Hello, everyone! My name is Kaori. I’m a student in the German language department at Sophia University. I am Japanese, but I grew up in Germany and England.
How did you become a Christian? I grew up in a non-Christian family. My father is an atheist and my mother believes in Shintoism. Shortly after being born in Japan, I soon moved to Germany and lived there for four years because of my father’s job, and after coming back to Japan my parents started looking for a kindergarten for my twin sister and me, but since the entrance ceremony had already passed, no kindergarten would accept us. We were eventually able to find a Christian kindergarten willing to accept us, so we started going there. We worshiped and praised God and prayed a lot at the church in the kindergarten everyday. Ever since then, I have somehow known that there is a God. Once I entered elementary school, my mother began taking me to a shrine once a month and I started believing in the shrine. At that time, I was often bullied by my friends and cried a lot at school. When I was 8 years old, my family moved to England and had a good time there for 4 years, and after coming back to Japan, my sister and I entered girl’s junior high and high school. Because we’re twins and third culture kids different from other students, they bullied us. We wished we hadn’t been born as twins and tried to separate ourselves from one another. I went to the shrine to feel alive but there was nothing to make me feel alive. I thought to myself that I’m not worthy of living and felt as if I was falling into darkness, I suddenly prayed and asked God to help us, and it was as if a light burst forth and drove back the darkness. I felt that there is a God who needs me and would get sad if I gave up living, and God gave me hope. Around that same time, my sister was diagnosed with a mild mental illness, but God healed her illness and helped us to stay as best friends and be together again. After that, I stopped going to the shrine, but I didn’t start reading the Bible. I decided to go to Sophia University just because its brick buildings reminded me of England. At the university I spent a lot of time with exchange students, because though I’m Japanese, I got scared when meeting Japanese people and couldn’t feel at home in Japanese communities. One day, I visited a Japanese class to help exchange students study Japanese as a volunteer and met an American student who was in a Christian club called KGK. That was Erik. He became my close friend and we became a couple and he took me to church. In 2014, my sophomore year, Erik went home to America and I started going to the church alone, but without him I got scared and felt alone in the community. At that time, a British missionary who I met there and trusted suggested that we should do a bible study together, so we started a regular bible study every week at a cafeteria in the university, and she helped me a lot to understand what the Bible says. While studying, she would often invite me to KGK’s club room, but I got scared and couldn’t join them. However, she didn’t give up on trying to get me there, so I finally went with her and met a student there. He invited me to a prayer meeting, and I met up with his friend that evening and she took me there. Both of them made me feel safe and my fear gradually faded away. Over spring break, I visited Erik’s family in Pennsylvania and stayed with them for a week. I was surprised to see the difference between Christian families and non-Christian families. I saw a strong tie in Christ within Erik’s family. Though we have many differences like language and culture, I felt God’s love through his family. After coming back to Japan, I started going to church to feel that love from God again. During that time, I met a student who is the same age as me and in the same department at Sophia University. She belonged to KGK too, so I decided to join KGK and started participating in Bible studies and prayer meetings. All of KGK’s members welcomed me with open arms, just as God did. At church, I started doing a weekly bible study with three KGK members on Sundays and we started a youth group in the evening on Fridays. We learned about various topics through the Bible like who God is or what prayers are. Through that study, I realized my biggest sin and weakness. That is, I can’t trust and love others except my family. Since I was bullied and left by even my closest and most trusted friends, I became a person who couldn’t trust and love others. No matter how kind they were or however close they were, I doubted them and thought that they were just pretending to be nice and didn’t love me. At the same time, I got scared and didn’t even try to love others. However, at youth group, I felt no fear, but rather strong family ties in Christ. I forgot to worry about what they think of me, instead, I was so curious only about how God sees me. God helped me concentrate only on seeking God’s will through that group. Finally, it shocked me to learn that the reason why Jesus, who had no sins, was crucified, died on a cross, won against death and was resurrected, was for me, a sinful person who can’t even love others. At that moment, I became aware of a deep eternal love from God, and He gave me faith and saved me from my sins. Since then, I’ve been filled with a joy from God after service and bible study because it reminds me that God is always living within us whatever happens. I’m thankful that God didn’t give up searching for me no matter how far I went from Him, and helped me turn back to Him in various ways. I thank God for this guidance to eternal life and for these blessed friendships I’ve developed with all my brothers and sisters in Christ. I’ve been praying that God helps me continue to follow Jesus and walk with God in a life of living sacrifice forever, and that God uses each of us as a testimony of Jesus Christ so that more and more people can see God’s love and can be saved by Him.
How did you find OCF?
Shortly after I began building ties with the youth group at my church, one of my friends named Adam told me about OCF. He helped me to learn more about God and encouraged me to follow Jesus through group Bible studies we did together. I didn’t have any plans that day, so when he invited me I thought it would be a great way to fill my day. I was a bit nervous about being able to get along with everybody, but there turned out to be other people who were there for the first time too, which helped me to feel relaxed and made it easy to come back again. Since then I’ve been a regular at OCF gatherings. God has perfect timing!
How did OCF impact your life?
Even after I became a Christian, I sometimes got scared and felt lonely in the Japanese Christian community. However, God always put Christian international students around me so that I could always be with Him. Every time I met international students, I tried to befriend them so that they wouldn’t feel lonely in Japan, but looking back, God helped me through them instead. In retrospect, I feel that God healed my loneliness and encouraged me through those Christian international students. At OCF, there are brothers and sisters in Christ from various countries who worship God, listen to His Word, pray for each other, encourage each other, and grow in Him together as the people of God regardless of their nationalities. I feel that Jesus unites us even though each of us has a different background, culture, and language. Though OCF, God helped me realize that I need Him first and foremost. God gave me a heart to seek Him, daily bread from Jesus, and loving others. I hope you join us and find what you really need here. Remember that you are always welcome here!