Our guest blogger today is Naomi Noguchi Reese. Naomi is a PhD student in systematic theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, a native of Tokyo, Japan, and my lovely wife.
When Chris told me the name of his brand new blog, “Cloud of Witnesses,” the first thing that came to my mind was the chapel where I worked for a year when I was in a graduate school (and, of course, Hebrew 12:1). In our chapel there are paintings of one “Cloud of Witnesses” on the dome.
As a chapel attendant, I needed to learn about each witness and their lives—Augustine, Jonathan Edwards, Lottie Moon, Toyohiko Kagawa, and others. They lived in different time and places but the one thing they shared was their love for God. It is really awesome to see how God chose (and continues to choose today) witnesses for His Kingdom. And that tells me something about His everlasting love for us—through these witnesses, we come to know more about His love for us.
When I look at my life, I can definitely say that I have met witnesses of the Lord. Of course, these people are not on the dome of the chapel, but everyday people who are faithful to what they are called to do for His Kingdom. One who made a great impact on my life is a family that I lived with for almost four years when I was in college. I am originally from Japan and came to the U.S. in the early 90s to go to English language school.
It was a small Southern town called Gadsden, Alabama. I grew up in Tokyo, so you can imagine how different (and sometimes challenging) it was for me to live in a small town. After six months, a family (Christian) invited me to live with them. At first, I was not sure what to do with the invitation since I was not a Christian (I was a nominal Buddhist. Plus, I did not want their religion to control my life!) But since I had no other place to live at that time (international students often find themselves in this situation), I accepted their invitation to live with them.
For the next four years, they became living witnesses to me. They never pushed me to accept their beliefs when I could not understand them. They never tried to argue with me or insult me because I completely disagreed with them. Instead, they showed me what it meant to love God and how we should be walking in His steps. I still remember when I first visited their home. I felt something that I had never felt before. I could not tell what it was, but it was all over their home. In hindsight, I believe it was the presence of the Lord among them. So, they became my great cloud of witnesses.
I pray that this blog can also be used as a witness for the Lord to reach out to many people!