…and your household

Good Morning,

Today is May 20th and it’s the first blog of the ‘Memories of God’s Hand in Japan” that I mentioned starting last week.  I’m excited about hearing from all of you who have a story to share about when God moved among the Japanese to bring them to Him.  If you don’t send me some stuff, this may be a short campaign, but I’m confident in your abilities!

So…….today’s story is about our pastor’s wife, Kazuko.  She and her husband Naoki Noguchi (who we wrote about in Sacrificed, Given to an Empire, Saved by God ) were our pastors for many years while we lived in Sendai, Japan.  They deeply influenced us.

Have you read that Bible story about Paul in Prison? Big earthquake. Prison opened. Jailor about to kill himself. Paul stops him, he asks about salvation, to which Paul replies in Acts 16:31, “Believe on the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, you and your household.”

That’s a verse that’s raised a lot of questions with many folks wondering how it worked out that “he and his family were all saved”? Was it an instant thing, or was there some “working out” in the family that we don’t know about yet? I don’t know the answer to that one, but I have seen whole families come to the Lord through one family member, especially in Japan.

Back to Kazuko… she was a strong young girl living in the southern Japanese island of Kyushu. After the war, somehow she found Christ and the strength that had held her up until then was now directed to her new life as a child of God.

She needed it. When she made her profession of faith known to her parents, they threw her out of the house, as was common in the early 1950’s.  Having nowhere to go, she took up residence in the church that had brought her the “Good News”. Living there, she trained as a preschool teacher.  It wasn’t long before she met Naoki, also finishing his education as a pastor, and soon they were married.

After several years word came that her mother was very ill and she rushed back to the family home to help.  There was some degree of reconciliation, and in the process, Kazuko was able to share her faith with her mother so that she was able to believe in Jesus before she died.

With the death of the mother, the Dad went off the rails with grief.  He continued to berate Kazuko, even suggesting that her ‘wayward’ religion had been the reason for the mother’s death.  Kazuko left him there, moving back to her new home and husband and together they rejoiced to learn that a baby was on the way.

Time passed, and the father found that he couldn’t cope without anyone to boss around.  Finally he determined to himself that he was crazy, and subsequently managed to get himself admitted into an insane asylum.

But now we may have to chuckle a little when we hear ‘the rest of the story’.

You guessed it, by the time that he’d made the rounds with the schedule, the gruel, the fire hose showers and the incessant howl of the people that actually belonged there, he decided that he was indeed sane and needed to be let out!  Preferably ASAP.  He went to the warden and announced that he’d be leaving now.

Again, you guessed it.  As is true in any such facility, you don’t self admit for the weekend and then ‘decide’ you’re fine.  He was told in no uncertain terms that he would need a legal document from a relative who was prepared to take custody of him, just in case he wasn’t as fit as he thought.

The only relative left after the war was………Kazuko.  A young happy newlywed who’d found not only Christ but the love of her life.  Word came to her with the request.

She took some time to think and pray about it, looking to others and the Bible as she worked thru the hurts he’d inflicted on her, both mentally and physically.  She pondered about how this would affect her new family, having ‘crazy Grandpa’ joining them, but in her heart of hearts she knew what was the right thing to do.

Finally the day came when she was ready to go.

The asylum had a long bridge leading to it, spanning over an old unused depression of some sort that reminded one of a moat.  She checked in at the gate and they brought him out to the other side of the bridge. She called out to him and he yelled back that he was ready to leave and she better hurry up and sign whatever was needed because he needed out NOW.

Her answer, shouted back across the gap, embodied the inborn strength that she’d always had as well as the new courage she found in Christ.

“I’ll sign you out on two conditions.  First of all, where you are right now, you will apologize for all the grief you’ve given me. Then, you are going to understand that you will be in church, by my side, sitting respectfully, every Sunday for the rest of your life.”

He turned to look back at the asylum and then agreed without a second thought.  Anything was better than this.

And he kept his promise.  He soon understood the words he heard from the pulpit and gave his heart to the Lord, and in the newfound forgiveness, learned not only to love, but to be loved as well..  He lived to a ripe old age, and joined his wife in Heaven, leaving a little loving family of Kazuko, Naoki and two fine boys to mourn his passing.

God does save families. ………in his time.

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