Pastor Yoshiya Okita’s Testimony
I was born into a Christian family. My father is a pioneer church planter. From infancy, I grew up listening to Bible stories. Everything around me taught the Bible. I was involved with Christian picture books, Scripture Memorization, attending Sunday School, worship services, and family devotions. I accepted it all without question. Then, in third grade, I was baptized, just as the natural progression of things. I certainly believed in Jesus Christ, but I had just accepted what my parents taught me. It wasn’t my own faith yet.
I had always been a bit shy. After starting school, it was hard to get used to the new class each year, especially when I started 4th grade. I couldn’t break into the central circle of our classmates, and I felt like an outsider.
You get bullied when you’re on the fringe in Japan, and I went through bullying that whole year. One kid commented negatively about me, and instantly all the guys that had been my friends just dropped me and joined the in-crowd. I could see how easily friends could be divided swept away at that young age, and I realized, “This is what sin does to people.” I was caught in loneliness and anxiety from that point on.
When I was in Junior High, I started teaching Sunday School for the little kids in church, mostly because I was looking for a place to belong. One day I was arguing with my mother about how the church conducted Sunday School. She got exasperated and expressed, “I don’t know what’s the matter with you!” That question shook me to my core. I don’t know why I was so upset at the time, but I ran to my room sobbing, and I started to pray to Jesus. I asked him not to leave me alone. It was the first time I had reached out to Jesus in prayer. After that, everything changed, Jesus became alive to me, and I began a new life of faith.
Everything that I had been hearing about Jesus became real. Jesus was really alive, loved me, and was with me.
And, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.Matthew 28:20
From that point, I began a new life of faith, and I continually sought the Lord, learned to listen to His Word, and the Scriptures became the foundation of my life. Jesus Christ is my Savior and Lord.
This past November was a month of many inputs -learning new things -as a pastor. The KDK, White Fields Japan, Seminar allowed me to reflect on and summarize my pastoral philosophy again, especially with the opportunity to give a presentation and to receive feedback from other ministers with rich experiences. I was able to refocus on where I am at in our church planting with a more organized view. Above all, I received many encouraging confirming voices and comments and was assured about being prayed for by many people. We are thankful.
We held a memorial service for a late church member, Shigeo. All of Shigeo’s relatives were non-believers, and of the twenty or so people in attendance, only four were Christians, my wife and I, and my parents. The Word of God was read, and we spoke of salvation in Jesus Christ and the hope of heaven. After the funeral, His wife, Tomoko, promised to have regular contact with us and our church, and we invited her to our outreach events. We also invited their children to attend church to see what kind of place their father attended. We will continue to seek the salvation of his family and continue to fellowship with them. Please remember them in your prayers.
When discussing Christmas events, the church members said they want to have activities to serve local families and children. As a result of that discussion, we decided to challenge ourselves to hold a children’s cafeteria, inviting people from the community. We are thankful that church members expressed their desire to serve the local community rather than just having an event for their enjoyment. This is the first time for Sennan Chapel to have a church-wide ministry with church members participating as servants.
Pray for the Miyagi Junior High and High School Students Retreat with the Conservative Baptist Union. Pray for the relationship between the local children, their families, and the church. Pray that young Christian families will be raised in the church. Pray for Katsue, a church member in poor health. She visited a local doctor for a swollen fundus, went to a general hospital, and then went from the general hospital to a university hospital for more specialized tests. During the examination process, tumors were found in the fundus of her eye and her chest, and she is scheduled to go to another university hospital for further examination. Katsue has no close family nearby, so my wife and I take turns accompanying her to the hospital. Please pray for the doctor to be able to find out what the issues are in her body and for healing.
The summer school vacation started in mid-July and during that month we had many opportunities to interact with the elementary, junior high, and high school students. We are thankful for new encounters. Erkio (mother) and Kotone (daughter, eight years old) attended the Sunday school for the first time and then signed up for the sleepover event. Eriko was working at a church in a neighboring town and was introduced to our church by a missionary unit who had gone back to their home country. She also was acquainted with my wife because she used to send her older children to the school daycare center where my wife worked. We learned that Katone had not had many chances to hear Bible stories before, so we were grateful that we were able to share the gospel with her at length during the sleepover. Her mother came with her the first time, but since then Kotone has been coming to the church by herself using public transportation. We hope that her mother will be able to engage with us as a church fully as well.
- Pray for the salvation of the whole Yoshino family.
Masaya is nine years old and also participated in the sleepover and heard the story of the crucifixion at church. After returning home, Masaya shared with us that he searched, “Jesus Christ, nailed to the cross” online. He told us that he was strongly impacted by the crucifixion scene on the video. Masaya has an open heart to honestly believe what he has been taught. However, when he told his father what he had heard at church, his father told him it was a lie. Masaya seems confused about which is right, the church or his father’s words. His parents are divorced, and Masaya and his two older sisters live with their mother and only see their father on limited occasions. Their family uses a food bank run by a church of CBA and so we deliver food and have regular interactions and prayer time with the mother.
- Pray for Masaya and his family’s salvation.
This coming month we will be sending participants to a joint junior high and high school student retreat camp. I as a pastor will be serving there.
Other events for the children include the film screening, the summer festival, a hang-out event, and our regular Wednesday meetings.
Pray for follow-up after the summer youth camp. Pray for the decisions given and the horizontal connections between friends among churches to be maintained and to grow.
We are in contact with the Council of Social Welfare and local care managers to care for church members who have dementia. Pray that we will be able to open the way for our elderly people to attend worship services when and after they move into a care home facility.
I am currently taking an end-of-life counselor certification course at a local general non-profit entity. Pray for my qualification and also to be effectively used in this area to give advice to the community people so as to gain more contact in this vicinity.