One Thirsty Soul
By Mamoru Ishida
In 1995, I entered Dallas Baptist University as an international student from Japan and a Buddhist. Only 1% of the total population of Japan is Christian. In fact, Christianity is viewed as a strange Western cult in Japan.
When I was searching for a college to attend in the United States, I started looking into the Dallas-Fort Worth area universities. I found Texas Christian University and thought TCU would be a good school. I asked my parents about TCU, but they t old me that I should not go there. My parents recognized the word “Christian” in the name of the school. They told me to stay away from all types of foreign religious ideas. So I decided to look for another school in the DFW area and found Dallas Baptist University. As I was reading the information about DBU, I thought that I would really like the family-oriented atmosphere of the university and told my parents about it. I asked my parents, “What do you think about DBU?” M y parents said, “Great. Sure!” We didn’t know what Baptist really meant. We thought that “Baptist” was someone’s name.
After I came to DBU, I soon realized that it was a Christian university. There were Christian symbols all over the camp us and daily chapel services. Everywhere I went, I saw people closing their eyes and praying. It was my first time to see people praying in ordinary daily life. Friends and teachers wanted to share how God is real in their lives and how the Bible is the true message from God. They quoted John 3:16 to me many times, “For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
I didn’t think I needed God. Also, I thought that it was impossible to ask God to come into my life and change it. I believed God existed only in myths and stories. But could He be real? The concept was so new to me. I had never encountered people who believed these things in Japan. I told one friend that I would never become a Christian. Even though I kept telling my friends “No,” they kept being friends and caring about me. I asked myself, “Why are these friends at school caring about my life and my future more than I care about myself?”
At one chapel service in the fall of 1995, God used a song called “As the Deer” to speak to my heart. The song says, “As the deer panteth for the water, so my soul longeth after Thee. You alone are my heart’s desire, and I long t o worship Thee.” When we started to sing this song, tears came to my eyes. The first thought that came to my mind was, “I have to stop crying; otherwise someone will see me crying and invite me to become a Christian!” I tried to stop my tears, but I could not stop. Then I started thinking about why I was crying. I realized that I was identifying myself with the deer in the song. In my mind, I was refusing God, but my soul was crying out for Jesus, the living water. My heart was longing to receive the love of Christ.
On February 1st, 1996, my friend asked me the same question he always asked at the end of the Bible study I attended weekly. “Mamo, would you like to invite Jesus into your life tonight?” I could not say “No” anymore because I knew I needed Jesus in my life. I said, “Yes,” because I knew Jesus is the only one who could satisfy my soul.
Nicodemus was a man who came to Jesus and asked the question, “How can a man be born again when he is old?” Nicodemus was a very educated man, yet he didn’t understand the most important aspect of life. He never carefully looked at the spiritual side of his life. I was walking the path of Nicodemus. I had gained a lot of knowledge and education, but I had never paid attention to the cry of my soul and the need of my heart. I was searching for life. God answered me like He answered Nicodemus. He opened my eyes to see the most important person I needed to meet.
At DBU, I gained a good education, but I also met Christ, the Savior and the Lord of my life.