Alumni Spotlight | Shalom Bay

Alumni Spotlight | Shalom Bay

Alumna // UCLA

I first joined KCM because my cousin was part of it and recommended it to me. I checked it out Freshman year and was happy to meet like-minded people who quickly became some of my best friends through college and beyond. Freshman year was fun because you get treated out by upperclassmen and cared for. Sophomore year I joined the Outreach committee and found “Random EV (evangelization)” to be challenging. The gospel message was not easily welcomed by ‘random’ people outside KCM. Junior year I studied abroad in France. I was supposed to come back after 1 semester but felt God encouraging me to stay, so I did (and left my apartment-mates hanging). The year in France grew my faith because, while the first 2 years I was surrounded by Christian friends and community in KCM, I was alone.  However, God walked with me and showed me what real community was like. Backing up, I mentioned Freshman year was fun because we got treated by upperclassmen. I felt that was about the extent of our “fellowship”. This actually left me with a jaded view of “community” because all we did was eat (which is not bad, I but felt that we needed more). In France, God answered so many prayers, one of which was a church. On top of that, he threw in a Christian campus organization called FEU (Foyer Evangelique Universitaire) which I affectionately labeled FCM (French Campus Ministry). This group welcomed international students and had Bible study groups that met every night of the week. We took turns cooking dinners. If you weren’t helping cook, you were cleaning or setting up the tables, and everyone pitched in a few euros to the cup. After our stomachs were filled, we turned to studying the Word to fill our hearts. Through experiencing this kind of lifestyle with this group of people, I felt my definition and capacity for community growing and I felt restored and encouraged about pursuing this even when I went home. It was not simply about meeting once a week, but actually sharing and doing life together.

We all know God is sovereign, but did you know He’s also funny? 🙂 Towards the end of my stay in France, I received a call from a friend who was serving on KCM Core at the time and was asked if I’d be willing to serve my senior year when I return. At that time, my heart was so full so I enthusiastically blurted, “Sure!” When they mentioned which position they wanted me to serve, I could only laugh because I knew God had been preparing me for this all year. “Inreach!” My answer could only come after God changed my heart through the year in France. I also knew that if anything good came out of me leading this ministry, all the credit would go to God because I had no confidence about this particular ministry! However, I knew I had a changed mentality: it’s not about upperclassmen buying food for freshmen. It’s about shared life together, growing in the word together, and loving each other as Jesus did. Rather than focusing on the big group, I aimed to love my committee well and have the fellowship flow from there to the rest of the group. We read “Life Together” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer and had fun creative activities. 

In my senior year, I signed up for STSM. Honestly, I don’t even remember the details, but all I know is I did and when it came to choosing preferences for which country, I put India first and Japan last. Guess where God sent me? 🙂 Back then I still viewed “missions” as going to a third-world country. I thought those places had the most need and were the “hardest” places. I didn’t know much about Japan at all, except that they were super hi-tech, first world, and had good food. Our ministry consisted of going to universities, meeting students and inviting them to events held by the church we were partnering with. Japanese people are super friendly and “shy” when you meet them. Sharing the gospel didn’t seem like it would be such a challenge. Except when you get to the point where they understand that you’re asking them to accept one God, Jesus, as Lord, rejecting all others. Then you’ll start facing the wall of rejection. IF you ever get to that point. That’s when I started to get a glimpse of how Japan is actually a spiritually full country, just not full of the Holy Spirit. They have many gods and beliefs, but not about Christ. If Jesus is the light of the world, and He is, then Japan, in rejecting Him, is very dark.

After the month in Japan, I returned to cozy So-cal and never thought I’d go back. I went about life, post-grad syndrome, grad-school and started working as an English as a second/foreign language teacher in various schools. God provided a position at UCI extension and I started teaching international students. Guess where they were from? Japan! I also taught at Cal State Long Beach and taught a Japanese actor (I had no idea who he was). Around this time, my church (GLMC) was ready to send a mission team and were recruiting people. Still having a heart for missions, I said yes before knowing where we were going! Guess where? Tokyo! That trip was only one week, but that’s what it took for me to finally realize, hey, I have some Japanese connections (former students, etc).

This is actually a longer story than I thought, so I’ll just give you a few points:

After the first one-week trip back since STSM, I heard of an opportunity to do a 2-month internship with the same church (Grace Harbor Church in Tokyo), so I thought, “why not”! 

After that, I had the opportunity to co-lead an STSM trip with Eugene: “Why not?”

After that, I was considering going back at least for one more year to see what God had in store, and again “Why not? If not now, when?” [insert other details of God’s leading/sovereignty].

Long story short, that one year turned to two, and I’m now on my 3rd year in Tokyo serving at the same church, working part-time at Waseda University, meeting up with former students from the States, and being supported by my church, GLMC. I’ve seen God’s wonders and kindness throughout my time here. From being able to reconnect with Japanese friends I’ve made during my study abroad in France and students I’ve taught in CA (including the actor), to experiencing baptisms, new friendships, gospel-opportunities, etc. Each year has been different with long lows and huge highs, but overall it has been an experience of God exposing the layers of my sin, and the fullness of His love and grace. 

I thank God that He used KCM as a catalyst for not only my journey to and from Japan, but also as a means of deepening my faith and trust in Him. I shared with some folks 2 winters ago, before coming here, that I didn’t know my future, but that I was okay because the Lord is my shepherd (Psalm 23). I still hold to that truth. I feel this is a transition year, and I do not know where God will lead me next (again). But for now, I can trust that God has led me this far and He will continue to lead me. Of course, it is not easy, but being in a place where all you have is God is never a bad place. 

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