EC Youth Camp Testimonies

Hello everyone! This time, we would like to share with you the testimonies from the EC Youth Camp held at the end of the year!
Please be encouraged by the honest and pure testimonies of the youth! 😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍

 

It was my first time to go to a place where I didn’t know anyone and I was scared, but everyone was so friendly and there were so many unique leaders that I felt so blessed. I really enjoyed playing games and praising God. We don’t usually dance at my church but I enjoyed worshipping and dancing to the “Arinomama Song “. I am so glad to have good memories at the end of 2011! Mai (7th grader)

 

A few things that God said to me was that He needs me to spread the Word, and He wants to see me when my time is up on the earth.  Stuff I learned at EC is that God forgives and loves His children who are people that know He is real.  Nick (10th grader)

 

I never really heard or learned about our identity in God world, or the Kingdom, at church or camp before so it was really eye opening.  At home, my family talks about identity and gift, but not this deep.  For a while now, I really hate my gift of music/violin, but I feel like God is telling me to step up and accept it as a part of my identity.  The words like “identity”, “telling others about God”, “God will use you,” and “use your gift” has been coming into my ear a lot, so I want to try and love my gift even if it’s going a long, hard road to drive.  Also, I want to try and use it to spread and expand the Kingdom like we learned.  Mana (11th grader)

 

Identity was something I had never really thought of or worried about.  But when I heard about identity at this EC, I realized it was something I couldn’t quite put my finger on.  However, I heard the words, “I am loved by You.  That is who I am” in “Good Good Father”.  And I thought, that’s it!  That’s what I am; a being loved by God. 

It’s so easy to put my identity in things I can do, or what others think of me.  I know it’s going to become even harder to remember my true identity as I become an adult.  So, all my life, I want to constantly return to the fact that I am God’s daughter.  And though this quest is very hard for me, I want God to make me willing to go out and help others find their Kingdom identity, too.  Ellie (12th grader)

 

EC21 was a blessing for me.  I was truly able to focus on the message, reconsider my thoughts and place in this spiritual journey, understand and resonate with the message.  Those messages also were great.

EC also allowed me to take another step in this spiritual journey, starting to walk the path with God.  This was a great experience for me that allowed me to truly think about my journey in this spiritual area.

Another thing is that I was able to think about myself receiving baptism.  Those questions were questions that I needed in my spiritual life, as I was stuck, even though I had hands reaching to me to help me.  This time, I was able to grab those helping hands and think about wanting to receive baptism.  Max  (10th grader)

 

Before I went to EC, I always thought I was stupid!  Or I am bad!  But when I went to EC, they talked about identity.  Identity meaning you are a child of God and you are beautiful in His sight.  It felt like He was saying to me, “you are not bad or stupid, Anthony.  You are my child!”  I am a child of God.  EC was very fun!  I still kind of have a problem that I think I am so bad, but I need to remember my identity in Kingdom!  Anthony  (6th grader)

 

We thank God for the blessings He has given to each and every one of our youth! 😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍

 

 

 

A Time for Reflection

Fall is my favorite season of the year. But I have noticed that at some point, I started to feel down or lonely in Fall, and even be apprehensive of the approach of this season. Having a reading break in October in the U.S. and February in Canada might be related to the need for a pause or slowing down.  

The other day, I re-read “Here and Now” by Henri Nouwen that I encountered for the first time in 1997, and pondered on the importance of “Reflection”. I have had an opportunity to learn from the translator of this book, Rev. Koichi Otawa last year, and received a recommendation to read the chapter on “In Search of Meaning”. This process is also described as “Examen”, “meditation” and “reflection” in “The Good and Beautiful God” by James Bryan Smith. In “Here and Now”, the author touches on devotional reading.    

Below is the an excerpt from “Here And Now”: 

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Most of us read to acquire knowledge or to satisfy our curiosity. When we want to know how to repair a car, cook a meal… give a lecture, etc., we have to do a certain amount of reading. … The purpose of spiritual reading, however, is not to master knowledge or information, but to let God’s Spirit master us. … The great value of spiritual reading is that it helps us to give meaning to our lives. …The issue is not just what we read, but how we read it…We have to keep asking ourselves: “What does it all mean?  What is God trying to tell us?  How are we called to live in the midst of all this?” 

