I am Yoshiki Saeki, the North Associate Staff. As of the end of June 2023, I will be closing the chapter on my activities with JCFN Associates. Along with my farewell, I would like to take this opportunity to reflect on what God has done during the approximately ten years of my involvement with JCFN through this article.
This content overlaps with what I contributed to the 30th-anniversary annual report, but my connection with JCFN began with ec01 and ec02 on a bitterly cold snowy mountain in 2001. Starting a youth program, which did not exist at the time, was the beginning with my wife. Each time I hear about the blessings on the work of ec Youth since then, I am overwhelmed by the Lord’s plan to use small acts of service richly. Additionally, the fact that my firstborn son, born around the time I assumed this position, is now reaching the age to participate in ec Youth is further surprising.
The greatest turning point (or event?) in my involvement with JCFN was serving as the director of the planning committee for ec 10 and ec 11. At the time, I was facing a dead end in my work at the church where I was serving as a staff member and was in a state of recovery from burnout. From a human perspective, it was not the best timing at all. However, I was granted peace in being called to this work, an opportunity to confront my true self and reevaluate the calling given by God. During the two years as an director role, I immersed myself in this work. The Lord brought together wonderful committee members, including the JCFN staff members, and I learned many things during this period.
Through sharing, prayer, reflection, planning, sometimes redirection, decision-making, and the process of weaving programs together around the given themes, God consistently showed blessings beyond our plans and expectations. Throughout this season, God gently and powerfully touched me while I was falling, leading me to the work I am entrusted with now.
Even after ec, I was allowed to continue my involvement as an Associate Staff. While working full-time at a Japanese company, and being involved in house church activities in Portland, I had time constraints (JCFN staff members, I appreciate your patience with me always being on the edge of deadlines). It was a time of personal mentorship, sending off returnees, and networking opportunities. I am thankful for being placed within the process of connecting, nurturing, and sending, as described in JCFN’s mission statement. God is the one who sends us, and through JCFN, I felt like I was on a journey where I touched upon God’s will to send, and was further invited to God’s kingdom projects. In business, at home, in school, in the local community, God is faithfully working toward His covenant and continually inviting. This was one of the blessings I received through working at JCFN. Additionally, in February 2022, I received the grace of being ordained as a pastor in my mother church. Currently, while still working for a company, I am serving as a pastor for the Japanese ministry at a church in Portland, which is involved in multicultural and multilingual activities. Through fellowship with brothers and sisters from various cultures, I receive training and encouragement daily to perceive God’s work in the diversity, guided by the Holy Spirit, within a local context and a global perspective.
Looking back, I can certainly say that through my work, encounters, and interactions with JCFN, I have been constantly encouraged to walk faithfully in the calling I have been given. I would like to take this opportunity to deeply thank all JCFN members who have supported me with love and patience as I navigated my imperfect journey thus far. As the small mustard seed-like work planted in this land called JCFN continues, I cannot help but hope that it will bear even richer fruits through all of us scattered in various places. My involvement as a Associate Staff comes to a close, but I ask for your continued support in the Lord.
As we earnestly pray for His kingdom to come to this land. – Yoshiki Saeki