Zion Festival 2018

IMG_3717This year, the theme for Zion, TCU’s annual cultural festival was ‘Ah!‘ an expression of exceeding joy taken from the gospel of Matthew 2:10.  This event is a platform for the school to interact with the surrounding communities, associate churches, friends, alumni, and prospective students. On that day, we open our campus to the public and offer various means of entertainment that include the puppet show, food booths, crafts and art, coffee cafes, cultural parades, and a musical concert from a Christian band. As international students, our duty is to participate fully (help host and provide entertainment). ACTS-ES students who are part of the Zion festival committee work together with Japanese students and staff members in planning, fundraising and advertising for the event. To give you an insight into what actually goes on before and during Zion Festival day, we asked several students who played different roles in the festival to share their experiences.

Aika, a freshman and first-time participant.

44653831_288514521758611_5062230175131893760_n “I enjoyed helping out with the Indonesian crafts and ACTS-ES booths. I also participated in the dance and fashion show. My most stressful moments were when I was preparing for the food booth. We were running out of time and we had to cook for more than 200 people. I basically lived inside the kitchen and was worried about getting the food ready on time. My favourite moments were practising the Indian dance and walking in the cultural parade! I learned about different cultures and their traditional clothes. I am so thankful to God for sending all these wonderful beautiful children of God in TCU and giving us a place to have fellowship and celebrate together. I hope many people will have more chances to visit Zion and experience what it is like to live as followers of Christ.❤️

Joy is not is not a full-time student at TCU, she but is taking a class with the ACTS-ES juniors and seniors once a week this term. She took part in the festival and taught a Bollywood dance to her classmates. IMG_3090

 I love that the cultural parade gives each student an opportunity to showcase their country’s cultural clothing and also a little swag to the style of walking to make it interesting. I feel it could also boost the confidence of the individual to embrace their culture as we are foreigners in this beautiful country we are more or less representative of our country so what better a platform than this to share our unique culture.  It was really a highlight of my life here in TCU to grab the opportunity to teach dance and I hope to continue. 


Some of the short-term students also took to the ramp and showcased their cultures through dance and culture walk. Masha Lanska from Ukraine chose to walk in an Indian Sari with Kudi who is from Northeast India.


“I really enjoyed wearing the sari! It felt like I became a part of Indian culture for a minute. My favourite part was watching Joy put the sari on me while explaining the beauty of the traditional dress. I am a Multicultural Program leader at Covenant College, which is a school I go to in the US. Every year the program holds a Culture Fest, and last year I got to be a part of it, and even participate in the cultural parade. However, the emotions I experienced at Covenant and TCU were very different from each other. Even though I have done it before, I was honoured to be a part of such a ceremony again, in Japan, with many other students from all over the world!”

Bianca a freshman from the Philippines also shared her role and first-time experience of Zion festival.


“In the Zion festival, I participated in the international dance and the parade walk. I also helped out with some of the food booths like the ACTS-ES booth, the cotton candy booth and tapioca booth. One of the stressful things was preparing for it and how busy it was. And on the actual day of the festival, running back and forth with the booth was kind of stressful but it was actually fun and I felt like I was doing something! something that was exciting!  It was my first time and I had so much fun! I got to meet so many people from different churches and even some of my friends from school came. It was very tiring but it was fun!”

Leah, a sophomore, was part of the Zion Committee and she says preparing for the event helped her improve her communication skills.


“My role as part of the Zion committee was to make the festival pretty! (I was in charge of the decoration.) With the ACTS-ES, I had to make and sell parfaits at the booth. I think during the zion preparation period, I improved a lot on my communication skills. Zion is a huge event and requires a lot of hands-on and that requires clear communication lines. I’m glad that in the end we made it work and everything was done on time.  I enjoyed the parade walk. I represented the modern tradition of my home state, Nagaland in North East India.  But, what still remains as the highlight of the whole festival is the live-in. I believe it is the only time the TCU students come together as a family and share their talents through performances and cheer one another.” 

Lastly,  Tyler shared his highs and lows throughout the event.

