“I want to be a Christian—what do I do?” texted Satomi, a 20 year old Japanese college student who loves drawing colorful pictures and hopes to become a child care teacher one day (all names changed in this article).
She first started to come to our church when she was five years old when her mother was invited to a Christian parenting class. Ever since, Satomi has attended church events with her family such as Christmas parties and Thanksgiving parties.
When she was a high schooler she started reading the Bible on her own because she was interested in Jesus and the teaching of the Bible. However, the existence of God didn’t quite make sense and her interest slowly faded. It wasn’t until last summer, when she heard a testimony from a Serve Asia Worker one Friday night at English Cafe (student outreach ministry at Hirosaki Nozomi Church) that her interest in reading the Bible was reignited. After studying the Bible with missionaries, she committed her life to Christ last November. She is the first and only Christian (so far) in her family. Her boyfriend has also started attending church services and church events.
So what led to all of this? There were many people who used their gifts.
Many people used their gifts
Kaori is a mother of three children. She longs for her non-Christian mother friends to know Christ. By inviting them to a Christian parenting class, she hopes they will be connected to church, and come to know God’s wisdom and love. She was the one who invited Satomi’s mother to a parenting class fifteen years ago. Since then, Satomi has always looked up to her.
Rhonda is a missionary who’s lived in the area for over 30 years. She loves children and people, and wrote a Christian parenting book for mothers. She taught the parenting class that Satomi’s mother first attended. Over the years, Rhonda has prayed for Satomi and her family.
Michael, Rhonda’s husband, is also a missionary. He loves renovating old buildings to make a space where people can gather and worship. The church building where Satomi first attended worship had been an apple warehouse with concrete cement and bare walls. Over the years, Michael has helped turn this old warehouse into a church building where people gather to fellowship, worship, and where Satomi was baptized.
Jim, Megumi, Emma, and Nikki, lead English Cafe every Friday night at the church. High school and college students from the area gather to have snacks and coffee, practice speaking English, and to study the Word together. The four leaders take turns preparing homemade snacks, leading game and activity times, and teaching God’s Word.
Rachel was a Serve Asia Worker from the US. During her two weeks of quarantine, she prepared her salvation testimony, which she shared the first week she arrived in Hirosaki church. Rachel’s honest life story of God bringing her back to himself struck Satomi’s heart. Satomi went home and read the Bible that she hadn’t opened for months.
Prayer partners of the missionaries and Serve Asia workers at Hirosaki church haven’t even met Satomi, but pray for her across the ocean. They faithfully pray, using prayer letters the missionaries send, that God will work in the hearts of Japanese people like Satomi.
A friendly invitation, a parenting class, a church building, a student outreach program, a testimony, a prayer . . .
All of these were gifts that people offered to God to build his kingdom. And God did not disappoint.
After 15 years, Satomi admitted that she is loved and chosen by God and that she desires to share that same love she’s received from God with her friends, family, and the children she will be working with in the future.
“There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.” 1 Cor. 12:4-6
What will you offer to God this year? Whatever gift you have—offer it to God—and watch and see how he will bless it.
By Naomi, an OMF worker