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The doorway of Sengendai Church was to me like the gate to the sheepfold,” Mrs. Kumiko Nagai said, as she explained how God led her to Himself.

On July 24, exactly one year after Kumiko first stepped through the doors of Sengendai Church, she was baptized and shared her testimony of faith in Christ and in His transforming power. Kumiko described how she had been walking in complete darkness and despair, searching for light.

Several years of physical illness and emotional pain had left her hopeless and wanting to die. In the hospital, too weak to dress herself or brush her teeth, she looked for a way to die. But even the ability to take her own life eluded her.

At her doctor’s request, Kumiko left her home in western Japan to recover at her parents’ home near our church. After months of lying in bed, she finally gained enough strength to walk a short distance. Wanting some fresh air, Kumiko walked down the main street of Sengendai, uninterested in the people she passed or in the store windows—she just walked. Then she looked up and saw the sign on our window: Sengendai Christian Church.

For a moment she stared at the sign, and then she was taken back 31 years to a day she had forgotten. She was a high school student and a friend invited her to a Christmas party at a Christian church. The building was small and shabby and there were only a few people, but as she looked around the room, she saw a face that she recognized—Ken, a classmate from elementary school. Ken was somehow different from the other kids. Now she knew why—he was a Christian. Kumiko had never met a Christian.

Kumiko never returned to the church after the Christmas party. Ken moved away, and she didn’t see him again. Now in the midst of her pain, the memory surfaced as she stared through the church window. Something inside her made her want to go in. She thought that of the millions of gods in Japan, perhaps this God could help her. As she walked home, she began to sing, something she hadn’t done for months. She sang a song that to this day she has no idea how she knows it—a song that children sing in Sunday school here, a song about the greatness of Jesus, even in painful times.

The next Sunday, Kumiko made her way to the worship service at Sengendai Church. She didn’t understand the sermon or the prayers, and she didn’t know what to do at offering time. In the Japanese language there is no word for “sin,” only “crime.” So, the Japanese people are completely lost when they first hear the gospel. She felt awkward when the service was over, and yet something or Someone drew her back the following week. From that day on, Kumiko continued to attend Sengendai Church, and God caused the seed planted 31 years before to grow. By Christmas, Kumiko knew that she could not live without Christ and gave her life to Him.

It has been incredible to watch the Holy Spirit transform Kumiko over the past months, giving her hope and a desire to live. Kumiko has an understanding of His Word far beyond that of a new Christian. She has taken in the Scriptures, and they are rooted in her heart.

Statistics show that young people are more receptive to the gospel, and in Japan we are beginning to reap the fruit of seeds sown in the hearts of young people. However, in many cases it has taken 30 or 40 years for that seed to show any signs of growth! When will the hearts of the Japanese fully open to the gospel? We don’t know. But until then, we are called to spread the gospel to every one, and so we keep scattering the seeds to the 127 million in this country who still do not know Jesus Christ.

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