You need to join a club or social circle so you’ll have interaction with others on a regular basis, Machiko’s doctor said. You risk getting dementia if you don’t.
When Machiko* went for her annual check-up, she already knew she struggled with depression. She knew she was socially withdrawn and battled an anxiety disorder called hikikomori. But she never thought her lack of a social life could cause her to lose her mind.
She needed company — she needed friends. She needed help.
It was overwhelming. When she got home, she decided to take a walk down the street to clear her head.
And that’s when everything changed.
Staying at Home with Her Gods
That is part Buddhist, part Shinto, part other. It all depended on the situation and what god seemed like a good option at the moment.
That’s why many Japanese have what they call a “god-shelf” at home. It serves as a place with enough room on it to offer flowers or food to all their gods. And in Machiko’s case, it gave her a way to worship in the seclusion of her own home — avoiding social interaction at shrines or temples.
But as the doctor pointed out to her on that day in 2014, her precious god-shelf was part of what was destroying her sanity. She needed interaction.
She Found Hope on a Neighborhood Stroll
After learning she could face dementia if she didn’t get out more, Machiko decided to go for a walk.
She didn’t have a clear path laid out in her mind. She just started walking. And after a while, she noticed a church by the side of the street.
A kind woman invited Machiko inside. And Machiko agreed.
It was All too Much, too Fast
Before long, Machiko was meeting once a week with a woman named Hiroko, a faithful member of TEAM missionary Georgia Landis’s church. Then, Machiko started going to the weekly Bible study Georgia led.
After a few months, Machiko began to wonder if this Christianity thing was for her. She even started meeting with the church pastor to find out.
It all seemed to be going great — until Machiko’s anxiety reared its ugly head. Suddenly, she felt overwhelmed. She didn’t know if she could commit herself to Christ.
Machiko decided to leave Georgia’s Bible study. As is customary in Japanese culture, she decided to leave the women at the Bible study a parting gift — a batch of cookies. When Georgia heard about the cookies, her heart filled with fear for Machiko.
“If you call my phone, only call in the morning,” Machiko had told her. “I will not answer in the afternoon.”
Regardless, Georgia called at 3:00 p.m. on a Tuesday. She wasn’t sure Machiko would even answer — but she did! She even told Georgia she could come to her home for a visit if it was earlier in the day.
Georgia refused to give up on Machiko. And so did the Lord.
Machiko Knew Something was Missing
Georgia eventually convinced Machiko to rejoin the Bible study. In June 2017, one of the women in Bible study gave her testimony, and Machiko was struck by how similar it sounded to her story.
She knew something was missing her life. Was it the Lord? If others could go through what she’d been through and still find God, why couldn’t she?
She bought her own Bible — one with big print so she could read everything.
“You know what I did all day yesterday?” Machiko asked Georgia one morning. “I spent time doing detailed work, cutting out tabs for each book of the Bible. I never do that. Where did this feeling come from? Why do I want to know so much about the Bible?”
Machiko even started attending church on Sundays — a huge step for someone with a social anxiety disorder!
“Up until now, my place of safety has been my bed,” Machiko said. “But now, I realize it is here, at church!”
Thank You for Giving Machiko Peace!
By 2018, Machiko had confessed her faith in Jesus to Georgia and all the women in Bible study.
She told her adult sons that she no longer needed her god-shelf — that the Bible was enough. She even burned her old idols!
God saved Machiko’s mind from dementia, her heart from anxiety — and her soul for eternity. And it’s all thanks to your support! Thank you for not giving up on Machiko.
Please pray that Machiko will grow in her faith and withstand Satan’s many traps.
You can pull someone from the pit of hikikomori today. Don’t let them suffer like Machiko did. Introduce them to the God of peace and protection with a compassionate gift to TEAM. Please give today!