One of my blog friends asked me how I became Christian so I hope you'll bear with a little of my Christian background.
I grew up in a Christian home though my father wasn't a church goer. My mother took my brother and me most Sundays and I was fairly active in a high school youth group. When I went away to college I met a nice boy that was just "different". Friendly to everyone, helpful, cheerful I found out he was Christian and I could just see Jesus shining through him. In one of our conversations he asked me if the cross pendant I was wearing meant something to me or if it was just an accessory. Unfortunately it was just an accessory and after talking to me about it he said "Oh, you're not a Christian." "I most certainly am! I've gone to church all my life!" Over the next year he mentored me and brought young Christian girls into my life who became my friends and guided me. There was some point that I surrendered everything to Jesus and acknowledged that I didn't know the reason for everything but that that was ok. I wanted to walk a Godly way.
For the next couple years of college I stayed close to the Christian youth association and studied the Bible and when I went to Japan for an 8 month exchange program I wrote my research paper on the history of Christianity in Japan. When I was ready to graduate, my desire to return to Japan and desire to share the gospel led me to apply to the Presbyterian Board of Missions and I was accepted. I must admit that my desire to be in Japan was greater than my desire to evangelize. I've always been a terrible missionary since I have a very hard time "convincing" people and I can always see their side of a situation. (Why the person is suspicious of the Christian, why their situation makes it difficult to believe.) This is something that still nags me to this day. I can't just pin someone down and say "You need to know this!" I hope loving the people around me is enough but I'm not sure that God is saying that it is. I often remember my "shining" friend and hope Christ's love shines through me and people will be drawn to God.
Tetsu was the first person to come to Christ who was directly influenced by me. He wanted to date me and I was at church on Sundays so he met me there and gradually started coming to church with me. He was baptized a few months before we married and we have made the church the center of our home. (I should say Jesus, but we tend to be serving people and are involved in lots of church service work.) The first church we attended (and where Tetsu was baptized) was the Holiness denomination which is an off branch of Mennonites, but that has very little meaning in Japan. All churches were forced by the government to integrate into one main Protestant church (and one Catholic church) during World War II, and many of the church denominations just have stayed in the main Japanese Protestant Church. Right now we attend an average size church in our neighborhood. In the whole city of Nikko I think there are only two Protestant churches and one Catholic church and our church is very new, built about 7 years ago. The average attendance on a Sunday is about 20. This is an average size church remember. We've attended churches when there were only about 10 people every Sunday.
Sometimes I feel that I am part of a great miracle of God. I am a rather shy person and have always had trouble speaking in front of people. But nowadays I find myself giving short messages at our little church about once every month or two. So what? Sometimes there are only 10 people there. But for me to be speaking in front of people at all, let alone in Japanese, seems like a miracle to me every time I get up there. It can't be me! I'm not sure if the message stays in anyone's mind, but I leave that to God and just make myself available.
Also last year I was given the opportunity to be featured on a Christian Japanese television program and God overrode my hesitancy about evangelizing and I gave a minor message to viewers. Basically I just quoted the nice saying "Bloom Where You're Planted". God puts us in a certain place and whether we like it or not, whether we want to play a bigger part or a smaller part, He uses us where we are.
I'm sure that's more than enough Christian testimony for some people so I'll stop here. Thanks for reading.