JCFN Associate Staff Introduction Part 2: Manami Seki

Hello! My name is Manami Seki, and I am in charge of youth ministry as JCFN Associate Staff. Today, I would like to share how I got involved with JCFN and how I was led as an Associate Staff.

I started my college life in Hawaii in 2012 and was given the opportunity to be involved in JCFN’s anniversary conference in Hawaii in the summer of 2016. I had never been to EC before, so this was the first time I had heard of JCFN, and something stuck with me as I attended the conference. As I prayed, “What is in my heart?” I thought, “Maybe the Lord is leading me to get involved with this organization.

At the time, however, I had been given a calling to serve the Lord through youth ministry, but I had not been given a heart for the Japanese people. I wondered if such a person was suitable for the ministry of the JCFN, but I prayed and asked the Lord to clearly show me if it was His will during the few days of the meeting. The next day at the meeting, Yuko Ozeki, one of the staff, said emphatically, “I want three young workers for JCFN within five years! After hearing this, I could not help but expressed my honest feelings to Shimizu Setsu, the North America Director of JCFN. I told her, “I have a heart for youth but not Japanese people. What can I do to help?” And…. Now I was so embarrassed that I said to the leader of a mission organization that works for Japanese! But I still can’t stop thanking Setsu, who kindly listened to me without changing color. LOL!

But the Lord gave me a heart for the Japanese in a way I had never imagined… After the summer of the JCFN anniversary conference, in the fall semester of college, about 30 Japanese students were given to the campus ministry of InterVarsity, which I was involved in as a leader. They said, “We want to know about God! I want to know about the Bible!” I was shocked to see so many Japanese people who wanted to know about God and the Bible. I had grown up as a Christian in Japan and had no Christian friends from elementary school to high school, so I realized that I had subconsciously thought that evangelism to the Japanese was meaningless and that they were not interested. As several people who had come to InterVarsity during the six months were saved and returned to Japan, I strongly wanted them to stay connected to the Lord in Japan, and at the same time I was reminded of how important the work of JCFN is. The Lord gave me not only the calling but also the thoughts and emotional part necessary for the work and led me to the work of JCFN.

We are looking forward to seeing what great things the Lord will do through JCFN and through the youth!

Current ministry: We have weekly devotions and monthly events for the youth. We also train youth leaders to lead events and have monthly gatherings for those who have a burden for youth. Please remember the next generation of youth in your prayers!

Shake, Shake, Shake

Hello everyone!

My name is Yuko OZEKI.

Since the theme of this year’s EC, “Unshakable – Our Firm Foundation,” was decided around this time last year, it has been a year full of things that have made me wonder why I have been so shakable.

The number of appliances that have broken in the past year has been humongous. 😭

(1) Refrigerator,
(2) Microwave oven
(3)Bread maker
(4) Toaster
(5) Rice cooker
(6) Dishwasher

And last week
(7) Washing machine

broke down. Ding. 😂 Isn’t it terrible to have so many breakdowns in one year?

Even if the foundation is not shaken, when the top is shaken, it’s pretty depressing.

At times like this, what has been Life-Giving for me?

(1) Devotions in the morning, when I light a candle and make a cup of hot tea.
(2) Playing ball with my dog at the dog park.
(3) Jogging and yoga.
(4) Eating delicious sweets.
(5) Using a foot massager to prevent swelling.
(6) Meditation while doing the labyrinth walk.
(7) Having a place to share your thoughts and feelings such as bible study and spiritual direction.

I am very happy to be able to do these things. When I write them down like this, I realize that it is “one-off events” that shake me up, but all the things that help me build-up are “routine.”

So by developing habits to energize even when shaken, we can build back up again, broken or not. As long as the foundation is not shaken, you can rebuild as many times as you want.

What is a Life-Giving routine for you?

The following is a quote from C.S. Lewis that O-kun shared with us during the first EC Executive Committee meeting. These words have also been a great support for me this past year.

“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”

WIT Testimony vol. 2

Sho Ishizaka (in Texas) 

The biggest challenge and decision came the day after WIT ended. On the ride home to the airport, a girl who had also attended WIT was riding with me, and I was hearing a lot about the East Coast ministry of Ippuku from her. She told me about a non-Christian girl who had participated in Ippuku’s bible study, and how they had time to read the Bible and pray together every morning on the phone, and how the girl had come to faith and was now back in Japan evangelizing non-Christian families with zeal. She told me that the girl was her first spiritual child. The saved girl had been in the U.S. for only one year. And no one in her family is a Christian.

I have no experience in leading my own friends to faith in that way, nor have I ever called or texted him daily to listen to his story or invite him to read the Bible. I was ashamed that none of them had ever “led and shepherded sheep” before, and at the same time, I realized that I had been unable to take such an action out of “fear”. For the past year or so, I have had a desire to do student evangelism ministry targeting Japanese students in Dallas, but I kept thinking, “It’s Corona pandemic…” and “I might go back to Japan next year. I might go back to Japan next year…” I felt very ashamed of myself for not doing anything in the end. I had been trapped by fear, making excuses and running away. I have failed to do the very thing I want to do with my life. I was reminded of such a self and led to repentance.

It is not man that saves, but Jesus Christ.  If God says, “Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,” I knew that God could save my dear friends, relatives, and Japanese students I was about to meet. I was encouraged by the testimonies of my fellow WIT participants just before I left Los Angeles.

This summer, I will start a student ministry for Japanese students in Dallas. We are starting from scratch, gathering information and making connections with the students. In the process, we believe the Lord will give us seeds, water, and fruit. We would appreciate your prayers, as well as your support in providing information and other resources for students, including non-Christians!

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