Nov 12, 2008
Hi. I've decided to share my story of how I became a Christian in English!
I've already written this story in Japanese and I already have over 3700 visits :)
This story is quite powerful as I started writing this story before I became a Christian. (I'm just sharing what I've written in my old diary)
So you can see that it was a process for me to believe in Jesus. So many Japanese people said that this story really encouraged them to believe in God!
Hope you enjoy it! Please forgive me if my grammar is incorrect!
By the way, for my current stories, please check out my blog written in bilingual style.
Nov 11, 2008
None of my family members or relatives were Christians. So I thought Christianity was not for me. When I saw Christians going to church every Sunday, I didn't understand why they would sacrifice their time.I couldn't relate to God and Jesus at all back then.
But funny thing was... I ended up going to a private Christian girl's school for 6 years!
We had chapel service every wednesday and I took religious studies but because I was so bored, I always fell asleep. Also that was the time exchange letters with my friends who were also bored.
It's quite embarrasing to say that I don't remember anything about what they shared in the weekly chapel service.
Ironically, because we had to sing songs and pray the same prayer over and over again, I memorised them.Some people thought I was a Christian because of that!
Some of my Christian friends invited me to church bbqs and events, so I went there when I couldn't think of a good reason to say no.All of these Christian people were friendly and nice and I had fun. But whenever I went to church services or bible studies, I felt really uncomfortable.
Then I felt guilty of just going to events so I stopped going.
I used to think, "I'll think about becoming a Christian when I face hard times in my life...I don't need any religion because I don't have any problems right now..."
Nov 9, 2008
Ofcourse, there were some "Christians" who weren't living as Christians, but most of the Christians that I knew were really wonderful. Most of the Christians including those over 60s and those in the same age group looked really happy.
My mum (who was not a Christian back then) started to go to church to learn free English lessons. That class used stories from the Bible. She started sharing about Christian values that she learned to me.
And when I met her Christian teachers, they were so warm and I wanted to become warm and kind like them! I was really touched when they prayed for me to do well in HSC.
I always thought these Christians were different from others. I wanted to know why.
I was surprised that they thought about death in a different way from non-Christians. They told me that because they believed in God, they'll go to heaven. I was wondering if that was why Christians weren't afraid of dying. I really wanted to be like them. I used to be scared whenever I thought about death.
I had so many fears in my life. I started to think, "If I had a foundation like them, perhaps I can overcome any tragedies in my life."
When I got to know them better, I realised that many of them who looked really happy had tragic pasts. I wanted to know how they overcame those experiences. I knew that I couldn't be strong ike them if I faced the same situation as didn't have any foundation.
And one day I met someone special in my life. No... it's not Mr. Right! It wasn't Jesus YET. It was Guy Sebastian, the winner of Australian Idol!
I was always supporting him since I heard him singing. He was not only a great singer, but I also liked his attitude and things that he spoke.
And when I found out that he was a Christian, I thought, "No wonder!"I thought he was different. Other contestants were really focusing on themselves and stressed. But Guy was always thankful and humble.
After Guy became the Australian Idol, he decided to do a secret charity live in the church that I got saved later. It was a secret live because he wanted to raise money for missions work in Asia privately. My mum's friend invited her to come so I came along too.
That was my first experience going to a youthy church (like jesuslifehouse) and that day, my image of Christianity was completely destroyed..... (in a good way!)
Nov 8, 2008
It was so different from other churches. It didn't have anything like a big cross, statue of Maria or "Christian decorations". It was just a normal building. All it had was a big sign that said, "Christian Centre."
And when I walked in the hall I was surprised again. It looked like a concert hall! There were guitars, drums and keyboard on the platform... I was thinking "Is this really church???" My school had only pipe organs...
Also, I couldn't believe that the Pastor was really loud! I thought all Priests and Pastors were gentle and quiet... But the Pastor of this church was an Italian. He was really loud and passionate. And really really funny.
I used to think Church was for old people or children. But there were so many young people in the church. I wouldn't have guessed if they didn't say they were Christians, because they looked really cool! :)
I found out later that this church in Australia was one of the next generation churches.Their teachings were based on the Bible. They sang worship songs in a different style. Instead of singing in traditional style, they sang in rock style in order to reach the young people.