“My role in Zion festival was treasurer. I was in charge of money and budget for the ACTS-ES food booth. I also was a part of the international dance. The most stressful moment of Zion festival was making sure we were going to be profitable for our budget and preparing for the festival itself (dance practice, getting people organized, etc.) The most exciting moments were dancing to Earth Wind and Fire’s “Let’s Groove”, watching the EAI’s “dance through the decades”, and listening to ナイトdeライト perform.”





To see some of the highlights of the event watch this youtube video below:

BBQ and babies day out.

On September 24, the AAA (Acts-es Alumni Association) hosted a BBQ welcoming the freshmen who joined in the ACTS-ES program this August. It was a perfect way for both current and ACTS alumni to get to know each other better. The alumni shared some of their experiences in TCU and gave advice and insight on how life in Japan after graduation looks like. We also enjoyed basking under the warm sunshine and the cute kids running around the trees, some wrecking havoc made us smile. 

Here are some of the moments:




Welcome class of 2022!

It’s a new Acts-es year, meet the students joining our family…



Hey! I’m Tyler Hennig. I am 21 years old and I am from British Columbia, Canada! I like Rock Climbing and Skateboarding and I love Japan! よろしく!#papabless #westcoastbestcoast


’m Aika Heavenly and I’m half Japanese and Ethiopian. My hobbies are dressing up but my favourite hobby is praising God and having devotions. My favourite bible verse is Psalms 16:8 for I won’t be shaken when God is at my right hand. My vision is Jesus #loveGod ❤️


Hi, I’m Piyush Bali from North West India. I love music and worshipping God through my music, I like helping others and especially helping people to worship God with music. I also like teaching music a lot. For me teaching Christian music to non-Christians is an opportunity to give the gospel (that is my approach). I am a jolly and happy person who likes to make others happy. #ItsAllInTheMusic


Hello! My name is Daphne Snover, and I’m from Pennsylvania, U.S. I enjoy playing and listening to music whenever I have the chance to, and I love exploring and trying new things with friends. My motivation to come to Japan came from Romans 10:14-15, and I can’t wait to see what God will do here in the next few years! #excited


Hi, I’m Stabiso Shumba. I’m from Harare Zimbabwe. I enjoy new experiences. If I’m to describe me in two words that would be, ‘fun focused’. #behappy

IMG_2687 2

My name is Roman Bickel, I’m from Shizuoka prefecture. I’m half American half Japanese. I love to travel and being outdoors. #lifeisanadventure


Hi, I’m Bianca Virtudazo and I’m a Filipino but I was born and raised in Japan. I love capturing God’s beautiful creation through photography and I also love spending time with my family and friends. #GodFamilyFriendsLove


Hello, I’m Bob Ninda Kombe. I’m from Zambia. I love music, (I’m a HUGE Christian rap fan), I enjoy reading a good book and have a passion to communicate God’s Truth. #LetLoveLead

Summer Mission trips 2018 (KAKIDEN!)

What does it look like to answer God’s call to ‘go’ as a Christian in Japan and as a student in TCU? Summer mission trips in TCU are a tradition designed to help us live out our faith, go into communities throughout Japan, reach out, impart lives, create bonds, hear the voice of God more clearly and also establish the understanding of Christian ministry outside the classroom. This year’s, kakiden teams split up and went into far-reaching areas in Japan including the prefectures namely Nagoya, Shizuoka, Fukushima, Saitama, Hiroshima, Toyama to mention just a few. International students also gladly partook in this tradition despite the obvious challenge of language and maybe little knowledge of the various Japanese traditions which are more commonly practised outside Tokyo or Chiba, the communities that we now know well. In any case, it all proved to be a healthy challenge since we were compelled to put into very good use all the Japanese language skills that we have been sponging and also, life was made easier as our bi-lingual Japanese teammates acted as translators for us. These are some of the experiences shared by the international students:



Aika Heavenly Takeshi: My best experience Kakiden was when we visited the church member’s house and we shared our life in Chiba and we got to know about their lives in Fukushima. Our church name is 勿来キリスト福音教会
(Nakosu Fukuin Christ church). And also holding an event for the Church kids was a good experience. We all played with them, listened to Bible stories, fun events, and sang worship together. Kadamgailiu Panmei: It was an amazing experience to share some moments with the earthquake affected people and visit the spots where those events took place





Lauren: We went to Numazu Minatomachi Church in Shizuoka Ken. It was an altogether wonderful experience, from serving in the church, children ministry, sharing about my home culture knowing more of my team members. Sharing testimonies on national radio to reach out to a greater audience I think was the highlight of the trip.





