Newsletter (Equipper)

Happy Thanksgiving! Now is the season to give thanks to God. Also we are entering in the Advent season, the season of awaiting to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. May it be the season to give thanks and wait for the Lord.For this month and next month monthly newsletters, we would like to share testimonies from GRC15 attendees. Let us give praises to the wonderful Lord.

 
As I Attended GRC15...
Moe Higa
 
Before I share my testimony from GRC, I would like to share how I got to know Christ.How I Got Saved“It was good for me to be afflicted
   so that I might learn your decrees.
I know, Lord, that your laws are righteous,
   and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me.”
Psalm 119: 71, 75

     I am currently 23 years old and live in Okinawa, attending college. I was born and raised by a non-religious family in Okinawa. After graduating high school, I went to a liberal arts college in Wisconsin, USA. When I was in junior high, I learned English from an American pastor. The first time I heard the name of Jesus Christ was when I heard the pastor’s testimony. My homeroom teacher in high school was a devoted Catholic and even when I went to a public college in America, the two best friends that I made were Christians. On top of that, the guy that I dated at that time was a Japanese Christian who went to a different college near by. Even with these connections, I still thought that Christianity was something that would never affect me.     The new romance that started along with my new college life in America brought me pain but also grace. Because me and my former boyfriend thought that leaving home meant freedom, we were blind and couldn’t see anything but each other. He became my idol. Around the 2nd year of our relationship, we were at the verge of breaking up. During that time, maybe I have appeared to be enjoying my life, but I was a complete mess and heartbroken. After he had broken up with me, the heaviness of my past sins were constantly taunting me. What is that love that I though I believed in? Does love really exist? Who am I and where am I going? Because I thought I cannot keep going like this, I started to practice Buddhist Meditation. My Christian roommate saw me wake up at 5 A.M. in the morning to do my Buddhist Meditation, so she said she will do the same and started reading the Bible and prayed. In the beginning of a new semester, my roommate said, “You could just sit in the pews and watch, so let’s go to church together.” Even though I went to church half heartedly, I couldn’t stop crying during the worship time. Even if the Bible story sounds like a fairytale, I still felt something in my heart. Since then, I started going to church every week. My best friend included me to her devotion time every morning and she prayed for me with her Christian friends as well. Even when we discuss about the Bible til dawn and I become hasty, she was still gentle and patient with me. Gradually, I realized that I was a sinful human being that always looked down on people and that I live in a completely different world from my friends who are full of love and forgiveness. I saw their life of joy by trusting in the Lord and thought “I can’t believe now, but someday I want to.” This became my prayer and silently, but surely, that prayer was answered.     In November 2014, I participated in a retreat called Cross Training hosted by InterVarsity (IV). Through learning the Scriptures, I received assurance, and accepted Christ on the second night of the retreat. I prayed “I will give everything to you. Please use me.” My best friends had tears of joy when they heard the news. One of my best friends who I knew since Freshman year told me that she has been praying for my salvation since then. When I heard that I realized that everything was according to God’s amazing grace that he had planned for me. In Christ, I was healed. And in Christ, I was able to become myself.        I was planning to graduate college in May 2015, but due to some family circumstances, I went home soon after I got baptized. In the midst of disaster, I knew that what my family needed was the Gospel. So having the sense of mission that God has given me, I went home. However, the new life without any Christian friends around wasn’t easy at all. I had a weekly Skype meetings with the leader at IV that encouraged me and I searched for a home church for over 3 months. Eventually God led me to Urasoe Joy Church. Because I was seeking to have Christian friends that are around my age, I was also able to get connected with KGK through the church as well. Since joining KGK from June, God started to give me the yearning to spread the Gospel in Japan.GRC Testimony     The first time I heard about GRC was when I first met Rev Oshima who is the head of the Okinawa KGK. When I shared my testimony, he quickly told me about GRC and JCFN, and connected me on Facebook as well. By hearing and seeing young people who have the same passion, I was inspired and encouraged. Wanting to know those people and hear God’s word, I instantly decided to go and bought the airplane ticket. Because my non-Christian family didn’t really understand my reasoning to attend the conference, I couldn’t ask them to help me financially. I prayed “If it is your will, please allow me have some scholarship money.” God answered my prayer and was able to receive scholarship.     I was astonished by the energy of the Holy Spirit on the first night of GRC. It was amazing to see the passion from the participants. Even though there are people from different ages, background, area in Japan, and even countries, they all had the same passion towards God. I couldn’t stop crying since worship time. During the message from Rev. Seki, I experienced true repentance and forgiveness. My eyes were opened. I realized that I devalued the death of Jesus on the cross and what it really meant to me. I was able to present all of the sins I thought I had already asked for forgiveness, and experience true freedom.     Through Rev. Matsumoto's preaching from Acts chapter 8, I was able to reconfirm the truth that it is the Holy Spirit that leads us, not ourselves.    My Small Group was formed within my age group. On the second day, we each shared our testimony. That Small Group time was very valuable. I was encouraged and thankful to have met these sisters in Christ. Even though we have known each other for few days and came from different places, it is amazing how we could share and connect through our Lord. We were inspired and encouraged by of course sharing our testimonies, but also sharing how we do our devotions and how we share the Gospel in our working environments. On the last night of GRC, we made a circle and took each others’ hands and prayed. When we were praying for each other, we felt strongly that God was in this process of allowing us to meet.     The reason why I was able to attend GRC was because of meeting Rev. Oshima in June, receiving scholarship, and most importantly people who have strong passion towards God that have organized and prayed for the conference. When I think back the conference that was full of God’s grace, I cannot thank and praise him enough.     I believe I will never forget this experience that I had at GRC.     I thank God for the salvation, forgiveness, assurance in His will, my beloved brothers and sisters in Christ, and His dream.     After coming back from the conference, this verse is constantly in my head.(Romans 10:13-14)
“for, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?”     There is a 70 year old man who is a co-worker at the hospital I volunteer for. He said, “I have never met a Christian and never heard the Scriptures and praise songs until I came to this hospice.” I was surprised. Whether it be my high school friends, relatives, or neighbors, they have not heard the Gospel before. That fact made me really sad. When I do rounds at the hospital, I couldn’t stop crying and praying for those who are facing death everyday without knowing Christ.       Our God is not to be ashamed of. God does not forget His people. Our God is not be devalued by us. He has not given up on this country and he has not given up on my family and friends. I am here now because He kept on pursuing me for 22 years.     If that’s the truth, why should I give up?     It says, “Do not be afraid” over and over in the Bible. But this is how much we are afraid and without courage.     But it is true that God is that one who makes our path. The one who leads the front is God. The one who supports this weak heart is God.     God, I feel that your light of life is shining in Japan. Jesus, please shine your light in everyone’s hearts. Please help us keep our eyes open to see the light of your Word.     Please let me walk in your will in this country as a person whom you love to death.
 