My mum had been saying to me that if I come to church, my image of church will change. But I didn't know that it would change this much!!!
Anyway, Guy Sebastian's live was awesome! I thought he was so faithful as the purpose of this live was to raise money to support missionaries. He talked about how great God was all the time. I was just impressed with his Christian values. But still I didn't realise that it had anything to do with me.
But the seeds were definitely sown...
Nov 7, 2008
In July, I was offered a job in Japan.
I always wanted to live in Japan after my graduation. That was because I grew up in Australia most of my life and I wanted to experience living in Japan.I was thinking, "after 3 years, I'll come back to Australia."
Anyway, my mum suggested me to do Alpha course when I wasn't busy with Uni work any more.That was 5 months before I left Australia.
In Alpha course, people explore the Christian faith in a relaxed setting over ten thought-provoking weekly sessions, with a day or weekend away.
My mum just competed Japanese Alpha so she suggested me to go to the English one which was about to start.
Why did she suggest this?
My mum was thinking a lot about becoming a Christian after attending Alpha Course. She loved Christian values and since many of her friends were Christians she wanted to believe in the same things that they believed in. But at the same time, she couldn't feel close to God so she was struggling.
So she wanted to see how I would change after attending Alpha.
I thought for a while, but I decided to go. I wanted to meet new people and it sounded less threatening than going to church.
Also, I was wondering if I could change this time. I was always curious about Christianity because I wanted foundation in my life, but everytime I went to church or bible studies, I just couldn't get it.
"If I still couldn't believe in Jesus this time, I won't try again after that" I thought.
Nov 6, 2008
The Alpha course is organized as a series of sessions over ten weeks, typically preceded by an 'Alpha Supper' which often includes the talk "Christianity: Boring, Untrue and Irrelevant?" Each session starts with a meal, followed by a talk (often a video of one by Nicky Gumbel) and then discussion in small groups. The talks aim to cover the basic beliefs of the Christian faith.(Wikipedia)
To be honest, I was disappointed a little when I arrived to the church. That was because there weren't many people than I expected and I was the youngest one there.Also, most of them were Christian volunteers and I couldn't find any non-Christian people beside myself.
But then when I started watching the video, I felt different.What pulled me in was Rev Nicky Gumbel's story.
Nicky shared that he became a Christian after he entered University.I was surprised to hear that he didn't like Christianity before. He said he thought it was boring, untrue and irrelevant. I could totally relate to him! Finally I was able to hear from someone who decided to become a Christian after growing up!
"What made him change his mind? Can that happen to me?" I got really excited.
Nicky said this. "Every human being has this God-shaped hole. People try to fill this hole with wrong things.Money, fame, success, love from others, position, drugs, cigarettes, entertainment etc.But they never feel satisfied. Instead, they feel really empty.
The only thing that can fill in the hole is "The true love" that comes from God. You can't fill in your hole inside you unless you know God.Christianity is not boring, untrue and Irrelevant. Actually, God's love will make your life satisfying and fun.
Nicky shared this one scripture that I will never forget.
"I am the Bread of life, He who comes to Me shall not hunger, He who believes in Me shall not thirst." (John 6:35)
This word really moved me. I always used to think that Christianity was irrelevant in my life.But I knew that deep down, I wasn't really satisfied.
I couldn't rely on my parents, friends or bf to satisfy me 100%. Even if I did well in exams, I only felt momentary pleasure. Then I had to push myself to do even better for the next time. Forcing myself to study harder and harder...The more money I had, the more things that I wanted. There was no end.
"Oh my gosh!!! I have a hole inside me!!!! "
Nicky then said that "If we don't eat the bread (Staple food) we will never feel full. Life without Jesus is like that. Unless you have a relationship with God, you will be hungry and empty forever."
In small group after that I shared with other Christian people,
" I don't know God or Jesus yet, but I realised that I have a hole inside me. It makes sense!"
All the Christians were smiling and they said it's a journey, so it's good to keep on seeking.
It was strange how I felt so comfortable after small group. I was glad that I came to Alpha. So I decided to keep on coming for a while...
Growing up in Australia, I heard about Jesus so many times. But when I saw the video, I realised that actually didn't know about Jesus that much...
