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.)

Yu Hoshino, Candidate for JCFN Intern

After graduating from high school, I left Japan at the age of 18 to pursue university studies. I went to Hawaii as an exchange student, and in 2022, I enrolled at the Tokyo Bible Institute. I graduated from the one-year training course in 2023. During my first experience living abroad, I felt lost and stressed, my heart dried up in the face of the new land, environment, and culture. However, I started attending church, encountered God, and my life took a 180-degree turn.

During my six years abroad, I was supported by my family back home and the church family nearby. Like me, I witnessed many people in foreign countries listening to the gospel, experiencing God’s love, and believing in the Lord. My mother church, Honolulu Church, was located about a 5-minute walk uphill from the University of Hawaii, where I attended. Therefore, many short-term exchange students came to Honolulu Church to build community in Hawaii or to experience English immersion.

Through the church, I made friends and participated in activities like Youth Bible Study, hiking, and beach outings. Despite the short time, I enjoyed Hawaii with them. Such experiences encouraged me with the reminder that “I am not alone” no matter what. However, I often heard that once international students returned to Japan, they stopped attending church.

Reasons varied, including not knowing which church to attend, being too busy with life and work, unable to tell family about starting to attend church, or lacking Christian friends around. As someone who had sent off many international students, my initial thought was, “Even when I return to Japan, I want to stay connected to the church.” That was one of the reasons I enrolled in the Bible Institute. I wanted to support returning students, encourage them to connect with the church, and provide support. Such thoughts were instilled in me as I continued to attend worship services abroad.

Even after enrolling in the Bible Institute, unsure of my future path after graduation, I kept praying, “Lord, is there a burden for international student outreach? Is there any work for returning Christian students?”

“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours” (Mark 11:24).

The path that the Lord has given me now is an internship with JCFN in California. During my studies, I was given the opportunity to participate in the internship through Mr. Shizuki Shimizu. I was anxious whether this path was truly God’s will or if it was the path He had opened. However, by participating in the EC that I had been attending every year, I gained confidence in my path.

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10).

I decided to walk in the “good works” that God has prepared for me rather than what people expect. I firmly believed that God, who uses us as instruments of righteousness, would never use us as instruments of unrighteousness. I resolved to entrust myself to God, who uses us as instruments of righteousness, and to surrender everything to Him.

Only God knows the “good works” prepared for us. I believe that as we obey the small things prepared before us, the Lord will transform us to live by His grace. Now, the path set before me is the internship with JCFN. Stepping into a new path requires courage. However, trusting in the word of the Lord and the Holy Spirit given to us without fear, I will walk with the Lord.

 

Please support Yu Hoshino

The participation fee for the internship to be held in California in May is still insufficient. A donation of $4,500 is required, covering travel expenses, meals, insurance, rent, and activity fees (for training and service at retreats, leadership camps, etc.).

Please pray that the needs will be met, and if you feel led, please contribute.

You can make a donation through the following methods:

Check: JCFN P.O. Box 17982, Irvine, CA 92623 (Please write “Intern Scholarship (Yu Hoshino)” in the memo section.)

Credit Card: [link] (Please select “Intern Fund” as the destination.)

“Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7)

 

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