By Marilyn Stewart, Regional Reporter
NEW ORLEANS – A banjo player, Fusako Takada’s love of Jazz took her from Japan to New Orleans a dozen years ago. Though Takada didn’t know it at the time, her quest for music set her on a path to faith and new life in Christ.
While in New Orleans in 1998, Takada was introduced to the story of Jesus through the gospel music of the African-American community. Back home, Takada joined a gospel choir led by an American in Tokyo.
[img_assist|nid=5988|title=Fusako Takada of Tokyo Baptist Church teaches Bill Crider to do origami.|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=100|height=67]Takada dropped in early for choir practice one day and heard the Bible being taught by the director.
“I thought religion was for the weak-hearted and that the Bible had nothing to do with my life,” said Takada, 33. “But I was amazed at what I heard!”
Soon, Takada gave her life to Christ and found a church home at Tokyo Baptist Church, where retired International Mission Board missionaries and Louisiana natives Dennis and Judi Folds were serving.
The daughter of a geisha – a respected women’s role rich in Japanese tradition – Takada knew her newfound faith would be viewed as forsaking her heritage. But Takada remained committed.
“My life is yours,” Takada had promised God.
Takada’s passion for studying music in New Orleans was replaced with a burden for seeing the city come to Christ. After Hurricane Katrina devastated the city, she made up her mind to return.
Judi Folds told her husband she was concerned about Takada traveling alone in Katrina’s aftermath, so they asked God to give them a contact in New Orleans. Early one morning, the name Gentilly Baptist Church came into Dennis Folds’ mind; it was a name he had not heard in more than 25 years.
Folds had never been to the New Orleans church, but had met furloughing IMB missionaries Dan and Beverly O’Reagan in Louisiana just before the Folds left for language school. O’Reagan told Folds then that he would be serving as pastor at Gentilly Baptist.
An internet search gave Folds the name of Ken Taylor, a New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary missions professor who came as pastor when Elysian Fields Baptist merged with Gentilly Baptist following Katrina. Email contact followed.
Ken and Sheila Taylor welcomed Takada into their home and introduced her to the community. Takada returned to New Orleans twice more on her own, prayerwalking through the neighborhood and laying the groundwork for the mission team she would soon lead.
As she serves the Lord in Japan, Takada continues to pray that God would bring revival to New Orleans and America.
“God is using Fusako [Takada] in a miraculous way,” Folds said.