Music Draws Japanese Student to Church and Jesus

Music drew Seiji to church, now going back to Japan a believer

  • by Amber Kinneer
Photo Courtesy of Toshiko Lockwood

“If it wasn’t for music, I wouldn’t be in this church,” Seiji says.

Arriving from Tokyo, Seiji Tomiyama, an English major and talented guitarist, was excited to meet new friends and practice English at the University of Oregon in Eugene.

“In Japan, I never went to church and didn’t believe in Christianity,” Seiji says. “I had a bad image of religion.”

Yet Seiji immediately got involved with music on campus and joined the worship band at Eugene Japanese Baptist Church. There he met Shota Watanabe, another Japanese student, and Dan Lockwood, staff member with Bridges, Cru’s ministry to international students.

Dan invited the 2 Japanese students to a Bridges conference in San Diego. Shota, who had only been a Christian 2 months and Seiji both decided to attend.

At the conference, Shota was offered training on how to tell others about Jesus. To practice, Shota sat with Seiji and explained an evangelistic booklet, clarifying the gospel in four steps.

As Seiji listened, he understood what it meant to have a personal relationship with Christ, and prayed and placed his faith in Jesus.

After meeting with Japanese Christians like Shota, Seiji no longer has a bad image of Christianity. “There is a God, and He loves me,” Seiji says, “Jesus changed my way of thinking.”

In the weeks following the conference, Seiji and Dan met weekly. “I want to help lay a foundation for Seiji’s life as a Christian in Japan,” Dan says.

Dan emphasizes time daily in God’s Word while helping Seiji prepare for some customs where rituals and traditions are practiced that don’t align with his faith in Christ. For Seiji, the goal is to be aware and ask the Holy Spirit to guide him.

Because their universities are both in Tokyo, Shota helped Seiji find a local church when he returned to Japan a few months ago. “My family doesn’t know much about Christianity, but I have talked with them and will have more opportunities,” Seiji says.