Paul Ariga's Testimony:


Chapter 2,

"Life from a Coffin"

A classmate of mine and I went to see a Japanese wrestling match. Shortly after returning home my 13 year old friend suddenly took sick with a very high fever. The next day he died. My heart was troubled. He had been my best friend.

At his funeral I saw him lying silently in the coffin dressed in a white kimono. In his right hand was a long stick. The stick was to help him on his long journey to the Buddhist heaven.

I thought to myself: "Where did he go? To heaven or to hell? If I suddenly died, where would I go?"

I felt that I would go to hell bcause of my sinful lying heart. Great fear gripped my darkened heart.

I made pilgrimages to the shrines and the temples. I listened to lectures by the temple priests. A Shinto priest even gave me a special blessing by waving a white-wool like tassel over me to purify me.

This is done much like the Jewish priests waved the hyssop over the offerings. There are many similarities between the Jewish and Shinto religions. There is the Holy of Holies into which the priest enters several times a year. There is the offering of unleavened rice cakes on the altar. As one enters the courtyard of the shrine there is a laver to one side for purifying purposes.

Each shrine has an "omikoshi," which contains the spirit of the god of the shrine. Much like the Jewish ark the "omikoshi" is paraded throughout the streets of the neighborhood. This shymbolizes the presence and blessings of the gods. As it passed by there is a feeling of awe and fear generated in the hearts of those who see it.

The gods were silent. I was still without peace. On New Year's eve I was making my way to the shrine. I believed that the first prayer prayed after midnight would be answered. I wanted my prayer for heart peace answered. As I walked along the dark lonely street, someone tapped me on the shoulder. I was surprised. It was a classmate of mine from our school's debating society. "Where are you going?" he asked. "To the shrine," I replied. "Please come to church with me," he answered. "No, I don't want to go to a Christian church," I replied.

He insisted and almost took me by force. He was the leader of our debating socielty, so I respected him and went with him. He took me to the meeting, which was held in the home of a poor tailor.

Mr. Nakamura, the tailor, was the acting pastor. Other Christians stood to testify of God's blessings. Mr. Nakamura stood to tell of how he had suffered during the war years. He told how an America bomber dropped a bomb on his home, killing his wife, his only son, and two of his three daughters. He told how that life would not have been worth living if God had not sustained him.

It was a New Years's Eve prayer meeting. The Christians began to pray out loud. Suddenly to my surprise someone prayed for me by name. Then the others joined in until all of the church was praying for my salvation. It was the first time that I had ebver entered a Christian church. I was a total stranger in this Methodist Church.

For the first time I understood God's calvary love and of my need to repent of my sins. In tears I accepted Christ as my Savior. As I was crying, Mr. Nakamura came to me telling me to confess my sins. After I did he quoted to me Matthew 9:2, "Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee." I became born again by God's Spirit. I was changed. I was a new creature in Christ Jesus.

I never did get to the Shinto shrine. I didn't need to, for I had met the living God. I had prayed and He had answered. He was not a silent god. I now had the heart peace for which I had sought so long.

I returned home to witness to my parents. I apologized to them for my sinful and disobedient conduct. I also apologized to my mother for lying to her about the bicycle incident.

Some months later I became a Sunday School teacher. I was able to get thirty of the neighborhood children to attend. After church I went to the same shrine where I used to clean the yard, and there held an afternoon Sunday School class for thirty boys and girls. So great was my love for Jesus that I had to tell others of his love.

One of these that I was able to lead to the Lord was the boy that my mother had falsely accused for stealing my bicycle money. I apoloized to him and led him to the Lord. Today he has a "tatami" (floor matting) store in my hometown. Years later he still serves the Lord.

I testified for the Lord at my high school. My unsaved friends teased me with the nickname, "Kirisuto" (Christ). They laughed at me when I prayed over my lunch at school. They also made fun of me for carrying my Bible and reading it at school. Whenever possible, I spoke of Christ whenever I had to say something before a school gathering. I also wrote of Christ in my school themes.


"The Tortured Missionary," Chapter 3, "The Gods Were Silent," by Japanese Evangelist Paul Ariga

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