Christ calls, Asians respond

Lent series 2023


Meeting Christian friends while moving from place to place

By Junko Ito

April 01, 2023 04:16 AM

Kohmo learned about God while interacting on the site with his friend Mika and he began to open the Bible

Yuki Kohmo (fourth from right) poses for a photograph after receiving baptism on Dec. 25, 2022

Yuki Kohmo (fourth from right) poses for a photograph after receiving baptism on Dec. 25, 2022. (Photo supplied)

Yuki Kohmo, age 26, spent years moving from place to place, but now realizes that he was on a path to being baptized last Christmas.

Kohmo "learned that Christianity exists in my world" during a study year in Manila while enrolled at a university in Tokyo.

He had never been interested in Christianity before, but when he heard a friend say that she attended church, Kohmo felt somehow comforted at the thought of his friend’s habit. But even though churches were everywhere, he did not think of visiting them.

After finishing his study abroad, he was dreaming of going on to graduate school when suddenly his future became uncertain. His grandfather died and he broke up with the woman he was thinking of marrying.

"Things went bad in quick succession," said Kohmo.

He gave up on going on to higher education and after graduating from university in Osaka returned to his parents' home in Niigata.

“One day, while I was feeling like an empty shell, I happened to connect through a social networking site with my church-going friend in Manila,” said Kohmo.

It was a providential reunion. Kohmo, who was in "total darkness," learned about God while interacting on the site with his friend Mikah, a Filipina.  That helped him open the Bible.

Feeling that God's Word was appealing to him, he went to the Niigata Cathedral near his parents' house. Whenever he left home with his Bible in hand, he "lost track of time" and read the Word alone in the cathedral and walked along the nearby beach.

After living like this for half a year, he moved to Sendai to help care for his grandmother who had dementia. Taking this opportunity, he began to participate in Sunday Mass at Mototerakoji Cathedral Church in Sendai, making friends in the young adults’ association of the Sendai diocese.

Eventually, Kohmo’s job hunting paid off, and in the spring of 2022, he began living alone in Hanno city in Saitama prefecture while working in Tokyo. From there, he commuted to his grandmother's house in Sendai one weekend each month.

Kohmo says that while interacting with a wide range of generations at the Mototerakoji Church, he was discouraged by the relationships within the church that were no different from those in society at large.

However, as he got to know Michio Chiba of the young adults association and Guadalupe missionary Fathers Tadeo Rafael Mejia and Ignacio Martinez he realized that "a church with a variety of people" is precious and began to desire baptism.

In the summer of 2022, Kohmo joined his young adult association friends in volunteering to clean up the Sankeizuka mountain forest, a martyrdom site in Miyagi prefecture. He says it was a memorable experience.

As the group hiked, suddenly a small stone mound appeared on the mountain. The mound was built stone by stone by families of the martyrs in the Edo period (1603-1867) so that the bodies of the martyrs would not be eaten by wild dogs. A cross stands on top of the mound.

"It was a desolate tomb, but I was impressed by the way the volunteers worked hard to hold on to it and realized that a truly strong faith will remain forever."

Kohmo decided that he wanted to join such a line of believers.

However, Kohmo was worried. He had participated in Bible study groups in Niigata even before he started going to Sendai, but the priest in charge told him that baptism usually requires that the recipient be rooted in one community or church. In other words, a life of faith requires companionship.

Kohmo had moved from one place to another in Saitama, Niigata, and Sendai, but wanted to be baptized. When he told Father Mejia through social media how he felt the priest immediately replied, "Let's talk."

"I felt that my path had been prepared, and my young adult association friends were happy. So seven or eight of us went out to celebrate over grilled beef," says Kohmo.

He had not been in touch with his friend Mika for a while, but after going to the martyrdom site, he resumed communication. Now she is a precious friend.

"She was excited when I told her I was going to be baptized. She had been praying for me all along, and was happy that her prayers were heard," Kohmo said.

On December 25 of last year, Kohmo was baptized at Ishinomaki Church by Father Mejia. His mother came from Niigata for the ceremony.

Kohmo said, “There are two things I am praying for now. One is that someday my mother and brothers will also be led to baptism. The other is that I be given companions with whom I can share the Word regularly.”

"Mika was in a group to share the Word, and I wanted to have that kind of companion. I read the Bible in English, but I think when it comes to talking about my faith it's good to have Japanese."

While connecting with his peers, Kohmo is walking the path that God has prepared for him.

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