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 (Manna 44: The Lord's Teachings)
God Opened A Way for Me
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TYGod Opened A Way for Me

MY CHILDHOOD

Both of my parents are from Kurahashi, which is a small island in Seto-inland Sea Hiroshima.

During World War II, my father was dispatched to Singapore but returned to Japan with some injuries. My mother has said that she personally heard and witnessed the explosions of the atomic bombs. My uncle passed away due to the after-effects of the bombs. All these things happened before I was born.

Because life in Hiroshima was very difficult, my father joined an agricultural exploitation program, and we moved to Jumonji, a place in Kyushu. This was where my brother and I were born in 1953 and 1951, respectively.

The people there lived a simple give-and-take lifestyle without even an amenity such as electricity. When I was three years old, Jumonji became an American army training camp, so we moved back to Hiroshima, where I grew up and stayed until I graduated from high school. After my graduation from The Institute in Osaka, I worked for five years and then joined the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteer program in 1980.

During my training, I went to Zen temples, but I did not understand the Zen concept of self-denial, and I felt like I would never be able to understand it on my own.

EXPOSED TO DIFFERENT RELIGIONS

On one assignment, I was sent to the Philippines, where Catholicism is the dominant religion. Out of curiosity, I visited the church several times, but I was never compelled to enter into the faith. I feel like the Catholic faith places too much stress on the church’s traditions rather than the Bible.

After I left the Philippines, I went to Indonesia, which is an Islamic country. I went to the mosques and worshiped in the name of Allah. At that time, I felt like religion and I had nothing to do with each other.

I had e-mailed a friend, whom I have known for more than twenty years, about the Bible. He replied, "Talking about the Bible is unnecessary. I am a Christian and, at the same time, I am a Buddhist." I was just like him: I thought that the world in front of me was everything. But thank God, He preserved me despite my ignorance.

While I resided in Taiwan, I visited the True Jesus Church several times. I felt that this church was different from the Catholic, Islamic, and Gospel churches I had visited. The feeling is hard to express with words, but I have the same impressions even now.

I thought to myself, "If I were to join a church, then let it be the True Jesus Church." I really can’t put my finger on it, but there is this mysterious feeling of intimacy with God in this church. Soon after, however, I returned to society and lived a worldly life, promptly forgetting the presence of God.

I loved to drink, and I often couldn’t stop myself from drinking. Even though I would regret it the day after, I just couldn’t kick the habit. It was as if I had fallen into a ditch and couldn’t climb out.

Life seemed to drone on in these vicious cycles until I met with further disasters.

THE LORD IS MY REFUGE

On the same day that my company went bankrupt, my son encountered some mishaps. Everything happened so suddenly that I became afraid. I didn’t know what do to. It was then that I forsook my concept of the world and resolutely returned to the True Jesus Church.

To be completely honest I really didn’t have any other options at that time but to go to the church. I began drawing closer to God. Indeed, I’ve really discovered that the Lord is our refuge.

While I was in Taiwan, I experienced the love and warmth of God through the embrace of the brothers and sisters. My tears would not stop rolling down my cheeks every time I sang hymns or prayed to God. I had no idea that one could shed that many tears.

It was as if these tears washed away the wickedness in my past so that I could feel a deep joy from within. Because I did not have the money to provide my children with textbooks, school uniforms, or other necessities in life, we lived with my wife’s sister.

Despite the circumstances, my heart was peaceful because I lived by relying on the words of God (Mt. 6:25). Some people have everything in the world, such as status and wealth, but want to take their own lives because they do not have the hope or the strength to live on. To them, everything is vanity because they do not know His words.

Just as King Solomon said in Ecclesiastes, the world is vanity without the abidance of the words of God. What is worth celebrating is that His words are our bread of life. With Him, we won’t ever have to know what it’s like not to be able to live on. I thank God with all my heart for this blessing.

Experiencing Him

Perhaps it’s very difficult for someone without religion to understand that faith is strengthened by experience. But I truly believe that there is a spiritual realm because of my experiences of the Holy Spirit.

The first time I went to True Jesus Church, I remember thinking that the way they prayed was so strange and funny. As I had not received the Holy Spirit at the time, I would pray with words of understanding saying, "Hallelujah, praise the Lord."

Once, while I was asleep, I dreamt of a bright light appearing overhead and encircled my entire body. I felt like I was floating in the air and I was full of joy inside. No words can describe that feeling.

After I received the Holy Spirit, I realized that I am no longer the same as before and I made the decision to get baptized at Osaka Church. I wanted to die to my old self and have the blood of Jesus wash away my sins as soon as possible.

On the plane to Osaka, I found myself gazing out the window at the same ocean in which I would be baptized. I clearly understood that, apart from Jesus, there was no one under the sun whom I could rely on.

GOD’S PROTECTION

Initially when my family first moved from Taiwan to Okinawa, I could not find a job. But thank the Lord, I later found one. I wholly entrusted my life to God and conducted a family thanksgiving at home everyday.

In Okinawa, I met fellow church members who had come from China to study in Japanese language schools. We held Sabbath services together and helped one another.

Everything was the meticulous plan of God, because He had already prepared the way for us (Ps. 139:3). For a period of time, while my children were still young, we couldn’t afford food but, miraculously, God arranged for others to help us.

The timing was impeccable. Besides God, who could have given us such help? Another time, on my way to work, I was riding my motorcycle and approached a sharp curve. The visibility was very poor because it was raining, and as I lowered my head to dodge the rain a car appeared out of nowhere.

I couldn’t react quickly enough and we collided head-on. I felt really helpless and yelled, "Hallelujah!" I found myself lying in the middle of the road with my motorcycle thrown to the side. To my bewilderment, I actually came out of the accident unscathed.

The driver of the car was also shocked and asked, "Are you alright?" Then he left. Even though I was the one who crossed the lane divider and hit his vehicle, he never looked into the matter or sued me for damages.

When I examined myself more carefully, I realized that my socks had ripped and I had only a minor scrape. Even today, I still deeply thank God in my heart. Surely God’s protection far surpasses man’s imagination.

HIS GUIDANCE

I had another miraculous experience when God guided a youth from China to me. I met him on a Sunday in the post office. He had wanted to buy a phone card, but the post office did not carry any. He spoke to me in English, and I replied to him in Chinese.

I noticed that he was carrying a Bible and felt that he would come with us to believe in the Lord. Immediately, I brought him to Ghokusen-do where my wife worked. I couldn’t believe that I was so bold. I don’t really remember what I was doing at the time, but I had only one thought: "I must bring him to my wife!"

My wife then warmly introduced the truth to this youth. Later on, he was baptized and became our brother in Christ.

Because there are only a handful of believers in Okinawa, visits from brothers and sisters from other churches are great sources of encouragement to us. Also, pastoral visitations remind us to take the initiative in pursuing the truth in the Bible.

To me, these visitations are like battery chargers. I really thank God for guiding my path and letting me experience His constant abidance and protection. Amen.

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Author: Takehana Reiji
Publisher: True Jesus Church
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