Best Summer Experience – Stephen Tipton
Summer Internship Opportunities are open once more. To learn more about the experience, please read this encouraging story from one of last year’s summer interns.
This past summer I had the amazing opportunity to go to Japan and serve at Christ Bible Institute (CBI) in Nagoya. It was a real growing experience with a lot of firsts. It was my first time really away from my family, first time outside of North America, and my first missions trip. I had been seriously considering getting involved with missions in Japan after college (either as a full-time missionary or as a tentmaker), and was blessed with my first experience in Japan being 2 months with the people at CBI. It was really amazing seeing God work there. When you see a nation like Japan where so few people know the Lord, it is easy to think that God is not really working there. He, however, is working there and has used CBI to show just a few of the ways in which He is. The people at CBI split the 2-month summer internship into 3 M’s: Muscle, Ministry, and Mentoring.
Each of the seven interns had different “muscle” projects during this summer. Some of the projects included working with CBI’s English ministry, working at the Heart & Soul Cafe, and helping high school kids at the international Christian school have a great summer. My project was to improve the Heart & Soul Cafe’s social media presence. I helped manage the FaceBook page and organize photos, both recent photos and ones from all the way back in 2012. It was fun seeing those older pictures. Heart & Soul has changed quite a bit, but the same goal could be seen four years ago as can be seen now: showing the Japanese people who Jesus is through long, deep relationships. Many of the people that I saw in the 2012 pictures I met sometime in my two months at CBI.
The ministry portion of the internship was fairly flexible. We were simply sent out to go and make friends. People at CBI gave suggestions of what to do, such as going to a coffee shop or the local university, which many of us did. We met a few people that way, which led to them introducing us to even more people. By about one month in, however, I really wanted to focus on one or two people whom I could really get to know and share the Gospel with. At first, I was discouraged that there did not seem to be anyone with whom I was that close, but once I entrusted that worry to the Lord, I could really see Him work. People around CBI also included me in their own ministry. Every Tuesday we would go to either volleyball or aerobics, where we would have a lot of fun, form some really great relationships, and have a few deeper conversations. Sometimes, ministry was hard and discouraging. I was told that evangelism in Japan takes a very long time, but that fruit can be seen. For example, a couple who started coming to CBI’s church plant through the Heart & Soul Friday night events got baptized while I was there, more than a year after they first started coming to CBI. So although at times ministry was tough, it was also a really good time hanging out with really interesting people, trying to point out where God could be seen working in their lives, and pointing them to Christ.
The final M, mentorship, really helped to solidify what occurred during the summer. Every Thursday, all the interns would meet with the director of CBI, his wife, and their son at their apartment for dinner. There we would talk about what had happened during the week, learn about Japanese culture, and think over what we could do going forward. We also went through a book that discussed how the Gospel affects everything in our lives. It was often a convicting time, but also a very helpful one, where we could look at our and each other’s lives and then encourage and challenge one another. Thursday nights were not the only time where mentorship occurred, however. There were so many great people helping at CBI, who were often ready to listen and offer assistance. Whether it was one of my roommates (who were students at Christ Bible Seminary), a missionary, or someone just hanging out at the cafe, I never felt so cared for in my life. It really helped me see how capable God is in caring for me. Even though human help could never compare to His, I could thank Him that He provided so many varied people to build the church in Japan and help me as I sought to join alongside them.
This past summer was one of the best experiences I ever had. I am so thankful for everything God allowed to work out so that I could be in Nagoya for the summer. He is definitely working in all of Japan, and I cannot wait to go back.