Shira Walker: I went to Megumi Baptist Church in Toyama. It was a wonderful time together with a local church. One thing we did was have a kids outreach event and put on a puppet show about the gospel.



Radhika Rokka: This picture was about the day when the kakiden members volunteered cleaning all around the church with the church members. It was a very good experience to work with church members and to help them. Anne TaylorI enjoyed our homestay at a church member’s house. We got to hear their testimonies and enjoy playing with the kids.
We also had an open church event. It was fun to sing and dance to praise songs with the kids. our church was Midori Fukuin church in Nagoya.






Spring retreat (2018) at Yamanashi 県


Being able to get away from the daily pressures of campus life and to have time away with mates was undeniable the most refreshing experience. Yamanashi-ken gave us so many things to enjoy. The breathtaking view of mt. Fuji from Evergreen hotel, the hospitality, adventures in the woods, fastest roller coasters at FujiQ, paranomic ropeways from the mountaintop giving us a beautiful view of the lake, boat riding, Onsens, fishing,    matcha ice cream, movies, historic sites, all too many to mention, all unforgettable. it was also a time of devotion, singing together, listening to the Word, eating together and not to forget, showcasing our God-given talents through live-in performances. It was a surreal experience! and also lived up to the theme of the retreat, KOINONIA!!

“Learning 日本語(Japanese)”: Andrew’s Experience


Andrew Carlson

All international students at TCU, with exception of those who are already competent in Japanese, are required to take six Japanese courses, or eighteen credits, over the course of their first two years studying at TCU.  I happen to be in the intermediate level of Japanese with the second year ACTS-ES students.  We are currently enrolled in the last mandatory Japanese class, so we are on the home stretch!  Each trimester of Japanese has looked a little bit different.  This trimester, our instructor, Miyako Kobayashi, has incorporated various activities into our class time in order to ensure a more relaxed, tanoshii class environment.  One of my favourite parts of the class is at the end of each lesson in our textbook when we write and perform a skit.  Sometimes the skits can be boring, but most of the time we’re creative enough and write some omoshiroi skits.  I think one of the best ways to get new grammar and vocabulary to stick is to create really crazy, funny sentences that use those words are structures.  Even just speaking and using new grammar/words a few times is so beneficial for language acquisition.  Another activity we do often is tadoku.  Tadoku basically means a lot of reading; lately, on Wednesdays and Fridays, we will end class with some reading out loud as a class.  Sometimes we will read all together, individually, or even act the scenes out.  I really like tadoku because it helps us to become familiar with the kanji that we are learning and according to Kobayashi-sensei, hearing your own voice while reading really helps to learn the language.  Although it is necessary to study, one of the aspects of the class that everyone can agree is probably our least favourite is learning kanji or Chinese characters that are used in Japanese.  With each lesson, there are anywhere between fifteen to thirty new kanji to learn.  We are expected to learn the different readings of the kanji along with the correct way to write the kanji.  Of course, we also have quizzes for each lesson’s kanji; the quizzes are never terribly difficult as long as they aren’t writing quizzes.  I can handle learning the readings, but learning to write them and remembering how to write them is a whole different story.  Overall, Japanese class has been a great experience, especially because of our amazing teacher.  Surely without her help and grace, we would not be where we are today in our Japanese ability; I think everyone can agree that the best part of our class is Kobayashi-sensei.  Although I may not always be appreciative of all the Japanese homework and having to go to class every morning, Japanese class has definitely benefited my experience at TCU by equipping me with the language ability to communicate with the Japanese students here.

“Andrew and Laura’s skit in Japanese class. One of his favourites”


TCU short-term students’ experiences in Japan: Mt Fuji testimony.

“a wise man will climb Mt. Fuji once, a fool will climb it again.”

