Amazing Words

Depression. Just the word emits labouring sighs. In Japan, depression is widespread and suicide is horrifically common. Some 32,000 to 33,000 people commit suicide each year, 73% of whom are male. Laurence and Leona Hiebert, church planters in Japan, know many people experiencing this epidemic of hopelessness. A friend of theirs has four managers, two of which are in a mental hospital due to deep depression. One of Leona's ESL students shared how her husband witnessed a friend at his office trying to commit suicide at his desk.

Mr. N might have been one of those statistics. For most of his adult life, Mr. N has dealt with intense depression. For years he has been in and out of hospital, spending months at a time in the care of professionals. Today, he is filled with new hope from God's living Word.

It began the day Mr. N came to an English class the Hieberts regularly teach at their church. God led him to a particular pamphlet entitled Power for Living which gave an account of several Japanese people whose lives were transformed when they came to know Christ. Many of their testimonies included Scriptures. The pamphlet got Mr. N thinking... What is Christianity? Who is this Christ? Soon he bought a Bible of his own and began to read. He desperately desired to understand what God's word said. Not long after, Laurence and Mr. N started meeting together weekly for discipleship and the study of Scripture. The darkness of depression in Mr. N's life was beginning to erode by the Light of God's word. God penetrated the darkness, breaking loose the heavy weight of pain and confusion.

It wasn't long before Mr. N started coming to church. He also began talking with Laurence about what it meant to become a Christian. Through discipling, church fellowship and reading the Scriptures, Mr. N was eagerly soaking up everything he was learning about God. One night, Laurence was crying out in prayer regarding all the people dealing with depression in Japan. He was asking God how to penetrate His Light into that deep hopelessness and as he laid his heart before the God of hope, the phone rang. It was Mr. N. He was excitedly asking, "Pastor, I was reading Roman's chapter 12. I am just wondering if you can you help me understand what this verse means?" Of all the people who could have called while Laurence was praying, it was Mr. N. It was God saying, "Laurence, look! I am already using you to impact those who are depressed. I am already penetrating My hope into their hearts!" Laurence marveled that "Mr. N wasn't just asking, ‘What do I do with this problem in my life?' He was in the Word - and he wanted to know what it meant! I'm hoping that...someday Mr. N will be used by God in Japan to help others who are depressed."

Mr. N can't stop reading God's Word. He loves to write out his thoughts and questions, as well as verses and even whole passages that speak to him from God's Word. He often gets to work 45 min early to read the Scriptures before others arrive. "Every time we get together he has two or three questions from different passages in the Bible," Laurence mused. "He's often asking good questions about difficult passages and really taking them to heart."

God's hope continues to grow within him. He is quickly filling up his journal with verses and notes about what he is learning. He is seeking God's truth and comfort in his everyday life. Further demonstrating his desire for intimacy with God, Mr. N was baptized in April of this year. He publicly shared how God's Word has changed his life. "It's just amazing!" Mr. N continually exclaims, prefacing his daily experiences of God. New light is dancing in his eyes. He is beaming forth God's pervasive hope with deep delight, and his transformed life is dramatically impacting others.

Every word you give me is a miracle word- how could I help but obey? Break open your words, let the light shine out, let ordinary people see the meaning. Psalm 119: 129-130 (MSG)