The Wind of God’s Prayer
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December 1, 2018
The Wind of God’s Prayer
I was born in Naha-city, Okinawa as the first girl of four children. Since my younger sister was born only one year apart, I was raised by my grandmother. She was such an independent woman that she made her living through her own business of selling miscellaneous goods. She didn’t spoil me at all, and always said to me, “Do everything with your heart and soul.”
When I was two years old, World War II broke out. When I was seven, the war extended its battlefield even to the main island of Okinawa. It was a terrible time. My father and my uncles had already gone to the war, and there were no working men around us in those days.
My father was stationed at the Nagasaki munition plant, so my mother and my younger siblings had already moved there. Hearing that the climax battle would take place in Okinawa, my grandmother finally decided to evacuate to Nagasaki together with me.
The government prepared the evacuation ship called Tsushima-maru, which was mainly for school-age children. Among 1,500 passengers, half of them were children. However, Tsushima-maru was sunk with a torpedo, which fiercely shocked us. One child of my relatives was also on board, and he died together with many children.
After that three evacuation ships were arranged. My grandmother and I boarded one of them. It really was a scary voyage. Usually it took only one night to reach the main island of Japan, but at that time it took us three nights. When we finally arrived, we all cried knowing that we somehow escaped death.
I remember how happy I was when I reunited with my family in Nagasaki after a long time.
My mother rejoiced so much in our reunion, but she must have been already weak then. One month before the war ended, she returned to heaven, worrying about her children she left behind. And as if following her, my baby brother returned to heaven a month later because of an epidemic after the war. He was not even two years old. Losing the adorable baby, my father cried bitterly.
Speaking of my father, on the day of the atomic bombing in Nagasaki, he was at work. He was bathed in the radiation light of the atomic bomb and suffered serious burns on his face and arms. Hearing a bomb explosion, he ran and ran nonstop, and before he knew, he already went over one mountain. There some people took care of him and gave him medical treatment. Bandaged all over his body, the next day he came back home walking very slowly. I couldn’t believe that he made it home alive!
From our house on the hill, we saw the bright fire caused by the atomic bomb and the whole sky turning to burning red. It continued to the next morning. We were at a loss, not knowing what to do.
As a child, I didn’t know that it was an unprecedented disaster caused by the atomic bomb, but hearing the neighbor adults speaking to one another, I felt very scared. They said that even if there were no physical damages, just by breathing the blast of hot air, people would die in a couple of days or in months. All I heard was talk about death, and actually many people around us died one after another.
The war eventually ended. After the war, the government’s distribution of rice gradually decreased and finally stopped. Food became very scarce, so my grandmother and I would visit faraway farmers to get some food.
What was most painful for me as a child was to see war orphans everywhere. Many of them were at the stations or the black market built in the ruins after the war. When passing by them, I found myself standing frozen on the spot.
One day, I heard a quiet voice in my ears:
It’s okay. It’s okay.
Hearing the gentle voice, I was filled with something peaceful. I heard the very same voice again at a different place on a different day. Both times, I couldn’t tell it to anyone, even to my grandmother.
Now I know that it was the voice of Jesus and that He was protecting and praying for those weak and helpless ones. I kept this resounding voice hidden deep inside of me.
In the beginning of this year 2018, I realized it for the first time when I saw a picture of a boy standing with his dead brother strapped on his back, which was taken after the atomic bombing in Nagasaki. It was on a Japanese newspaper I subscribed to in Hawaii, as well as on an English paper. Pope Francis introduced it, printing it on cards with the words, “the fruits of war,” and distributing them to the whole world, so many must have seen it.
When I saw the picture, I cried out in shock, “That boy is me!” Looking at the boy with his dead brother on his back, I remembered my baby brother and many other young children who died in the war.
There is such sorrow and pain unbearable to man. Whether we are young or old, no one can bear it on our back. And that is why the Lord Jesus died on the cross for us.
The gentle voice of Jesus, “It’s okay. It’s okay,” reminded me of the Lord’s voice that Mitsuko received:
I have gone through that pain.
I have gone through it for you.
