NEW! Tsu-Na-Gu

Hello! My name is Etsuko Hotta, JCFN associate staff 😊

It’s time to feel the beginning of early summer from the fresh green season! I think some of you have started a new life in the new year, such as going on to higher education, getting a new job, or changing jobs. In such a new environment, some of you may feel again the importance of connecting with God and others. Connection is very important!

What kind of connections do you have now?

I have been working with Christians and communities overseas, arranging homestays for Christian host families, connecting with Christian communities to connect them with local churches, and praying with local Christians to bring students into contact with the love of Christ during their study abroad experience. We pray together with local Christians to help students experience the love of Christ during their study abroad experience, and we work as a “Tsu-Na-Gu” (connecting) ministry to support students from the time they are sent to their home countries until they return home.

The Tsu-Na-Gu ministry is a ministry of connecting non-Christians and Christians with Christians overseas, with the earnest hope and prayer that they will stay connected to God, His family, and His church after returning to Japan! We have connected students with Christians in the U.S., Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Germany, the Netherlands, Finland, and Malaysia, and have seen students who did not even know Jesus Christ before they went to Japan to be touched by the love of Christ and saved during their study abroad experience, from as little as 3 weeks to over a year. Some have been saved while studying abroad, while others have not yet confessed their faith, but have been led to confession of faith and baptism after returning to their home countries, and are now living a life of faith.

As part of Tsu-Na-Gu’s support for returnees, we have an online group of 20-something returnees living in the Chugoku area who gather together to read and share the Bible, and sometimes gather in person for a meal together.

We hope that Tsu-Na-Gu will become such a place. By God’s grace, it is a great joy and blessing that the returnees connected to Tsu-Na-Gu are able to overcome various difficulties, stay connected to God and His family, and walk together in the process of being transformed and made into the likeness of Christ as they study His word and pray together, rather than being isolated in their faith. It is a great joy and blessing.

I hope and pray that the Lord will continue to use Tsu-Na-Gu to connect us with God’s love.

God is really good at connecting people to each other 😊 I hope you all connect with the people God is trying to connect you with. Let’s connect with God’s love!

Salvation Mountain and Noah’s Ark

Hello! This is Yuko Ozeki, the leader in North America.

On the way back from a trip to Arizona recently, I visited Salvation Mountain. This place became a topic of conversation more than ten years ago. At that time, I was in the midst of raising children and couldn’t find the time to go, so I had to give up on the idea. However, this time, almost by chance, I was able to go and I’m very grateful for it.

The person who created this mountain is Leonard Knight. He spent 30 years creating it simply because he wanted to convey the gospel message that “God loves you!” Besides the mountain, there are many other things around, like cars and boats, all with messages like “God Loves You” or pictures representing the nine fruits of the spirit, or “Bible,” “Bible” written endlessly on car bumpers. It’s hard to describe, but I felt the intensity of his conviction. For about 30 years, he worked diligently, alone, contemplating, praying, and talking to God while creating this mountain and its artworks. And while spending time with people who came to see this mountain, he continued to convey the love of God.

Thinking about this, I remembered Noah, who spent about 100 years (maybe a bit shorter) building the ark. Just like Leonard Knight, Noah worked quietly, building the ark to save humanity. Those 100 years were not just a time of physical labor; they were surely an incredibly long and deep time of communion with God, a time of prayer.

At JCFN, we occasionally hold retreats with contemplative prayer and times of silence called C-WIT. During the silent times, we engage in activities like coloring or drawing on stones while communing with God. What Leonard and Noah did was on a much larger scale than a retreat of a few hours or days; it was a long, long time of silence and contemplative prayer. This realization filled me with a solemn feeling that is hard to describe.

Blessings.

(Note: Since the creator of Salvation Mountain, Leonard, has passed away for a long time, maintenance is needed in many places, and many areas are closed. If you haven’t been and are interested, I recommend going soon.)

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