“Saya chan! Are you ok?” I asked.
Sobbing, she replied, “The sermon was so moving and I can’t help crying.”
This conversation with Sayako is still clear in my memory, though it happened more than 25 years ago at my first KGK camp. (KGK is the Japanese branch of International Fellowship of Evangelical Students or IFES).
It was my first KGK camp and I was a young, naïve, and immature Christian. She came from a broken family and was seeking God seriously. Our job was to record the sermons onto cassettes in a small recording room, so we had precious time together to share and cry with one another. Sayako got baptised soon after the camp and we became friends for life.
It was in KGK that I was transformed the most spiritually during my university time. KGK provided me not only with spiritual training to be a holistic Christian, but also gave me basic theological training and inspired me to devote myself fully to the Lord.
Through the years in KGK, we learned about many aspects of Christianity. Topics ranging from Japanese church history and denominations to relationships and marriage; Christian leadership to World War 2 responsibilities in Asia. We looked at science and faith, and work in society as Christians. I made many Asian Christian friends through international IFES conferences, which enlarged my worldview and eventually directed my life to cross cultural ministry.
We had numerous summer camps and spring camps where I witnessed students not only become Christians, but being transformed on a deeper level. Many eventually decided to go on to full-time ministry too. KGK graduates often testify that friendships we nurtured through our time in KGK are precious, lifelong spiritual friendships. We speak the same spiritual language and share the same spirit. KGK staff always taught us this—it is not the number of conversions we are focusing on, but the testimony of our lives: how dedicated and integrated we become as a Christian. Today, many of us are pastors, missionaries, and full-time gospel workers.
I have a friend who is serving as a missionary in Brazil. We message each other often, share our stresses about the cross-cultural mission and encourage one another. Who could have imagined 25 years ago that both of us would end serving the Lord cross-culturally and be corresponding from opposite sides of the earth?
I believe it is important to make spiritual friends when you are young. These friends we will continue to encourage us and tell us the truth in love, especially at times when we are finding challenges in ministry. Serving full-time can often be lonely and tiring, but old friends remind us that we are not alone in this journey. I’m thankful that KGK provided me with the opportunity to make friendships like these.
By Tomomi Wong Hiraide: OMF Singapore Member Care coordinator/TCK adviser
Will you pray for Japan?
Give thanks for how student ministries like KGK help prepare Christians to serve as life-long gospel workers.
Pray for more students to be transformed and equipped like Tomomi was.
Pray for students in KGK to keep moving into full time Christian work in years to come.