Serving in Japan, Part 1
Dear ladies from the CCEA Women’s Ministry,
Konnichiwa! Per the request of the leadership of the CCEA Women’s ministry, this is my letter of introduction to you! I must say that when I received the initial letter from them, I was very blessed that you all would take such an interest in “us”, missionary wives, of whom I’ve recently joined the ranks. Having spent time on the mission field as a single woman, I know it’s easy to become “out of sight…out of mind,” which leads to loneliness and difficulty when making transitions back to the States. However, CCEA has to be the church with the most concern and love for their missionaries (that I’ve experienced), and such a letter only further proves my observations. So, from my heart, I say thank you. It warms me on this cold winter day to know that I am remembered and am being prayed for by people who care. It’s a blessing.
I am originally from St. Louis, MO. I was born and raised there, in a non-Christian home. My mother had me at a very young age. She married when I was 6 to my step-father (dad, from this point on), who was an alcoholic. My mom was a drug addict. As the oldest, with 3 younger brothers, I was often the caretaker, in a house full of fighting and chaos. My parents separated not long after they got married. With my mom working evenings and sleeping during the day, I felt lonely and sad and sometimes scared of the circumstances in which I was placed.
When I was 11, I moved in with my grandma under the pretext of going to a better school district. She lived with her best friend who invited me to go to the church youth group. I had no desire to go but went to please her. I was always the quiet and shy one in the back, not talking to many people.
After about 6 months, we went to a worship conference. On the Saturday evening of the conference, I was encouraged to go up to the front, where all the other youth were in worship. I began thinking about all that they had told me about Jesus and how He had died for me. I felt like, in that moment, I needed to give my life to the Lord. So I did. My heart was changed and love came in. When I came home from youth group the next week, I walked in the door and said, “I understood what they were talking about tonight. I’ve never understood before, but tonight I did!”
A few months later, I invited my mom to go to church as the youth were leading a special service. She gave her life to the Lord that day and the Lord miraculously set her free from her drug addiction. A few months later, my dad got saved at a tent meeting outreach being held. It took him longer to be set free from alcoholism, but through the support of men from the local church and his faith in the Lord, he got free and has remained free.
The Lord began the work of bringing my scattered family back together. It took time, forgiveness, patience and growth in the Lord. My parents, who had all but signed the divorce documents, renewed their vows. I have one brother who remains in need of the softening of the Lord after the hard years of his childhood, but we remain praying for him and waiting for the Lord to do His work.
by Janine Alvarado. CCEA Missionary to Japan
Look for more of Janine’s story soon.