Naoto (born in the U.S.) and Erisa grew up in Japan, but most of their adult years have been spent in the U.S. Erisa was a second-generation missionary.
They met in Los Angeles while individually pursuing missions, and got married in 2014. God has given them two boys, Toshiki (2018) and Subaru (2020).
They were designated to be missionaries to Japan by Faith Church in 2022.
They began their missionary support raising in April. However, they had to pause the support raising as Erisa was diagnosed with stage-4 cancer in September. After battling the cancer for about 6 months, on February 18, 2023, she was called to be with her Savior in her eternal and glorious home, heaven.
After some time of mourning, contemplation, and prayers, Naoto restarted raising support to get to his mission field. Naoto is anticipating to finish raising support, move to Japan, and begin serving at Bethel Baptist Church in Saitama (north of Tokyo), in November of 2023.
Naoto's Testimony, Call, and Training
I was raised in a Christian family in Japan. Growing up, I did not doubt the message of the gospel, as it always made sense to me. But without having any Christian kids/friends around myself, I did not enjoy going to church. When I was in middle school, I stopped going to church on Sundays. Even though I knew in my heart that there was truth in the gospel, and that I eventually had to put faith in Jesus in order to be saved, living a holy life as a Christian in Japanese environment and in my relationships with friends seemed irrelevant to me. After I graduated from high school, I had an opportunity to live away from my parents in a church dormitory. I took the opportunity, started living in the church setting, and soon found that the gospel was really true. I received the gospel, put my faith in Jesus, and got baptized there. Within a year or so, I became more aware to the new joy in Jesus and the eternal hope in the gospel. Since salvation, God gave me a continually growing desire to know more about Himself, truth of His Word, and to reach out to the lost people around me.
When I was 22, I felt like I was called to a full-time ministry through a sermon of Isaiah 6:8. However, since I didn’t know anyone who chose to be a pastor at such a young age in Japan (average age of all the pastors is said to be in between 60 and 70), I did not pursue to become a pastor then, and only prayed to God and promised that I would become a full-time minister some day. When I was about 30, I took a class on world missions called Perspectives, and through it my eyes were opened to the need of missionaries in the world. Then I remembered the “calling” and “promise” that I made to God years ago, and I desired to use my life for bringing the gospel to any unreached people groups in the world. I consulted with my then-pastor, Pastor Osato, a former missionary in Thailand for 18 years, and he affirmed that I should become a missionary. Then, God led me to meet my now-wife who was at that time already a single missionary lady who was raising support to go back to Japan. As I got to know her, I saw the need of solid biblical teaching and counseling in Japan. I got married, and we both desired to be sent to Japan as missionaries after my Mdiv training in seminary. We are thankful to all of the churches that have been part of our training (Gardena Valley Baptist Church, Lighthouse Community Church and Faith Church of Lafayette, IN). Recently, we are especially thankful to Pastor Aaron Birk of Faith Church who diligently discipled me and played a big role in our being commissioned from Faith Church as missionaries to Japan.
2014-2017 The Master's University, B.A. in Biblical Counseling
2017-2019 The Master's Seminary, M.Div. (transferred to FBS)
2019-2022 Faith Bible Seminary, M.Div. (Graduated in June, 2022)
Association of Certified Biblical Counselors Certification - In progress under supervision of Dr. Brent Aucoin
(As in the picture, one of the highlights in ministry training for Naoto was his time with his fellow cohort at Faith Bible Seminary under the leadership of Senior Pastor, Steve Viars of Faith Church in Lafayette, IN. He will never forget the training called, "How to Navigate Your Church in a Pandemic!")
Erisa's Testimony, Call, and Training (written in 2022)
I grew up in Japan under BMM missionaries, Joe and Noney Mita. Although I had heard the gospel many times, I did not seek God from my heart until I was 15. At age 15 (year 2001), I was rebellious and had a presenting issue of not being able to go to school in Japan. I received biblical counseling from Susan Teat and Amy Baker under Faith’s counseling ministry. God softened my heart by using Hebrews 4:14-16, and I realize God’s love for me. God made it clear that I was a sinner, and that Jesus Christ is God, and that He lived on this earth, died on my behalf and rose again. He bought me with His blood and I committed my life to Him as Lord. Now I walk with Him daily and my eternal destination is with Him.
Although the Lord was good to me, when I was 21, I hit a crisis in my adult life due to my disobedient walk with the Lord. The Lord used John 10:17 for repentance and radically grew me in my understanding of the necessity of reading, loving and applying Scripture daily. As I lived this way, the Lord quickly, but strongly gave me a heart to pursue biblical counseling training in order to make this ministry available to churches in Japan. The more I grew in my spiritual disciplines, the stronger the confirmation became. As I pursued my studies in undergraduate and graduate work, the Lord called me to be a missionary to Japan. Several local churches provided me with opportunities to serve in discipleship/counseling/translation of ministry materials with the end goal being to make biblical counseling available in Japan. In 2014, I met Naoto in CA and this meeting itself is a beautiful story of how God orchestrates everything in our lives. We are happy to pursue missions to Japan together. We have two sons, Toshiki (Born in April of 2018) and Subaru (Born in December of 2020).
2007-2010 Maranatha Baptist University B.A. in Biblical Counseling
2010-2013 The Master's University M.A. in Biblical Counseling
Certified ACBC (Association of Certified Biblical Counselors) Counselor 2013–2023
Translated "Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands" by Paul Tripp, "Caring for One Another" by Ed Welch, various biblical counseling articles including Jay Adams, Biblical Counseling Coalition, SOLA, CCEF and Desiring God.
(In the picture below, Erisa, Toshiki and Subaru are enjoying a typical goofy moment together. Although it is still a struggle to balance efficiency, Erisa is daily learning to trust God in His big plan of ministry, doing life with these two precious goofballs.)