I didn’t hear the sound of the footsteps, but the Beautiful Feet were walking towards me long before I was born …
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Finally, I could breathe deeply now that I was no longer suffocating under the restraints of my stepfather and mother’s home. I was on my own and independent. I had my own cozy apartment, my own fulfilling job, and my own brand new car. I had just purchased a new metallic blue Suzuki Jimny (Samurai), so that I could go skiing this winter.
When I heard my alarm clock’s noisy sound, it was six am. I jumped out of bed, and opened the curtains. The mountains were always there and whenever I saw them, it made me want to go skiing. But now, I really had to hurry to go to work. Today was the very first day of my new job, and it would take about twenty minutes to my new office in my 4WD Suzuki.
My office was on the second floor in a small business building, so I didn’t need to use the elevator. When I trotted up the steps, drawing close to the office door, I could smell isopropyl antiseptic. I was a little bit nervous, and my heart started to beat a little bit faster. “I will work diligently here and make money, play hard and enjoy my life,” I said to myself in my heart. I was determined to be successful.
I met my co-workers, and they were all very nice and friendly. It wasn’t long before we all became like school classmates because our ages were so close. Not surprisingly, we had all brought our own obento (lunch box), so when lunch time came we ate together. “Itadakimasu.” (Let’s eat!)
Comparing each other’s meal we saw that some had onigiri (riceballs) with the umeboshi (pickled plum) inside, some had yaki soba (fried noodles) and various other typical stuff. We began chatting girls talk, relaxing and eating, all except Mariko. Looking down, Mariko closed her eyes. I thought she was dozing off, so I told her. “Mariko, what are you doing? It is lunch time, don’t sleep! Wake up!” Mariko was quiet for a minute or so, then she opened her eyes. “I was not sleeping. I was praying,” she said.
“Praying? What are you talking about? We don’t have any statues or butsudan here,” I told her. Mariko replied, “I was praying to the Living God in Jesus’s name.”
Living God? Jesus’ name? These words and concepts were so foreign to me. I had no idea what she was talking about. It was the first time I had met a Christian in my life. Later I was to learn that she had come to believe in Christ as her Savior while in middle school. Both her parents were Christians and they lovingly shared the meaning of the Gospel with her.
The small seeds planted decades ago, sprouted, bloomed, and reproduced new buds …
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After years of pastoral ministry in America, Harris felt a strong calling from God to share the Gospel as a missionary in a foreign country. He was willing to obey God wherever He would lead him as a missionary. He told his wife, Judy, that God was calling him to be a missionary. His wife agreed with Harris, and they told their denomination about their decision. The denomination encouraged Harris to go to Japan, because after World War II ended, General Douglas MacArthur had asked the churches of America to send ten-thousand missionaries to Japan. In February 1950, Harris, his wife and their two small children, Joan and Jim, left from San Francisco for Yokohama, Japan. Their boat was not a beautiful cruise ship, but an ordinary, serviceable freighter. The commonplace freight ship stopped over at Guam, and then headed to Japan.
After a full month since leaving San Francisco, they finally landed in Yokohama Bay. Upon arrival in Yokohama, another missionary, Rev. Sorley, picked them up in a classic Jeep, like the GIs had used in the early days of the occupation. As they drove from Yokohama to Tokyo, Harris could still see from the car, scars left by the damage of the war. Japan was still under U.S. occupation at that time. Harris felt an ache in his heart and realized how much the Japanese people needed the hope of Christ.
Harris served several years in Tokyo, but the mission organization decided to send Harris and his family to countryside of Japan in which were no Christian churches at all. Their new ministry was in the prefecture of Wakayama, about 350 miles from Tokyo in Southwestern Japan. Road conditions were such that it took them five days by car to get there.
Once there, Harris and Judy reached out to their nearby neighbors, conducted Bible studies, and shared the Gospel. God blessed their ministry, and many local Japanese received Christ as their Savior. The house where Harris and his family lived was a new one which their mission organization built. A family with a little girl named Akiko lived next door. Harris’s oldest daughter Joan became close friends with Akiko. They played together and Joan shared the Gospel with Akiko. Eventually Akiko came to believe in Christ and was baptized.
Akiko grew up as a Godly woman and met a Japanese Christian man. They married and God blessed them with four children. Mariko was their oldest child and became a Christian when she was fourteen.
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At the time that Mariko told me that she was praying to the True Living God, I was skeptical about any religions. When I was coping with my grieving and searching for the reason my father chose to give up his own life, the gods didn’t help me at all. They were so silent. They didn’t comfort me or rescue me from the darkest pit. How could I easily believe in something like the true living God, Christ Jesus?
I determined that my duty and mission would be to make Mariko doubt her “God”, and convince her that there are no real gods. But the seeds which Harris planted years ago would also be planted in my very dry soil …