Feature

“I Wish I had Found God Sooner!”

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Japan has more people over the age of 65 than under the age of 15. This senior age group has been almost impossible to reach with the gospel. Not only are they steeped in Buddhism, but many also carry memories of World War II, which they tie to the West and thus to Christianity. Finding Christ in one’s seventies is rare, and Mrs. Sugihara is one of those rare jewels.

Mrs. Sugihara moved to our area about five years ago. She had severe rheumatoid arthritis, which made her incapable of doing much in the home. Her husband, who had retired, did most of the cleaning and cooking. A Baptist pastor and his wife who lived in her apartment complex befriended her and invited her to a Bible study. She had another contact with Christianity when one of her siblings died and her two nephews, who are pastors, officiated at the funeral. The difference she saw at this Christian funeral made a deep impression on her.

She first stepped into Kawaguchi Christ Church because of the fall international food festival/rummage sale two years ago. That December she came to our Christmas worship service for the first time. In August 2009, at the age of 78, she was baptized on the rooftop of the church! At the service, she shared how her life had been without hope before she met God.

Mrs. Sugihara’s faith continues to amaze us. She is open about her belief in Jesus and invites friends to events at church. Almost every week she says, “I wish I had found God sooner!”

Every morning, she goes outside to pray in a little courtyard in the middle of the apartment buildings. She credits prayer with the change she has seen in her husband. She has seen God answer prayer in her adult children, grandchildren and her siblings, who are in their eighties.

Mrs. Sugihara has done much for God in the short time she has been a Christian. She has been an inspiration to us to pray and trust God for this generation of Japanese. Lost people matter to God. He wants them found! May God help us to find more treasures like Mrs. Sugihara.

—Hazel Schaeffer, Japan

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