I’m Yoshiko Nishisako, of Inspire-Union=Inspa which serves as the Tokai regional meeting of returnees.

Inspire-Union is a long-established JCFN regional meeting, celebrating 10 years since its inception in 2005 and it will celebrate 20 years in 2025. I think I became involved with INSPA shortly before the 10th anniversary in 2015. The leaders and core staff members who had been involved since its inception were gradually changing, and at that time we had a monthly regular meeting on a Saturday afternoon at a church in Nagoya City. However, as the lives of the core staff members changed, it became difficult to continue planning and running the monthly meetings. Therefore, the members gathered to pray and exchange opinions about the future direction of INSPA. The monthly regular meeting became an occasional meeting once every 2~3 months. Although it may appear downsized and backward to others, I think it was a positive turning point for us to serve as a base for returnees in the community, “doing what we can, when we can,” rather than the size of the meetings. At the occasional meetings, we held takoyaki parties, movie nights, and other events where we could enjoy the joy of seeing each other from time to time while maintaining a relaxed fellowship.

After some time had passed since the transition from regular meetings to occasional  meetings, the spread of COVID19 prevented people from meeting in person. The occasional meetings were replaced by online meetings. It became more difficult for the core staff to plan, organize, and run 90-to-120-minute online programs, although they are occasional, and to set up and manage servants to serve.

We had a period of time for each core staff member to pray about “how God is going to use and lead INSPA in the future,” including the continuation of their future service. At the same time, one of the sisters suggested, “Let’s pray about INSPA for 30 minutes every month.” and a “little prayer meeting” started.

Using Zoom, we held a 30-minute prayer meeting on the 2nd Sunday night of each month (sometimes extended…lol) to pray about how the Lord is leading and using INSPA. The number of people who gather is less than ten each time, but we pray together for each other, about returnees in the area, and about returnee ministry itself. I think it’s because we are a small group that we’re able to have a time of deep fellowship and prayer.

The “little prayer meeting,” which started in January 2022, has continued without a break monthly under the Lord’s guidance. The number of core staff participating is now two. While praying and asking for people to join the work of INSPA, the core value of “those who can do what they can do, when they can do it” remains unchanged, and I believe that it is this flexibility that allows us to continue. There was a time when the very existence of INSPA was uncertain, but now we may continue as a ministry to returnees in the Tokai area in the form of the “little prayer meeting,” and I believe that the Lord is certainly guiding our steps.

Although it is a tiny prayer meeting, the Lord is at its center, and I hope that we’ll continue to receive the blessing of praying together and be richly guided in the future.

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

Scroll to top