn’t know each other. The small group committee members were there to help us. After dividing group by age, they carefully taught us one by one who should be the leader and whether we should be in the same group or not, and the group was completed despite our impatience.

I was struggling dealing as needed with a string of cancellations a few days before GRC23, asking participants to serve as small group leaders and doing some last-minute work at the JCFN office.

On the day of the event, when a small group leader suddenly cancelled, I couldn’t help but think, “Oh, Lord!” I looked up at the sky. I hurriedly contacted a substitute and received a reply that he was willing to serve, I felt God’s work in action.

It was the first day of Golden Week and traffic was expected to be quite crowded, so we had to leave early. However, with good fellowship in the car and Mt. Fuji appearing before our eyes, we found ourselves arriving at the best time and were truly grateful.

As we arrived at the venue, surrounded by people we were meeting for the first time, we prepared to receive the participants, and as they gradually arrived, we began to realize that the event was finally about to begin.

There was one more service at this GRC23. That was to create a reflection video movie for each morning. For this purpose, I took pictures of the meeting and each activity.

The photos that the participants had daily themes and submitted photos taken during their small group time each day. Day 1-Celebrate, Day 2-Encouragement and Day 3 -Determination – looked really fun, and I had a lot of fun while editing them.

Such was the blessing I was given at GRC23 with the daily theme.

The theme for the 1st day was “Celebrate”. I’m very sorry to say this, but May 4th was my birthday, and I was so busy with GRC23 that started on the 3rd that I never thought I would be able to celebrate my birthday, but I received many congratulatory messages from friends on social networking sites, and on the day of the event, I was celebrated everywhere, and finally surprised by the planning committee. It was a truly celebratory.


The theme for the 2nd day was “Encouragement”. I basically walked around the venue as a photographer and edited the reflection movie after the evening meeting. At the meeting with the small group coordinators, I received very nice comments that the photo time for each small group was a good icebreaker and that they were looking forward to seeing the photos of other groups. In the fellowship, we also received positive feedback that the reflection movie was very good. Even though it was hard to edit, these comments as well as the photos were very encouraging.


The theme for the 3rd day was “Determination,” and GRC23 marked the end of my internship at JCFN. In the last testimony of Ms. Shiori, the chairperson of the executive committee, I felt that I had a moment of decision for myself just like in GRC23, where she was asked to be JCFN staff five years ago, decided, and now served as the chair of the GRC planning committee.


Through my past work, service, and GRC23, I want to fellowship with and work for returnee Christians even more than I did before my internship. I don’t know how the Lord will lead me in the future, but I’ll be able to follow the Lord and say, “Yes! I want to continue to be rooted in the work of returnee Christians.

Stimulus! Tweet by Maki Goto

Perhaps it is because many of the friends I met while studying abroad were Asian people who loved spicy food, but even now I have an irresistible craving for spicy food. Being able to get such wonderful food at convenience stores is a moment when I am glad to be in Japan.

I remember when I was studying abroad, I often drank a carbonated drink called “Mountain Dew” when I needed to feel refreshed from lack of sleep. The other day, when I was preparing for GRC23, I couldn’t get “Mountain Dew”, but I got something called “Energy Drink” at a pharmacy and boosted myself.

When I want to Boost myself spiritually, this is the most stimulating!

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