Naru was given contact details of three international students. They’d come to study on her campus in Japan and wanted to connect with the IFES movement (KGK). But Naru wondered what to do: she thought her English was too poor and she was anxious about using it to interact with others.
Then she remembered the International Student Ministry (ISM) training she’d received as KGK staff earlier in the year. She’d been encouraged to take small steps. So, having made initial contact with the students – one from a secure country and two from Indonesia – she resolved to at least try and form an ISM group with the help of a translation app. And, just as God gave trembling Moses an eloquent Aaron (Exodus 4), so he also provided for her – beyond her expectations.
As lead staff in the rural Hokuriku region (affected by the recent earthquake and tsunami), Naru first had another issue to address: the future of the Japanese Bible study group. It was small, with just one Christian and one non-Christian. When she met with them to discuss plans, the Christian student was unsure about continuing due to a busy schedule; it seemed like the group might fade away. But when Naru mentioned the international students, the non-Christian expressed interest in meeting them.
As they were still talking, the new student from a sensitive country came along and joined the conversation. The Japanese non-Christian, confident in English, stepped forward to translate. Before long, the topic had somehow jumped from group logistics to the importance of Bible study and their need to learn directly from God as the foundation and beginning of everything.
The next day, they gathered again and were joined by one of the students from Indonesia. They decided to have a weekly Bible study – all together. In this way, a group that was about to cease turned into a regular meeting with the presence of Christian international students. Yuya Shimada, KGK Global Mission Coordinator and Lead Staff for ISM is delighted: “This was beyond Naru’s expectations. Her desire to offer hospitality led to a revival of the local KGK group. This is a powerful testimony of partnership between local and international students.”
This kind of fellowship is vital in Japan, says Yuya, since Japanese Christians often feel foreign in their own culture. He explains: “Christian international students are by nature foreign and stand out, so the partnership between locals and internationals strengthens and encourages them both and makes them powerful witnesses among Japan’s 2.6 million students.”
Let’s pray for local and international students in Japan:
- Give thanks for KGK lead staff Naru, her desire to serve international students in Japan, and the way that God provided. Pray for her and the small group – that they would be mutually encouraged in their witness as they engage with Scripture together.
- Pray for the 200,000+ international students in Japan and the ISM of KGK Japan, including dedicated groups in Kanto and Kansai. Give thanks that ISM has been growing over the last 10 years, and pray that all student groups and staff will see and seize opportunities.
- Pray for the KGK national training conference, 26 February – 2 March, and a one-day conference in October to coincide with World Student Day. Ask that both will inspire and equip students in global mission.