July 2015: Monthly Newsletter "CC15 Testimonies" and "Returnee Support Manga"
Hallelujah! Praise the name of the Lord.We have received a testimony from Central Conference, JCFN's regional conference, held from May 23rd to 25th in Illinois. Please pray for the ministry to Japanese in the midwest, as well as for those who will return to Japan from the midwest.Also, we would like to introduce "Returnee Support Manga" written by one of returnees.
"CC2015 Testimony" Naoki Sato Attendee from IL
My name is Naoki Sato, and I served on the worship team. Everyone, great job at CC2015.
This was my first time attending CC, and it was 3K. 3K means Kansha (gratitude), Kando (emotionally moved; impressed), and Kesshin (resolution; decision).
CC actually took place the week after my wife and I were baptized. For the two of us as brand new Christians, spending these three days looking to God with our beloved brothers and sisters, as well as with non-Christians who express interest in Christianity, we felt that our hearts were being cleansed once again. We were also amazed by Jesus, who, in His great plan, led us to CC right after our baptism.
Regarding the worship team, at the beginning there weren't enough people. It was a small team with several vocalists and two guitarists. However, as the days went on, thanks to everyone's prayers, one week before CC, that worship team was formed. I'm so thankful to God, who gives us salvation when we seek for it. During the conference, I was desperately following the music and lyric sheets, but sometimes, during the general sessions, I would look up and see the faces of the audience, people with tears on their faces as they worshipped, and I, too, would be deeply moved. I felt anew the power of hymns, and I made a decision. I am currently enjoying serving on the worship team at my church, Cornerstone Church in Glenview, Illinois. I was moved to tears listening to Pastor Kurisu's passionate messages during the general sessions. I learned the necessity of the strength of acknowledging our weakness, and the necessity of resolving to face that weakness head on. Pastor Kurisu taught about how Jesus endured so much suffering, overcame it, and loves us, and the truth that there is nothing we can do to repay Him. That was shocking to me. However, his messages were easy to understand and incorporated humor, and so I listened intently, forgetting the passing of time.
I was also privileged to be in the same small group as Pastor Kurisu. I'm thankful to God for His plans. As it was a small group, I won't discuss here the details of what happened, but I realized that pastors are human too. I also learned that even long-time Christians have the same struggles and hardships as I do, and I'm grateful to everyone in my small group. I decided to, one step at a time, work on being a person who is in anticipation of what God is going to do.
I'm thankful for Judson University's wonderful accommodations, the feeling of unity of the Eagle Lounge, the spacious Lindner Tower that had plenty of room for the many small groups, and the cafeteria that prepared our meals day after day! I was impressed by the CC executive committee, who stayed up late and got up early to perform various preparations as well as to pray!! I decided to attend next year's CC16 together with my whole family!!!
CC15 Testimony Hazuki Eguchi Attendee from Toronto, Canada
I attended CC for the first time last year. Through serving on the worship team, the messages, and being surrounded by other Christian girls in my small group who listened to what I had to say, I had a really blessed time.
I was planning to serve on the worship team or in the bookstore again this year, but instead I was invited to serve as a small group leader. To be honest, at first I was hesitant to take on that responsibility, and so I didn't answer right away. I felt conflicted about myself becoming a leader. After becoming a Christian a year and a half ago, before I knew it I was in the position of leading a ministry at my church. However, in the midst of that, I felt that I had no experience or knowledge to be an adequate vessel for leadership, and I lost my confidence.
When I started praying about being a small group leader, this year's CC theme verse, 2 Corinthians 12:9, caught my attention. “But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”
Also, 2 Corinthians 3:5: “Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.” and 2 Corinthians 4:7: “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”
When I read these passages, I thought that I am weak and have nothing to boast in, and that's exactly why God is working inside me. I also started to be full of anticipation of what amazing things God would do at CC if He is a God who would reveal His glory through me.
I made my decision to serve as a small group leader before CC began, and the highlight for me was my small group. When I first started to think about what I could do for my group, I thought that I might not be able to run it well or give good advice. However, I also thought that I could pray for my group members, get close to them, laugh and cry with them, and that we could encourage each other. As time passed, each person started to open their heart and share their testimony and struggles, and in a short time we formed an amazing bond. Somewhere along the line, I forgot about that pressure of being a leader and instead wanted to serve God as I am, the way God made me, and I was really encouraged to know that my small group members were able to see me serving with joy.
As our guest speaker Pastor Kurisu said, my strength is revealed in weakness, which is the source of blessing. When I looked back, I felt that I could truly experience Christ's power at work in me.
At CC, I was able to learn the joy of serving God just as I am. It is a place where I grow in my faith and receive a lot of blessing and encouragement, and it's very important to me. As I continue to be involved with CC, I am in anticipation of what the God who works in our weakness will do, and I want to challenge anything in order to be a vessel to display God's glory.
Manga "Hirochan's Returnee's Story"
Hiromi Soma JCFN Tochigi Member
The model for the “Hirochan Kikoku Ouen Monogatari” (Hirochan's Returnee's Story) was originally taken from the “Mustard seed diary” - a manga-testimony that I drew on a single sheet of A4 paper when I went to England. The testimony was popular and “easy-to-understand” in both Japan and England, and so the concept materialized as I was involved in a Japanese exchange student ministry – hoping that this would someday help Japanese returnees. The concept behind this manga was so that it would be used as a reference for the church goers in England, the church goers in Japan and for the returnees themselves. I started to draw the manga May of 2014. I drew the images as they came into my mind. I care about how the drawings and script fit so I spent a lot of time perfecting the manga. I started with penciling, switched to inking (to clean up) and erased with an eraser. If I didn't like what I had, I started over again. I ended up using up two Mono Erasers that I received from Japan. During my last week of my 2 and a half year stay in England, I did nothing but draw manga. I did not do any final sight seeing nor did I buy any gifts. When I finally finished the manga, I rushed to the only place in Cambridge with a photocopy machine only to find out the copy machine was broken and I couldn't book bound the book before I left back for Japan - There is a lot effort that went into making this manga, including this tidbit. I ended up getting it book bound when I arrived back in Japan. God has let me experience what it is to be a returnee to Japan and He has also given me the idea of manga. I am excited that God is using me in ways to help support the returnees.
Click the image below to download this Manga.
＊ GRC15 Announcement ＊
Registration ends on September 1 Currently more than 200 people have registered for GRC15. There is capacity at the hotel, please register at your earliest opportunity. (It will actually help administration as well.) We are looking forward to seeing you at GRC15. Please check out GRC15 website and Facebook.
Please apply for scholarship! Also, God is beginning to provide the scholarship fund. You can apply on the scholarship when you register online. Please don’t let the finances the reasons for not coming.