WIT Testimony vol. 2

Sho Ishizaka (in Texas) 

The biggest challenge and decision came the day after WIT ended. On the ride home to the airport, a girl who had also attended WIT was riding with me, and I was hearing a lot about the East Coast ministry of Ippuku from her. She told me about a non-Christian girl who had participated in Ippuku’s bible study, and how they had time to read the Bible and pray together every morning on the phone, and how the girl had come to faith and was now back in Japan evangelizing non-Christian families with zeal. She told me that the girl was her first spiritual child. The saved girl had been in the U.S. for only one year. And no one in her family is a Christian.

I have no experience in leading my own friends to faith in that way, nor have I ever called or texted him daily to listen to his story or invite him to read the Bible. I was ashamed that none of them had ever “led and shepherded sheep” before, and at the same time, I realized that I had been unable to take such an action out of “fear”. For the past year or so, I have had a desire to do student evangelism ministry targeting Japanese students in Dallas, but I kept thinking, “It’s Corona pandemic…” and “I might go back to Japan next year. I might go back to Japan next year…” I felt very ashamed of myself for not doing anything in the end. I had been trapped by fear, making excuses and running away. I have failed to do the very thing I want to do with my life. I was reminded of such a self and led to repentance.

It is not man that saves, but Jesus Christ.  If God says, “Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,” I knew that God could save my dear friends, relatives, and Japanese students I was about to meet. I was encouraged by the testimonies of my fellow WIT participants just before I left Los Angeles.

This summer, I will start a student ministry for Japanese students in Dallas. We are starting from scratch, gathering information and making connections with the students. In the process, we believe the Lord will give us seeds, water, and fruit. We would appreciate your prayers, as well as your support in providing information and other resources for students, including non-Christians!

Let’s hear about JxJ!!

Hello everyone – JxJ (a Seattle-area outreach ministry) closed its ministry in January. In this issue, Mina Chen, who was involved with JxJ from its beginning to the end, talks about JxJ!

A brief self-introduction, please!

My name is Mina Chen and I came to the U.S. as an international student in 2002 and became a Christian that year. My family consists of my Taiwanese-American husband and our 7-year-old son. I currently reside near Seattle, Washington.

My involvement with JxJ
I myself met Christians, read the Bible, and encountered Jesus for the first time when I came to the U.S., and I wanted to share about God with Japanese students who had also come to the U.S. At that time, I met a friend who also had a burden for Japanese evangelism, and in June 2006, we decided to start JxJ (Japanese – times – Jesus; Jay Jay). We had help and supports from mission organizations such as JCFN, ISI, JEMS, as well as local churches. We are grateful that we have been able to continue our activities as JxJ for 15 years until the year 2021.

Memories at JxJ / Blessings received at JxJ
JxJ started with the prayer that the number of Japanese who have a relationship with Jesus would increase like multiplication. As the name implies, God gave me many encounters through JxJ, and it was a huge blessing to be able to see up close how people met Jesus and were raised to believe in Him as their Savior. Whenever people were woken up to make a faith decision at JxJ summer camps and other events, I was encouraged to reevaluate the foundation of my own faith. As I was planning the JxJ Reunion in January 2022, I realized once again that God has sent hundreds of people to JxJ throughout the past 15 years. I am grateful that JxJ was a part of each “only one life (by encounter) that each encounter determines”. At JxJ, we had a monthly testimony time, and each person had a beautiful story of how God led them to Him, and I was encouraged every time. It was also a blessing that even though there are several churches in the Seattle area, each staff member went to a different church, we were able to unite and serve together beyond the confines of our church.

 

Has there ever been a challenge at JxJ? If so, what kind of things? What do you think you learned from it?

I was grateful for the opportunity to serve together with people of different personalities, backgrounds, and ways of thinking who were brought together to form the JxJ staff, but even though we all had the same reason for evangelism (why) – to share Jesus’ love with people – our methods (how) were different and sometimes conflicting. We also sometimes took personality assessments among JxJ staff members, and learned to understand and respect each other. Through JxJ, I also became aware of my own pride and judgmental nature, and it was a time for me to learn humility. I am grateful that each of us learned that Jesus forgave and loved us through the cross, learned to love and serve like Jesus, and experienced unity in our underlying desire to share that great love with others.

 

Thoughts on future evangelism in the Seattle area

At the “JxJ Reunion~ Under the same sky” in January 2022, JxJ ministry was ended. At the reunion meeting, Pastor Roger Olson gave us words of encouragement and challenge. He spoke about the importance of having a desire to strengthen the soul of believers and follow God’s leading and to be used, even when we do not know how things will turn out in the future. Many of those who passed through JxJ have returned to their home countries, entered the workforce, married, raised children, and are now in different environments and life stages. We pray that they will continue to seek God in their respective environments and be used as vessels to share God’s love in their relationships, and that souls will be raised to be saved. Right now, the future is uncertain due to the Corona disaster, but if it is God’s will, we believe and pray that He will provide for the needs and resume the ministry like JxJ.

 

 

Thank you so much!

You can watch the JxJ finals through this Youtube link. Let’s continue to pray for Japanese missions in the Seattle area!

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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