Archives For Testimony

My life is a testimony to God’s providential leading. My father produced television commercials in Japan, and my mother was a copywriter. From my childhood, my parents were interested in me going into some sort of show business. Even before entering elementary school, my mother enrolled me in piano, Kabuki dance (a traditional Japanese dance form), acting, and ballet lessons. I especially liked ballet–if you can believe it!

In addition to all those lessons, I also received roles in television dramas and commercials. I had a very busy childhood. Everyone expected me to go into show business, and I worked hard to achieve show business success. God, however, had a different and far better plan for me.

My father was a self-declared atheist and my mother was a Shinto/Buddhist (a typical Japanese family). Never once during my childhood did I ever meet a Christian or even see a copy of the Bible. At one point, I thought the Bible was a magical book that only priests could read. However, I knew quite confidently that there must be a God. Lessons from nature and history taught me that.

The thought of God’s existence always made me uncomfortable because I also knew that I was a sinner and somehow knew that God was angry with me. The frustration of a guilty conscience grew heavier as I grew older, and this in turn led me into deeper sin and into self-hatred. God was gracious and although I didn’t yet know it, had a plan to rescue me from my miserable state.

At the age of 15, God led me to the island of Guam to attend high school. This move was precipitated by a long series of events over a period of years, and if even one of these events had been altered, I would not have made the move. My ballet teacher and her family had moved to Guam, and they invited me to come with them since they knew me as one of their sons and they knew that I was looking for a high school to attend. My parents were convinced that it would be good for me to go outside Japan for high school to better learn English and to start a new life.

My parents and I looked at every private school on the island. All of them were either Catholic or liberal Episcopalian, and all of them had a full enrollment for the upcoming year. The last place we visited was Harvest Christian Academy. This was our last choice because we didn’t like the idea of attending a “Christian” school and somehow Baptist sounded more “seriously Christian” than Catholic. Harvest Academy had one opening for a 10th-grade boy, and we had no choice but to accept.

The excitement of attending Harvest started while the filling out of the application. The first question was “What is your religion?” I was startled. No one had ever asked me that question before. I looked at my mother and asked, “What is my religion?” She thought a little and then said, “Just put down Buddhist.” It is not that unusual to be a Buddhist at Harvest, since Guam is a melting pot of different Asian cultures and religions and the school exists for mission outreach, but I was marked by teachers and administrators from the beginning.

My first year at Harvest was difficult. I didn’t know how to behave, and for once, I couldn’t get away with all the mischievous things that I used to do behind my teachers’ backs. I frequently ended up in the principal’s office, and my name was often mentioned in faculty meetings (so the principal has since told me). I felt caged and miserable. Because of my limited English, classes were difficult–Spanish class was the worst–and I could not converse with my classmates.

Thankfully, there was one boy, Ryan Izumihara, in my class who could speak Japanese. Since he was the only one I could speak to, we talked a lot and became best friends. Ryan had been saved the year before, and he had presented the Gospel to me and talked about how it had changed his life. We would often argue about religion, and I would tell him that I believed in UFOs, reincarnation, and the mystical nature of our afterlife.

One day Ryan told me, “Yoh, I just want to tell you that you are my good friend, and I want you to go to Heaven. I want to see you there too.” By that time, I had begun to admire and even envy Christians for their joyfulness and peace, so it was easy for me to respond to that invitation. After chapel that day, I responded to the invitation, trusted Christ, and began living a new life. From that day forward, God has continued to show me the greatness of His grace.

The preaching and Christian fellowship in Guam helped nurture my love for God. During my senior year, I learned about baptism and desired to testify publicly my love for Jesus. My baptism brought about great trials in my life. When my parents learned of it, they thought that they had lost their only son to a cult, and they tried everything in their power to pull me away from Christianity. They even considered bringing me back to Japan in the middle of my senior year.

In time, they relented and allowed me to finish at Harvest, but they absolutely condemned the idea of me attending a Christian university like Bob Jones. I persistently pleaded with them, and tried to be the best possible testimony to them. Eventually they relented and promised that I could attend Bob Jones if I would first go for two years to a conservatory in Japan (they were hoping that I would change my mind).

I auditioned for a small, private conservatory started by a famous Kabuki actor, and I was one of four students accepted. Although my major emphasis was ballet, I also had to take voice lessons. I have always loved singing. In fact, my elementary school teachers would often write on my report cards, “Yoh loves to sing–loud.” Taking voice lessons was a dream come true. Learning to sing loudly for a long time without hurting my voice was exhilarating (I didn’t yet care about sounding beautiful). Singing was more enjoyable and less strenuous than ballet, so I changed my major to musical theater.

