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!

God Living in Me (Central Conference Testimony)

I would like to thank all the people involved with the JCFN and the conference director, Mrs. Yu Okaya, for asking me to share my testimony for the Central Conference 2022 – Reconnect – afterwards! I am grateful for this precious opportunity, and I will give my testimony while praying that all the glory will go to God alone.

Finally, this is my first in-person JCFN conference, and I have been preparing for it as a committee member with my beloved brothers and sisters, and I will be allowed to serve as a small group director. I was really looking forward to the opportunity to finally meet those brothers and sisters face-to-face, whom I had only met on Zoom, and to hear Pastor Seki’s message in the audience. When I found out that I was Corona positive and that I would not be able to attend the event at the same venue as everyone else, I was just so bitter, sad, and frustrated that I cried so hard I didn’t know how much tears could come out. I even felt anger toward God in my heart. It was not the way I had expected, but I was able to participate through the live streaming, and the kind God, who is the One of love, was with me throughout the three days and spoke to me a lot. I am now convinced that each and every Bible verse that Pastor Seki spoke on the theme of “Reconnect” was necessary for me to hear in that place because I was in that situation at that time. I was filled with an inexpressible peace, especially as I slowly chewed over again the story of the prodigal son, a story I had read and heard so many times before. When I pictured in my mind’s eye the scene of the son who had gone away, lost everything, and returned home at his wits’ end, and the father who had waited for his beloved son all these years, it made me think again of the overwhelming love of our Heavenly Father, how immeasurable His love is. At the same time, he said to his angry brother, “Child, you are always with me. All that is mine is yours.” Again I was filled with an inexpressible peace, as if God was gently saying to me, “I have always been with you, and I am with you now. I realized how many good things God had already given me that I did not deserve.

God poured out more blessings than I could have ever expected at CC22, which I attended in a very special way. I had been dead in darkness, separated from my Creator, not knowing the truth, but He appeared to me as light and brought me back to life as a new person, the same God whose love is exactly the same as when we first met, and who loves me completely, no matter what my circumstances. That He searches my thoughts and knows my feelings and sees me. And that He is holding my hand. The more I think back on my experience at CC22, the more I feel grateful to my living Heavenly Father, my Lord and my God, who is truly good in every situation. I want to give thanks to God who is still living in me today, who strengthens my faith in ways that I cannot imagine, sometimes in unexpected ways, and who allows me to encounter God’s love more and more and reconnect with that love.

Natsumi Iwamoto

Culture Shock

What kind of culture shock do you guys have?

Please listen to my culture shock story…

About 30 years ago (scary!), when I was a freshman in high school, my family and I moved from Osaka, Japan to Hawaii, USA.

It was my first day of school.

Of course, I could speak English, this is a pen!

Anyway, being completely unable to speak English, I was the only one in the classroom taking a test to prove how little English I could speak.

And then!!!!

Suddenly, jiggly jiggly! A sound that shook the whole school!

What! An emergency bell?

What do you mean?

Fire? Earthquake?

The ground is not shaking, so the fire started in the lunchroom! Fire!

Panicking, I looked outside, and lo and behold! The students are running outside like mad, trying to escape!

I knew it was a fire! I have to get out too!

But wait! How do you say “fire” in English?

Fire” is fire, but what’s the “thing” in “fire”? Thing”?

Fire” is “Fire Thing”? called?

Oh, ・・・・. What will happen to me if I can’t communicate in English, don’t understand, and am sent running away?

With that thought in mind, what haunts my brain is tomorrow’s newspaper article.

‘Poor foreign student, sent away because she didn’t understand English, found burned to death in a cloud of smoke”…….

Oh no!

I was desperate.

People can do all kinds of unexpected things when their lives are at stake! Like Degawa, I can manage even if I don’t speak English!

Anyway, I gestured to the teacher something like, “I’m afraid for my life and I’m going outside,” and ran outside. I had a handkerchief (it was my first day, so I had a handkerchief, nose paper, with me…) I covered my mouth with a ・・・・ and bent down to avoid breathing the smoke. (There was no smoke, though.)

Among the students running around, I found a girl who spoke Japanese! I grabbed her by the chest and asked her, almost in tears. (I guess she must have been scared when I grabbed her by the chest…)

Me: “What are you going to do?” What should I do next? Where should I run to?

The kid: “What?

Me: “Where is the fire coming from?

The kid: “What? Fire? (scowling)

Me: “Yes! Now the emergency bell is ringing and everyone is running away, but I don’t know where to run. I don’t speak English and I don’t know what to do. ・・・・ Please help me…”

The girl: “What? Oh, is that this sound, this ‘jiggery-jiggery’ sound? That’s the bell to let you know that class is over. Now it’s recess time…”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ahhh ・・・・ I want to go home already…. I thought so with all my heart.

One culture shock a day is enough.

 

May the Lord bless you all today!

 

Setsu Shimizu (JCFN North America Director)

She grew up in Osaka, Japan in a pastor’s family. She believed in God from an early age, but lived an inactive life of faith until college, when she moved with her family to Hawaii at age 15 and has lived in the U.S. ever since. Involved in international student ministry since high school, rededicated at the Urbana ’90 Mission Conference, and led to JCFN, which she became involved with while attending Fuller Seminary, where she has been serving as a staff worker since 1994. Her very supportive husband, Mao (a former international student who became a Christian in Denver), has been serving in the Japanese Language Department at Wintersburg Japanese Church since May 2022, and they are enjoying their ministry together.

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