I sat next to her as the sobs ripped through her body. I was somewhat stunned. I had never seen her cry before. She has always been one of the strong ones; the member of the Nozomi Project who always smiled and found a cheerful answer to even the strangest requests. But this weekend she let out the past three and a half years of pain, thousands-plus days of needing to be strong for everyone else. She continued crying for thirty more minutes, as we listened and prayed for her. One friend tried to keep her children entertained in the next room, though twice they came in to check on their weeping mother.
One of our dear Nozomi friends prayed on Friday to begin trusting in Christ. Another friend prayed to begin forgiving the other Nozomi staff whom she has been avoiding for months. Several others rearranged their schedules after hearing about the touching experiences of their friends with Nobuko and came to receive prayer. There have been many tears this weekend as God has revealed His truth to many of our friends here. Yesterday, several of our friends brought their children to our home, where Nobuko prayed over each child God’s words of encouragement, life, and hope for each of them.
I was especially touched as I watched the scene of her sharing God’s heart of love and hope and a future for the son of one of the Nozomi staff’s 11 year old son with autism. Yesterday was his birthday — what a wonderful gift! Even though he was embarrassed by the attention and remained curled up in a ball next to the table during Nobuko’s prayer time, I sensed how important this was for his mom and even for him down the road.
We’ve been doing special prayer sessions the past three days, thanks to the gifts and ministry of our friend Nobuko who is visiting. It has been really amazing. I am wiped out physically and emotionally, but also so thankful for all that God has done here.
One of the coolest things about working with Nobuko is our special history! Twenty-two years ago, Nobuko was my English student when I was teaching English conversation classes in the Tokyo area (before I was married…) She was, by her own words, nerdy, insecure, and uncomfortable! Read about Nobuko as a high school here, and about her visit with us three years ago here. But over her two years of studying at our English school and becoming friends with Christians, Nobuko prayed to trust in Christ. Her life took a huge turn, and she ended up spending the last twenty two years working for God across Japan and in other parts of the world.
God has gifted Nobuko in particular as a worship leader and as a gifted prayer prophetically. Lest any of you readers start to feel weird reading this – or the first few paragraphs — go back and read 1 Corinthians 14, as I did last week with a friend. We were reminded that Paul said, “Follow the way of love and eaglery desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy… everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort…(vs 1, 3). I have once again witnessed God use this gift in a powerful way to encourage and strengthen and comfort many individuals. This morning we all had a chance as a body to practice gifts of prophecy on one another, and we witnessed as Nobuko boldly shared prophetic images and prayers with each members there today. She spent time with each of the kids, as well, helping them to be more comfortable listening to God, and sharing images over each of them about how God sees them. It was so so powerful!
Tonight Nobuko met with Ian and myself- the last two from three days of meeting with many people. For Ian, she saw him as a hunter with a bow and arrow, and God encouraging him about the eyes of his heart and sharp mind… He has a strong sense of discerning the spirit in which he can see different things that others cannot see. He is like Gideon in the Bible, a strong and brave warrior who God wants to use even though he is the youngest in the family.
She shared many things during my prayer time with her- we recorded it and I went back and typed them out. My understanding of prophecies is that God uses them to encourage/sharpen/revive what He has already been doing in our lives, rather than to have us take one prophecy and make a sudden and unplanned move based on that. I sensed tonight God’s fanning the flames of some things He had already placed in my heart, as well as confirming some of the dreams that we have been praying about on our team.
Twenty-two years ago I was teaching English conversation to a bunch of high school students, housewives, and business men. I loved my job and these students! But it was tiring and especially hard at times with these shy and nerdy girls who made it very difficult to communicate. We never really know, do we, who will rise up among us in the midst of ministry and go beyond what we could ever dream? Two decades later, that shy and nerdy high school girl has gone around the world, and now is up in our fishing town of Ishinomaki co-ministering with me and our team… actually teaching our team how to better listen to God, sharing God’s love in a special way with those whomI love so much. God’s Kingdom work is amazing.