Happy New Year from JCFN!
Here is JCFN's January Newsletter. Please find the testimonies from two conferees of ANRC12 (All Nations Returnees Conference) held in November, 2012.
Okayama Prefecture, JCFN member
ANRC12 was a time of great blessing. I became a Christian two years ago when I went to the United States as an international student. On my way home to Japan, I had feelings of anxiety since many people told me about how difficult it was to stay connected to a church and keep my faith. My hometown is a place called Okayama prefecture, and I was scared because I did not know if there was a group for returnees, or if there were other Christians who were returnees, if there were other Christians my age, or if there was even a church in Okayama. Fortunately, I was led to a good church and was able to lead a good Christian life. On the other hand, I thought of many others who may have returned from the States and were not able to find a good church. As I thought about other returnees who may not have found a church or Christian friends, I felt a strong need to create a returnee ministry here in Okayama, in the Shikoku region, and in the Chugoku (Western Honshu) region. Even though I felt a strong calling for this ministry, I was not able to find someone who had the same calling and would pray about this ministry with me, so I went to ANRC12 looking for a fellow worker.
ANRC12 had over 500 participants and it was a wonderful time to worship together. ANRC hosted people who gave strong messages, led wonderful workshops, gave encouraging testimonies and sang songs of praise. ANRC also hosted oversea regional meetings and regional meetings by location in Japan, as well as hosted small groups. Not only was each part of the program a huge blessing, but God also showed me through new friends that He is a living God who constantly works through my life. God gave me new friends and new networks through ANRC. He showed me that He walks right beside me, and He also taught me to become more humble. I used to think that I had to constantly put in effort on my part to complete God's plan, but God taught me that He wanted to use me as His vessel, just as I am.
Since it had only been two years since I started my life as a Christian and I did not have much knowledge of the Bible, I had doubted that God could do anything good through me. I also did not have a lot of computer skills, was not able to play any instruments, was busy with my daily life, and was a student, so I could not understand why God would choose me for His purposes. On the other hand, I learned through ANRC that there were other returnees living in the same region who felt the same way. Those Christian friends suggested that we start something together and wanted to get together to brainstorm some ideas for this new ministry. There were even people who told me that they would come all the way to where I lived. If it is God's will to “start a returnees ministry in the Chugoku/Shikoku region,” then no matter how difficult, God will be there to complete His will. It is possible for God to complete a task, even if it is impossible for man. God is starting something new in this region. I would like to keep trusting Him and be able to submit to whatever God has planned for me.
Nagano Prefecture, JCFN member
Praise the Lord!
Last October, I returned home to Japan after studying as an international student for four and a half years. I was excited to start the next step of my life but at the same time I was crying out to God for help because I could not see where he was going to take me. I cried out to the Lord and in my desperation decided to attend ANRC. Through this conference, God encouraged me and opened my eyes to new things.
One of the things I learned was to sing joyfully from my heart, just as I am, and that doing so was a relief. I was also reminded of how powerful it is to sing praise with my brothers and sisters. Of course I had been singing worship songs in my church before but I was not used to my new church yet, and I also could not sing from the bottom of my heart because I worried about how others looked at me. At ANRC, I was filled with joy because I was released from the fear of how others saw me and was able to sing freely. When I sang from the depths of my heart, longing to just be with the Lord, I think God released me from my pride of caring about how others looked at me. It was also powerful to sing praise among many others, who each praised God in their own way. It was as if we were living out Corinthians 12 and singing together reminded me how each of us are parts of the body of Christ.￼￼￼
At ANRC, I reunited with my friends that I met in the US and they encouraged me. It also encouraged me when I found out that each of my friends had different difficulties yet did their best to rely on the Lord and live in faith. God even gave me a new “network” of brothers and sisters. He taught me through ANRC that not only does He walk beside me in this life, but that He provides brothers and sisters who walk beside me.
I also want to thank God that the returnees are starting to connect with their local church through ANRC, and that He has given me a new task. When I was returning to Japan, JCFN connected me to the local church and introduced me to a new sister in Christ who had also developed a connection with JCFN through ANRC, and she was able to help me become connected to some other local churches in the area. I also attended the regional meeting, which gave me a chance to think about the needs of my region and what I could do as a returnee. Of course it is important for me to be connected to a local church, but I think it is also important for me to find out about the various local churches. I am thankful that God saved me in the states and prepared me to come and work here in Japan. I would like to use this opportunity to grow in my faith and do what God has planned for me. As I follow Christ and connect to the local region, I would like to grow as a mediator between new returnees and the local church.