Ai came to London as a student in 2003 but only one month after her arrival, she injured herself whilst doing Kendo, a type of Japanese fencing. Unfortunately she’d torn her Achilles tendon and had to endure surgery followed by a lengthy recovery – six months without being able to walk on it. This was obviously a difficult time. New to the country, Ai didn’t have friends or family around her and didn’t feel her English was very good. In an attempt to make friends, she decided to look up a Japanese church and try to go along. (Ai’s sister had become a Christian previously and had given Ai the church details in the hope that she might go along and hear the gospel). For the three years that Ai was in London, she went to the church regularly, mainly because she made friends there and enjoyed studying the Bible. But she still didn’t believe in God. The time came for her to graduate and at that time, the pastor came and asked if she’d like to be baptised before returning to Japan. He told her to think about it and gave her a date by which time he needed to know. Ai wanted to refuse the offer of baptism as she didn’t believe, but the night before the deadline, she thought about how it was her last chance to look at the Bible so she opened it. In fact, it fell open at John 20 and as she glanced down at the page, she read about Jesus’s encounter with doubting Thomas. Ai read the words: ‘Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe’. She started to cry and prayed to God, saying ‘Sorry I’ve ignored you. I repent, and I want to believe’. When Ai met with the pastor the next day and told her what had happened and how she did want to be baptised after all, he was very surprised! She sat in Starbucks with him and wept as she recounted the events of the night before.
Shortly before returning to Japan, Ai met her now husband, Tim, who was studying at Bible college in Edinburgh. Tim later came to Japan as a missionary and they both worked as missionaries in Japan for five years before coming to the UK.