Family Background and Testimony
I was born to Kazuo Yamaguchi and Takako Yamaguchi as their second son in Sendai City, Miyagi Pref. in Japan. Since Kazuo is a northerner and Takako, an Okinawan (an pacific islander), I have inherited their distinct dialects and cultures while being in Japan. When my father married her in 1968, Okinawa was still under the American occupation and her control in every aspect of Okinawan people. When she moved from her small island to live in Honshu (the main island), she experienced racial tention and faced the identity issue as Japanese. For that reason, my brother and I tend to accept ourselves as half Japanese and half Okinawan.
Both of my parents are reached by the American missionaries who were being sent by the calling of Gen. Douglas MacArthur after the WWII. My parents were among those who came to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ in 1950’s. So, by the time my brother and I were born, they were committed Christians and became missionaries to preach the gospel in Sendai City, Miyagi Pref.
From the moment I realized that I was born into a missionary’s home I felt somewhat “caged” in a religiously tight and socially narrow environment, and struggled to find my own way to live “freely”. After many years of self-hating and depression, I left home for America to go to a high school in Oklahoma, U.S.A. My journey had disturbed my father tremendously, but was planned as a spiritual journey in which I felt called by the word of God (Gen. 12:1) to seek the light in this world and the truth that sets men free. The struggling years finally ended when I finally accepted Jesus at the age of 16, as the truth, the way to heaven and my personal savior. Since then, I had reconciled with my father, and with God through Jesus Christ. I began to be healed inwardly, to accept myself and others in the image of God, to grow consistently in the Word of God, and to be led to think of God’s will and the heart of Jesus each and every day of my life. God had planted in my heart an intimate longing for Jesus and a passion to be his true follower.
Call to Ministry
At the age of 24, I received a calling to dedicate my life to God’s work through the Scripture passage in II Timothy 1:3~14: esp. through the verses 7-8, “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self‑discipline. So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God.”
After college, I had a good job and a good life in California. But there was one area which had uniquely challenged my life at that time: I was socially surrounded by my relatives and friends who were borderline suicidal. In the midst of my good days, I always had held a feeling incide that there must be something else to do in my life. The feeling was intensified when they indicated to me that the way I talked with them and listened to them gave them the sense that I had to be a strong believer in the Word of God—even though most of times I did not broach the religious subject with them—and that I knew the truth that sets men free. It didn’t take me a while to realize God’s calling to ministry but I was very afraid to lose what I had and to make a living being like my parents. I was, at the same time, very delighted to know that someone can feel God’s presence through me and can begin to show noticeable improvements in his handling of perceived anxieties. For that reason, I ended my career as an artist, and started studying the Scripture and Theology in Tokyo Biblical Seminary to be equipped for God’s ministry.
After serving 8 years as a minister, my passion to study the Scripture did not fade away and that led me to apply for M.A. program in the Bible at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel. The three years of study experience in the Holy Land stretched me not only intellectually, but inter-culturally, geopolitically, and theologically. My wife and the children also experienced and learned many things in Israel.
I have a strong passion to read the Bible in its original language in order to interpret an Biblical expression as close to its original context; to know Israel and her people both in history and modern times; and to understand how Jesus read the Hebrew Scripture and how He prayed for the Jews and the gentiles. This passion is truly something I would love to share to my people.
I have a burden for my own people, Japanese, worldwide. The highest suicide-numbers in the world, and the low percentage of Christians among them are simply the reason for me to be with them, and a call to me to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with them.
Now, I reside in Niigata City, Japan with my wife and two children. Geographically, this is the one of the least reached areas by evangelical Christians, and the heart of Japanese traditional culture within Ura Nihon, the Japan Sea coastal areas. This is the place I wish to raise my family who will eventually be the core group of disciples that Jesus has given me to teach and train to follow Him, and this is the place I wish to give my time to God’s ministry in sharing the local people the gospel of Jesus Christ in word and deed.
Statement of Faith
I believe in One God; Father, Son‑Jesus Christ, and Holy Spirit. I believe that God has given Himself as the Son who lived among us as Jesus (Y’shua) who was crucified, and resurrected to and for every human. I believe that Jesus is the Lamb of God come to take away the sins of the world (John 1:29), the lamb slain from the foundation of the world (1 Peter 1:19,20 & Revelation 13:8.). I believe that it is through Jesus alone that not only do humans have any possibility of salvation from their self centered sinful state but also that all of creation is redeemed through the person, humble death on the cross, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Within God’s salvation for us in Jesus Christ is His desire and command for us to be one together in Him loving each other in His love.
I believe, Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary who was made pregnant with Him by the power of the Holy Spirit. That He lived physically among men putting aside His status and position in heaven to be crucified by the decree of Pontius Pilate at the hands of the Romans and by the demand His own chosen people. On the third day He rose from the dead appearing to over 500 persons for 40 days, on the 50th day Jesus sent the Spirit as He promised to his disciples. I believe that the miracles of Scripture are reports of reality.
I believe, Jesus Christ to be the Word of God through whom all creation was created. In every interaction that God has with humanity and his creation, I believe the Scripture points to Jesus’ presence as Word, Redeemer, and King. From the Word of God to the Lamb of God, Jesus is God’s presence for humanity and all creation (Rev. 17:14.) I believe, all believers in Jesus are called to receive the entire word of God and all His peoples, Jews and the gentiles, in love and through the teachings of Jesus.
I believe, the Holy Spirit’s interactions with us individually and corporately gives us the ongoing real presence of Jesus Christ in our lives (John 14:16,17& Romans 8:9.). I believe we are to seek all the gifts of the Spirit as described in the Scriptures,(Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4,) but that these gifts should never bear more importance than the Giver and the gospel of Jesus Christ.
I believe, the Scriptures to have been inherently inspired by the Spirit of God to men and only fully accessible by Spirit directed and inspired reading. Though we may appropriately prepare and work intellectually with the Scriptures (O.T. and N.T.), true 'proclamation' of God's Word is the Living presence of Jesus. The Spirit revealed Scriptures are truly 'inherent', whereas the Bible in the hands of the most adept Bible scholar is still subject to the errancy of human sin. The presence of Jesus continues to be born among and in us not by the will or flesh of men, but by the Spirit of God.
I believe in one Baptism, the Baptism of the Spirit. I also believe that baptism by water is a suitable sacramental physical expression of repentance and belief in God's promise of new life. But, that salvation is not accomplished by our performing a physical act or speaking the right words, salvation is the free gift of God in the living person of Jesus. We know that we are saved because we believe in Him not in our own acts of righteousness. I believe that those who love Jesus are called to share that relationship by the power of the Spirit in word and deed.
Theological overviews are essential for us but we must remember that God has a particular plan of salvation for each person. As Pastors it is a large part of our role to make others less dependent upon us, equipped with the Word of God and enabled to walk in the Spirit able to work out their own salvation in Jesus Christ (Philippians 2:12,13.)
I believe God and thus Jesus to be beyond any of our attempts to define Him. Though I write words about Him who is the original one and only True Word, my words are not intended to be any sense a ‘definition’ of God.