Concordia's Christian atmosphere often fosters lifelong friendships that transcend time and distance. For Yuka Miyazawa, Debra Basler, and the Heck family, the friendship that began over 20 years ago has come full circle.

In the 1990s, Yuka Miyazawa came to Concordia University Wisconsin from the Tokyo YMCA English College in Japan to study English. She was befriended by Debra Basler, the international student coordinator, who helped her to acclimate to a new country, a new university, and many new cultural experiences.

During her time at CUW, Yuka was introduced to Jesus and became a Christian. She was baptized at St. Paul Lutheran Church, Grafton, by then CUW professor Dr. Joel Heck. She spent several holidays with the Heck family when the CUW residence halls were closed.

The atmosphere of a Christian university, where several other Japanese students became Christians, was fostered by the religion classes, chapel services, Christian friends, and other influences on her faith development. One of Yuka’s friends during her time at CUW was Izumi Osawa, the daughter of a Lutheran pastor from Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan.

In March of 2019, Yuka visited the US and stayed with Debra in Dallas, Texas. The Hecks, now living in Austin, Texas, were excited to reconnect after many years, and it was a mini-CUW reunion in Waco. The photo (left to right: Yuka, Dr. Heck, Cheryl Heck, Debra Basler) was taken in the Waco restaurant where they met and shared many memories. Yuka now works as a Customer Service employee for Songwon International, a sales intelligence company in Tokyo.

—Joel Heck graduated in 1968 from Concordia University Wisconsin. He is a Professor of Theology at Concordia University Texas. He and his wife, Debra, formerly worked at CUW. 

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