Kana never imagined becoming a Christian. Her Chinese mother has a Muslim background and her Japanese father loves shrines and Buddhist altars. But when she came to the University of British Columbia in Vancouver on a language exchange, Kana met Christians for the first time. Returning to UBC a few years later, she joined a Japanese Bible study hosted by ISMC. “I was fascinated by how Christian people see the world,” she says, “and I professed to believe in Christianity.” But Kana wasn’t ready to get baptized—a big step in Japanese culture—because she was worried about reactions from family and friends.
After returning home, Kana realized she didn’t know any Christians nearby and had no idea how to select a church. “When the pandemic made the whole world panic and everything was shifted online, finding a church became even harder” she explains.
During this time, family members faced much stress, not only because of quarantine, but also health issues and a job loss. Kana stopped eating for days; she stopped reading her Bible; she even tried to distance herself from the ISMC Japanese Bible study that now met online. “I thought my faith would fade away,” she admits.
Her father saw how much she was struggling and helped her move to a new place away from the stressful home environment. She started attending the Bible study again and an ISMC worker invited her to an online Global Returnees Conference*. “I met so many people who met Jesus in different countries and came back to Japan as Christians, just like I did,” says Kana. She now meets online regularly with people from the conference. “After a long time of depression,” says Kana, “I opened the Bible and got connected to Christian people once again.”
Kana kept praying to find a church—and realized that God had already been piecing together the answer to that prayer. Her mother discovered that the family chiropractor was a Christian; he brought Kana to his church. “For the first time since I came back to Japan,” Kana says, “I truly believed this is where I belong.” When her family came to pick her up after church, they were impressed. They met the pastor and chatted for almost two hours!
Kana is now planning her baptism at her new church. Looking back, she is amazed at how God prepared everything she needed: a Christian community when she became weak; a church that has helped her share her faith with her family; and the reassurance that God had not given up on her, despite her many struggles.
*The Global Returnees Conference encourages Christians returning to Japan from all over the world. It is led by the Japanese Christian Fellowship Network, an ISMC partner.