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"Jazz Singer Sings a New Song" March 27th, 2005

My name is Nikki Akiyama.  I was born in Shimonoseki and grew up in the Kawanaka neighborhood.  After graduating from University in Ogori, I worked at companies in Tokyo and Fukuoka.  After changing jobs several times, I returned to my parent’s home in April of last year.  I am presently working in an office downtown.  Besides my parents, I have an older brother.  He is the father of three children and lives downtown.

I know this is abrupt, but I want to begin by telling you a bit about the problems in my family.  This is because my family environment is primarily responsible for my becoming a Christian.  My father has a full time job, my mother works part time, and my brother is four years older than me.  From outward appearances, we look like an average happy family. Since I was young, I have felt an iciness between my parents.  I tried to be the mood- maker in the family by being bright and making everyone laugh.    But as I watched my mother refuse to speak up for herself and sigh when my father treated her unkindly, I began to feel that my efforts to be joyful were all meaningless.  From that realization on, I stopped smiling in front of my family.

When I finally was on my own, my mother, who could no longer stand the betrayal of my father, confided in me and asked for my help.  I had had an idea about what my father was doing before my mother told me, but when I heard specific facts from my mother, I was shocked.  I then became an intermediary between my parents and they finally were able to reconcile.  In spite of that, I was left with the impression that my father was being cunning with his words.  From that point on, I began to dislike my father for the deception and pain that he had caused my mother. 

On one hand, I felt as if I needed to be my mother’s advocate, but on the other hand I felt as if I was tied down to her.  She was too dependent on me and too overprotective.  I felt burdened down with a mother that was stealing away my dreams.  I knew that being responsible for my mother and loving my mother were two different things.  I hated both of my parents and blamed all of the bad things that happened to me on them.   I became apathetic even though I knew that that was not good for me.   I continued to sin and did not take care of myself like I should have.  I tried to return to the right path, but I didn’t know what that was, so I just kept repeating bad behavior.

While living in Fukuoka, before I came back home, I worked in an office during the week and sang on the weekends.  Since the opportunities to sing were not limited to Fukuoka, I would drive to other prefectures to sing and was frequently very late getting home.  It was a hard schedule. I felt as if I was losing myself.   I was wearing myself so thin, that eventually, even the music I loved was causing me pain.   The people at the company I worked for became jealous of me.  Eventually all of these things began to hurt me so badly, I felt like running away from it all.  This is when I returned home.  At home I escaped reality by becoming a recluse and sleeping all of the time.  I did have some friends who were worried about me and came to visit, but I had no desire to see anyone.

One day, some time later, a friend of mine who lives in  Hagi invited me, for a change of pace, to come hear her play the violin in a concert.  I was beginning to get out a little by that time, and as I had not seen this particular friend for several years I decided to go.  After the concert I listened to a talk by Arthur Holland.  Since it was a Christian talk, I didn’t understand much of it, but the phrase he repeated numerous times, “You are loved,” echoed in my heart.  Sensing my interest, my friend gave me a book written by Mr. Holland.

Since that time I have been able to face myself.  Up until that time, I wondered why I repeatedly changed jobs and  repeatedly made boyfriends and then broke up with them. I wondered why that when something happened to me I would go running home to the parents I supposedly hated.  I thought that now was my chance to change.  I thought that one way I could change would be to go to church.  I looked up churches on the internet and found out about this church.  I wanted to understand more about what Mr. Holland was talking about and I wanted to understand what it was that had made my friend from Hagi want to become a Christian.  It was scary for me to go to church by myself and I hesitated for many days. One evening, I felt as if someone was telling me, “Today, you need to go to church.” So I quickly went.  It just so happened that Brian saw me looking at the message board outside the church building and came out to speak with me.   When I told him I was interested in attending church, he invited me inside and showed me around.  He invited me to attend the Sunday service.

I began, under Pastor Tony’s guidance, to read the Bible.  It was there that I read the answer to my problems.  One of the answers was in I Peter 5: 6, 7.    “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand that he may lift you up in due time.  Cast all of your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

I was also given an answer to a problem in one of Pastor Tony’s Sunday messages.  I needed to confess my sins.  I needed a compass for my life, I wanted peace in my heart and I wanted to restore my relationship with my parents.  I learned that Jesus Christ paid for my sins upon the cross through his death and that He rose again three days later.  Through His sacrifice my sins have been forgiven and by believing I am given eternal life and the promise of heaven.  On September 22, I received Christ as my Savior. 

Five days later I flew to England.  Thanks to Tony and Brian, I was able to study at a Christian language school and do a home stay with a Christian family.  During that time in England and continuing through today, I have come to realize that as long as I do not separate myself from Christ, He will continue to guide me in the right direction.  From this point forward, I do not want to be separated from Christ.  I want to obey the teachings of the Bible and live my life accordingly.  I would like to work daily at fulfilling the desires of God’s heart.

"On Mission with God through Church-Planting and English Class Friendship Evangelism"
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