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.
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.
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!