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"Walking in the Path of Jesus" March 27, 2005
Good Morning! I am thankful to be able to share my testimony this Easter Sunday.  I was born in Shimonoseki in a home that was very earnest in idol worship. Each morning and evening we would pray to the shrine and each day we would give offerings to the god shelf.  My mother was also deeply involved in a religion which had been handed down by my grandmother.    Various things such as good luck charms and amulets were things which I believed gave special acknowledgement in heaven.  I was trying very hard to earn special points to attain heaven.   I also frequently worshiped at Ujigamisama festivals and various seasonal events.  Since the time I was small, I remember holding my mothers hand and attending these events.  I learned the Buddhist prayers by heart.  All of these things were just a natural part of my daily life.   My character was formed and life lived in this type of environment.

In 1990 I married my husband and 2 years later our first child was born.  We are a family of three.  I carry a threefold responsibility as a mother, a wife, and a teacher.  My husband is also a teacher.  Since we are in the same line of work, we have a lot in common.  I have met a lot of wonderful people through my work, but there are also some people that I would prefer to avoid.  Since I didn’t have many high standards, I am sure that I have offended people on occasion.  In 2002, I had interpersonal relationship difficulties which you would not believe!  It became hard for me to breathe.  There was also a time when I was experiencing anxiety attacks.  The damage to my spirit was great and beyond my capacity to handle.    Because of the great stress I was under, I suffered nerve damage in my neck and my left arm became paralyzed.  My painful condition continued to worsen.

I thought at that time, “I wonder if I can be saved by the earnestness of my worship of the gods?   Am I not able to be saved?”  I also felt this way:  “I wonder if I am not saved because I do not pray more earnestly to the gods?”  I kept having these types of thoughts.  As the days passed, I gradually began to recover.  But the problem of troublesome doubts continued to stay in the corner of my heart.

One day, one phrase of the song, “Lets walk in the path of Jesus,” came to my mind.  It was a very odd feeling.  This was March 14 th, , 2004, on a Sunday morning.  This one phrase knocked on the door of my heart.  It was a very heart-moving sound.  It was at that time that I had remembered that I had studied English at this church in the past.  I asked my son, Hayato, would you like to go to church with me?  When he answered, “Yes”, my heart became light and joyful.  As if something was guiding me, I drove the car.

When we arrived at the church, the service had already begun.  At the reception desk, Mrs. Fumoto welcomed me kindly with a warm smile.  I was so happy.  I thought, “What a genuine person she seems to be!”  Then Hayato and I went upstairs to the auditorium.  We sat in the very front row.  We were not yet Christians at this time.  They were singing phrases when we entered and to my amazement they were singing the song that had come to me this morning, “Let’s walk in the path of Jesus.”  As I began mouthing those words, without realizing it tears came to my eyes.  I was also moved by the passionate sermon of Pastor Tony that followed and once again tears flowed from my eyes.

After the service, Tony showed me that I was a sinner that needed salvation, and I confessed Christ as my Savior.  I believed that Jesus took my sin upon Himself and died on the cross for me and that He rose again on the third day.

As I look back on the event of that day, it is hard for me to believe that I would do such an impulsive thing.  It was as if it was not me that was thinking, making decisions, or making a profession of faith, but that an unusual force was guiding me to do what I did.  The praise song which was in the back of my mind moved my heart and pushed me to go to church with Hayato that day.  With the help of Pastor Tony, I was able to, on that day, at that time, at that instant, believe in Jesus Christ.  Jesus had mercy on me and saved my soul.  I received the grace of God that day and I praise Him for it.

Since I made a profession of faith that day in March, one year has passed.  I have been studying the Bible from Pastor Tony and Naoko. Although I had never opened the Bible before then or read from its pages before I was saved, now I always have it by my side. I pray every day.  I read my Bible. When I read His Word, my heart is comforted.  I have peace.  I am so thankful for the grace which Jesus has given.  Hayato is also enjoying coming to church.   Hayato shared a verse with me that he learned in Promise land.  It was Acts 5:29:  “We must obey God rather than men!”  I was moved by this verse.

I was also touched that this time of God’s grace coincided with our plans to build a new house.  I am impressed and thankful for God's timing in my life. In the building of my house I was able to avoid all forms of idol worship.  I was able to have the land dedication based on the Word of God also.  This was a great joy for me.  I am also thankful for my husband who allowed me to follow my heart in these matters.

Last Sunday, my earthly father passed away.  I said goodbye to him.  Pastor Tony, Naoko, and Mrs. Harada, along with many brothers and sisters in Christ came to comfort me at the wake.  As a result I was able to stand firm in my faith.  I Cor.10:13, 14 says,  "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted about that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a ay to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.  Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry."  These words encouraged me and gave me a new strength.

While my father was hospitalized, I would take his hands and sing him praise songs.  He seemed to like the songs and would move my hand with the rhythm.  I also talked to him about the Lord.  I would say, "You need to believe in Jesus, ok?"  His head seemed to me to nod in the affirmative.  It is a small thing, but I dare to hope that he was also saved.  I wish now that I had done more good things for him while he was still living. For that reason I plan to do as much as I can, to encourage as much as I can, and to love as much as I can, the mother I yet have with me.  It is very sad to be parted with my father, but I want to give his spirit over to Jesus.  I would be very happy if I could see him again in heaven.  I think the death of my father was my second chance to be baptized.  And this time with my son Hayato.  Last year I was not able to make that first step toward the ocean, but He wrapped me up in his great arms of love. 

When I think of my father, my grief is great and I feel sad every day.   However, I am filled with great joy that I was able to be baptized yesterday, March 23, with my son.  I am very happy.  I am thankful for his blessing.  I think that God, knowing how difficult it was for me to make this decision used the death of my father to enable me to stand strong in my faith.  "Everything is beautiful in his time." 

A favorite verse of mine is John 15: 5:  “I am the vine; you are the branches.  If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

Now that I am saved, I want to walk with Jesus.  I want to fellowship with him deeply. The desire I have for Him to use me according to His heart’s desire grows each day.  It is gradual, but I am continuing to study God’s Word.  I want to make it the measure for my life. I want to become one in which light has entered into darkness and joy into sadness. Until I am taken up into heaven, I want to cherish the church, deepen my fellowship with the believers, and respect them.  Regardless of the circumstances, I desire to be filled with the Holy Spirit.  I love the Lord. Amen

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