Joey and Yisel Zorina: Reaching Tokyo

Joey and Yisel Zorina: Reaching Tokyo_3

On what has become known as Giving Tuesday here in the United States, we want to give you an opportunity to get to know the newest members of the Vision Nationals’ family, Joey and Yisel Zorina. As part of our Ten Thousand Churches initiative, Joey and Yisel are in the early stages of planting a church in Tokyo, Japan. We are thrilled to have them on board, and we can’t commend them to you highly enough. It is an honor for us to feature an abridgement of their story, written by Joey, here on our website. It is our hope that you’ll begin praying and giving so that Joey and Yisel can establish a vibrant, Gospel-centered church in Tokyo.

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Hello, my name is Joey Zorinsanga. You can call me Joey Zorina as some friends do. I’m originally from Aizawl, Mizoram, a 95% Christian state in Northeast India. I was raised in a Christian home, but I did not know Jesus and walked away from the church as a teenager. I was heavily influenced by western music, and so I spent a good part of my life as a guitar player, studio musician, and a music magazine correspondent. I ran away from home several times, and ended up doing a lot of things that got me into a lot of mess. I was in search for significance and meaning in life, without really finding satisfaction in anything that I undertook.

Conversion.

Life became meaningless and emptier as time went by, but in God’s time I came to know the deep love of Christ in a time of great despair and confusion in my life. It was during this time that I found just enough strength to go to a small intensive Bible training school in Assam state (India), after which my life took an entirely new direction. The Bible school director there accepted me just as I was and I came away changed, having experienced the new birth and the discipleship that followed. I know not everyone experiences dramatic changes at the time of conversion, but like many I did by God’s abundant grace, and I immediately began to lose taste for the worldliness that had so engulfed my life. To this day I am rejoicing in the glorious Gospel of God’s saving grace!

Call.

After joining a prayer and fasting group that met every Friday in my town, I had an impression in my heart to get more training. I had initially thought of going to the U.S for my theological training, until I heard about another school in Tokyo via my cousin. So, in God’s providence, I came on a full-scholarship to Japan in 2004 to study at Tokyo Christian University where I completed my degree in Asian Christian Theological Studies (2008). While studying there, I also had the opportunity to intern at several churches as part of the training. After learning that the Japanese are the 2nd largest unreached people group, it reinforced what I felt to be God’s call to make disciples among the Japanese.

Life and Ministry in Tokyo.

Shortly after serving in Tokyo and Chiba as an intern staff member, I moved to Nagoya city and met my wife and got married there at an English speaking church (2010), before moving back to the Kanto area (Tokyo) in Kawasaki city (2011). My wife, Yisel, is originally from Uruguay, South America. She did her studies in Canada to be an elementary school teacher, and even though she didn’t want to be a missionary, or get married to a pastor or a missionary, it became clear to her after she came to Japan to work at a Christian school. And her call to be a pastor’s wife was confirmed after we met. Sometimes I think God has a sense of humor, and we have a saying, “Never say No to God!” Yisel has taught kindergarten for the last 8 years in Japan, and she loves to help host the group that meets every weekend at our apartment. We began meeting in January 2014 and are overjoyed to share that God has given us a healthy group of non-Christians who are growing in their understanding of the Gospel. We will have our first Baptism in December prior to our first Christmas service.

Apart from this, we also have a team of volunteers for The Bridge Live, an outreach event to Jazz musicians, their friends and families, which is held once every three months. I also get to teach English to foreign language Japanese students at a college part-time, while writing for Living Life Devotionals published monthly in English, Korean, Chinese, Thai and Japanese.

Cultural Challenges, Hopes, and Prayer Requests.

Japan is often called “The Missionary Graveyard” because of the hardness of the soil. Many missionaries become greatly discouraged over time due to the costs and standards of living, lack of support, difficult language, and the time it takes for Japanese to come to Christ — though all missionaries believe that it’s the Holy Spirit’s role to change people’s hearts. Less than 1% of the total population are Christians, while some say it may have risen to 6%.

Japanese are one of the most polite, wonderful and hard-working people on earth, who eventually become very loyal friends. But like in many other cultures, Japanese are also deeply nationalistic, and Christianity is still perceived as a western religion. After the triple disaster (Earthquake, Tsunami and Nuclear Radiation) on March 11, 2011, there’s been an openness to the Gospel as more Christians around the world began to focus their prayers for Japan. Even in our own ministry, we can attest to this openness more than ever.

  • Please pray for the group that meets at our home, and our outreaches, as we lay the foundations for a church plant.
  • Pray that churches would come alongside us, send us co-laborers and partner with us.
  • Please pray for us as we seek to build a healthy team.
  • Pray that we will be sensitive to the leadership of the Holy Spirit and be responsive.
  • Pray for an increasing openness for the Gospel among the Japanese.

Feel free to write to us — a note letting us know that you’re praying for us is a huge encouragement. You can also connect with us on Facebook and learn more about what we’re doing in Tokyo by visiting our website. If you would like to receive email updates please sign up for our monthly newsletters and forward it to others you think might be interested. Thank you so much.


If you’d like to make a tax-deductible donation to support the Zorina’s work in Tokyo, you can do so via our online giving page. When prompted, simply choose “Zorina Support” from the drop-down menu.

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