Photo by Daryan Shamkhali on Unsplash

Overcoming the language barrier

The story of a Thai student welcomed into a Japanese church

Author: Tanapol Krailasratanasiri (Kamp), a student of TCS Thailand

I was in Tokyo, Japan, as an exchange student back then in 2015–2016. Through a KGK Japan event, I met a friend from Waseda University who later introduced me to her local Japanese church which is not so far from where I lived. The special thing about this church is that the pastor and his wife both used to live in Thailand for 19 years, so they can speak and even write in Thai. In the church, I was welcomed generously by its Japanese members through gifts and parties, but the thing that touched me the most was the fact that the pastor’s wife prepared all the translations for me every week.

By translations, I do not mean just speaking translations. Since translating from Japanese directly to Thai by speaking requires tremendous skills, the pastor’s wife decided to print out all the songs and sermon scripts that were to be used and translated it by hand-writing all the important translations down. She did that every single week for nine full months while I was still an exchange student. This is more than just one-time generosity in which you just give once and it all ended. You can imagine how much passion, effort, time and consistent responsibility it took for a woman in her mid-60s to write all the translations of 10 pages of sermon scripts every week for nine months.

Had she not done this, with my poor Japanese, it would be very difficult to join a Japanese Christian community, and thus I have to leave that church. Yet, I can stay nine straight months bonding and getting to know how unique a Japanese church is. She opened me to this exceptional experience I could never imagine of having, and all this started from that KGK event I attended.

The best I did to give back was to cook a Thai dish for the church members at Christmas, but I also told myself that I must help foreigners as best as I can when they visit my country as well, because I now know how much impact that kind of generosity can make.

Respond:

  • Have you seen generosity like this? Are there international students around you who would be blessed by this kind of generosity?

Join in World Student Day

  • The international students around you have so much they can share with you. Consider planning a gathering where they can share what being a Christian is like in their country and pray for where they come from. Maybe they can help you do a video call with students in their home country.
  • Explore more ideas and people to pray for on the World Student Day website.
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