I am writing this message for Sunday, early in the morning. I couldn't prepare the testimony for a week because we were inevitably in the final stages of this concert.
I still feel a little tired, but my thoughts are filled with gratitude as I remember the faces of all those who joined me in thanksgiving and prayer to God, and each one of you expressed your thoughts in donations for Ukraine. I wonder how much of this gratitude I will be able to capture in writing.
Our lives have been transformed by the unexpected impact of the Coronavirus pandemic.
We have been living in a world divided by the nightmarish outbreak of Russia's war against Ukraine, a reality filled with anger and sadness.
I am sure that many of you have spent this week with various difficulties and sorrows in your daily lives. Last week, I was also allowed to participate in a prayer service for the funeral of Mrs. Michiko, with whom I had a certain fellowship in the Lord, and although I firmly believed that she had made a triumphant return to heaven, I still felt the frustration and loneliness of not being able to fellowship with her in reality.
Now let's look at what the Bible says.
The people hearing these words are the Israelites who were in captivity (Babylonian captivity).
Their parents and grandfathers were finally judged and taken into captivity because they continued to refuse to listen to the word of the Lord. Their descendants were apathetic in the face of this unchanging reality. However, in verse 4, God's words of salvation, full of comfort, are spoken.
I want to draw your attention to the words, "You are precious to me." The "I" is God, and the "you" is the Israelites of that time, but today, the target is "you and I".
How do you feel when you hear this?
Am I precious to God?
A pastor's wife wrote in her testimony:
I knew this Bible verse, but I had not accepted it, thinking, "How can I be precious?”
I didn't believe in or accept my parent's love or the love of God, who says, “I love you." If I did not accept it, I would not be happy. From the time I was a toddler, I was not a child. I remember that it was always dark in my mind. As I came to understand who I was correctly and to have self-acceptance, I gradually stopped comparing myself with others and stopped living in a win-lose situation. Therefore, now my mind is peaceful. I still sometimes feel like comparing myself to others, but when I do, I think, "I am neither more nor less than I am. I am the unique one. I try to remember that.
Among Mother Teresa's books, there is a book titled, "To You, the Most Precious in the World”.
I sent this book and the scripture, "You are precious and valuable in my eyes." to a person who was hospitalized for an illness.
I wanted to encourage her because she is at risk of being a disabled person shortly.
She had been active all her life with a sense of mission, so I was worried that the shock would be too great, and I wanted to give her some strength.
This is what Mother Teresa wrote in her book.
“When not accepted by others, even by yourself, God is the one who accepts you.”
Where does one's reputation lie?
The reality is that my value in life is measured by what others say about me:
The world of majority rule, the beauty and coolness competition, the supremacy of gold medals, and so on.
We are forced to cope with the world's judgment of us on the spot.
Even when we want to "be ourselves," there are times when we have been swept away by others’ opinions. Sometimes we can stick to our initial convictions, but sometimes we are forced to compromise to win, even if we don't want to.
Often, we tend to judge people by the visible results, success or failure, but I believe that what the motivation is far more important than the result.
I believe that the basis for believing in God’s love despite my feelings, and receiving comfort and living with hope is hidden in this verse. (Isaiah 43:4)
I would like to remember this once again in my heart.
<Report on the Disaster Prevention Music Concert>
We received a donation of 20,000 yen from the three of them as payment in place of a bouquet. The total donations from the concert were 31,550 yen.
We also received a congratulatory telegram from Mr. Hiroshige Seko, Secretary-General of the Liberal Democratic Party in the House of Councilors, with whom we have never had any contact.
Although we won the "booby prize" in terms of the number of participants in the events and lectures we have held in the area, we are pleased with the turnout.
Tomorrow, Monday, we will have the final tally of the donations from the high school and the elementary school (for staff) together, and I currently have a total of 371,476 yen.
I will also report the final total to you next week.
I wonder why not a single student from a school that is supposed to be highly interested in music came to the concert, despite the endorsement of the three local boards of education. We were able to get a glimpse of the level of interest in disaster prevention in the town of Kushimoto and the rest of Higashimuro County, but we should not be discouraged. It is just the beginning!
I don't know how to express how wonderful the spirit of the guests were, Bloom Works, and Daisuke Nozawa, who made a supporting appearance from Taiji Town. I am grateful to have met them and to receive the greatest treasure of all. They gave us great courage.
I thank everyone who prayed for us and donated.
Thank you very much.