“Here an Now” by Henri Nouwen

++

Often times, I’m unable to easily find answers to such questions and instead find myself fallen asleep. Yet I notice my heart being calmer through the reflection rather than being filled with the matters of the world that stir up fear, anxiety, and compulsion.  

Perhaps, there is an important meaning in applying myself to look for a meaning, more so than finding the meaning to the answer itself. It might be because through the process of reflection, I feel the presence of the Holy Spirit, walking the journey beside me today, and get to know God, who works within my life. 

Another point; when reflect on “What meaning does this event or issue hold?”, I’m led to a question, “Why do I react in this way, anyway?” When that happens, I realize I’m not necessarily reacting to the “issue” itself, but reacting to somebody else’s reaction to me. These steps provide me an opportunity to recognize what is holding “my current self” captive, and what is driving me. 

However if I use this time of reflection for the purpose of self examination and self analysis to judge words and actions of myself and others, I end up being controlled by my false self, who is obsessed with how I acted and how others might evaluate me. 

Jesus Christ came to this world to tell us that “the image of you this world conjures up is not your true self. Your true image is a child of God who is atoned and loved.” The book reminds me of this after 24 years. Since when the words “false self” and “beloved child of God” resonated in my heart, I have set out on a long journey full of struggles and gradually come to savor the depth of their meanings. To read the Bible, needless to say, and other devotional reading and reflections are so very important. 

Worship is also a time of reflection, to which God invites us. To receive the Bible message from the passage we have read many times before, this time communally with others. If we could take the time to look on with the spiritual eyes our hearts that frantically raced through the past week, at the same time noticing the warm gaze of God and His love, with what peace would we able to welcome the new week! The delight of Fall I have forgotten completely, and the joy of worship in the temple of God. I hope we will savor it together once again, and enjoy.    

from Santa Clara Valley Japanese Christian Church Bulletin “Hydrangea” published on 11/3/2021

Makiko Nakao  

Santa Clara Valley Japanese Christ Church pastor’s wife.
Mother of three daughters born in 🇯🇵🇨🇦🇺🇸.
Hobby: Observing my husband, aimlessly change interior decorations.
Stay-at-home wife blogger ++Violette ++https://violetteivory.wordpress.com/

 

 

WIT21 was great

Keito Okamoto (in Texas)

Hello, good evening, and good morning to everyone who reads this testimony. My name is Keito Okamoto and I am a college student in Houston, Texas, USA. This is the first time for me to write my testimony, so it may be difficult to read, but I hope you will read it until the end. So now, I would like to share my testimony.

I came to the United States on January 1, 2020 as an international student. As soon as I arrived, I could not understand English and only said “Yes” and “No” like a robot. However, when I began to understand English to a certain extent and was able to lead a reasonable daily life and university life, I suddenly had a question. Why did God send me to America? Why Texas? Why Houston? That’s when I started to wonder. Through daily Bible reading, prayer, and looking at the current situation of Japanese Christians in Houston, God gave me the answer. “God gave me the task to “share God’s word with Japanese students in Houston. When I found out about this, I immediately started a FB group to take action. Let’s tell people about God! But I had never created such a community before, so I didn’t know what to do even if I started it out of the blue. When I was praying and worrying, I received an invitation to join WIT21. At first I was like, “What is WIT? But when I heard the explanation, I thought, “This is it! What if! I had no choice but to join!” I thought, “God has heard my prayers for my problems and is leading me!” I decided to join.

I was so excited and nervous when WIT21 started. 4 sessions were held in 2 days and all of them were wonderful. There were four sessions in two days and all of them were wonderful. One of them was from 1 Corinthians 12:5-6, there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.”  This is a session that was spoken from that here are differences in theology, differences in thinking, differences in gifts, and differences in the way we serve, but the God we serve is the same. I learned that we are united by God. This was a great session for me as I am now thinking about building a community. He also talked about the importance of accountability partners. What is an accountability partner?

(1) A relationship where people listen to what needs to be heard
(2) A relationship in which we watch each other in our spiritual growth.
(3) A relationship in which we can share, report and point out to each other for that purpose.
(4) A relationship of intentional and voluntary involvement.

I learned that it is important to have people who can support me in my faith life in order to build a community.

I would like to continue to follow God as an agent of His plan. I would also appreciate it if you would remember to pray for the gospel for the Japanese students in Houston.

Thank you to all the staff at WIT21.

 

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