I didn't know why God sent his Son to die for everyone, why people celebrate his resurrection and I couldn't relate to him at all.
During the small group, things became clear to me but I was still trying to understand things in my head. I didn't get it from my heart. I couldn't still believe that Jesus died and rose again. Well, even if that's true, what does He have to do with me?
It was interesting to hear about who Jesus was to Christians though.
One woman said, "He is like my husband". One man said, "He's my best friend."
Listening to all of this, I was wondering,
"Would I be able to believe in Jesus and get excited about Him like they do?"
I still had doubts, but because I enjoyed learning and spending time with these people I decided to come again the following week.
Nov 5, 2008
After 4 weeks of Alpha, I was feeling that something was changing in me. This happened when I decided to drive to church.
This is quite embarrassing to share, but I never liked driving and I had no confidence at all with my skills and sense of direction, so I always asked other people to drive for me.
Even going to Alpha Course, my mother used to drive me there and picked me up afterwards. I used to feel sorry for my mother and I was embarrassed because I had my license already but I didn’t have the courage to drive.
And because I didn’t want my mother to drive me all the time I didn’t go to church service or young adults. It was quite inconvenient but that was how much I didn’t want to drive. But on week 5 of Alpha, something happened that changed my mind.
That day as I was waiting for my mother to come and drive the car for me, she suddenly said to me, “I think you should go next week, not today.” It was raining heavily outside! My mother always hated driving in the rain.
But because Alpha had become the highlight of my week, I couldn’t say “ok, let’s stay home.” I begged my mother. Even she said no, I asked her many times.
My mother started to get angry at my stubbornness and said, “It’s okay if you miss ONE SESSION. No one is going to come in this rain!!!”
But I couldn’t give up. I just felt that I HAD TO GO there.
So my mother ended up driving me to church. As I was watching her in the car looking so upset, I was thinking,
“ I guess I have to start driving again… I feel sorry that my mother has to drive me like this. I want to take my own responsibility.”
When I arrived to church, EVERYONE was there. They welcomed me with warm hugs!! No one skipped alpha because of the rain. I was happy that I didn’t give up.
So this is how I decided to drive again :)
Nov 1, 2008
During the small group, we talked about LOVE. Christians said that Christianity is all about love. Becoming a Christian means that we start a relationship with God. It's all about loving God and people.
Then one guy who wasn't a Christian asked this question.
"I think women can relate to it when you say, "Christianity is about love." But as a man, I can't really relate to that. Can you please explain what's the difference between God's love and love between people???"
I wasn't a Christian back then but I remember saying this to him.
"I don't know about true love too. For example, even if I had a boyfriend, I won't be sure if that love will last forever. I don't know if my friends will accept me if I just opened myself up completely. And I know that they can't stay with me all the time.
But when I think about true love I think about my family. My parents know all my weaknesses and they've seen all sides of me. I know that they love me unconditionally. And I will love them no matter what.
I've started to think that if God really exists, His love will be bigger than any love between people. Even bigger than my parents love!!! His love must be HUGE!"
All the Christians were smiling and nodding when I shared this.
I started to know more about God little by little. But yet I wasn't feeling God in my heart...
Oct 31, 2008
My mother met her in Alpha Course and they became good friends.She was a passionate woman who was full of faith. I liked her alot.
After week 5 of Alpha, she invited us to her house. Then I met one Japanese girl who was studying in Australia and one Taiwanese lady.
The Taiwanese lady was interested in Christianity but she had so many doubts. She was a little confused at this time because she learned wrong teachings from cult religion before.She was trying to understand things by "studying" just like me.
The Japanese girl, Lilly (nickname) surprised me. She cried all the time when she talked about God. She was "feeling" God in her heart.I was feeling strange when I saw her crying because I wasn't like her.
I just assumed that perhaps she had a sad past and she's desperate to be healed. That's because most Christians that I knew had tragic past before they believed in God.
But Lilly was different. She just never heard about Jesus Christ until she started going to church.She said she couldn't stop crying from the moment she heard about Jesus and His cross.And then she accepted everything and she felt God's love instantly.
When I heard this, I was envious of her. How can she just accept everything so quickly?
Why can't I feel God's love like her?