Like A Charcoal Fire
Hiroyuki Sasaki
 
     I came to GRC thinking that I wanted to meet other returnees from Kanagawa and entrust RIK (Returnees in Kanagawa) to someone else. I came with the expectation that something would change for me in the midst of many dilemmas, such as me being a leader of RIK, a returnees gathering, even though I am not a returnee myself; the changes in life stages of the core members causing us to become unable to continue the ministry that we have been doing; even though we know the needs of returnees ministry, being unable to work out an effective plan; and so on.     God gave me a huge blessing in a totally different way than what I had imagined.     The first way this happened was through the messages. To be honest, I wasn't expecting anything from the messages. Though I had known of Pastor Oshima because of his work with KGK, I hadn't known Pastor Matsumoto or Pastor Seki, and I didn't even go so far as to wonder what they might speak about. However, on the first day, I was hit hard by Pastor Seki's message. It was the first time in a long time that I had felt such good excitement. If I make my sin clear, that will be my salvation. I felt Pastor Seki's passionate message penetrate my heart. I felt hidden passion in Pastor Matsumoto's matter-of-fact way of speaking. The opposite of faith is not a lack of faith. It is fear. Our lives are the realization of God's dream, and so we must let go of the realization of our own dreams. There are several more statements that left an impression on me. Pastor Oshima incorporated humor into his messages while grabbing the hearts of listeners, speaking the truth with passion like one would see at a sporting event, with words that reached my heart. While all three speakers had their own types of speaking, my spirit was moved, and I felt as if layers of coverings were being removed from my heart one by one. My identity as God's beloved and God's dream was revived.     The second way God blessed me was through my small group. I was able to fellowship mostly with people my own age from various walks of life, including pastors, missionaries, seminary students, and businessmen, which was very valuable for me. I gained courage from being around these people who are all testimonies through the way they live their lives. The time of fellowship, and deep talks about ministry and living life where you are, from the time small group ended until bed, made me feel that sleeping was almost a waste of time.     The third way God blessed me was through meeting new people. Pastor Seki, one of the speakers, was my roommate at the previous ANRC. This GRC wasn't the first time I met him. I had completely forgotten. It was really exciting for me. I don't know if it was like hitting a bulls-eye, or a sense of resonating, but at any rate, I became a fan of Pastor Seki. I also met Mr. K, the leader of my small group. I really felt that he is a testimony for Christ through the way he lives his life. I don't have words to describe my gratitude for meeting someone I respect so much. I also met Ms. K, who sat next to me at dinner on the first day. After that, I saw her in many places and we spoke many times. I was interested in getting to know her. Ms. U sat next to me during the morning session on the second day. She was beautiful in the way she worshipped with her whole body and spirit.We were also able to pray for each other during the prayer time, and I am thankful for the prayer she poured out for me, and I felt the prayer resonate in my spirit. I felt that I wanted to do something together with her.     At the Kanagawa regional gathering, many people were able to gather, encourage each other, and pray for each other. There was the joy of one part of the seven thousand who did not bow to Baal being there. I felt that, if I, together with everyone there, prayed together with one heart, we could do anything. I felt that I would be glad if something new started, even if it wasn't RIK.     I had been trying to plan how to pass RIK on to a successor, but my way of thinking changed to start anticipating what God will do, far beyond my ideas, and to follow along with what He is doing. I don't see yet what He is doing. However, there is no mistake that this will lead to a blessing. I will continue serving in returnees ministry in anticipation of what God is going to do.     It has been one month since GRC. The passion that I felt at that time is of course starting to cool down. However, like a charcoal fire, even if what we can see is just ash, the heat is still there underneath, quietly continuing to burn. It's not a bright fire that burns meat quickly, but a heat like infrared that slowly cooks delicious meat. I think that everyone who attended GRC will continue to burn like charcoal. It is not something that burns alone, but together with other pieces of charcoal. I hope that we also will gather when we can, regain our heat, and continue burning with confidence.
GRC Testimony
Akihiro Yabe
 
"Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD." Psalm 150:6     When I first heard about the GRC from my wife at the beginning of summer, I sneered. My granddad was not doing well at all and my little family had planned to fly home the first week of September. I made the assumption that participating in the conference would be impossible money-wise and with the difficulty of taking days off from work. After the visit to granddad, I firmly believed that going to the GRC was unrealistic. If something happened, I couldn’t rush to granddad as transportation from the conference venue isn’t easily accessible. However, an unusual feeling started welling up from deep inside and I struggled between my head, saying “It’s not possible!” and my heart that prompted our participation.
 
     About the same time, I came to know that there was a GRC scholarship that partly covered the fees, but the application deadline had already passed. Though I already gave up, when inquiring to the GRC office, the staff kindly instructed me to submit the application. Even though the scholarship would be granted, the balance was still big. I proceeded even though a deficit would occur when I received an unexpected email from respected Swiss friends of ours. “Wie ist es mit deiner Gesundheit und wie sieht es finanziell aus, habt ihr genug oder können wir euch helfen? Bitte sei ganz offen und berichte uns, ob ihr etwas braucht.” meaning “How’s your health? How’re you doing financially? Do you have enough or could we help you? Be open and tell us if you need anything.” A few days after I openly told them about our situation, money for us to attend the conference arrived. Sachi and I were lost for words and so thankful for God’s grace and our friends’ generosity.
 
     The GRC was a series of ineffable blessings, challenges and encouragements. We reunited with old familiar faces and got to meet new people. Over 400 on-fire Japanese believers gathered, although Christians are less than 1% of the population. The 3 days we spent with them became simply unforgettable.
 
     I had two tremendous experiences. One is that I was overwhelmed by the love and forgiveness of the cross of Christ. Right from the start my prayer and hope for us participating in the conference was “to be drawn closer to God” and whenever I had opportunities to pray with others I asked them to pray for it. Through worship, sermons, fellowship, quiet times and prayers, I was able to feel the presence of God in a very fresh way.
 
     And the second tremendous experience was the conviction of my/our calling to be missionaries in Switzerland and German speaking nations. The time I first received the calling was 10 years ago. Ever since I’d been pondering, repeatedly doubting and struggling with it, but through the events and circumstances before and after the conference I was able to be firmly convinced that this calling is from the Lord.
 
     In April, 2005 I was visiting friends in Switzerland and Germany. During that time through a number of unusual and wonderful experiences I came to believe I was called to Switzerland and German speaking parts of the world. Dating back half a year, I’d already received a calling to be a missionary, but I supposed my calling to be in a developing country, so the calling to Europe was a total surprise and even a shock. (My fresh sometimes says “I would prefer somewhere different.” because being a missionary in Europe is hard financially and intellectually as the standard of living is very high.) From that time on I began life-planning, focusing on one thing, which is, “to serve God and people as a missionary in Switzerland and the German speaking world”. I completed the Disciple Training School (DTS) of Youth With A Mission (YWAM) in Switzerland, obtained a BA in Anthropology and German, learned linguistics and religion at a university in New Zealand, and studied as an exchange student at a German university. 
 
