WIT23 Testimony ~Tomoko Kida

Radical Humility – It was a spiritually refreshing WIT experience, touching the cross of Jesus, the wonder of faith, dying and coming back to life. Last year, amidst the unfamiliarity of life and studies in English, in the unfamiliar environment of the United States, along with the historical and theological struggles of North Carolina’s South, it was days of hardships where tears were shed repeatedly. Tired and desiring to live quietly in the shadows for a lifetime, I didn’t feel the inclination to attend something like the WIT leader training. However, feeling a thirst for the Word, I participated with the mindset that it was a precious summer vacation, to quench this thirst. Touching Jesus, who embraced us humans in the midst of animosity, even though I struggled greatly, I was illuminated. It was revealed that in this past year, within difficult relationships, by harboring animosity and judging others within my heart, I had been protecting my insecure parts, yet I was enveloped. In the place I am now, I can once again hope to live according to the Lord, to represent God’s glory, and to be a blessing to others. I am grateful for the precious prayers and support through offerings.

WIT23 Blessings: Akane Otsuka

It’s been a little over a month since wit23 ended, but the challenge of embracing humility that I learned at wit still continues within me every day. When one thinks of participating in wit as a member of the staff, it might not sound like going to a place to receive blessings or learning something great, but it’s more about organizing a camp to ensure that participants have a good time. Yet, I found myself returning from that place with an overwhelming amount of grace and challenges, surprised by witnessing the humility of the one who had worked there, more than anyone else. Despite my intention to guide participants at wit as someone who had prayed and prepared for months, seeking God’s Word and learning a lot about humility, I was told that I was the one who hadn’t humbled myself the most.

God has performed many miracles at wit. The entire staff was disappointed at the lower number of participants than usual. However, once it started, there was a moment of excitement as we realized there were exactly 12 people, just like the 12 disciples. Due to the small group, we were able to enjoy the handmade meals by JCFN staffs and that mealtime turned into a blessed time of fellowship which was one of the highlights. For one participant who was delayed and couldn’t arrive on time, we all prayed and stayed up until midnight waiting for her. When we thought there weren’t enough praise leaders, participants ended up leading worship, and the time of praise was blessed. On the last day, during a session that hadn’t been fully prepared until the last moment, a testimony was shared, and grace exploded. There are more instances, but from my perspective, every “Oops!” or “What do we do now?” moment was beautifully transformed into something good by the Lord. When I let go of my ideals and images and humbled myself before the Lord, He began to work and show miracles. In the midst of rough waves, I saw Jesus calm the sea and show miracles before a disciple who was panicking.

In my session, I focused on the love of Jesus. I don’t possess an extraordinary amount of knowledge about the Bible, nor do I have the gift of speaking publicly, so I’ve been anxious since I was recruited whether I can create meaningful moments. While preparing, one of the staffs advised me to “humble yourself before the Word of God.” With a humble heart, I prayed to the Lord, asking Him to work through me, realizing that it’s impossible for me to conduct this two-hour session solely with my abilities. In reality, if someone were to evaluate how much new learning my session provided, I wouldn’t know the exact assessment. However, I was content with just one participant saying, “Thank you for sharing the love of Jesus.” I was genuinely pleased that the Lord had comforted that person through me in that moment. Thank you, Jesus!

Personally, while speaking about the love of Jesus, I realized that I have sins preventing me from receiving His love openly. As I learned to humble myself before the Lord, I recognized how far from humility I usually am and how I often live for my own glory. Holding onto the joy of confessing “Jesus Christ is Lord” like in Philippians 2:11 at wit, I want to continue changing into an instrument that loves my brothers and sisters and serves the Lord.

 

Upon resignation as JCFN Associate Staff: Yoshiki Saeki

I am Yoshiki Saeki, the North Associate Staff. As of the end of June 2023, I will be closing the chapter on my activities with JCFN Associates. Along with my farewell, I would like to take this opportunity to reflect on what God has done during the approximately ten years of my involvement with JCFN through this article.

This content overlaps with what I contributed to the 30th-anniversary annual report, but my connection with JCFN began with ec01 and ec02 on a bitterly cold snowy mountain in 2001. Starting a youth program, which did not exist at the time, was the beginning with my wife. Each time I hear about the blessings on the work of ec Youth since then, I am overwhelmed by the Lord’s plan to use small acts of service richly. Additionally, the fact that my firstborn son, born around the time I assumed this position, is now reaching the age to participate in ec Youth is further surprising.

The greatest turning point (or event?) in my involvement with JCFN was serving as the director of the planning committee for ec 10 and ec 11. At the time, I was facing a dead end in my work at the church where I was serving as a staff member and was in a state of recovery from burnout. From a human perspective, it was not the best timing at all. However, I was granted peace in being called to this work, an opportunity to confront my true self and reevaluate the calling given by God. During the two years as an director role, I immersed myself in this work. The Lord brought together wonderful committee members, including the JCFN staff members, and I learned many things during this period.

Through sharing, prayer, reflection, planning, sometimes redirection, decision-making, and the process of weaving programs together around the given themes, God consistently showed blessings beyond our plans and expectations. Throughout this season, God gently and powerfully touched me while I was falling, leading me to the work I am entrusted with now.

Even after ec, I was allowed to continue my involvement as an Associate Staff. While working full-time at a Japanese company, and being involved in house church activities in Portland, I had time constraints (JCFN staff members, I appreciate your patience with me always being on the edge of deadlines). It was a time of personal mentorship, sending off returnees, and networking opportunities. I am thankful for being placed within the process of connecting, nurturing, and sending, as described in JCFN’s mission statement. God is the one who sends us, and through JCFN, I felt like I was on a journey where I touched upon God’s will to send, and was further invited to God’s kingdom projects. In business, at home, in school, in the local community, God is faithfully working toward His covenant and continually inviting. This was one of the blessings I received through working at JCFN. Additionally, in February 2022, I received the grace of being ordained as a pastor in my mother church. Currently, while still working for a company, I am serving as a pastor for the Japanese ministry at a church in Portland, which is involved in multicultural and multilingual activities. Through fellowship with brothers and sisters from various cultures, I receive training and encouragement daily to perceive God’s work in the diversity, guided by the Holy Spirit, within a local context and a global perspective.

Looking back, I can certainly say that through my work, encounters, and interactions with JCFN, I have been constantly encouraged to walk faithfully in the calling I have been given. I would like to take this opportunity to deeply thank all JCFN members who have supported me with love and patience as I navigated my imperfect journey thus far. As the small mustard seed-like work planted in this land called JCFN continues, I cannot help but hope that it will bear even richer fruits through all of us scattered in various places. My involvement as a Associate Staff comes to a close, but I ask for your continued support in the Lord.

As we earnestly pray for His kingdom to come to this land. – Yoshiki Saeki

 

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