When Ursula and Lilly found out that I've never been to Sunday services, they strongly recommended me to go.
I was thinking, "Would this change me if I went to a church service???"
All the time during Alpha I didn't go to church services because I didn't want to bother my mother to drive for me.
So I made a decision to drive myself to Alpha and Sunday Services.
I thought it's going to be just like a meeting where you hear the message and study the bible.That was how it was like anyway in other churches that I went before.
BUT I WAS WRONG!
When I arrived to the church, I heard massive sound coming out... Drums... guitar etc... and smoke coming out from there as well...
where am I? Live concert???
Young people there looked as if they were going to clubbing or something. They looked cool. They were jumping up and down raising hands... but I didn't know what to do.
The youth leader was LOUD and FUNNY.
It took me a while to process, but then I got used to it and started enjoying the atmosphere.
Afterwards we went upstairs and divided into small groups.The topic of discussion was "God's plan."I had no idea back then so I was mainly listening. I was surprised to hear these cool looking people talking about DREAM, LOVE, FRIENDSHIP, RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD, VISION etc.That was because I've never heard young people talking about something serious like that before.
They all talked about their future dreams and vision and prayed for each other.But at this time I didn't know how to pray so I asked people to pray for me.
I honestly shared about my feelings to one girl in that group.
"I don't know why I'm going to Alpha and these kind of meetings because I'm going to go to Japan in February anyway.I'm not a Christian... but the funny thing is I feel comfortable when I come here."
Then the girl smiled at me and said,
"I believe that God called you here to tell you something.It's not an accident. Perhaps you haven't found the answer yet and feeling confused but it's good that you're seeking.So don't worry! I'll pray for you too"
I felt accepted hearing this. I loved her beautiful smile.
I met alot of people this day. It was good to meet people in my age group with faith.
Oct 30, 2008
One thing that I didn't know until I started going to church.I used to think you can't call yourself a "Christian" until you get baptised.
But as I got to know alot of people, I realised that there were Christians who weren't baptised yet.
So I didn't know that the moment that you make a DECISION to accept Jesus in your life, you become a Christian.
On 31st October I decided to drive myself to church for the first time. This was my first time to go to Sunday Church Service.
I was soooo nervous driving! I prayed to God that he will safely take me to church.
On the way I made a mistake and turned in the wrong corner.
I didn't know how to go back the right road... usually I would panic in this situation but I felt peace. I was praying "God give me courage and strength." Around this time I was starting to feel that something LARGER than myself was protecting me.
When I arrived to church, everyone was worshipping joyfully with the loud band music. Lilly was there and she was crying heaps.
As I sang along, I felt that I was changing... I was thinking,
"I want to believe in God like other Christians. I want to experience Him.All my life, I only could believe in the things that I could see... but perhaps the things that I can not see are the most important."
At the end of the message, the preacher said,
"If you want to receive Jesus Christ as your saviour today, If you want to know more about Jesus, please raise your hand."
When I heard this I raised my hand because I wanted to know more about Jesus.
I DIDN'T KNOW THAT THIS WAS THE FIRST STEP TO BECOME A CHRISTIAN!!!
I realised what I've done when all the Christian friends surrounded me with tears...! Everyone hugged me and said,
"Congratulations I'm happy that you're now a Christian!!!!"
I didn't know that this decision was such an important one! I believed in Jesus but I wasn't ready to call myself a Christian. I couldn't speak because I was too surprised.
IS IT THIS EASY??
But strangely I didn't feel uncomfortable. I felt joy.
I didn't notice the change yet, but I was thinking
"Perhaps it was good that I've made this decision! I can't go back anymore. I don't know everything yet but I believe that one day I'll feel God just like them. "
Oct 27, 2008
This day we learned about how God guides us in ife.
According to Rev Nicky, we can't do everything on our own.God has a plan for us and God guides us.And it's impossible for us to understand everything about God.Sometimes he answers prayers and sometimes he doesn't. But God is always good.
During group discussion, most of the Christians said that they just need to surrender and give everything to God because He will guide them.
I didn't understand what "surrender" meant so I asked them,
"It's easy to say I surrender but how can you surrender?"
I couldn't imagine myself surrendering... because I can't see God.
One of the non-Christian guys asked me, "Are you scared to surrender?"
