A Dream Fulfilled—God’s Faithfulness Even When We Forget

April 11, 2019By Nathan Peterson, Urbana Missions 

“Become a bridge between foreign missionaries and Japanese people.”

Yumi wrote that on the back of her Urbana commitment card. More than just a goal, it felt like her God-given calling, a dream that she’d discerned during the conference.

Yumi came to Urbana 09 as a Japanese international student studying at the University of Kentucky. During her freshman year, a friend had invited her to join a Bible study, where she eventually accepted Christ. “Initially, I was not interested in learning about God,” Yumi said, “but the hope, peace, and joy I saw in the people drew me back there each time.”

Soon after, Yumi got involved with her campus’s International Student Ministry chapter and began hearing about the upcoming Urbana Student Missions Conference in St. Louis. “I just knew I needed to be there,” Yumi said. “I honestly did not know what to expect, but I was excited for whatever God had for me there, not knowing he was going to completely change my life plan!”

“For such a time as this”

One image from Urbana 09 still sticks in Yumi’s mind: the name of her country on the massive screen in The Dome at America’s Center, listed as the second most unreached country. “It was shocking to me,” she said, “as I stood there as a Japanese surrounded by mostly Americans, knowing it was my nation that desperately needs the gospel more than most of the others.”

Yumi then attended speaker Lisa Espineli Chinn’s seminar, where she heard Mordecai’s warning to his cousin in Esther 4:13–14: “Do not think to yourself that in the king’s palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. . . . And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

“I knew that was about me,” Yumi said. “The U.S. was my palace. I had my friends, church, and a future planned there. But then I finally understood that God brought me to the U.S. for such a time as this so that I can be a part of his plan to rescue my people who are perishing without knowing the truth.”

Yumi began to ask God to give her a heart for Japan. By the end of Urbana, she sensed the call to fill out a commitment card with her dream written on the back.

“God did not forget”

After earning her degree, Yumi returned to Japan to work at an international hotel. “My time and energy were limited in a country whose working culture is very stressful and demanding,” she said. “Those years felt so long that my initial desire and passion to be a bridge sometimes seemed to fade away or was even forgotten.

“But God taught me a lot during this time to help prepare me for my calling,” Yumi reflected. And she still deeply treasures the moment when one of her coworkers at the hotel accepted Christ after hearing Yumi’s testimony.

After eight years, Yumi sensed the Lord calling her to leave her career, and over the course of the next two years, she steadily became more involved at church through translation, worship, children’s ministry, and discipleship.

One day, as she was sorting through her things, Yumi came across her Urbana commitment card. Staring down at those words written on the back, she was amazed by how God had fulfilled her vision. That same week, Yumi had been helping a missionary family negotiate the legal system as they adopted a Japanese child. She had also served as an interpreter for another missionary at a driving center, and just finished translating children’s ministry materials. Not to mention that she was only a few weeks away from getting married to a missionary from the U.S. “While I forgot my dream over 10 years,” Yumi admits, “God did not forget but truly granted it.

 “If I hadn’t gone to Urbana, I could have chosen the easier and more comfortable path and to be far from my own people,” Yumi said. “I might have missed experiencing this joy of doing challenging yet tremendously rewarding works of God in my own nation.”

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