So do not try to carry it yourself.
Pray for peace.
(August 23, 2017)
What the boy in the picture was looking at must be the complete redemption of the cross of Jesus. This is my faith. I believe that he was quietly gazing at the perfect salvation and healing of Jesus Christ beyond desperation before his eyes. This is the double vision Pastor Peter speaks about. I am convinced that the Lord has already prepared the cross for unbearable deep sorrows and painful memories of the war so that they may all be healed.
This year marks the 73rd anniversary of the end of World War II. Our bitter memories seem fading as time goes by, but are never lost. I believe they are now waiting to be exposed by the redemptive light of Jesus Christ, become light and turn into thanksgiving.
This year is the “Year of Healing.” And for me, it is the time for the complete healing of all created things transcending time.
After the war, the evacuated people from Okinawa gathered in a small village in Kumamoto and started a new life, while waiting for a ship to go back to Okinawa. We cultivated the land and planted seed in order to supply our own needs. My sister, brother and I were able to go to school there. We walked a long distance to school every day singing cheerfully, and for the first time enjoyed joyful and peaceful days being freed from the war. We spent a couple of years there and finally went back to Okinawa.
There was one more sorrow I had to go through. It was the farewell to my grandmother in my high school days. Due to the war, we lost our house and everything in Okinawa. My grandmother restarted her business all over again, and I always helped her after school.
One night, after all the work was done, Grandma took a hot bath at home, and when she came out, she was hit by extravasation of blood into the brain, and died in my arms.
I was shocked and cried out to God, “Why did you take her?”
Feeling emptiness in my heart, I went to school. Then one book on the shelf in the corner of the classroom caught my eyes. I casually picked it up and put it on my desk, though I didn’t mean to read. Opening it, I found this was an autobiography by the one who believed in Christ. A whole new world it was to me. I went to church for the first time with my friend. Until then I had never known there was such a wonderful place.
I enjoyed going to church during my three-year high school days, and also joined the Bible studies led by the missionaries sent to Okinawa. They made us memorize the Bible verses.
My view on God was gradually changed. When my grandmother died, I held bitter feelings toward God, but after the three years in church, I found myself seeing God as Someone truly warm and gentle.
Years passed, and when I was 31 years old, I visited Hawaii for the job training, invited by my coworker friend. In those days I was working as a hairdresser. Already seven years had passed since I opened my own hair salon in Okinawa. Of course, I was planning to go back to Okinawa after the training, but I fell in love with Hawaii and wanted to stay longer. I only had a week visa, and my friend’s husband helped me to extend it by one more week, then by yet another week, and after all my stay became about a month and a half! Hearing that in Hawaii they could take a day off on Sundays (it was so in those days), I wished to work there as a hairdresser. Then someone introduced a marriage partner to me, and we got married at Honolulu District Court in Hawaii. My husband ran the family business of tofu production, but I was not good at making tofu. So I continued to work as a hairdresser even after giving birth to my two children.
Working as a hairdresser, I enjoyed meeting many different people. I had joy in my work. Soon after I opened my own hair salon in my town, one American missionary woman started coming once a week to have her hair set. This woman used to be a missionary in Japan and was fluent in Japanese, and she invited me to her church every week. I sent my children to church, but I myself was not interested in church at the time, so I never went. Yet, seeing her faith, I remembered the Bible verses I had memorized in my high school days.
One of the verses that came back to my heart was:
Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. (Matthew 4:4 NAS)
I was working very hard, or maybe too much, but I realized that I was working only for the bread of this world. Just around that time my two children had reached school age, so I had more time for myself. Reflecting on my past and thinking about my life ahead, I saw no light at all. I didn’t know what to do, and looking up to the sky, I called out to my mother and grandmother who were not on the earth anymore. In search of the answer, I read many books written about the truth and listened to people who appeared to know the truth. No matter how many things I tried, I felt lost, not knowing how to go on with my life.