I thought about it for a while. "Scared" wasn't the right word... I found it hard to understand.That's because I can thank God when things go well and when I'm happy.
But when bad things happened or when I fet low, I was judging myself and I was blaming myself. During those times, I always forgot about God.
I told them, "I can't get rid of my voice inside me. That's why it's hard to surrender."
When other Christians heard this, they said, it's not really easy to surrender to God 100% and it's a process.Some people can trust God easily and some people take time. I thought that I'll take time too...
But I felt that I was feeling something different... While I was driving back home, suddently my eyes became teary and I felt really warm inside.
I was gradually changing...
Oct 20, 2008
We had the HOLY SPIRIT DAY, and we got together from 9am to 4pm to learn about the Holy Spirit.
Until then I've never heard about the Holy Spirit. It sounded really spiritual.
Rev Nicky Gumbel described the power of the Holy Spirit and how it can change people from the inside out.
While I was watching this video, something was happening inside me. I couldn't stop crying!! I didn't know why. But in my heart I asked God to forgive me.I realised that I had so much heaviness in my heart. I was always blaming on myself when things happened and I was constantly thinking about things. Until then I hated crying in front of people, but I couldn't help it.
After lunch, we prayed the prayer to be filled by the Holy Spirit. My mother experienced this before and this is where she struggled because she saw people fainting, crying out loud and laughing. As a non-Christian she thought it was too much. So she wanted to see how I will respond.
And I had the best experience ever....
Oct 19, 2008
She was crying so loud and then she fell on the ground. Her body became stiff and she looked as if she was struggling.It was quite surprising thing to see. I touched her hand and her fingers were stiff too. She was crying for a long time and she couldn't get up so we were just praying for her. And 40 minutes later, she fell asleep and she looked peaceful so we left here lying there.
It is hard to describe what I saw that day but everything seemed so beautiful. I felt as if I was in heaven or somewhere. We all gave each other big hugs and we felt connected to each other. I've
never felt like that before.
20 minutes later, Lily got up and she had a bright smile like a baby. She didn't remember anything of what happened before, how she was crying and how her body became hard etc... She was looking happy and said, "I know God now!"
I felt the same too. I felt that God was there with us. This was the first time that I "felt" God's presence. Everything looked so beautiful in my eyes. I felt relaly warm inside and for the first time I realised that God was real. I had no doubts anymore. We didn't want to go home straight after Alpha so we all went to the cafe. We couldn't stop talking about what happened in us throughout that day!
When I went back home, my mum was surprised to see me looking happy. I was really excited! I don't have to doubt anymore. God is real. I'm a Christian!
I wanted to get baptised as soon as possible :)
Oct 18, 2008
I couldn't hear the voice inside me that used to accuse me all the time.Instead, I felt warm inside... I felt that God was saying to me
"It's okay... I love you and I am with you."
And I realised that I had to get rid of my pride.
Before I became a Christian I didn't have a good relationship with my father because I had pride. But after being filled with the Holy Spirit, I was able to say sorry and and I became softer. I could easily love my father.
I was always smiling even when people weren't around me because I was really happy.
I said more positive things all the time. And I saw the good sides of things.
Other Christians said that "I can see that you're filled with the Holy Spirit. It's like the honeymoon period for Christians."
I felt closer to other Christians. I felt as if they were my true family.
Also whenever I worshipped at church, I couldn't stop crying!That was the tear of joy. Since then I started to put on water-proof mascara! (LOL)
Praying that seemed so difficult became so simple and easy!
I couldn't stop smiling because I realised that finally I had a relationship with God :)
Oct 17, 2008
I thought getting baptised was like having a wedding ceremony.I was already a Christian because I prayed that prayer to receive Jesus, but I didn't feel complete. I wanted to tell the whole world that I am going to live a new life with Jesus!
Also, I wanted to get baptised before I leave Australia.
During the final Alpha session I was asked to share my testimony.
This is what I shared.
"I came to this Alpha course through my mother. Every week I struggled a lot because I couldn't understand things. But at the same time I felt peace.
One experience that totally changed me was the Holy Spirit day. Until that day, I was struggling to make a decision to become a Christian because I knew that I was going to Japan, the country that only has less than 1% Christians.
