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Japanese student in U.S. proof of offering’s impact

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (BP)–Most Baptists who give to the
Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for international missions
don’t often get the chance to personally meet the fruit of
their gift — someone from overseas who has been saved.
However, at the Baptist Student Union on the campus of
the University of Southern Mississippi, there is living
proof of the effectiveness of LMCO in the form of a smiling
freshman from Fukuoka, Japan.
Yoshi Fujii, a 20-year-old Spanish major, has been at
the Hattiesburg-based university since March 1996, when he
entered the English Language Institute (ELI) for a five-
month course in the English language.
Though Yoshi’s family is Buddhist, he attended Seinan
Gakuin High School, a Christian school founded by the late
Southern Baptist missionary C.K. Dozier and supported
through the Lottie Moon offering.
As a result, Yoshi got to know International Mission
Board missionaries to Japan David and Robin Johnson and an
IMB journeyman from Hattiesburg, Casey Sullivan, a graduate
of Baptist-affiliated William Carey College in Hattiesburg.
As part of a high school class assignment, Yoshi had to
attend services at a Christian church and write about what
happened. So he went to the Baptist church that is part of
the high school.
That was the beginning of a journey that led to his
accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
Attending the services opened up the Bible to Yoshi. He
wanted to learn more, so he talked with the missionaries.
“They told me to trust the Lord with all my heart,”
Yoshi said. “I thought this was a good way to think about
During this time Yoshi was having a lot of personal
“I had problems with school and with my family as a
teen,” even to the point of being severely depressed, he
“It was my Christian friends who helped me. They saved
my life, really!” he said.
Through the witness of the Johnsons, whom he calls his
American parents in Japan, Yoshi made a profession of faith
in Christ and was baptized in November 1995.
“I started to learn about the Bible and how to live as
a Christian,” he said. “After I started to think (like a
Christian), everything started to work out. I realized I can
get over any problem with him (the Lord).”
Yoshi, who long had dreamed of coming to America, had
tried to talk his father into letting him come as a high
school exchange student, but his father would not hear of
After his conversion, Yoshi still dreamed of coming to
America. Through Sullivan’s family in Hattiesburg, Yoshi was
able to make contact with USM’s ELI. Foreign students from
the world over come to ELI to learn English before enrolling
in American colleges and universities.
“I begged my father to give me just one year,” he said.
This time, Christian friends were praying for Yoshi, and his
father gave in.
“The Lord was paving the way,” Yoshi said.
After five months at ELI, Yoshi passed the English
proficiency test, which meant he was ready to attend an
American college or university. He also scored high on his
college entrance exams.
By now he had gotten involved at the BSU and begun to
learn more about Baptists and Christians in America.
“I was serious when I was baptized,” Yoshi said. “I
thought I knew a lot about Christianity, but after I got
here I found out how little I knew.
“Before, I never thought about using alcohol or smoking
as being wrong.”
Yoshi and his friends began praying that his father
would allow him to stay in Hattiesburg to attend USM.
“I had a long talk with my father on the phone,” Yoshi
said. “I worked hard for the ELI test and for the ACT. Most
of my friends at ELI could not get a good enough grade the
first time, but I could,” he said. “I wanted to show my
father that I could do the work.”
Once again his prayers were answered and he was allowed
to stay in Hattiesburg and pursue a Spanish major.
“Now I live very far from my family, but through the
BSU I have been able to meet godly, faithful friends,” he
Yoshi is very active in BSU, even going on a mission
trip to Guatemala, and he plans to go on another mission
trip to Canada this spring.
And he is very aware of his unique testimony for
Christ, recounting, “I met two other Japanese students here.
I have to show them what I believe, and I think I can
witness to them.”

    About the Author

  • Carl M. White