I started attending IBF about five years ago, in March, I think. It was during Spring Break of my third year of high school. I was invited to this church for A’s baptism as her father and my mother have been friends since elementary school.
I’d like to share a bit about my background. Until then, I had attended the house church gatherings my mother went to. But because the sermons were difficult to understand and there were few young people, I only went on occasions like Christmas and Easter. But my middle school and high school had were Christian-affiliated, so I learned about God there. Every morning at school we had chapel services, so I thought I’d rather take it easy on Sundays. But in university, I didn’t have chapel anymore, so I thought I would try attending a church on Sunday. I ended up visiting IBF.
I started going to Journey meetings at IBF. It was fun to meet others my age. At first I only went for Journey’s monthly gathering as I was busy with university, my part-time job on Sundays, and having fun on weekends. I guess I was more interested in hanging out with friends than in learning about the Bible in church.
In October of my first year at university, M-san invited me to a meeting of KGK, a Christian students’ organization. I started attending KGK events, and as a result, I had more opportunities to learn about the Bible outside of Sunday church. It might seem strange to you, but that became my habit—joining KGK often but only attending church once a month.
It was only in my senior year of university that I attended IBF weekly. That began one-and-a-half years ago, when the pastor was preaching from Acts of the Apostles. I enjoyed the message and felt spiritually enriched by it.
It was a busy period of my life, though. I was studying to enter graduate school and also had practical training. Now that I think of it, I had always tried to bury my loneliness by going out with friends. But that year, because of studying for graduate school entrance exams, Sunday was my only free day. And I had gotten used to attending IBF on Sundays, listening to the sermon, and being refreshed by it after a long, hard week. I now looked forward to Sundays at IBF.
In Acts of the Apostles chapter 1 verse 8, Jesus is taken up to heaven in plain sight of his disciples. Right before this, Jesus says, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” The phrase “you will be my witnesses” stood out to me. I reflected that I could be a witness for Jesus by living out the message of the gospel as a Christian. Pondering this, I wanted to live as a witness for Jesus.
On April 1 this year, after Easter service, I went out to eat with M-san. We talked about baptism, and I made the decision to be baptized. Before this, I had not felt confident about being baptized, but I think that day’s conversation with Mifumi was God-given. I had already been a believer for years, but the Bible also speaks of baptism. Acts 2:38 says, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” If I am baptized, it says, God will give me the Holy Spirit and He will change me from the inside.
Before, I had thought that just believing was enough, and that I didn’t need to be baptized. But now I believe that baptism will play a vital part in my life of faith. And I have assurance that God will guide me through his Holy Spirit and help me live as His witness. Knowing this, I would like to continue journeying in a life of faith.