Newsletter (Equipper)

Hallelujah! We praise the name of the Lord.

     For August monthly newsletter, we'd like to share testimonies from Central Conference held in May and WIT (Whatever It Takes) leadership training camp.

 
Testimony of CC17
 
Reflection from 2017 Central Conference
Etsuko Sekine
 
     This was my first time to participate in the Central Conference.

     I came to Christ when I was a college student. Now I attend church every Sunday with my husband and our three children. We come across with daily life challenges such as parenting, communicating between my husband and myself, getting along with our neighbors, or children’s schooling. A friend of mine told me about Central Conference and I thought, “What an opportunity to participate in a Christian Camp operated in Japanese in America! We must go.” The location was 8 hours of drive away from home. But I was very looking forward to participate.

     The only participants we had known were the friend who told me about the conference and her family. I was nervous as I am shy. But my fear quickly dissipated. Praising God in gatherings, listening to the testimonies, hearing the message… I was in the place where everyone’s heart was turned to God and I felt my heart warm, discerning the work of the Holy Spirit. It was a gathering of people from different backgrounds, with various characters, unknown to each other. But we are all Christians, “who love the same God and share the same faith in Him.” That makes us feel like a family.

     The preacher of this conference was Rev. Satoru Nakanishi. He gave us a message titled, “The Kingdom of God is within us.” I used to imagine “the Kingdom of God” was “the heaven” where Christians would go after their life on earth. Through his teaching, I learned that “the Kingdom of God” comes to this world, and actually it already exists and will be completed. To help this work to be completed, we must leave from “earthly perspective” and adopt “the Kingdom perspective.”It is important to humble ourselves to serve others. The message deeply resonated in my heart as I have failed many times from my self-centeredness and I felt ashamed of proclaiming my faith. But even for this sin of mine, Jesus went to the cross. Even though it is not possible for me, God can make it possible for me to change. As I believe that, peace is given and my despair turns into a hope. I am filled with gratitude.

     There has been many mysterious incidents before we moved to the U.S. The reason why my husband started working with his current company was there were no possibility of transfer. But three years ago, the same company sent him to the U.S. for an assignment. From those incidents, we now believe that it was God who had led us to be in the U.S. and there was no coincidence. God wants us to be part of the completion of His Kingdom here and He sends us people whom we need to meet to fulfill our purpose. God sends us friends to pray with and to encourage; He provides opportunities; He never leaves us alone but gives us helps we need to work toward the “Kingdom.” He is gentle and merciful. We were encouraged through the fellowship with many Christians at the conference, too.

     We know we will return to Japan soon. We do not know yet where we will be led or what will happen. And yet, I would like to leave everything to God and to continue to pray for “the Kingdom of God.”

     Our children had a great time at the Conference. They praised God in Kids’ class, had Bible lessons, and played a lot. Listening to them singing the songs they just learned at the Conference on our way back home, I found a little “Kingdom of God” right there among us and praised God with a grateful heart.

 
 
Testimony of WIT17
 
The Love Triangle between God and People
Yuki Koyama
 
     I would first like to thank God from the bottom of my heart for allowing me to meet wonderful brothers and sisters in Christ at WIT17. God provides the people I need when I need them most in my life. I was invited to WIT17 when my faith was at a low point. I was overworked, at the end of my rope, and mentally exhausted. I served in church but I think I was just going through the motions. There was miscommunication with my friends and I felt like we were completely disconnected. During such a time, God asked me a question. “What is your priority in life?” I thought I was putting God first, but it wasn't showing through my actions. And right before WIT, I was faced with a major decision. At the time, I was working at a place that wouldn't give me leave to attend WIT, so I decided to quit my job. I was in a decent position there so it was a difficult decision to make. However, I was able to attend WIT17 because of it.

     God had prepared the best gift for me at WIT17: people. There were some people I'd met at EC, but I met most everyone else for the first time. Regardless of that, we were all able to quickly open up to each other. It also helped that I stayed the night before and got to spend time with them. It’s true that we are family in Christ, but how close we all became in just a few days can be nothing but the work of the Holy Spirit. Isn't this a love triangle? God loves each and every one of us. And because we love God, we are also able to love one another. At WIT, I experienced this lesson through five sessions and discussions with my small group. Are we currently building a personal relationship with God? Are we disciples that listen to and loyally obey God's voice? And do we deserve to be called a friend of Christ? I was able to reexamine our relationship with God from these various angles. In my case, I was not actively conscious of my identity as Christ's bride, so I committed adultery many times.  Focusing on something else while saying that I put my beloved husband first: this is my sinful nature. There was an activity during one of the sessions where we wrote down our "lover" apart from God on paper and then tore it to pieces. I believe this is when I was filled and overflowing with the feeling of freedom. Afterwards during WIT, joy bubbled up inside of me and my heart was full of excitement. The other attendees also seemed to sparkle and shine.  I wondered why everyone was smiling so much. But I believe that's because they are all crazy-loved God. Jesus came close to us by coming down to our level as a human. Also, during the lesson on differences between empathy and sympathy, I was faced with the question of whether or not I have been doing the same for my neighbors. Love your neighbor. Saying it is easy, but am I truly able to empathize with and stay close to them? Humans are truly weak. Each and every one of us are weak. But that is where God is, and if we can build a love triangle with God and people, I believe we are strong. Additionally, I believe that "prayer," our privilege as Christians, strengthens that relationship.

     Lastly, I learned about accountability partners. These are friends that encourage one another to deepen their relationships with God, while also challenging each other--all in love. I hope that the brothers and sisters I met at WIT17 can help strengthen my faith, while I can also help to strengthen theirs, all while continuously building my relationship with God. As I wish for and expect this love triangle to expand throughout the whole world, I will conclude this as my testimony.

 
 
ERF Retreat

Date:November 3-4, 2017
Location: Karuizawa

Hosted by ERF (European Returnees' Fellowship)

Facebook event page 

Online Registration is now available.
Click here to register!

 
equipper conference 17

Online Registration is available:
Click here to register!

Date: December 27, 2017 - January 1, 2018
Location: Murrieta Hot Springs Christian Conference Center
Theme: “Freedom”: Living the Freedom in Christ
Theme verse: 2 Corinthians 3:17
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
Speaker: Rev. Naoto Kamano, Rev. Shinji Seki, Rev. Yuichiro Inatomi

www.equipper.org

 
GRC18: Global Returnees Conference
May 2 - 5, 2018
@ Hotel Evergreen Fuji (Yamanashi)
http://globalreturnees.org
 
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