WIT 21 Testimony

Saki Nishikori(in New Jersey)

“So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,” (Philippians 2:1-5)

Those who served in the WIT program led workshops on how to grow as a community leader. They also shared their testimonies of their ministry experiences. They talked and reminded us to be humble leaders like Jesus, not just socially acceptable leaders, but leaders that God would be pleased to see us become.

I’m currently studying at a state university in NJ, serving at a Japanese Christian church I’ve attended since before I was born, and in youth and college ministry on the East Coast. Specifically, I have a desire to connect with and evangelize Japanese and Japanese-Americans in the NJ/NY area.

At this year’s Central Conference, Rev. Kurisu talked about whose neighbor Jesus would have been if he were in today’s society. Since then, I have been thinking about who I should be a neighbor to. Then the faces of the people around me who needed Jesus the most came to mind. And through this WIT, I realized that I want to walk in the same way that Jesus approached and showed His love to those people who may not be easy to get along with or to be friends with, but who need God’s love. Through WIT, I was able to learn a lot about how to humble myself, let go of my pride, and live a life centered on Christ’s love in both Christian and non-Christian communities.

I still have a lot to study and learn, but God spoke to me deeply as I prayed with the friends and staff I met at WIT. Ministries are not something you do by your own efforts, but something you give with gratitude and joy, just by God’s grace and love. And that God would provide us with the friends and needs we needed, regardless of our own shortcomings and weaknesses. As we build up our new community, I hope that great blessings will be poured out as we seek God in every process.

Michigan Camp Report

 

Hello from Michigan. I’d like to share a little bit about the Michigan Bible Camp.

About 26 years ago, a Japanese woman living in Ann Arbor had a vision of Japanese family camp, and as the prayers eventually expanded, a couple, American husband and Japanese wife, moved from Singapore to Ann Arbor. Her American husband was earning his PhD at the University of Michigan. His parents were devout Christians who understood camp ministry, such as participating in Bible camps in Upper Michigan, and he had been nourished at Bible camps since he was a child. He had a wealth of camping know-how and was committed to locating venues and preparing various things, and the first camp was held in 1998.

In addition, young people joined the camp operation and the camp continued every August. One such young person was Nagiko Hamano. She graduated with a master’s degree from Eastern Michigan University. During this time, she accepted Jesus Christ and was baptized in June 1998. She was later called to heaven at the age of 33 due to cancer. She served not only in the Michigan Bible Camp, but also at the Central Conference and the Equipper Conference. Her mother who was closer to her while fighting cancer came to the faith. About 10 years later after the funeral, her sister was also led to the faith.

Last year our plan consisted of two parts as Day Camp (August) and Online Live (October) due to COVID circumstances. But this year the 24th camp has returned to the overnight stay camp as before. There were over 50 campers, which were fewer than before, probably because some Japanese Christian families encountered calendar conflicts with events in the same week or other matters.

Looking back in the past, there were some happenings. Every time, we wish and hope that there will not be any unfavorable incidents. However, on the morning of Thursday, August 12, when the day of camp started, a man who has been in charge of elementary school classes for several years, informed us that last night’s storm had caused power outage. After all, it was 10:00 p.m. on the same day he told us that the restoration would be expected by midnight on Saturday, so it was not possible to join the camp. His children who look forward to this camp every year seemed to be really sad. We were sorry about this. Now, what to do with the elementary school class??

At midnight on Thursday 12th, Pastor Iwao Satoh, keynote speaker and three committee members held an emergency operations meeting. As a result, because it was a small number of children, they were to put together in one class group of elementary, middle, and high school for each Friday night, Saturday morning, and Sunday morning. The leader  in charge of the middle and high class and with two supporters were called in for this emergency situation. The night program on Friday 13th had a partial issue due to equipment failure, but the emergency response team of these three American youths worked splendidly on the morning of 14 (Sat) and 15 (Sun), as this was the advent of God’s dream team. The Lord is alive!

In the past, people who needed interpreters took seats right next to the interpreter and listened to it, but this is not a COVID measure at all now. However, with interpreting equipment given from JCFN’s unused tools three interpreters supported 11 people using English, so we really realized “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.” By the way, there are 21 people in Japanese. I felt a change in the profile of our camp. Next year the camp will be scheduled from August 11th (Thur) to 14th (Sun).

Yo Mikami

What I learned at WIT21

Kaoru Okamoto (in Atlanta, Georgia)

“I was able to participate in WIT21 at this moment and at this place.”

This summer, I moved from NJ, where I was born and raised, to Atlanta, where my university is located. I was able to start my new life with the help of various church brothers and sisters that I was able to meet online before I arrived, and I am so grateful that I have been able to attend church since the first week. On the other hand, I am realizing for the first time how hard it is for a newcomer to join a new community in a new place and blend in. I was aware that I was observing the new Christian community with a critical eye as well as comparing it to the church in NJ, but I didn’t know how to change or pray for myself. I also wondered how much I could commit to serve at the new church, as I would only be here for three years until I graduated from college, and I was becoming timid about serving God.

Being able to participate in WIT21 at that time was truly God’s leading. The theme was “COME(UNITY),” which was perfect for my situation, and I was able to learn from Philippians 2:1-5. One of the most important things I learned was “Christian Leadership Qualities”. “We don’t need to be great leaders because we are only fulfilling God’s plan, we can’t handle it on our own and we don’t need to try to solve it. Let’s rely on God.”

I am the only college student in my church and the only Japanese student in my university, but there are many universities in Atlanta and many Japanese students. After WIT21, I have a stronger desire to connect with Japanese students, rather than passively looking for a community in Christ. My eyes have been opened to the fact that I don’t have to wait until I grow up to be a leader or an adult, but that God will provide me with wisdom and help when I act on what He shows me.

I’m currently making a praise video of “Spirit, Touch Your Church” with a Christian friend I met at WIT21 on a YouTube channel called BIG Praise House, and the lyrics “I want to care for others like Jesus cared for me ” lyrics go through my mind. I would appreciate it if you would remember and pray for me to be a humble servant in this way.

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