Newsletter (Equipper)
We praise the name of the Lord.

We would like to share the testimony from WIT (Whatever It Takes) Leadership Camp held in June. Also for August and September issues, we would like to share JCFN staff and board members' testimonies shared during JCFN 25th Anniversary Conference held in Hawaii in July.

 
[Testimony from WIT16]

     WIT (Whatever It Takes) Leadership Camp was held in CA during June 16th~18th. It was our 10th WIT Leadership Camp this year. We have trained 179 people. Four of the past WIT participants had served as staff, and together with 18 others, we had a time of training to become servant leaders with a vision of “living out the identity of God’s children.’ Please enjoy reading a testimony of one of the campers.

A leader who boasts of weakness
Reika Sekioka
WIT16 Camper from Florida

     The best thing I got out of my time at WIT16 was that, as I met unique people, beloved by God, who came from all over the United States and Canada, I was able to be honest with myself and acknowledge that my relationship with God was not good. From the first day, I prepared my broken heart to simply turn towards God. It was a valuable three days for me, where I received much more from God than what I had expected.

     The staff had prepared many activities for us, including ice breakers, worship time, and small groups. During the sessions, we learned about our identity as children of God, which came at a perfect time for me. In the first session, we learned about the Prodigal Son, and throughout the sessions we learned about the nature of the depth of God's love, acknowledged how arrogant and yet sinful we are, and were reminded that we can always return to God. This experience gave me a lot of joy.

     The one thing I had been hoping to get out of WIT was to learn how to share my faith with people who come to my church and my friends who don't yet know Jesus. When I received the invitation to attend WIT, it had been almost exactly three months since I had moved to Florida, and I was just beginning to get used to my new environment and my new Christian community at the Japanese church in Orlando. At the same time, I was excited, wondering what I could do for the people I met at this church and anticipating what God's plan might be. When I think back on it, from the time I received the invitation until before I attended WIT, I was unable to trust God to make things go the way I wanted them to, and I think that I began to push forward on my own strength. More than anything else, at WIT I learned to seek God, and I was able to return to the basic principle that I must receive God's love.

     Even now, the Christian leaders I met at WIT16, who have become my friends, continue to encourage me. As I began to think about the gifts God has given me and what I can do with them, I listened to the people around me and felt that I was being told to connect with them in love. God can even use a weak person like me. Therefore, I am thankful to God, who loves me just as I am. I will continue to be in anticipation of God's great plan, and will keep praying that God's blessing and glory would be on each of the places where the Christian leaders are doing their ministry.

 
 
[Staff Testimonies at HC2016]

     JCFN 25th Anniversary Conference was held in Hawaii from June 30th to July 2nd. The theme for the conference was “Up and Out” as we thank God for leading us this far and to have hearts to continue to be obedient in His plan. During the conference, JCFN Staff members and Board members had opportunities to share testimonies and messages. As for August and September Monthly Newsletter, we would like to share from them. For this month, please enjoy reading testimonies from Yuko Ozeki, North America Staff and Maki Goto, Japan Staff. 

Work for food that endures to eternal life
Yuko Ozeki
JCFN North America Staff

     My initial encounter with JCFN dates back to January, 1997.  I was in Denver, Colorado as an international student and met JCFN staff workers. At that time, the JCFN headquarters was located in Denver.  Since then, I began my involvement with JCFN’s ministries.  It was truly a privilege for me to participate in the very first Equipper Conference in the winter of 1997.  I then had an internship with JCFN in Summer, 1998. At the follow year’s EC 99, I decided to become a staff of JCFN. Sixteen years later, I am still a JCFN staff.

     I got my calling to work with JCFN from the Bible story about the five loaves and two fish.  Even though what I have is little, Jesus multiplies it and blesses more than 5000 people with it when I give it to Him.  I saw many Japanese become Christians overseas.  I also witnessed the Japanese Christians worshiping the Lord at EC.  It felt as though I was seeing a vision of the 5000 people who were fed with the multiplied loaves and fish. The vision extends to Japan as the newly saved Japanese Christians return to Japan for a mission. At that moment, I prayed that I would like to see them be used by God to multiply this blessing in countless ways in Japan.  Lord, please use me, my bread and my fish. 

     Yet, while I was in Japan for a year and a half after that prayer, I was only met by the reality of the small loaf of bread and fish, that never multiplied. Of course there were some returnees who excitedly shared the gospel with their friends and families. However, I also saw some who stopped going to church due to conflicts with their family, or getting caught in the business of life.  There were also others who doubted the assurance of their salvation or quit being a Christian altogether. As I watched, I felt so sad and prayed, "God, why are they at their low points?  Is it true that most returnees give up their faith?"

     God gave me this verse while in prayer,
 
     "Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval (John 6:26-27).”

     This verse made me stop and question if I had sought "bread" or "Jesus himself."  No matter what it looked like to me, God is able to make each one of the returnees alive.  What I need is to just believe in God and share His Gospel.  Through this experience, I committed myself to God's Word and began my journey with JCFN. 

     For the first seven years, I had a very busy and fulfilling life with the ministry.  I kept in touch with returnees, led Bible studies for Japanese students, traveled all over the U.S. and planned conferences and retreats.  Yet, when I look back on those days, I now think that I might have been missing the point. I may have been more focused on seeking bread and fish to fulfill my own stomach: Blessing others through successful conferences and ministries and starting regional meetings. It is not to say that I was not fulfilled; however, I think I was working hard on my own. The words “Do not work for spoils, but food that endures to eternal life,” rings true.