Testimony by Moriah Miller


Near the beginning of the semester, many of the EAIs* and some other friends climbed Mt. Fuji, and man, was it an incredible experience. Afterwards, I was reading in Matthew, and the trip gave me a new perspective that I want to share with you.

Matthew 7:14 says, “For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”

Climbing Fuji was not on my Japan bucket list when I arrived, but someone brought it up and I thought, “sure! Why not?” I have experience with mountain climbing and expected it to be easy. I could not have been more wrong. My group of 8 started hiking around 9 pm in order to complete the 8-kilometre hike to the summit by sunrise. It was freezing. We had all packed more warm gear than we thought we needed and we still didn’t have enough. Towards the summit, the wind was blowing so hard that I was afraid my exhausted self was going to be blown off the side of the mountain. Progress was much slower than we thought, and we constantly had to stop to rest, warm up, eat. Some of us needed more rest than others, and tension grew as we had to decide whether to wait, keep going, or split up. Remember, this was at the beginning of the semester so we didn’t know each other that well yet. We weren’t sure if we liked each other, let alone if we trusted each other to get us up 3,776 meters safely. Whether or not we were friends, though we wanted to stay together because we knew we needed each other. We did stay together for most of the hike, but the trail became so difficult and crowded right before the top that we became separated. It was so cold near the summit that I wrapped my face in a blanket and kept my head down as I inched upwards. I just relied on the person in front of me to know where to step. I remember realizing at one point that I didn’t know anyone around me, but I felt a strange sense of companionship with everyone because we were all suffering together and we were also all going to witness a glorious sunrise together.

And glorious it was. Even though the summit was extremely cold and the journey difficult, the sunrise and the sheer accomplishment of the journey made it all worth it. It’s pretty easy to see the allegory between Matthew 7:14 and our Fuji journey; it was a narrow and difficult path, much like Christ promises our lives as Christians will be. However, what we really struck me about reading this passage after hiking Fuji was that not only is the path and the Christian life difficult for me, but it’s difficult for everyone who is on it, and we cannot make it on our own. We have to depend not only on Christ but on one another, even though we are all struggling and sometimes might not like each other very much. I also realized that we will probably struggle in different ways. On Fuji, some of us were exhausted, some were freezing, and some were running low on motivation. I think we tend to want to be around only the people who have the same struggles as ourselves because their empathy makes it seem less difficult. However, it is important to be with people who are different than you! If we had split up into a faster and slower group, then some of us would not have made it to the top on time for the sunrise and some of us would have made it too soon, and to wait in the freezing darkness longer than necessary. Should we have left those who were struggling behind? Of course not! We can encourage each other to keep going, and we can call each other out when we’re blind to our sin, but we should do everything we can to urge one another on. Similarly, we should not separate ourselves from other believers because we struggle with different things or because we don’t get along. I believe there is a time and place for severing ties, but my point is that we shouldn’t sever ties just because they are struggling.

I know that being a Christian in Japan is difficult. There are so few Christians here, and so the path is not only difficult and narrow but lonely. And there is so, so much work to be done. I think that dependence and grace between struggling believers is especially important here. TCU is such a gift that we are able to have Christian community here, and that we can have a community with people who are different than us. We can bear each other’s burdens, and we can glorify Christ in unity. Like John 17:22 says, “The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.”

So, Mt. Fuji was challenging and reminded me that we should not be surprised when Christians struggle and we should help each other along the difficult path. In conclusion, I want to share one of the problems with my analogy. There’s a proverb that says, “a wise man will climb Mt. Fuji once, a fool will climb it again.” Fuji was amazing, but I’m never going to climb it again. However, the richness of the love of Christ and the glory of the Lord which we will experience in full in Heaven is worth far more than a sunrise and the difficult path is the one we would choose over and over again in order to experience Heaven if we were given the chance. And let us not forget the debt that Christ paid to make this possible; he knew that we would struggle and fail, but his death and resurrection proclaim us justified. Even though we know this life will be difficult, we also know that one day we will stand beside one another as every tribe, tongue, and language, praise God in His unfathomable glory.


