I was born and raised in Tokyo, Japan. I had never met anyone who claimed to be a Christian as I grew up. I was always a good student who strived to achieve academic and athletic success. And eventually, this ambition drove me to get out of my own country and pursue a master's degree at UT Austin. When I left my country, my focus was very clear; I wanted to achieve more and gain more. However, my first year in Texas turned out to be the hardest time in my life because I experienced depression. I had been running as fast as I could to get anything I wanted till that point, but I began wondering when I can stop and say my life is good enough with true peace and fulfillment. The depression got worse to the point where I was having suicidal thoughts. But in the midst of this darkness, I met Christians for the first time through UT Chi Alpha.
Without knowing they were Christians; I could tell these people were different. I felt they had what I desperately needed at that time: peace, joy, assurance, and fulfillment. As I got to know them better, I began to ask them questions about the "secret" of their lives, and they always pointed me to their faith in Jesus Christ. Although I was very much enjoying the friendship with them, it was not easy for me, an international student from Japan who had been raised in a Buddhist family, to take what they believed in as my own faith. I also knew that believing in Jesus and following Him would be a life-long commitment with many challenges considering my cultural background; unless I get to be fully convinced that their God is absolutely one and true God, my commitment would not be strong enough to go through all of it. So, I began to pray "God, if you are real, please reveal yourself to me in a way that I can fully believe in you."
The Lord answered my prayer. He gave me a dream in which He spoke to me very clearly "follow me!" My heart was too stubborn to take this dream seriously, but the very next day the Lord graciously gave me the same dream again and spoke to me the very same word "follow me!" When I had the second dream, I was convinced that He was living, listening to my cry in my heart, and pursuing me. All of my life I thought I knew what I wanted and how I wanted to live my life, but this very attitude was the sin that put Jesus on the cross because I was telling my Creator "I don't need you." I was trying to be the God in my life. No wonder I got so confused and depressed. I repented before God with tears and asked Him to take over my life. At that moment God set me free from depression completely. Without being told by anyone, I knew that I was born again.
Now I am living this new life anchored in Jesus Christ who brings me joy, purpose, and fulfillment daily. Many bright and ambitious young people gather on university campuses looking for the answer to various questions that they have. What I can testify through my experience is that the Lord is "I AM." Without Him, we have nothing but with Him we find everything. I hope and pray that young people will take this answer as their personal conviction while they are in college while so many people keep searching the rest of their lives.