     In 2007, I got married and had my first child a year after that. At that point, my life completely changed.  My “strength” became extremely limited.  I became frustrated and felt useless, comparing myself to the other staff who were working so hard.  Since then, I have prayed many times if I should quit JCFN completely. Yet, every single time, God clearly told me to continue. Every time I receive that answer, my answer has been, "If you say so, I will." The chairman of the JCFN Board once told me, "It's ok to do what you can do, only as much as you can, only when you can." These words have encouraged me.

     Despite my limitation, my relationship with God grew deeper, and more abundant in the past nine years.  I am learning to slow down, prioritize other's needs, let go, and be silent before the Lord.  Through these things, I have learned to be closer to Jesus. Perhaps, I have become less irritated, more patient and freer to let go of control.  These experiences helped me to organize a retreat called C-WIT, which focuses on spiritual formation.  In this life stage, I was assigned to make resources such as returnee workbooks and Bible study textbooks. This, too, has been a blessing. Although I interact with less number of people, I also seek to have a deeper friendship with them and grow spiritually together.  Also, I would like to be faithful to share the Gospel with those who God brings to my life. 

     Considering the next 25 years, JCFN will change a lot and perhaps move beyond my desire or imagination.  I pray for many young staff workers to be raised.  In those changes, I would like to be a faithful friend to JCFN.  I would like to share in JCFN's joy and to support in JCFN’s difficulties that are to come.  When I see the very exciting things like feeding 5000 people, and when I see nothing significant, I pledge to serve JCFN with the Lord and my co-workers by remember to "Work for food that endures to eternal life."

 
Calling to JCFN
Maki Goto
JCFN Japan Staff

     It was when I was 19 years old that I first set foot on the U.S. soil to visit my older sister in San Diego. At that time, I knew God was leading me to the U.S., but I did not know why. Around that time, I heard that there was a community college in SD that international students could attend. I decided to attend a language school first in 1990, then attended community college in 1991, graduated in 1994, and came back to Japan. However, through prayers, I still felt that God was planning something for me in the U.S.

     After 4 months, I returned to the U.S. and attended a seminary school in SD. During that time, God revealed His plan through JCFN. I felt a growing passion towards Japanese, and little by little, I started to have a burden towards the returnees. In 1997, I spent my summer in Japan. I had the privilege to serve at Christian camps, and God spoke to me through Ezekiel during that time.

 “The righteousness of the righteous will be credited to them, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against them.”

     When I read Ezekiel 18:20b, I felt danger towards the returnees. They meet Jesus overseas and experience wonderful works of God until they come back to Japan, but sadly they lose their faith. In other words, they lead a life of sin and go back to their lifestyle before they met Christ. Even though they have confessed Jesus as their savior, when they start living their life like they refuse the Lord, it leads them to judgment. I wanted to do something about that, but did not know how. So I prayed to God to use me for people who need help.

     Summer ended and I returned to the U.S to study. One time, I heard that there will be a conference that many mission organizations attend, so I decided to go. One of the organizations was JCFN. During the conference, I felt strongly that God was leading to me work for JCFN, so I asked that JCFN staff would pray for me.

     Summer of 1998, I was called to be a staff for JCFN. So to raise support, I went back to Japan. After that, I worked at the home base for JCFN in Littleton, CO for 3 years and 4 months and in August 2002, I was sent to SanDiego as the West Coast staff.

     Oct. 12th, 2002 I got married. Aug. 13th, 2003 my first son, Mel, was born. Oct. 2nd, 2005 my first daughter, Miri was born. Nov 29th, 2008 my 2nd daughter Maya was born.

     While living in America, I have applied for a green card, yet God had other plans in mind. On May 29th, 2004 I went back to Japan and in January of 2005, I became a JCFN staff in Tokyo, Japan, which currently is still where God has put me.

     Around 2nd year of working in Japan, my family and I went through a rough time financially. However, God provided me with a new task that allowed a little extra income while working fulltime as JCFN staff. This new task was to be a resident advisor at the Tokyo Tyrannus Hall where Christian college students can live together and be trained to be a Christ-rooted adult. This dormitory has been going on for over 50 years when I started.

     At the time, I did not know how this new job as a resident advisor would expand and connect with my work as a JCFN staff. In my 10th year working as an advisor, God has shown me His wonderful plans. A student who started living in the dormitory when I first started in April 2006 is now one of the directors for Equipper Conference. Not only that, but many dormitory alumni has been involved with returnee ministries and also few present students are planning to attend the conference. God has done so many things that I have never imagined.

     We walk with dreams and visions. However, God has his plans above us and he makes everything happen according to his plan. I have no clear vision of where God is leading me. However I believe that above everything, there is always God’s plan and the one thing I hope is that I will be able to trust him.

     1 Corinthians 2:9 (NIV) However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived”— the things God has prepared for those who love him—

     Romans 8:28 (NIV) And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

     As a Christian, I can believe that as these two Bible verses tell me that what God is planning for me is beyond my imagination and knowledge. Therefore as a believer who is called by God, I want to follow his way by loving God.

 
 
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Re-entry Seminar Video (Intro + 4 sessions) is now available on-line (Japanese only). Please use it for re-entry preparation. Clicking the image above, you can watch the introduction. All videos are available at JCFN website.