I didn't understand why I wanted to know more about Christianity when I had a plan to go back to Japan, but every week I got closer to God. But now that I know God, I am so happy that I made the decision to receive Jesus and I am not scared to tell people that I've became a Christian. I believe that I'll still face difficult times in my life but I can overcome anything because nothing can be worse than the life wtihout Jesus. I'm not alone anymore!
And I am so thankful that people prayed for me and shined their lights to me. I want to do that to others as well. I want to keep on sowing seeds."
Everyone clapped and gave me big hugs. I felt really happy.
Other people gave great speeches too. One guy called Adrian said,
" I used to be logical and focus on education. I've always been successful in my life. I had great career. But I felt that something was lacking in me. That's when my friend invited me to Alpha course. I realised that perhaps I was missing God's love in my life. Since I started coming to alpha, I've been feeling God's love in my heart. I felt His love through other people too. I'm so happy that I came to Alpha. And I'm going to get baptised too."
It was amazing to see him becoming a softer and softer throughout the course.Only God can change people to this extent!
When I arrived home, my mother gave me a big smile and said,
"Izumi... I decided to get baptised with you!!!"
My mum had been struggling for a long time, but finally she made that decision.That was because she had been talking to this one Christian woman who had been struggling for years to get baptised or not. She thought she didn't want to be like her!
My mother's eyes were shining. I was overwhelmed with joy. I'm going to get baptised with my mum!!! and my other Alpha friends!!! I couldn't wait until one of the best days of my life...
Oct 16, 2008
My father, who is not a Christian, became so angry about our decision to get baptised. He threatened my mother and said that she can not get baptised.
We prayed together a lot. It was good how my mother was strong about her decision.Although he attaced us through words and his attitude, we believed in God and we treated him nicely.
When my father realised that our decision was definite, he gave up. He knew that he couldn't take care of our lives. He said, "I can't find a good reason to stop you getting baptised. Afterall it's your life."
Also Lilly who were going to get baptised with us said that she wasn't sure anymore. Whenever people prayed for her, she felt better and said that she will get baptised but it always changed.
Another Chinese girl also said that she wasn't sure anymore because she thought that she was not "good enough." She was in the process of getting divorced and couldn't stop smoking and she was afraid to be committed to one church. But when people told about God's grace and His power to change her life she looked better.
Another Japanese girl who was going to get baptised with her started worrying too as her parents were buddhists and she didn't want other Christians to know that she wasn't baptised yet because people thought she was baptised already.
Everyone was challenged in different ways. We didn't know how many will actually get baptised until the day...
Oct 15, 2008
Before our baptisms, we were invited to Adrian's baptism which was held at his friend's house. He got baptised in pool. I can't describe how beautiful it was.Adrian gave a speech before he got baptised in the pool.
He said how Shane and I played an important part in his decision to get baptised.Through us he felt the true meaning of "Love, honesty and humility."
He got baptised in the pool and he was born again. I can't describe how beautiful it was...! He looked totally different afterwards. He looked really warm. Filled with love.I realised that that was how God designed him to be.
Our baptisms started from 7:30pm at Northshore Christian Centre. Unfortunately so many of our friends couldn't come. But 3 of my friends from Uni and 2 of my friends from my highschool came. And Adrian who just got baptised before us came along as well.
My mum didn't actually know how special Baptisms are so she didn't invite many people. Only 2 of her Catholic friends came.
As we didn't know if everyone was going to come, I almost cried when I saw all the girls there to get baptised with us...!!! They looked really happy. They have made the decision to overcome their worries and fears.
So on this day, I got baptised with 4 Japanese, 1 Taiwanese, 1 Korean girl, 1 Aussie boy and a Korean pastor and his wife. This couple was already baptised before but they only had water sprinkled so they wanted to get water baptised. It was a special experience for me to get baptised with my mum. As I went into the water, my sins was washed away and I was born again...! So many people gave me great words from the Bible. One scripture that I remember was Matthew 5:14-16
"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."
My Pastor prophesized over me that I will become a great leader in Japan and I'll share God's love to people. At this time I couldn't really picture myself leading many Japanese to Jesus but it was a great encouragement.
I would never forget about this day. Everyone felt the same. We all felt connected!
5th December :)