I was born as the third daughter at a Buddhist Zen temple in 1934. My father trained at Eiheiji Temple, the headquarters of the Sotoshu a sect of Zen. He always instructed his children to strive after virtue and be an example to others.
My father taught me that a temple is a place of comfort for village people, but temple people have no home, so I played in nature until dark and the moon on the lake chased after me as if to say, “come home.”
With this strict upbringing, I became a model child, wearing thick moral armour.
I worked in social services where my success on the frontier of innovation made me feel good every day.
Then, the deepest sadness of my life happened: my only son passed away in 1983.
This is when the Lord came near to me for the first time.
However, I wouldn’t change my selfish attitude. I worked hard not to show weakness.
For the second time, the Lord came near to me in 1989. On a sweltering hot summer night after I battled with my boss, I drove away angrily in my car. I stopped in front of a church at midnight. I was furious enough to demand to see to the pastor.
At 2 am, suddenly I heard a crack of thunder and was silenced with terror. The pastor talked with me gently. “Are you okay? May I read the Bible?”
Amazingly, the Bible talked about advocating my righteousness. It was Romans 12:10–20, and 13:1–13.
I understood that the Lord came near to me again.
I went home in a fresh, good feeling, watching sunrise in the east. Because this morning was Sunday, I went to church. On Monday, at my job, everything had changed.
Three months later, in 1990, I was baptized on Easter.
Two months after my baptism, the Lord came near a third time. While I was praying at a 5 a.m. prayer meeting, I felt as if somebody touched my shoulder. I turned backward to notice a poster. “The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest field” (Luke 10:2).
When I asked what it meant, the pastor answered that the Lord expected my service. In spite of my experience, I questioned whether I could do it. Then, the pastor asked if I could quit my job and I answered that I would resign my job with confidence.
Three years later, I retired, entered the Evangelical Biblical Seminary of the Japan Mennonite Brethren Conference, and started my full-time ministry.
I had not noticed the Lord’s calling with his presence, but he prepared a new way for me 10 years after my son’s death.
Again, the Lord came close to me when I had a life threatening disease, fulminant hepatitis. After my doctor sentenced me with three-days to live, I had a vision that the Lord removed the coagulated blood of my damaged liver.
God’s love and mercy overwhelmed me, and he saved my life. I realized that many sins remained such as arrogance, selfish and hypocrisy.
Practically speaking, it took five year to be cured. Yet through this suffering, I watched the image of God and heard God’s voice which strengthened my faith.
How beautiful God’s treatment is! Maybe it was impossible for me to have certain faith without suffering.
At the end, I remember the call to “come home.”
My family is beginning to draw near to God. When my elder brother (who is a monk at a Buddhist temple) had a surgery in a Christian hospital, I talked to him about Jesus caring him. My niece became a Christian, and my father and other brother also had faith in the church.
My dream is to open my house to welcome guests like the temple of my childhood. (Psalm 133).
—Mineko Nishimura is a member of Mukogawa Christ Church, a Nihon Menonaito Kirisuto Kyokai Kaigi (Mennonite Brethren) church in Japan.
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