     If I’d taken over my father’s company, as there’s much demand from overseas, I could have succeeded and been a good and dutiful son to my parents, which they would have wished. However, with me saying, “I want to become a missionary in the future.” their dream fell apart and dad’s company consequently closed down. I know behind their furious eyes there was huge disappointment and sadness. But I had a privilege of leading my dad to Jesus two months before he passed away, for which I’m extremely thankful to God and it was the best thing I could do for my father.
 
     Although I was preparing myself for Europe, as Sachi and I were led to marriage, God deeply treated me with a heart for Europe and Sachi for Indonesia. Though it caused us so much pain, we were able to give our hearts, passion and burdens for the countries back to Him. Since then for 5 years, I’ve learned so much. My weakness and sinfulness. The width and depth of God’s love shown on the cross. Hope for heaven. The Lord’s heart and passion for lost souls. To love my country. How to live life depending on the Holy Spirit. To love God and neighbors. And something that Sachi and I have come in line with is the burden for Muslims, and the desire to go to the place where God wants to send us.     Thanks to the GRC scholarship and the support of our Swiss friends, my family of 3 was able to participate in the conference held at the foot of Mt. Fuji. While waiting for our train, one train passed before our eyes and on the wall were flags of Switzerland and Japan. The sermons at the conference were also from Bible passages that convinced me of a calling to Switzerland and the German speaking world 10 years ago. Listening to the sermons, I could feel that the dormant passion for missions in Europe was welling up from deep inside. For these 10 years again and again I’ve doubted my calling, had holes-in-my-heart experiences, and considered walking on another path. Owing to my weakness I shed tears, believing I couldn’t serve as a missionary. Nonetheless, the Lord has guided me and my wife this far with grace and mercy, for which we are countlessly thankful.
 
     Early in the morning the next day, I was worshipping God during a quiet-time-walk that is my routine when one verse sprang to mind. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23. I’m the very one who is subject to the punishment and death, but Jesus died in my place on the cross. I was totally overwhelmed by the reality of God’s love and mercy and tears began to fall. As I was soaking in joy and happiness that comes from the salvation, one small “voice” came into my heart: “Will you go deliver this message?” I stopped and fell silent for a while. Breaking the silence, I said, “Yes, I will.” And as soon as I responded, I broke into tears and couldn’t help myself though cars and pedestrians were passing by. A couple of weeks after the conference, my pastor with whom I shared nothing at all about my experience at the GRC said to me that my wife and I would be suitable for Europe.     The GRC was simply a turning point in our lives.
 
     We desperately want for God to save the lost souls in Switzerland and Germany and for this very purpose what is the will of God for our little family? We’ll continue seeking the Lord, be attentive and do what He tells us to do. We would greatly appreciate you remember us in your prayers.
 
Prayer requests:
- Please pray that I will be able to quickly complete the correspondent Bible collage studies and prepare for the take-off as a missionary.
- We have increasing opportunities to meet devoted Muslims in Utsunomiya. Please pray for us to build good friendships and trust, and to boldly share the gospel with them in the love of Christ.
- We are planning to participate in the SLIM (Servant Leaders in Ministry) conference held in Germany in April, 2016. (The SLIM conference is where Japanese Christian leaders from all of Europe gather.) Please pray that our needs will be met and the application procedures will go smoothly.
 
Let’s go to Urbana 15!Since 1946, Urbana has given world mission visions to more than 300,000 students. JCFN began at Urbana '90.  We don’t have equipper conference so that we can attend Urbana.
You can register from Urbana website. JCFN is holding hotel rooms together and also will be providing Japanese-English simultaneous translation. If you are interested, please //This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it./" target="_blank" title="Urbana15" data-mce-href="../" data-mce-style="color: #eb4102; font-weight: normal; text-decoration: underline; word-wrap: break-word !important;" style="color:rgb(235, 65, 2);word-wrap:break-word !important">contact us via e-mail. We will be staying at Hyatt Regency which is the designated hotel for International Student Track.
 
JCFN North America is asking for Winter Special Fundraiser.
 
As of November 18th, about 68 % of the targeting amount, 15,000 dollars have been given. Please pray that all the need may be fulfilled.
 
 
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