To Be Like My Father


Yataka Gakiya (Japan), Master of Arts in Biblica Studies, 2021


Two images of his pastor father stand out for Yutaka Gakiya, 29. “He enjoys preaching God’s Word,” says the Sociology major from Kindai University in Osaka. “and he loves playing with me and my two younger brothers.”

“From young, my dream has been to be like my father.”

Yutaka’s journey to EAST began only after he met a Japanese pastor in a city where he worked. It was also during those three years that God’s call for him into full-time ministry was confirmed.

“Pastor Ishikawa served in Romania and studied at the Discipleship Training Centre (DTC) in Singapore,” says Yutaka. “His non-traditionally Japanese ways inspired me to broaden my horizons and prepare myself to be a cross-cultural minister outside of Japan.”

Initially, Yutaka had set his sights on a Bible college he had visited in the Netherlands. But during a visit to Singapore, at the Pastor Ishikawa’s encouragement, he met Motomu Kikkawa at a local church. The EAST alumnus introduced him to EAST; he liked what he saw, and applied to the school.

Besides receiving training in head, heart and hand – “Jacob Li and Amy Lau’s ‘Bible Study Methods’ was a turning point” – God used the community at EAST to help Yutaka overcome a major hindrance to ministry: his shyness and reticence “because of fear of making mistakes.”

One person was Dr Lewis, his faculty mentor. “During the school’s 360 review, I received feedback from my evaluators that I was too shy, which didn’t surprise me,” says Yukata. “Dr Lewis reminded me that God had not given me a spirit of timidity but ‘of power and of love and of a sound mind’ (2 Tim 1:7).”

“His gentleness built my confidence.”

God also used the multi-cultural EAST family to open Yutaka’s mind and expand his circles of confidence.  “Working with a community of ten different cultures forced me to be more tolerant of people who do not do things the Japanese or Yutaka way,” he says, “and trained me for my future ministry.”

Yutaka dreams of including hospitality to ‘strangers’ (Ex 22) and foreigners ministry at his church. “Through a special ‘Australian lunch’ organized by my Field Education class, I was inspired to use hospitable settings to reach out to youths and university students as well,” he says.

Surprisingly another major ‘confidence builder’ was the ‘Circuit Breaker’ in Singapore.

“One of my responsibilities for my Field Practicum is to preach at our church prayer meetings once in several weeks,” Yutaka explains. “When lockdown happened, the weekly meetings moved online to thrice a week – which meant I had to speak at least once a week!”

That “terrifying” experience, “which I had never experienced before”, pushed him to his knees to be bold in faith. “With more practice, I grew less and less nervous; and as I spoke with more confidence, more people gave me positive feedback. Now I find myself enjoying preaching more and more.”

Looks like Yutaka’s dream of becoming like his father is coming true.


The above article is written by Dr Lau Ying Kheng in EAST 27th Commencement Magazine and has been republished with permission.  Yutaka Gakiya has graduated with an MA in Biblical Studies and he has returned to his hometown in Osaka, Japan, to follow his father’s footsteps in serving a church there.

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