Contrary to my parent’s expectations, my determination to come to Bob Jones University did not wane. I had planned to major in math at BJU, since I obviously was not going to be able to study Kabuki or ballet, but now I determined to major in voice performance. My parents seemed pleased with that choice and decided to come with me to BJU to see what kind of place this “Fundamentalist Christian University” was. After seeing the beautiful campus and the well-dressed friendly people, my mom was convinced that she could entrust her son to this school.

In fact, the Lord used the visit to begin to soften my mom’s heart to the Gospel. That fall we prayed for my mother nearly every night in my prayer group, and on Christmas day, she responded to an invitation at Harvest Baptist and trusted Christ as her true God and Savior. She has grown in grace through many different trials, and I can boldly say that now I have a Christian mother.

During my senior year at BJU, the Lord directed me in another marvelous way. My plans were to audition for a conservatory after graduation and to pursue a professional singing career. That fall while on a choir tour, we received news that Dr. Bob Jr. had passed away. I knew that he was a very talented actor and poet but that his real passion was for preaching the Gospel. The Lord spoke to my heart and during Dr. Bob’s funeral service, I dedicated myself to the Gospel ministry, and then I enrolled in the Master of Divinity program.

My father passed away during the first semester of my graduate study, causing greater financial need. As my graduate work progressed, I greatly desired a position as a teaching assistant, so that I could study languages and prepare for comprehensive exams in the summers. Eventually the Lord provided me with a teaching assistant position in the Division of Music. This provided for my financial needs and gave me an opportunity to experience the joy of helping to equip Christian young people to better serve the Lord.

I finished my Master of Divinity and my doctorate at BJU and then thought about returning to Japan to help train Japanese pastors for the ministry. After having been at Bob Jones University for ten years, I was looking forward to passing on to others what the Lord had taught me there.

Instead, I went to Singapore as a missionary replacement for Dr. Steve Reynolds for a year. I stayed on after the Reynolds returned as his assistant pastor and a teacher at Asian Baptist School. After being in Singapore for 3.5 years, the Lord led me back to Guam in 2010 to teach at Harvest Baptist Bible College where I currently serve as the dean of academic affairs and the mission’s pastor for Harvest Baptist Church.

 

A wonderful testimony that honors God and proclaims a message that everyone needs to hear concerning a vital issue.

I did not grow up in a Christian family and had little acquaintance with the things of the Bible as a child and as a teenager. I had heard the name Jesus but mostly it was when people used it as an expletive.

From watching movies like the Robe and Ben Hur in my childhood years, I did see a moving presentation of the Crucifixion of Jesus and remember being distinctly and at the time inexplicably moved by viewing those scenes, even though I was not saved until many years after seeing those movies.

It was not until I was in college that I was exposed in any continuing way to some things from the Bible. When I would regularly visit a Catholic Newman center on the campus of Western Illinois University, I did not follow much of what was said in the homilies given in those services, but I distinctly remember being strangely moved when we would sing the Model Prayer that Jesus taught His disciples to pray.

I also visited a few churches with friends during those years, but I do not remember anything about what was preached in those churches. My exposure to Bible truth in my college years also included a movie about Christianity that I saw with some Christian friends.

Having had a habit for many years of browsing in bookstores, I encountered in a Christian bookstore some books about the New Age movement that warned that some of the things that I was involved in at the time were of demonic origin. I bought those books, and God used them to speak to me although I was not a believer yet.

God continued to work in my life by directing me to the religion section of the Public Library in Cookeville. From the hundreds of books in that section, He led me to read several that gave me a good overview of the story of the Bible.

God then directed me to some apologetics books in a Christian bookstore in Cookeville. Those books presented me for the first time in my life with the objective historicity of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

About the same time, someone put a tract on my windshield that I read the day that it was put there. Through my praying through the suggested prayers in the back of the apologetics books and at the end of the tract, God saved me!

I am confident that the person who put that tract on my windshield prayed for God to use that tract to reach someone with His truth. God answered that person’s prayers by using my reading of that tract as part of how He brought me to saving faith in His Son.

Soon after I was saved, I wanted to go to church but had no idea about what church to go to out of the dozens of church names that I saw in the phone book for Cookeville. I prayed, and God directed someone to come up to me at work and invite me to his church.

The person who did so did not know that I had been recently saved. God answered my prayer by leading me through him to the only truly independent fundamental Baptist church in Cookeville!

Many years after I was saved, I learned that I had been born in a missionary hospital run by Canadian Presbyterian missionaries in a small town in India. Those missionary doctors and nurses prayed over every baby that was born in that hospital.

Until I am with the Lord, I will not know for sure what they prayed for when I was born. It is entirely possible that they prayed for me to be saved one day, and if they did, God has answered their prayers!