On Mt. Fuji

*EAI – East Asia Institute – Short-term program at TCU

Summer of 2017

Summer is a good time to get a fresh perspective on the world around you. For us as a community, we take it as a time to explore, connect and learn about activities that surround our mission here in Japan and home. This summer, different groups of international students, currently studying at TCU, embarked on various missions. Some went on summer mission trips around Japan, some in Nicaragua, others visited their home countries, and some visited alumni in their respective countries. The following entries are chapel presentations made by the students who visited Nepal and The Philippines during the 2017 summer vacation. They share about what they learnt from the alumni, those who have walked the TCU journey and are putting into practice what they learnt and gained in TCU and Japan during their time here. 

Nepal – presented by Mandira Dangol

This summer we went to my home country, Nepal and had the pleasure of visiting Richan and Baileyna Karmacharya, and their five-year-old daughter named Sameka.  Richan and Baileyna graduated from TCU in 2010 and 2011, respectively, were married in Japan, and then returned to serve in Nepal.

After the 2015 earthquake, TCU as a school supported them in prayer and financially. When we met them, they expressed gratitude for this support and continued relationship with TCU. Currently, Richan is teaching Japanese at a language school and also through private lessons. Baileyna teaches English at a middle-school. They both use these opportunities to share the gospel.    

Seven months ago, the Karmacharyas began a house church in the centre of the city Bhaktapur. The city is filled with temples and the majority of the people are orthodox Hindus. The Karmacharyas shared that most churches are on the outskirts of the city because it is too difficult to start a church in the centre of the city. But they felt a calling to reach the Newar people who live in the area. They started a house church seven months ago with about ten people gathering to worship in Richan’s parents’ house. Since then it has grown and even two boys from non-Christian families have joined their Sunday school. When the Karmacharyas went to ask their families whether the boys could attend church, the mothers not only encouraged them to attend but also gave them the free choice to become Christians.

It is encouraging to see God’s work in growing the church, but now they need a larger space to worship. It is difficult to find a place because of religious opposition but they still show commitment to serving the Lord.


The Philippines – presented by Lauren Magaso

Philemon Mendoza, one of the pioneering alumni of the Act-es program and his family visited Japan last spring. Many of us here got an opportunity to listen to the message he shared in the chapel. But, beyond that, Kadama and I had the opportunity to spend some time with the family when we went to the Samurai Village, a trip which was facilitated by Yanagisawa sensei. We got to know more about the ministry that Philemon and his wife MayAnne were doing in the Philippines. We were moved by their warmth, kindness, and passion that they had for God and serving Him. They extended an invitation that we can visit their home and church anytime and our quick response was “say no more, see you this summer!”

It was quite a memorable experience as we got to travel together with our friends, Ann, Yu, Nem, Kyle, Minori and Nozomu and Mitsuki. We were warmly welcomed at Villa Carolina Bible Christian Church where Philemon serves as resident pastor. The message he preached on that Sunday was about faith that perseveres. The reading was taken from Hebrews 11:1-3 and altogether the message reminded us as a youth how important it is to retain our faith.

Talk about perfect timing. The Sunday of the 20th of August was a day of recognizing the youth and we got to join in this experience. We were handed gifts and we got to share a special meal of banana root karekare, adobo and senorita bananas which was just perfect for us as a people trying out new things. The fellowship time was wonderful, we got to learn some Filipino chants and play games and do a Bible quiz.

It was an encouragement to see the work that Philemon is doing; how he is reaching out to people; sharing the word of God; and how many people look up to him for guidance. I personally feel inspired to walk through this TCU journey diligently, graduate and use this knowledge that I am attaining to help others get to know more about the kingdom of God and at the same time, be able to defend my faith.

First Glance

Meet us.

We are from every decade of life and from many diverse, ethnic backgrounds.
We come from (or reside in) Bulgaria, Canada, China, Cameroon, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Germany, Japan, Malaysia, Macau, The Philippines, South Africa, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Peru, Uganda, USA and Zimbabwe.

Some of us are in school, training for their future calling; others are volunteers in their churches or full-time moms. Many of us are working professionally in careers as diverse as counselors, design engineers, ESL teachers, legal advocates, missionaries, pastors, professors etc.


Challenge Chapel