We are the Marks family.
Jonathan, Heather, Nathan, Anna, Joshua and Abigail. Heather and I were in May of 2006, a few weeks after Bible college graduation. The Lord has been so good to us! He has graciously poured out His blessings upon our lives and we praise Him for salvation from Hell and for the freedom we have in this life through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
We have given our lives to take this good news to Japan. Glorifying God with our lives is our primary task. Bible preaching and life-on-life discipleship of new believers are the things needed most in Japan. Believing in the finished work of Christ and believing in Him alone is how all people are forgiven of their sins. This is how the lost in Japan will find freedom from idolatry, depression, and despair!
I was saved at the age of 17 on January 18, 1998 when I realized I was a sinner and in desperate need of a Savior. Under great conviction during a Sunday morning church service, I left my seat and went to the altar during the invitation and repented of my sins. I realized just how wicked I was and that I was on my way to Hell because I did not know God. For the first time in my life, I cried out to God for His forgiveness and help, and He answered with arms wide open. I placed my faith in Christ’s finished work on the cross that day, and my life hasn’t been the same since. I have found purpose and hope that I never had before. God has been so good to me, and I am so thankful for His love and leading in my life.
Immediately after I was saved and baptized, the Lord put an intense desire in my heart to learn more about Him. I turned to the two best sources I could find that could tell me more about my wonderful new Savior: my church and my Bible. I began attending church as often as I could, and I read the Bible every chance I got. The more I learned about the Lord, the greater my desire to tell others grew. I began passing out tracts and actively telling everyone I could about Jesus and the forgiveness that’s available to all who believe.
I knew then what I still know today, that I would never be more happy doing anything else other than spreading the gospel. So I started looking for a good Bible college to attend. My pastor recommended going to Crown College in Powell, TN and my best friend at the time (who was also my Pastor’s son) had already been attending. I enrolled a little over a year after I was saved. While attending Crown College I kept struggling with two major issues that just wouldn’t go away. What ministry I should serve in, and a wife to serve with. I wanted to be married with all my heart!
I asked the Lord daily for a good, godly woman to share my life with. One who had the same love for God and people that I had. One who would follow me as I followed Christ. One who was saved, kind, loving, honest, intelligent, talented, who loved kids, and beautiful of course! My list was long, and I can remember wondering if maybe I was being too picky, or if I was not being realistic. I thought, “There’s no way you deserve all this in a wife and certainly no way you could ever convince such a woman to be interested in you!” About that time God brought Ephesians 3:20 my way and proved just how much He loved me. It was so obvious God had been listening to my prayers because everything I had prayed for and more I found in Heather!
I love Heather with all my heart and, aside from salvation, consider her God’s greatest gift to me. She adds so much to our ministry and family and she daily brings things to my attention that glorify God and bring me closer to Him. We were married on May 27, 2006, a few weeks after Bible college graduation. As the wedding drew close, I recall wondering where we would go and what we would do. This had been a big question while in college, and with marriage, school work and life in general, I had kind of put this issue on the back burner not realizing that the pot was now boiling over.
While attending a missions conference my sophomore year at college, I surrendered my life to serve the Lord on the mission field. I had a strong desire and burden to tell people about Jesus “who had never heard.” It was at this point in my life that I really began seeking special opportunities to witness to people from other countries. I became heavily involved in the international ministry at our church and met people from all over the world. Some were from different parts of Europe, Africa, and Asia. The majority of the people we reached out to, however, were from Japan. God has called me and put a strong desire in my heart to preach the Gospel to the Japanese.
I have had several Bible studies in my home and in the homes of Japanese people. The Lord began to produce fruit and progress that only He could provide. It was amazing to witness. I had never been so excited to help people grow. The Lord used that time in my life immensely. I have a very strong desire to preach the Gospel and see churches started all over Japan, and I pray everyday that God would equip me with all the tools I need to accomplish the great desires He has put in my heart.
I have been burdened for the country of Japan ever since those days at Crown college, and I’ve been asking God to prepare us to be as effective as we can possibly be. As I have became more serious in prayer for God to use me in Japan He opened the door for us to begin deputation. Where God guides, He always provides!
I praise the Lord for allowing me to accept Christ at a young age. My family attended a great Bible-preaching church and through the children’s ministry, I remember understanding the Gospel for the first time when I was six years old. I am sure I heard it many times before that, but one Sunday, it all made sense. I realized that this was more than a story. I understood that the perfect man, Jesus, died for me, a sinner! I remember praying in the hallway with a faithful lady of that church. I was sincere and I was changed! I was forgiven and I had a Savior! I was baptized a few years later.
I am so grateful for the wonderful church in which I grew up. They taught me so much from God’s Word and modeled Christianity for me on a daily basis. They also had a strong emphasis on world evangelism. Missions conferences were always my favorite time of year from the time I was a young grade-schooler. I loved hearing about and seeing pictures of people all over the world who needed the Gospel. When I was fourteen, I surrendered my life during one of those missions conferences to do anything the Lord had for me. Deep down I just knew that I would marry a missionary.
Because I had given my life to Christ, I wanted to prepare myself to serve Him. I looked for a college that would meet that need. I’m so glad that I was able to receive a strong Bible foundation as well as receive ample opportunities to experience the ministry while I was at college. The Lord also brought me to a wonderful man! It was amazing to see that God had made me for someone special and that we shared the same desires for the Lord and His work.
I was also involved in the international ministry while at Bible college. The friendships we made during that time have truly impacted our lives. We got to see God working, first-hand, in the hearts of the lost. We were able to sow the seed, water, and reap a harvest. We also learned a little of how it felt to sow and water without reaping. We are still praying for our dear friends who have not accepted Christ. The Lord used these experiences to show us the need for each person to receive the Gospel and understand it.
Please pray for the lost and for us as we follow God’s leading to Japan!
We hope this blog will be a means to keep in touch with us as well as to remind you to pray for us!
Sayōnara. Watashitachi no monogatari o yonde itadaki arigatōgozaimasu. (Goodbye. Thank you for reading our story.)