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This is Why He Came

Stories of Salvation and Transformation from Around the World

Jesus Satisfied His Thirsty Soul: The Story of Mamo Ishida

by Emmalie Ellis, DBU Student

From Rahab to the Philippian Jailer, Old Testament to New, Augustine to C.S. Lewis, we have seen testimony after testimony of how the Lord has saved and changed the lives of individuals throughout history, some familiar and some stories perhaps new to us.  

We have caught a glimpse of the redemptive nature of the Gospel - how the Lord makes something whole out of our brokenness, wipes our dirty lives clean, and does not abandon us in our unbelief, but proves Himself to be true and even uses us for His Kingdom-building purposes.  

Today, on Christmas Eve, we have the privilege of seeing the life of one of DBU’s very own, Mamo Ishida, having been transformed by the Gospel as an international student.

Mamo was born in Japan into a Buddhist home. Prior to his arrival at Dallas Baptist University as a freshman, Mamo explains that he knew nothing about Christ. He didn’t have any Christian friends, did not believe in an afterlife, and had never opened a copy of the Bible. 

When he came to DBU, Mamo learned how the God of the Bible changed the lives of his professors and classmates. He knew that their desire was for him to also come to know this Jesus. But Mamo was not convinced, nor was he interested in this religion. Denying the God he was exposed to daily, Mamo depended on his own knowledge and strength to bring him satisfaction in life.

Glory be to God alone for what happened next. It was during a Chapel service his freshman year that the song “As the Deer” was played, the lyrics of the old hymn ringing throughout the student body:

“As the deer panteth for the water
So my soul longeth after thee.
You alone are my heart’s desire
And I long to worship thee.”

What Mamo felt during that time is best told by Mamo himself:

"When we started to sing this song, tears came to my eyes and I started crying. I was confused at the moment, and I didn’t understand why I was crying. I tried to stop crying, but tears kept coming to my eyes. Then, I realized that I was identifying myself with the deer in the song. In my mind, I was refusing God, but my soul was crying out for Jesus, the living water. God encouraged me to admit that I have a soul, and my soul was longing to receive the love of Christ."

A few short months after this, Mamo was at a Bible study on campus where a small group of his fellow students helped lead him in a prayer of salvation, and Mamo’s life was forever changed.

After this, the Lord began to mold Mamo through His Word and through other believers and mentors on campus, including then-President Dr. Gary Cook. Mamo says, “the people I met at DBU were servant leaders.” Mamo, for the first time ever, realized the purpose of his education and of his life as a whole: to serve others.

Mamo went on to stay at DBU in various leadership capacities, most notably in developing and directing the East Asian Studies program, but he felt the Lord calling him to return to Japan in 2019 where he is now teaching a servant-leadership course at a public university in Okayama. Though many of his students share different faiths, Mamo has been given opportunities to share the Gospel as they inquire about Christ, the ultimate servant leader. “Please pray that the Lord continues to teach me how to abide in Christ and He in me. May the Lord teach me to live in total dependence upon Him, so that I may produce good fruit in my life that is pleasing to Him.”

Prior to salvation, Mamo Ishida had a hole in his heart that could only be filled by the love of Jesus. Why do we celebrate Christmas? Because God sent the answer to our prayers, the filler of our heart’s void so that one day we might know and be known by Him.

If you don’t know this Jesus, if your soul pants as Mamo’s did for something greater than everything this world has to offer, know this: Christ came for all (John 3:16), and the greatest gift to ever exist is available to anyone who calls on His name (Romans 10:13). 

Whether you have known Jesus for the longest time or you, just like Mamo, are running away from what you know deep down to be true, Jesus is ready to redeem you with open arms.

This is why He came.

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