Several years ago the Lord brought Yumiko to the evangelistic English-speaking club in the church where I work in Sapporo. She seemed joyful, but I discerned a hungry heart and invited her to join a bilingual group Bible study called “Abundant Life Studies”. Yumiko told me she had been searching for eight years but still knew little of God. She was attracted to an animistic type of belief with a profound respect for nature. She accepted the existence of God but knowing him was problematic.
At university Yumiko had encountered the Bible in an academic manner. Later she went to Scotland, where she joined and felt accepted in a Christian community called “L’Arche” (reference to Noah’s ark). L’Arche is an international organisation dedicated to supporting people with intellectual disabilities. However, on leaving Scotland and returning to Japan, she felt vulnerable and suffered mentally and physically. The more she learned about Jesus, the more she resisted his call—her head unable to reconcile with her heart. She was desperate to feel Jesus in the same way that people with limited intellectual capacities in L’Arche Community felt him. Knowing him seemed beyond her.
God gave her an opportunity in 2016 to visit two Christian organizations in Kenya for people with disabilities, one of which was “L’Arche Kenya”. But she was worried by the prospect of having to get to two places in Kenya that were far apart from each other, while carrying a wheelchair and many gifts for the children. Yet, she felt the need to go there to receive hope for her life.
A turning point came when she mentioned her concerns about travelling in Kenya to me. I suggested she talk with a Kenyan Christian who attended the church. When she did, she discovered that this brother in Christ was from the very town that she wanted to visit first. Furthermore, his father worked for L’Arche Kenya! This amazing “coincidence” brought great relief to Yumiko and an assurance that this trip was indeed God’s plan for her.
At last instead of feeling Jesus in some mystical way, she came to understand how she should follow him. She saw the living Christ at work through conversations with Christians and through the Easter sermon on the meaning of the cross and the resurrection. Jesus revealed himself to Yumiko and helped her head to be reconciled to her heart.
The book What Do You Want? was given to her. The title echoed the question she’d asked God: “What should I do Lord?” Jesus replied to her from Mark 10:36: “What do you want me to do for you?” Finally, Yumiko understood the uniqueness of Jesus, who, though divine, wanted to communicate with her because he loved her and desired her love. She knew she needed this relationship in order to fulfil the life given her by the creator God. She finally prayed, telling Jesus she wanted to follow him and asking him to help her serve others and be a steward of nature, rather than venerating it.
When she returned to Japan from Kenya she completed the “Abundant Life Studies”. I then led her in a discipleship course and she was baptised in September 2017. Yumiko, now a member of the church, is growing in Christ. I praise the Lord for his love and work in Yumiko’s seeking heart and for enabling me to share in his work.
By Estelle, an OMF missionary
Will you pray for Japan?
- Pray that Japanese people will have hungry hearts and will seek until they find answers.
- Pray that Christians will be ready to meet non-Christians where they are and help them find answers.
- Pray that Christians would follow Jesus wholeheartedly and with joy.