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Graham J.

My story begins at age 8. Our family of 5 was a typical family living in a rural town where everyone knew everyone else. After coming home from school one day I found my father very upset.


My mother had left a note informing him that she had left and wanted a life with another man. She took my 2 sisters and a lot of my father’s valuable possessions with her, started a new life with a new man and left us to fend for ourselves. My father didn’t take the news well but did the best he could in the first few months after she left. During that period some of the local townspeople rallied around us and gave us much needed moral support.


My mother tried to contact us a few months later but my father, myself and my brother decided if she was going to abandon us then we didn’t want to have anything to do with her at that time because we were all hurt because of how she left.


A year after my mother left and when I had turned 9 years old my father heard from other town’s people about a local Christian camp for kids. The camp was over 3 days from Friday to Sunday. My father was not religious at all but didn’t see any harm in asking my brother and I if we would like to go to this camp. He thought it would be a good opportunity to do something fun to escape all the drama from the previous year. So we went.


Mr. and Mrs. Saxby, a husband and wife team with other Christian volunteers organised the camp. It was the most fun my brother and I had had for a long time. There were trailer rides, bike riding, trampolines, games, campfires, and kids’ bible study. This was the first time that I had heard the name Jesus Christ and learned about a father in heaven. This is where my Christian journey began.


I found the bible study group profoundly interesting and was very inquisitive during the study time. Mrs. Saxby noticed my eagerness to learn more and took me aside and explained about how I could learn more, if I wanted, about Jesus Christ. She gave me a good news bible, prayed with me and I then accepted Jesus Christ into my heart. I am forever grateful to this kind lady who introduced me to Christianity and gave me the foundation that would change my life later on.


I took my bible home and started reading from the Old Testament, but it didn’t make a whole lot of sense and I found the language difficult to understand. So I would skip parts that I couldn’t fully comprehend and jump to parts that made the most sense to me at the time. I would read it every night for about 1 year. I studied the commandments and parts of the New Testament, but didn’t really get that far through the bible and eventually lost interest in reading altogether, but the essence of what I had learned at the camp and of what I understood from reading by myself stuck with me all through elementary school and into high school.


I graduated high school after 4 years and didn’t continue on to grades 11 or 12, I wasn’t getting along with my father at all so I moved out of home when I was 16, ended up couch surfing friends houses and eventually ended up living at no address. I essentially became homeless. During this time I did a lot of things I am not proud of. I lied to people, I stole from people, I used drugs, and was really going nowhere fast. I came to the realisation that if I continued this lifestyle I would either be dead or in jail. I moved back home for a short period and reconnected with my mother who asked me to move near her at a place in Australia called the Gold Coast. She would pay for everything if I came to live near her. So I did. My mother and I reconnected, I forgave her for the past and we became very close.


I moved states close to where my mother lived and I found a job working in a nursing home as a nurse’s assistant. I ended up going to college to study nursing but dropped out about halfway through the course. Old habits die hard. I worked in the nursing industry for about 5 years and got my life back on track but in all this time I had turned my back on God except in times of trouble and in hindsight I think God always kept me safe and never turned his back on me. During that period of my life I had made many, many mistakes, hurt a lot of people, was very deceitful, burned a lot of bridges and was living in total sin.


I eventually ended up in Japan. I came to Japan in 2003 originally for a year but ended up staying a lot longer…..I found a job as a school manager and worked hard but I also partied hard as well. My company sponsored me to stay in Japan and for the next 4 years I worked during the day and partied a lot during the night. I didn’t save any money, found myself associated with the wrong people and again was walking a dangerous path of self destruction. Then one day I met a wonderful girl who was beautiful, bright, and intelligent. She was like no other girl I had met before. I was smitten with her and fell for her quite quickly. She was the total opposite of everything I was and had been with in the past. I eventually won her heart and we ended up getting married. We now have 2 beautiful daughters and have been married for 15 happy years. I credit her for changing me into a responsible adult and for changing my life for the better. For the last 15 years I have worked very hard in a job that I love very much, have worked hard to save money and have worked hard to be a good role model for my children, but in all this time I still didn’t have a good relationship with God.


In my spare time after work and on the weekends I started a YouTube channel in 2020 for children. 6 months in I was doing some research on YouTube for ideas on a new video and came across a video of a man who was talking about an experience he had in the operating theater while being operated on. The man was being interviewed by a Christian filmmaker and the man being interviewed seemed very reluctant to tell his story which made me watch and listen to his story. He died while being operated on and saw Jesus’ hand with a voice telling him it wasn’t his time. There was no fanfare, no exaggeration, and nothing false about his story at all. I ended up watching the whole interview and was profoundly moved by this man’s story. While in the moment I felt compelled to watch similar content. I spent the whole afternoon watching various Christian programs and totally forgot about my channel research. Why did I do this? I’m not sure myself, but for some reason I can’t explain or articulate into words and felt compelled to seek out more information about Jesus or what is to be a good Christian.


Over the next few days I came across a YouTube channel that discusses life’s thought provoking topics aimed to encourage and strengthen our path to personal growth with God. In the past I have never had an interest in evangelistic programs like this and have always mistrusted them, but this channel I found honest, intriguing and very helpful. I found the topics very interesting and found myself watching more and more of his channel.


A few days past and I was picking my daughter up from juku and thought I would take a different route home so I could have a chat in the car with my daughter. While stopped at a set of traffic lights I noticed this big blue building to my right, looked up and saw that it was a church. Nice coincidence!! The next day while at work I was on the internet and thought I would do a search for Minoh church and to my surprise the same blue church came up on an “English” website. I took a leap and tried to contact the church through mail. Just a few questions but didn’t get a reply… (the system was down) So I just turned up to the church one Sunday out of curiosity and was welcomed with open arms.

数日が経って、娘を塾に迎えに行ったとき、娘と車の中でおしゃべりするために、いつもと違う道を通って帰ろうと思いました。信号待ちをしている時、右手に大きな青い建物があるのに気づき、見上げると、それは教会だったのです。なんという偶然でしょう。翌日、仕事中にインターネットで「箕面 教会」を検索してみたら、なんと同じ青い教会が「英語」のサイトで出てきたのです。思い切って、メールで教会に連絡を取って少し質問してみましたが、返信はありませんでした。(システムダウンしていたようです)。結局そのままある日曜日、興味本位で教会に足を運んだところ、快く迎えてくれたのです。

That first day in church was the defining moment for me. I knew on that day that my life was going to change. I met pastor Joseph after his sermon and told him of my desire to be baptised. He invited me to meet with him, we talked, prayed and I gave myself to God. I was transformed into a true believer in the Lord Jesus Christ!! I became spiritually reborn!!

教会に行ったその最初の日が、私にとって決定的な瞬間になりました。その日、私は自分の人生が変わることを知りました。私は説教の後、ジョセフ牧師に会い、バプテスマを受けたい旨を伝えました。ジョセフ牧師は、私と個人的に会ってくれ、いろいろなことを話し、また教えてもらいました。そして、私は神様に自分自身を捧げることを決心しました。私は主イエス・キリストを信じる真の信者に変えられました! 霊的に生まれ変わったのです。

The old me is gone and I am a new!! I am no longer a slave to sin!!