Then one lady, who was one of my regular customers and knew nothing of my inner struggle, said to me, “There is a unique pastor from Japan. He is staying with us for a couple of days.” She invited me to her house gathering, but I just let it pass through my ears at first. After a couple of days, all of a sudden I wondered, “Why did that pastor come all the way to this suburb town? Usually pastors tell us to come to their own church, don’t they?”
Somehow I felt strongly that I must meet him. It was night already, but I asked the lady if I could come and see him.
The lady said to me, “He needs a haircut, so bring your scissors. He will probably see you if you give him a haircut.”
Although he was doing busy even at night speaking on the phone and writing something, he welcomed me. This was Pastor Peter. I knew nothing about him, not even his name!
It was my first time to see him. Seeking the answer from him, I told him about my inner struggle very briefly since it was already night. He said, “Jesus has all the answers you want. So I will introduce Jesus to you,” and then prayed for me, “Jesus, please answer all the questions Toyoko has. Amen.” It was a very simple prayer, followed by a beautiful prayer in tongues. It was the first time someone prayed for me. Somehow I could so easily accept the name “Jesus.” “Oh, it is Jesus who answers me!” The name “Jesus” captured my heart that night.
Through Pastor Peter’s prayer, I met Jesus on the night of October 17, 1991. Twenty-two years had passed since I came to Hawaii.
It was already late at night, so I thanked him and quickly left the house. Driving back home, my heart felt so light in a way I had never experienced before. “Thank You, God. I am so happy that I came,” I said. Then from the depth of my stomach, the wave of joy welled up from within and filled my heart. Tears kept flowing on my cheeks. Ever since I came to Hawaii, I had never cried before. All alone in my car, I broke into a loud outburst of tears. My soul spoke to Jesus, “Was it You?!” and His voice resounded in me, “Yes, it was Me.” Tears welled up again. It was not a long drive to my house, but I wished that the drive would last forever.
Then I happened to gaze up from the car window. There was the big moon in the sky. It looked like an egg yolk, brightly shining. How beautiful! As I was gazing at it, the moon came closer to my car window. Wow! I continued to gaze at it, and found a horse appeared, running toward the moon. Looking closely, I saw someone riding on the horse. I wondered who it was, and it was me! I looked again very carefully. It was no one but me. I thought it was the Lord who let me see it. I accepted it gratefully. I was so close to the moon, and there was only the moon and I. I felt as if being in the midst of the Cosmos. Such a serene and beautiful place it was.
God was always with me throughout my life just like that moon. That was more than enough. How happy I was to find that the Lord is with me! I felt I had found the treasure of life!
This year, a scripture in the book of Ephesians spoke to my heart:
For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near. (Ephesians 2:14-17 NAS)
I’ve heard this scripture many times before, but now the reconciliation has finally come true to me.
This is the answer that I most wanted to know all my life. I used to feel heaven too far, and always wondered why heaven was not closer. Since I was very small, I had thought that if heaven and earth were truly one, there would be no more sorrow. Reading the above scripture, I now realized that God Himself desired to make heaven and earth one more than anyone. He has made them one through the cross. The complete reconciliation by the cross of Jesus has been done in me! Now all the words in the scripture make sense and resound deeply in me as God’s sincere desire and joy.
Man has both enmity and peace in him. I used to think that God could easily take away enmity from us because He is God. It was not so, however. The Lord Himself suffered on the cross and left only peace with us. The Lord is telling us, “Be filled with only peace. Nothing else you need.” The reconciliation of heaven and earth is the testimony of the love of God.
Now that Cosmic Worship is being revealed, I am so thrilled. The Cosmos is no longer far away. In Cosmic Worship, wonderful works of the Lord will all be revealed. How amazing it is that the Lord leads us all here to Cosmic Worship! Now let us invite all people and all creation to Cosmic Worship!
It took me several months to write this testimony, and the day I finally completed it was August 9, the Memorial Day of the atomic bombing in Nagasaki. I felt the Lord’s prayer and guidance all the way through.
Thanks to the cross of Christ, we are made the children of peace. We pray for the true peace of God to be done on the earth. May the wind of His prayer be delivered to all the earth.
（from Sunday worship at the Church of the Wind, September 30, 2018）