A Turbulent Baptism

This weekend we’ve had our daughter Nicki and husband down from Brisbane to celebrate her birthday.  We had a lot of good food and accommodating weather, which let us eat out on the balcony, much as if were in Summer.

Later, we were playing the “Un Game”, something that was created by a lady who wasn’t allowed to talk for several months after a throat operation.  What she created was a set of questions, all different and of different levels, so that even our grand boys, 6 and 8 could enter in.

Some of the questions are fun, “What’s your favorite food”, or introspective, “What do you see when you look in the mirror”.  The 6 yr old got “What’s your favorite childhood memory”, which we all found amusing, but he came up with a good answer.

When it was my turn, the question I got was “Who was your greatest mentor?”  I had to think for a moment till I remembered Noguchi Sensei and how much he influenced both Tony and my lives.

You remember from last week that Noguchi Sensei the told young Christian Yukiko to pray and wait till the Lord told her to go on and be baptized.

After several months, the call came one evening.

“Marsha” she said, “I just feel that it’s time for me to be baptized.  I need to follow and obey”

“Do your parents know?” I asked

“No, there’s just no interest there.  Besides I’m of age and so I want to be baptized.  But just to be sure, can we keep it a secret?”

I told her I’d talk to Noguchi Sensei and get back to her, and the next week Tony baptized her in the little church near our house. We all rejoiced.  It was the right thing to do and the church was excited.

In Japan, once you’re baptized, you automatically become a church member, and your details are printed in the church directory.

Now this was not a huge directory, just 50 or 60 names, alphabetically (in the Japanese alphabet).  Her last name, Tanaka, meant that ’ta’ was her first letter, tucked pretty far back in the directory.

Unfortunately the day came when she needed to make a quick call to another person with a name starting with “Ta”.  She made the call but in her hurry she left the directory open by the phone.  Then Daddy walked by.

Well…….the response was not good.  Tanaka san showed up at church, his fist curled, shouting his way through the door as he confronted Noguchi Sensei.

This is where the ‘mentoring’ part comes in.  We happened to be there as well and Noguchi Sensei invited him in with all the cordiality he would give a dignitary.  He motioned for us to join them and nodded to the women in the kitchen to get the tea happening as Tanaka san blustered around and finally allowed himself to be directed to the best seat in the room.  He looked around and with a loud ‘Harrumph” sat down.

“What has happened to your daughter is a wonderful thing, you must be so proud and happy” the pastor began. (I’m guessing Noguchi sensei knew full well that this was not the case, but it’s always good to lead with the positive!).

“NO!”  Tanaka san shouted and stood to leave, shaking his fist in the pastor’s face,  “You’ve brainwashed my daughter and stolen her and I’m going to ……..”

The tea arrived, and there were some nice sweets on a side dish as well.  Tanaka San looked at such a fine offering and sat back down, still grumbling.

We all let him go on until he took a breath. We honestly didn’t know how to respond or what to say, but finally Noguchi Sensei raised his hand and said quietly,

“No one has ever coerced your daughter to do anything.  She initiated each move toward Christianity because God led her to do so.  She clearly loves you both very much, but sadly, YOU, as her father, were not there to answer her questions.  In fact, you so intimidated her that she chose to keep this all from you, so actually it’s YOU you should be shouting at!”   He smiled, dropping his gaze to the teapot as he refilled Tanaka san’s cup.

Tanaka san’s jaw dropped as he continued.

“Now Yukiko, being 20 years old, has the right to make her own decisions, and she’s chosen Christ.  You would be wise to do likewise.  She will be welcome to continue to attend this church as long as she believes God wants and we will not stop her.  Neither will you.  I hope you’ve enjoyed the tea and Good day”.

I wish I could end on a happier note, but you’ll have to wait just one more week to find out what happens………..

Just a hint.  Yukiko did find it to her advantage to find other accommodations.

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