Blessings that I got through C-WIT

Hello. I praise His holy name.

I am Tomoko Nagata, living in Seattle for almost a quarter of a century.

In March 2022, I participated in Zoom C-WIT for the first time. At that time, I was caught up in work and studies, and even the foundation of life, which is devotion, tended to be postponed within myself due to “lack of time.” I prioritized tasks with deadlines and work over devotion. In February 2022, after successfully finishing school, I was relieved, but I was experiencing days when my heart didn’t turn towards devotion. It was during such a time that I participated in the first C-WIT, where we are invited to be still before God. While I thought C-WIT might be a study group about leadership for adult Christians, I joined with interest because I had been getting more involved in leadership roles at work, and I wanted to know how to exhibit leadership as a Christian and if there was insight from the Bible. However, what I had imagined was completely different. The first session involved learning about being still before God and Contemplative Prayer. Calling out to God while feeling His presence along with my breath was refreshing, and I continue to walk, especially during times of worry in my current life, while consciously breathing and receiving God’s peace.

In the spring of this year,  we shared about having God in our daily routines, and in the summer, we shared about the evidence of God’s guidance in times of trials at C-WIT meetings. After the sessions, we formed small groups and when we discussed what each of us had heard from God, although our individual situations were entirely different, it became clear that God was surely responding to each one of us in unexpected ways.

From those who participated in C-WIT during these three sessions, enduring physically or mentally challenging circumstances, I received the sharing of God’s daily journey. This deeply ingrained in me that God is with each one of us at all times.

As of 2023, I am still caught up in work. Moreover, a family member in Japan has developed health concerns, so my days involve messaging and talking online while looking at screens. Though my family has not yet made a confession of faith, they have gradually begun to listen to God’s words since this situation arose. We pray together, frequently asking for protection in our daily lives. When we first prayed together, it required courage from me. Now, I can pray easily. In my daily life, Jesus is surely with me, guiding me through the Holy Spirit. Just as Yuko Ozeki shared in the second C-WIT, that God’s presence is there while doing daily routines, I also feel a calmness and a sense of God’s presence even when cleaning the toilet. I quietly desire to know more about God, and I want to engage in devotion, reading the Bible and praying, to understand how Jesus guides me. Some days, I sleep until the last moment and devotion is often pushed aside by my to-do list. In my daily life, there are times of anxiety and worry, times when my heart feels overwhelmed. Especially concerning my family in Japan, due to the distance, there’s not much I can do immediately, so I often have to entrust them to God. However, God consistently provides ways to overcome challenges in ways that surpass my expectations.

Through C-WIT, I have learned and continue to learn:

“That the holy God is with us in our daily lives, whether in quiet and calm times or in the stormiest days. To be still before God, to listen to His voice. This relationship is possible because Jesus died the cross, forgiving my sins.”

Working in healthcare fields, I witness situations where individuals who were living normally just yesterday suddenly pass away or their health drastically changes, altering their lives entirely. That’s why being able to welcome the holy God into my life’s daily miracles and blessings and spending time with Him is a reason for gratitude.

Testimony from C-WIT Norcal 19

Asuka Wong

I have participated in Equipper Conference three times before. So about three months ago when I received a retreat invitation from JCFN, I assumed it’s going to be wonderful and decided to register for it, even before knowing what exactly C-WIT was about. It was also convenient for me that the venue this time will be in Northern California, where I could commute from my house. But I found out in the last part of registration that the venue was in fact the church I attend every week. I was a little bit disappointed by this, because it just made it seem like a part of my regular routine, rather than out of the ordinary.  But then again, if I changed the way I look at it, it’s easier for me to ask my family to hold down the fort at home, when I’m going to a place only 10 minutes away by car. So I came to attend C-WIT with a positive expectation.     

When I arrived at the venue, I saw fabulous faces from JCFN like Setsu, Yuko, and Sachi Nakamura at the church we always go to, and that alone made it feel very special and I was buoyant. 

However as I listened to the instruction, I found out that it was a silent retreat. Even during lunch, we were to eat alone in silence without chatting with anybody else. After that, we were supposed to spend a couple of hours in the afternoon to quieten our hearts in silence. I was taken aback by all this, because it was completely different from my expectations of passionate worship, prayer, and fellowship like I experienced in the Equipper Conference.  

The morning session by Sachi started as I was still feeling somewhat disconcerted. During her talk, Sachi said: “You each probably have expectations you brought to this retreat. But please set that aside for now. God is already pleased by the fact that you offered the whole day and came together here.”  This touched me deeply, because I have 9 and 4 years old sons and normally Saturdays are very busy with different activities and other house chores. It would have been very difficult to spend the whole day at this retreat without the help of my husband. Still I felt bad to say that I made a significant effort to make time to participate, when other participants came on an airplane or drove over an hour to get here. I also felt a bit guilty to have just shown up and didn’t help for set-up even though I was a member of the church where the venue was.   

Despite all that, as I was pondering quietly after Sachi’s talk, I felt God was gazing through even the petty guilt I was feeling. 

At the same time, I realized I constantly had a switch turned on in my head that said “I have to do something”, and never had time time to be still. I have a preschool age child at home, and we are spending time together just about all the time; caring for children, doing house chores, occasionally listening to my husband (lol)… It was evident that my mind was never at rest and I was exhausted. 

Therefore the lunch in silence turned out to a bliss during which nobody interrupted my time. The church’s social hall where it’s normally filled with people was filled with silence. It was magical. I was able to actually savor the flavors in delicious salad. I didn’t have to worry about people around, and didn’t even think about fun topics of conversation. I was just looking at a beautiful view outside and consider the wonder of God who created all of it. Then I felt enormous joy bubbling out of my heart. Until now, my conversation with God was a one-sided projection of my worries and pleas such as for my need to have alone time, my family’s health, my future vision and wish for solutions for all these issues. But since I have arrived at this retreat and let go of these issues for the time being to bring my little self before God, the view I’ve always seen and even the taste of a meal were transformed.   

After lunch we were taken to a nearby rose garden. We each went separate ways there and spent our time on our own: Beautiful roses, their sweet fragrance, blue California sky, people in a wedding, a small baby toddling… All these seemed like a sight full of hope and brought joy to my heart again.   

I was so glad I could attend C-WIT this time. My biggest take-away was that even after returning to my busy life, I have learned to stop time to time to take a deep breath and be still, and be reminded of beautiful things around me that God has created, and also that I’m loved by the same God and being sustained by Him. 

 

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