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.

Central Conference 2021 Testimony (1)

Natumi Iwamoto  (in Wisconsin)

I am currently studying abroad in Wisconsin, U.S.A. In 2019, where I met Jesus for the first time in my life and then got saved, and now I am sharing the joy and fun in the Lord with my brothers and sisters through InterVarsity, a campus ministry.

I first learned about JCFN when I attended the National Gathering hosted by IV online last summer. Since then, I’ve been introduced to many people that God has connected me with, which led me to EC and CC.

Through CC 21, I was able to rethink the immeasurable love of Jesus, who sacrificed so much to be with us. No matter who you are, no matter how difficult it seems, Jesus is the first one to come close to you and touch your wounds, not because of what you have done. I hope we can always look up to Jesus, our best model, and love others with a lower self. I kept praying during CC21 that I would be able to do more of that, and that you would help me to do so. I am so grateful for the three wonderful CC days, where I was repeatedly fascinated by God’s wide, long, high and deep love.

Testimony of GRC21 Participant “In Jesus’ Name…A Prayer to Extend His Kingdom”

Testimony of GRC21 Participant

In Jesus’ Name…A Prayer to Extend His Kingdom

Etsuko Hotta

Hallelujah! Praise the name of the Lord! My name is Etsuko Hotta and I live in Tottori Prefecture, which is the least populated prefecture in Japan. I’m grateful for the opportunity to testify about what the Lord has done through GRC21, and I want to give glory to the Lord.

 

A few years ago, I was given the vision to evangelize students through study abroad by utilizing my position at the International Exchange Center where I’m responsible for students from English-speaking countries in charge of the university where I work. I attended GRC18 when I was praying to the Lord about how to support students who had just returned home with an interest in the Gospel.

 

Before attending GRC18, I was afraid to evangelize students because of my position as a university employee. However, through GRC18, the Lord prepared my heart, led me to repentance, and gave me a calling to evangelize students through study abroad. After receiving this call, I was able to find local families of God, communities, and educational institutions in North America, Europe, Oceania, and Asia that agreed, prayed, and cooperated with this work through God’s grand plan. Students who had never even heard the name of Jesus Christ were given the opportunity to experience the love of the Lord during their study abroad, from short-term study abroad for four weeks to long-term study abroad for one year, and some were saved during their study abroad, while others were not yet saved but returned home with an interest in the Bible. In order to support these students, we started our ministry by starting small groups and worshipping with students unconnected to the church.

 

After GRC18, my daily prayer to the Lord was to attend the next GRC21 with the saved students who were the fruit of this study abroad mission started by the Lord. However, the students connected to our small group were so busy with part-time jobs, coursework, and assignments that they were unable to commit to study and worship, which was our biggest prayer challenge. However, as Isaiah 55:10-11 says, when rain or snow falls from heaven, it does not return unchanged, but it always moistens the earth and brings life to it, just as the wilderness becomes green and beautiful flowers bloom, so the word of God never returns in vain, and the hearts of those who hear it will be filled with joy. No matter how dry and barren the hearts of those who hear it may be, the word of God will be sown into their hearts, and they will be transformed into a lush heart. I continued to pray, believing that the Word of God would be transformed into an abundant heart of love for God in God’s time, and that this was what the Lord wanted.

It was also a challenge to encourage students who were unable to attend small groups and worship services regularly to participate in GRC21, but the Lord answered the prayers that had been pouring in since GRC18. The Lord answered our prayers, and we were able to participate in GRC21 together with the returnees from New Zealand who had just graduated and the returnee students from Canada who started supporting us right after GRC18.

 

The theme of GRC21 was “In Jesus’ Name…” The Lord spoke abundantly to both of their hearts in Jesus’ name, and they were able to connect with new returnee Christians and see their faith grow through this GRC21. After GRC21, it was difficult for them to get together, but now they are willing to fellowship and study together. This is a great joy and a sign that we have been praying for each person’s spiritual growth in Jesus’ name. It is also a testimony of our prayers to expand the Kingdom in Jesus’ name, that we received the call at GRC18, and three years later at GRC21, we are able to join with the souls of the fruit of the Lord’s work and see the growth of the Spirit!

 

I pray from the bottom of my heart that the precious work of JCFN will continue to be protected and used to support returnee Christians in connecting with God and His family, being transformed into Christ’s likeness, being equipped, and being sent so that their faith will not be isolated after they return home.

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