Whether anyone else prayed directly for my salvation, Scripture reveals that Jesus of Nazareth, the incarnate Son of God, prayed for me to the Father (John 17:20-26). I praise our Heavenly Father for giving me to His Son in answer to His prayers and in fulfillment of His glorious promise to His Christ:

“Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession” (Ps. 2:8).

Having been saved by the Father’s fulfilling His promise to His Son, may we all be used by Him to reach many others who will also be saved in fulfillment of the Father’s glorious promise to His Son that He would give Him the heathen for His inheritance. Knowing these things, let us all be diligent to pray and share the gospel of God concerning His Son to people in the power of His promised Spirit whom His Son has given us in fulfillment of the Father’s promise (Luke 24:49; Acts 2:33).

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who is faithful to keep all His promises to His Son and to everyone and everything else, including every living creature (Gen. 9:9-17). “Even so, come, Lord Jesus (Rev. 22:20).

 

 

Thirty Times through the Bible!

September 11, 2015

This morning, I finished reading through the Bible in English for this year! In my 25 plus years as a believer, I have now made it through the Bible 30 times (27 times in English, 2 times in Greek, and once in Spanish).

I praise and thank you, Heavenly Father, for giving me the priceless blessing of reading through your Word over and over again!

Over the past 8 months, I have been learning more Spanish with the help of the hundreds of free lessons on duolingo.com. Today, I finished the last lesson and earned this award:

Duolingo Trophy

I praise God for providing this valuable free resource to help me progress in my Spanish and for the grace to persevere in making it to the end!

Today, I read through the book of Revelation again, which makes twelve times that I have read the book since mid-April. I can testify to how greatly God has blessed me through my reading this book over and over again, just as He has promised to do for anyone who will read, hear, and do what is written in this phenomenal book!

The following salvation and membership testimony was shared with me by someone who wants to remain anonymous so that the focus of the testimony would be entirely on the Lord. I encourage you to read it carefully and examine yourself to see if you are really saved.

During my teen years, after moving to a new city and my parents desiring to join an independent Baptist church there, I was directed down the Roman’s Road in the Scriptures and prayed the sinner’s prayer with my pastor. But frequently after that time, when reading Scriptures I felt a drawing by the Lord to the Scripture verse Isaiah 55:1, “Ho, everyone that thirsteth, come ye to the waters and he that hath no money, come ye buy and eat; yea come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.” The drawing power of that Scripture came time and time [again] during the following years, and I would think that I needed to draw closer to God, to re-dedicate my life to Him—but nothing changed inside. Seeing and hearing my peers at church discuss witnessing to their unsaved friends always put a hunger in my soul to be able to do the same, but I had not the words to say, a seeming inability to do so.

After some years passed following marriage and the Lord calling my husband to Bible school and directing him into a ministry, God graciously revealed what my continuing hunger was. One evening, specifically March 16, 1965, following God’s leading, my husband brought home from his study his large reel-to-reel tape recorder. He sat it on the kitchen table and told me to listen to the message on the tape preached by an evangelist, that it would be a blessing to me, and then went back to his study. The message concerned the evangelist’s own conversion after having been in evangelistic work for 18 years. The moment he stated God’s revelation to him of his own lost condition, my heart was pricked and I was stunned to realize that I, too, was lost. The unknown truth about my spiritual life was at last revealed to me.

Overwhelmed by the guilt and knowledge that all those past years I had not truly been who I thought I was (I actually did not know I was unsaved), and most of all with great sorrow over the fact that my husband unknowingly had married an unsaved person, I bowed my head and prayed for forgiveness and claimed Christ as my Savior. Joyfully, I called my husband on the phone and told him I had truly been born again—saved by the blood of Christ and my sins washed away! He told me that while he himself had been listening to this message on the recorder, the Lord had impressed on his mind “your wife is unsaved.” He then asked me if I would be willing to give my testimony in church the next morning.

At the end of that Sunday morning service, when the invitation was extended for anyone unsaved to answer God’s call for salvation, a hand went up and a 30-year-old lady stepped forward—the only daughter of one of the deacons, who in the providence of God, was visiting her dad that weekend from out of town (as she lived and worked elsewhere). She stated that she thought she was saved as a teenager but upon hearing my testimony realized her own lost condition and came forward to receive Christ.

Soon after that Sunday, I was baptized by immersion.

For a short time afterwards, I did wonder if my imagination had made up the fact that I had not been saved before and sought for assurance from the Lord regarding my salvation. He confirmed to me the reality of what happened in my life with verses from Matt. 7:21-23, causing me to realize with shock and sadness that there may be other people—friends, relatives, who will go out into eternity lost or who had departed this life, who all the while thought they were saved.

“Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven——-Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? [Taught Sunday School, worked in a ministry, even given a witness] And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” He also gave me two precious verses, Isaiah 32:17, “That the work of righteousness is peace and the effect of righteousness is quietness and assurance forever.” And lastly, 1 Cor. 15:10, “But by the grace of God I am what I am; and His grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain.”

But for God’s grace, kindness and love, I had been in a position to go out into eternity lost and doomed—never knowing until too late my condition. Since that time, my heart’s desire has been to be used of God to help others see their need of Christ and that my testimony may be used by the Holy Spirit to touch the heart of an unsaved soul—perhaps there is someone here tonight who is right now in the position I was—you are traveling down life’s pathway completely unsaved under the false illusion that spiritually you are safe. Think on Matthew 7:21-23 again.

God brought me to [this city] to live, and He has given me the privilege of becoming part of a church that is winning and discipling people for the Lord’s glory and sending out laborers to other parts of the world to do likewise. I would like to be a part of [this church] to be used by the Lord as He directs and sees fit. “Now also when I am old and greyheaded, O God, forsake me not; until I have shewed thy strength unto this generation and thy power to everyone that is to come.” Psalm 71:18.

A few minutes ago, the Site Stats utility on Jetpack registered that I now have had 20,000 views of my site overall since I started using Jetpack to track views on my site. Although the actual overall number that I have had is no doubt higher because I did not have Jetpack until quite some time after I began to post on my blog, I am encouraged by having objective information about reaching at least this milestone! Praise God!

20000 Views

Me convertí en un cristiano en algún momento durante la primera semana de enero de 1990. Es difícil de creer que era hace 25 años ahora!

Dios se ha mantenido fiel a mí todos estos años, a pesar de mi continuamente en su defecto. En esta mi cumpleaños espiritual vigésimoquinto, me gustaría dar las gracias y alabar al Padre de las luces, que es el dador de todo don bueno y perfecto, por darme una nueva vida en Cristo Jesús (Santiago 1:17-18)!

Estoy muy agradecido por haber tenido el privilegio de leer la Biblia completa al menos una vez cada año de mi vida cristiana hasta el momento. Gracias, Padre Celestial, por ponerme en un país donde tuve la oportunidad de tener la libertad de hacerlo!

En mis primeros veinticuatro años como creyente, he leído la Biblia en Inglés cada año. El año pasado fue especial porque yo era capaz por primera vez de leer toda la Biblia en español!

Después de haber tenido sólo un semestre de español en la secundaria y estudiar español por mi cuenta tan sólo los últimos tres años, por lo que es a través de la Biblia en español en el año 2014 fue especialmente alentador y es un testimonio del poder de Dios para otorgar capacidad especial para los quienes Él dirige a servirle en sus caminos inescrutables.

Dios mediante, espero poder hacerlo a través de la Biblia de nuevo en Inglés en 2015. Tengo pensado también para que lea como gran parte de la Biblia en español como pueda este año.

Si usted es un cristiano, me gustaría animarle fuertemente a hacer lo que usted necesita y puede hacer legítimamente para leer toda la Biblia en 2015. Que Dios nos dé la gracia, el deseo, la diligencia, la disciplina, la fidelidad y la perseverancia para hacerlo para Su gloria eterna y nuestro mayor bien!

¡Gloria a Dios!

I became a Christian sometime during the first week of January in 1990. It’s hard to believe that was 25 years ago now!

God has remained faithful to me all these years in spite of my continually failing Him. On this my 25th spiritual birthday, I would like to thank and praise the Father of lights, who is the giver of every good and perfect gift, for giving me new life in Christ Jesus (James 1:17-18)!

I am very thankful for having had the privilege of reading the entire Bible at least once every year of my Christian life so far. Thank you, Heavenly Father, for putting me in a country where I was able to have the freedom to do so (1 Tim. 2:2b)!

In my first twenty-four years as a believer, I read the Bible through in English each year. Over the years, I also made it through the Bible twice in biblical Greek.

This past year was special because I was able for the first time to read the whole Bible in another modern language—Spanish! Having had only one semester of Spanish in Junior High and studying Spanish on my own for just the past three years, making it through the Bible in Spanish in 2014 was especially encouraging and is a testimony to the power of God to grant special ability to those whom He directs to serve Him in His inscrutable ways.

Lord willing, I hope to make it through the Bible again in English in 2015. I’m also thinking about reading through the Apocrypha in English and Greek this year. I plan also to read as much of the Bible in Spanish as I can this year.

If you are a Christian, I would like to encourage you strongly to do whatever you need to and can do legitimately to read the whole Bible in 2015. May God give us all the grace, desire, diligence, discipline, faithfulness, and perseverance to do so for His eternal glory and our highest good!