Takuya Toma (Center in Pic)
I was raised in a Christian home, and my faith has been nurtured through church and KGK (Kirisuto sha Gakusei Kai) in Japan. For the international training program at the company I work for in Japan, I had the opportunity to live in Seattle from October 2022 for one year.
Amid the anxieties of my first experience living abroad, I was fortunate to be connected with fellow Japanese Christians who graciously provided me with a place to stay. Not only did they offer a fully furnished home, but they also assisted me in getting settled after my arrival. While hearing stories from colleagues who had struggled to find housing after arriving in the United States, I felt truly blessed to have a place to stay and acquaintances even before my departure. Along with this family, I have been greatly supported by the Christian community in Seattle through shared meals and fellowship. Each day, I have been overwhelmed by God’s provision, surpassing my imagination through the people of Seattle.
Wanting to give back some of the blessings I have received from God, I learned that a ministry called JxJ (Jesus x Japanese) had been suspended due to the pandemic in Seattle. JxJ is a ministry organized by Japanese Christians in Seattle. After several meetings with JxJ preparation team members during the winter, we decided to relaunch JxJ in February, focusing on outreach to Japanese students, fellowship among Japanese Christians, and praise in Japanese. It has been a privilege to continue JxJ on a monthly basis by coordinating with the team members, allowing us to connect with international students and those interested in Japan. The program includes sharing testimonies, praise, warm meals, delicious cakes, and various activities like games and table tennis.
I have been encouraged by hearing how individuals met Jesus and the impact of faith in their lives during these testimonies. In particular, the testimonies of students who found faith in Seattle were powerful. Amid the various concerns about returning to Japan, their confidence in living according to the principles of the Bible encouraged me. I hope to continue to communicate with them and support one another in living with Jesus.
Sharing meals is a valuable time to get to know each other. We talk about why students came to Seattle, how school is, what life is like in the United States, and many other topics. We have been inspired by each other’s stories, even though our life stages differ. While there have been fluctuations in attendance, God has provided rich moments at each gathering. I am truly thankful for the dedicated servants who prepare delicious Japanese food for this fellowship. However, we feel the need for financial support to continue providing meals. Currently, all the food is provided by the volunteers, but we would appreciate any donations to support the ministry of JxJ, which is essential for its continuity.
In JxJ, we place great emphasis on praise in Japanese. Initially, I had some reservations about singing praise songs in a space where there might be non-believers. I was concerned about whether people would feel uncomfortable listening to “unfamiliar religious songs.” However, I had a meeting with a student who changed my perspective before relaunching JxJ. She told me that during a few months of Bible study, she hadn’t felt inclined to believe, but while listening to worship songs, her feelings suddenly changed, becoming the turning point for her faith. Her story made me realize the need to trust the Holy Spirit’s work in moving people’s hearts through our praise. It was a significant experience for me to be able to praise, hoping that Jesus’ love would be conveyed to the hearts of the students.
During one of our team meetings, we decided to choose a specific song for each gathering. We selected the song “New Life.” The opening lyrics, “I have met you; your love is something that cannot be replaced,” bring tears to my eyes. Reflecting on how meeting Jesus has enriched and filled my life, I have an overwhelming desire for as many students as possible to receive this love. I hope to continue believing that the Holy Spirit will touch the hearts of students through praise in JxJ.
My time in Seattle is coming to an end, and I will be returning to Japan, leaving the remaining operation of JxJ to the other team members. I want to express my gratitude to each member for their service, which I couldn’t cover here. Many people from students to those with families have prayed and served for JxJ. Please pray that each JxJ gathering becomes a joyful place overflowing with Jesus’ love. Additionally, please pray that the team members can continue to serve JxJ with joy and unity.
*JxJ is one of JCFN’s regional gatherings. Donations should be sent to JCFN, specifying “JxJ.” For donation information, please refer to this link. Donation Link.