This past week Sayuri and I have been leading the Bible Studies for the Yokohama Kyoritsu Girl School Choir camp. It was originally planned to be held in more wooded mountainous retreat center where the students could escape from the hustle and bustle of their urban life and enjoy the cool breezes. However, the facility which they had planned on using is now a temporary shelter for those who displaced by the earthquake/tsunami of last March.
Instead the event was held on campus in Yokohama and the girls had to commute from the homes almost as if it were just another week of school for them. I have to admit that I was a little skeptical of what kind of fellowship and learning could happen at this year’s retreat given that there would not be the same about of time to linger at the Breakfast and Dinner table chatting and getting to know the students or playing games in the Evenings.
However, my initial apprehension proved to be way off the mark. I think having the retreat on campus served as a reminder of what is continuing to happen to those who were most affected by the natural and nuclear disasters. It was a reminder that we live in difficult times.
In some ways they seemed to be more focused and willing to engage in the Bible studies and the topic of spirituality.
Again, I think it is important to remind my readers that the overwhelming majority of these students are not Christian and had not encountered Christianity in anyway prior to entering Yokohama Kyoritsu’s junior high just a few short years ago.
I was nearly brought to tears during one of the worship services. One of the students was giving a testimony after the Scripture passage was read. She shared about many of the hardships she has been facing in her life and how this Bible, which she only first read at all two years ago as a seventh grader, had given her comfort and hope so that she was able not only to endure but also to grow during this difficult passage.
Her tone of voice, body language and facial expressions seemed to make it very clear that she was being sincere in what she was saying. She has yet to come to the point at which she believes in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. However she has come to the conviction the Holy Bible is, indeed, a powerful book of hope, comfort, guidance and wisdom.
I do hope next year that we will be able to meet again. I also hope that she continues to turn to the pages of the Holy Bible as she continues to use it in this time of need. Because I know that the more seriously one takes serious the Bible the more apt that one is to becoming a believer in the one who’s at the center of the whole faith and its book.