I wasn’t raised a Christian. I never even thought about God growing up, just like many of the 127 million people in my home country of Japan. But I had many thoughts about my father. I didn’t like him.
My parents divorced when I was young. I ended up living with my mother but visited my father on weekends. When I was 14, my father fell ill, and I had to care for him on weekends. I didn’t want to be his nurse. It was very stressful, and I was young and had many other things to do. I complained, “Why me?” Whenever I saw my father, I told him, “I hate you.” I cried a lot. I think that my father cried, too. After a while, he died.
I decided to move to the United States to study animation. Before I started school in Los Angeles, I visited some cousins in Chicago who are Seventh-day Adventists. They invited me to go to church on Sabbath, and I really liked it. This was my first time in a Christian church.
But I didn’t have time for church after I started studying. For six months, my cousins asked me whether I had found an Adventist church in Los Angeles. Finally, I went to the Glendale Filipino Seventh-day Adventist Church. My plan was to listen to the sermon and then go home to talk to my mother on Skype. But the church was filled with young people like me, and they stopped me when I tried to leave. We ate lunch together, and they invited me to hang out with them in the afternoon.
My new friends called me the next day and wanted to hang out again. They called every day. I wondered why they were so kind to me. After a while, I realized that God shows His love through Christians, and my friends were showing me God’s love. I wanted to know more, so I asked many questions about God and the Bible. One of my friends was a Bible worker, and she gave me Bible studies.
I loved my friends and wanted to be baptized, but I couldn’t forget how I had treated my father. I wished that I could ask his forgiveness.
One night, I had a dream. I saw my father lying on the floor. His face was very white, as if he were close to death. He stared at me and didn’t say a word. I was stunned to see him looking at me like that, and I thought, “Oh no, he will never forgive me.”
The next night, I had the same dream. Again, I saw my father lying on the floor. But this time he smiled at me and said, “Thank you.” I thought, “My father has forgiven me, and this is what God does for us! Even though we don’t always act the right way, God forgives us and loves us.”
When my father said, “Thank you” in the dream, I sensed the joy of salvation for the first time. The heaviness in my heart disappeared. I knew I was forgiven. When I woke up, I prayed, “Thank you, God. Jesus has forgiven me. I can feel Jesus’ love.”
The dream eliminated the last barrier to baptism. I realized that God could forgive, and I felt His love through the people at church. I understood 1 John 4:12, which says, “If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us” (NKJV).
My cousins flew from Chicago to celebrate my baptism three months after the dream. They were surprised but happy about my decision.
Now I am 24 years old and working for a nongovernmental organization near Tokyo. I decided not to work in animation because animation is used mostly for video games in Japan. I don’t want to make video games. So, I work as an art therapist for children. My organization uses art therapy to help children overcome trauma such as a 2011 earthquake in northern Japan.
I am praying for my mother to accept Jesus. I also am praying for my church in Tokyo. The Setagaya Church is training Japanese Adventist young people like me to spread the gospel across Japan. Part of this quarter’s Thirteenth Sabbath Offering will help the church expand its work with young people.
By Horita Risa, as told to Andrew McChesney