From Buddhism to Jesus

By Hazel Schaeffer, serving in Japan

It isn’t your average Sunday when an 83-year old man gets baptized—at least not in Japan! The elderly are known for being stringent followers of Buddhism. Customs are passed down from one generation to the next. Vows to care for the Buddhist family altar are nearly impossible to break.

God was working in Masayuki Sugihara’s life long before his baptism. In his testimony, he shared that he and his wife, Miyuko, had dreamed of enjoying retirement. But Miyuko developed a severe case of rheumatoid arthritis, and the couple decided to move closer to their daughter.

In their apartment building lived a Baptist pastor and his wife, who were recovering from burnout. They initiated a Bible study with Miyuko, who found her way to Kawaguchi Christ (Alliance) Church. She loved the church, which was just a 10-minute walk from her home, and felt welcomed there.

Miyuko became a follow of Jesus, and Masayuki attended her baptism. He wondered why these people attended church so faithfully. Eventually, the change he witnessed in Miyuko had a profound impact on him, especially as she ventured into a little courtyard amid a bamboo forest each morning to pray. Also, Miyuko invited Pastor Kouichi Motonomi from the Kawaguchi Christ Church to teach weekly Bible studies in the Sugihara home.

Masayuki reflected on his own life and realized he had no faith. He attended Sunday services at Kawaguchi Christ Church occasionally and sensed a change in his heart as he listened to Pastor Kouichi Motonomi.

“I Believe!”

Masayuki, describing himself as “a stubborn old man of 83,” could not deny that God was drawing him to the Savior.

On September 8, 2013, as he looked up toward heaven, Masayuki gave a strong testimony with the simple words, “I believe!” My husband, Don, had the privilege of baptizing Masayuki, whom he calls his “Japanese father.”

We thank God for the privilege of serving in Japan and of seeing Him work in people’s hearts.

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Read a story about Alliance missions in Japan.


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