We hope you are all having a nice winter! We hear from our families that there has been lots of snow in the Midwest... we are both jealous (we love snow) and thankful for the mild climate here in Yokohama; today we saw a plum tree almost ready to blossom!
In this month's short newsletter we wanted to share a prayer request for a graduate of Kanto Gakuin University named Hajime who has been living with us much of the time that we've been in language school. He has just a few weeks left to share with us, then he'll move back to Tokyo. During the past year he has made a decision to go to seminary, and we are very excited for him! Last week I asked him a few questions:
"When did you become a Christian, and what influenced your life?" "My mother influenced my life when I was a child. She and my sister went to church, although I decided not to go when I was very young. It wasn't until college, after I joined the DeRolf's (fellow ABC/USA missionaries) Bible Club and went on a mission trip to the States that I wanted to become a Christian. I was impressed by the way people reached out of their churches to serve their communities, and this made me think that Christians really cared about the world. So I became serious about following Christ during college."
"Was it a difficult decision to become a Christian in Japan?" "Well, I was afraid to offend my father, because I am the oldest son and would be responsible to take care of the family Buddhist grave. I waited 6 months (after the mission trip) before I could tell him I wanted to be a Christian, because I was so afraid. But after he came to my sister's baptism we were able to talk openly, and he was fine with my decision, so I was glad."
"What did you do after college?" "I worked for 1-1/2 years at an orphanage; I lived with 30 children, ages 3 to 18 years. It was a very difficult time because the kids did not have the best living conditions and came from very troubled families."
"Do you feel that you learned something from this time?" "It is difficult to say. I thought I could help the children but saw that one person can do very little. I felt helpless to meet the kids' needs. But now I see the importance of family in a child's life; kids must feel that their parents love and accept them deeply in their hearts or they will be hurt."
"What are your plans for the future?" "I want to begin seminary this April at Tokyo Bible College. It will take 4 years, and I will work part-time and go to class in the evenings. I am looking forward to studying the Bible more, and think someday I will become a pastor or a teacher, but I don't know for sure."
"What was the most important thing you saw in Jesus Christ that that drew you to Christianity?" "Jesus valued other people just as much as himself. I didn't think about that before, but I like it that Jesus says to love your neighbor as you love yourself."
"What do you see as a need in Japan that can be met by the Christian message?" "I think that people have been taught, especially since the war, to rely on themselves and no one else. With this thinking there is not much of an idea of God, and people can feel alienated. I also think that religious education for children is very important, to give them an idea about God."
"Living with an American family in Japan must have seemed strange sometimes; what were you most surprised at?" "Definitely the food! I am surprised at the food you eat!" =)
Please keep Hajime in your prayers. He is one of the most sincere and giving people we have ever met, and has taught us a lot about Japanese life and culture, and also what it means to be a Christian in Japan, just by being with us. We wish him the best!
Grace and Peace,
Kari and Dwight Davidson