Everything is Possible for One Who Believes

Key verse Mark9:23
If you can?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.

1. My childhood

I was born in 1993, and my parents are missionary Daniel and Maria Jeong. They were sent from South Korea as missionaries to Japan. At that time, my parents wanted to have children, but they suffered from barrenness for a while. Making a long story short, I was named Samuel because I was born through my parents’ earnest prayer and the prayers of many missionaries around them. However, UBF shepherds often give their own Christian names to their eldest son or daughter. Therefore, as the eldest son of missionary Daniel Jeong it was expected that I would be named Daniel Jr. However, I was named Samuel. So, sometimes I am called Daniel Jr. mistakenly by UBF members.

When I was born, both of my parents were working, so I spent much of my childhood at Japanese nursery school. After nursery school, I entered the elementary school in Tokyo Korean School (TKS). Since my father was also working in the middle/high school of TKS, I had a sense of safety and little anxiety. After graduating from the elementary school, I simply entered the middle school in TKS, where I spent three years. Overall I had a very easy and peaceful childhood.

2. Toyama high school

Tokyo Korean School (TKS) also had a high school, but my parents who were serving as missionaries to Japan, hoped that I would go to a Japanese university in the future and become a shepherd. Going to a Japanese high school would be best for this. Also, I did not have much desire to attend a Korean university. Furthermore, I really wanted to leave the school where my father was working. For these reasons, I decided to go to a Japanese high school. However, there was one problem. Although I passed the Japanese social studies exams, I had only studied Korean geography and history at TKS. I felt that I did not know enough about Japan, and it might be difficult for me to enter a Japanese high school. In addition, I was interested in one high school in particular, Toyama High School. It is one of the most competitive schools to enter in Tokyo. After talking about this situation with my parents, my father grabbed the Bible and gave me one word from Genesis 22:14. “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.” This verse was amazingly appropriate for the high school, which was named “Toyama”. The Japanese Kanji (Chinese Character) for “Toyama” is broken down as “To” which means “door”, and “Yama” which means “mountain.” Through the Bible verse, I came to believed that the Toyama high school was prepared for me by the Lord. I studied hard and prayed diligently. By God’s grace, I passed the high school entrance exam. The Lord answered my prayer and I was able to enter Toyama high school as I had hoped. At the beginning of high school life, I felt anxiety all the time. It was my first Japanese school and this was a prestigious high school. I wondered whether I could keep up with school studies. I wondered if I could succeed in an environment where I didn't know anything. I pondered, “Will Japanese students think I am strange with the name Samuel?” or “Will I be treated differently because I am Korean?” However, all those concerns ended up being groundless. “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.” As the verse say, the Lord prepared everything. I was able to enjoy a wonderful high school life.

3. Taking an oath as a shepherd

Next, I had to prepare for university entrance examinations in my senior year. My enthusiasm at that time was very low. As a result, I was not able to pass the university entrance examination, and spent one more year to prepare. In such cases, students usually attend a preparatory school. However, I decided to study by myself without going to a preparatory school. Instead, I went to church every morning, read the Bible and prayed, and for the rest of the day I studied at a nearby library. During that time of preparation, I held on to the verse from 2 Samuel 8:14: “The LORD gave David victory wherever he went.” As a result, one year later I passed the entrance examination and was accepted to both Tsukuba National University and Waseda University. My parents were engaged in the campus mission for Waseda University, so they hoped that I would enter Waseda University. However, I wanted to go to the University of Tsukuba, which had a low tuition and rich research facilities. Also, I wanted to live alone. I prayed and discussed my thoughts with my parents. Finally, I went to the University of Tsukuba. It has been four years now, and I will graduate from the university this month. It is amazing that I have already completed my four years of college life.

During the past four years, I left my college dormitory every Sunday and I went to Tokyo UBF for worship. It took about 2 hours each way. It was very tiring to go to Tokyo by train. However, I attended worship service from my childhood and felt an obligation to go. I participated in worship service out of a sense of duty and habit. I was sometimes bitter for being forced to live like my parents. For example, I did not want to do daily-bread every day. There was a huge gap between my desire for the future and parents’ passion for holy mission. They had met Jesus when they were college students and later became shepherds and missionaries. Why did I lack the spiritual zeal which my parents had? I grew up without lacking anything material and I did not have any strong experience of God’s grace in my life like my parents. I knew that I was not living an exemplary and faithful Christian life. On the other hand I was proud of the fact that all my life I had not lived far from the Bible.

However, God was waiting for me to repent. At the 2015 Tokyo UBF discipleship conference, there was a ceremony to make an oath as a shepherd. God called me at that moment. My father, missionary Daniel, suddenly advised me to take the oath as a shepherd. I have used the name "Samuel" which is unusual in the Japanese society, so I have not hidden my Christian identity. Nonetheless, I considered myself unqualified to become a shepherd. I was worried that I could not carry the cross of world missions, because I had never attempted to share God’s word with my friends.

At that time, Luke 23:26 came to mind. “As the soldiers led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus.” Simon, who came from the countryside, was suddenly forced to carry the cross of Jesus. I would have run away if I were in the Simon’s position. Simon’s situation seems very unlucky. However, he was greatly blessed to witness the Lord right in front of him, and to be the one to carry Jesus’ cross. While remembering this, I realized that the burden of the cross is a blessing for the person who accepts it. Still, from a human point of view, there were areas that I could not understand. However, I felt that the Lord was calling me, and I decided to take the oath as a shepherd. At that moment, no big change took place in my life. Yet. I began to serve as presider for worship service, and helped to clean up the church. Strangely, after becoming a shepherd, taking the two hour trip from Tsukuba to attend Sunday worship service in Tokyo, was no longer burdensome. This must be the work of the Holy Spirit.

4. My prayer topics

While writing this testimony, I noticed God’s answers for my prayers. He gave me his word at every important milestone in my life, and when I prayed based on his word, he answered my prayer. God has been with me all my life, protecting me and blessing me through His word. Until now, I have been complacent. I behaved and thought like a "child" standing on his parents’ faith, and made the excuse that "I am a second generation.” However, I realized that I was always supported by the Lord's word because of his personal love and grace for me. From now on, I pray to have an identity as a shepherd and take up the same mission as other missionaries. I sincerely repent of my secret excuse that I am a child of God because of my parents. Instead I will live by my personal faith in God. I pray that I can serve the Lord's work together with my parents. My parents are not second generation Christians. They have a different life from me. I pray to have my own identity and a sincere sense of mission as a second generation Christian.

When I was in elementary school I received one word of God through Mark 9:23. If you can?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.” Since then, I have remembered it both during major events and in everyday life. I am still immature socially and in terms of my faith. However, I pray that I will grow strong in faith and firmly BELIEVE that "everything is possible."

One Word: Everything is possible for one who believes.