Shimpei Suzuki grew up in Japan and lived there until he was ready to pursue and further his education. When he was ready for college, he decided to come to the United Sates. He wasn’t a Christian, as only 1 percent of Japanese are Christians in Japan.
His first stop was San Jose/Bay area for a six-month language school to learn English. During that time, he met his next-door neighbors who were Christian. They invited him to come to church with them, but he refused. “I was afraid of religion,” he said. His mom had told him he should never get involved with religion because then he wouldn’t be able to get out of it. “She told me it would mess up my life.”
After Suzuki was done with his language course, his next-door neighbors again invited him to church. By this time, he knew more about the American culture and Christian religion, and he wanted to know more about it. So, in the summer of 2013 he agreed to go to church with them. As he started to attend church and Sabbath School, he started asking different members questions in regards to how life should be and what truth was. “I was craving the truth, and now even the Bible was an answer to my questions.”
When Suzuki was still doing the language course, he had plans when he was done to go into philosophy. However, as he started going to church and learning about the Bible, he decided he wanted to go into theology instead. He started Bible studies with two pastors — one Japanese and one American. The Bible studies were in both Japanese and English. Six months after he started Bible studies, he was baptized on his birthday on July 19, 2014.
Suzuki had heard through a Japanese pastor about Weimar College. He visited the campus a couple of times and knew that it was the place for him. He really liked the smallness, uniqueness, and the spiritual environment of Weimar. He also liked the practical applications that Weimar offered along with education, such as agriculture and construction. He also appreciated that
Weimar’s medical missionary focus involved every student, even theology students. The Lord made it clear to him that he should go there after he was baptized.
As he started his education at Weimar, he first found it very difficult. Not only was the English language a barrier and that he didn’t have any friends, but he also was a new Christian. Because he was a new Christian, he still didn’t know much of the Bible, and so he had to catch up with the rest of the theology students on the knowledge of the Bible. As he moved forward, however, he started to understand the Bible more, the love of God, and more about theology. Now as a junior, he also started feeling more connected to the community at Weimar.
“I really like the environment of the theology program. There are no distractions of the world here, and I can focus on studying. If I were elsewhere, I would probably be distracted, even if I were blessed with the classes or worship. I know that if I were constantly distracted by worldliness, I wouldn’t have had the same spiritual growth.”
Not only is the theology program helping to grow his knowledge and understanding of the Bible, but also the program has helped him academically and with his writing skills as well. And not just that, but being a theology student has helped him to realize the need for spiritual leaders on campus, and being in the program has helped to strengthen him to be a spiritual leader and prepare him for ministry someday.
“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:2).