One day, the pastor of Liberdade asked us to visit to see a 40-year-old man who had been suffering from stomach cancer.
We met first with his grandmother and mother.
The mother was very grateful to her son for protecting and providing for her family since her husband died at a young.
The mother also lamented that her son had ended her fiancé. Because of taking care of his family.Her son was diagnosed with stomach cancer.
He was born in a Christian home. He accepted Jesus during young but he gradually drifted away from the church.
The pastor to whom he belonged told the mother that the son should return to his faith before his death.
After the conversation with them, we saw him lying on his bed.He greeted us in a very friendly.
I asked him what issue he had the most problem with.He replied that he could not sleep at night because of the pain.
We asked him to describe it in the following way. Please tell me the most unbearable pain is ten.
When you feel no pain, it is 0. He said, "Eight or nine." He had already been prescribed painkillers by his doctor, but they didn't seem to be working very well, so I told him, "I don't think it's a good idea to increase the dosage of an ineffective drug because it will only cause side effects. "
He was scared of using a narcotic, but when I explained his concerns, he accepted using the narcotics.
The next day, we visited the University Hospital of São Paulo and asked for morphine and anti-nausea medicine for side effects, which we delivered.
Michio and I were relieved to hear that he was feeling much better after that.
The medical rule in Brazil was very rough at that time.We could buy antibiotics at the pharmacy without a doctor's prescription, so we were able to prescribe our own medicine for our children and not have to go to the local clinic.
One day the mother called me and said, "Doctor Megumi, my son won't take morphine anymore. He had urinary incontinence once at night, and then he would never take the morphine because it was the side effect.
He says he can tolerate the pain." I decided to wait a little bit without persuasion and see what would happen.
A few days later, his mother called me again he was admitted to the hospital. Fortunately, The hospital was it was close to my house. It was a Saturday. We had been invited to a birthday party for a pastor's child, so I asked Michio to take the child. I immediately rushed to the hospital.
My heart was heavy as I went to the hospital, thinking that he must have resented me for giving him morphine, but when I entered the hospital room, he welcomed me with a very calm smile.
He could not tell any word but he greeted me by shaking his head and soon fell asleep and closed his eyes.
The grandmother and mother were sitting there with sad expressions on their faces. They said, “Dr.Megumi, what shall we do? The pastor came to our house and told me that he wanted my son to be baptized before he passed away so that he could somehow confess his faith, but I couldn't tell him in his current condition. Will my son not be entered to heaven unless he is baptized?" He would shed tears. I said, "That will never happen. I will bring the Bible now. Please wait for me." I ran back to my house and looked for that Word in the letter from James. And this word came to my eyes intensely."Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective."
I thought, "This is it! “ I went to the pharmacy and bought a small bottle of olives oil on the way back to the hospital room. Her son was sleeping comfortably and snoring nicely.
I then asked his mother to read aloud James 5:13-16.
And I readMatthew 18:20."Where two or three are gathered in his name, there am I in the midst of them."
Then I asked two of them, "Do you two believe these two verses?"They both took my hands firmly and said that they will believe.
I gently applied olive oil to his forehead.
We prayed together. " Dear God! The three of us have firmly believed in the words of the Bible. Thank you for the words that you gave us.
We believe that God will have mercy upon him and let him enter heaven. We pray in Jesus' name. Amen!”
"I will tell his story at the worship service in Liberdage church. I ask a prayer, too." I made a promise to them and went back home.
At the church in Liberdade, there was a time for testimonies and prayer, so I told about the young man. All of the members were compassionate and prayed together earnestly.
Their son passed away that Sunday afternoon without regaining consciousness.
I attended the funeral at their church. That pastor told that he was sorry and he wanted to let him baptize."
I was upset about what the pastor told us.
Because of the sadness of the loss of her son, I could not tolerate hearing that message. I stood in the front before the ceremony was over.
I greeted the family and said, "Ladies and gentlemen! Please listen to my testimony. I am sure that this young man was accepted by Jesus. He is now in heaven with Jesus.” I opened the Bible and briefly shared what we had prayed for at that time. I did never care if the pastor and the congregation criticized me.
I must confess that my faith at that time was still weak and shallow compared to my current one, but at least he believed and attended church diligently when he was a child.
I was sure that God's salvation does not depend on whether a person is baptized or not.
About a week later from the funeral, the mother called me at night.
“ Dr. Megumi, our pastor told me he regretted my son was not baptized.
I am so sad and upset." She cried.
I could not understand why this pastor was persistently pushing the doctrine on this family and repeatedly disappointing them.
I said, "Mother, please get a hold of yourself. No matter what anyone says, we believed Bible. Your son was unconscious because of the medication in the IV. Christian doctrines are important, but they have limitations to be made by human beings. We should trust God. God watched intently as His only son died on a cross. He shed His blood for your son and us. Jesus had already borne the sins of mankind and was resurrected and triumphed over them. Let us firmly believe once again that your son was saved.
After this happened, I began to consider for whom Christ came.
Is salvation only by the faith of the human will to believe in God's salvation and be baptized, or is salvation because of the faith of Jesus Christ and the love Jesus has done for us?
However, my image of evangelism was not big a difference between the pastor and me.
My motivation for the mission was to share the Gospel, encourage people to decide to be baptized, and aim for heaven on earth by increasing the number of Christians. I believed since childhood that only Christians would go to heaven, and I felt an urgency to evangelize or the human race would perish.
In the Bible,Romans 10:9-10 says."If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and is justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.”
However, I am comforted and encouraged by these words as well.
1 Timothy 1:15“Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.”
Who is the sinner here? I am sure that are all human beings.
God's salvation was already completed on Jesus' "cross."
It is the essence of the faith I reached.
Therefore, I firmly believe that everyone can receive God's salvation.
Someone may say it seems that it doesn't matter no matter what you believe or disbelieve.
Does it mean that even if anyone who has caused any war was forgiven?
I can't answer properly, but I think this way.
Where is heaven? Is it only after death? Or do we have to wait until the Second Coming of Jesus, including after death?
Of course, I also believe that this body will perish and be replaced by spirits and enter heaven. But I think heaven is where you can feel the happiness of being with Jesus. No matter what utopia you could create on this earth, if there is no Jesus Christ there, it is not heaven. No one has returned after death. There are many stories that people who seemed dead came back to life and heaven was like this or that. But they cannot prove that it is true. After death, I leave it to God and I am in peace.
The most important thing for me is whether this day of life is heaven or hell. Hell is exactly the world of all the absurdities, pains, illnesses, and sins of this reality. But if we can be confident that this world, which looks like it was ruled by Satan, also has the rule of Christ and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we believe that we can enjoy heaven in the midst of it. It is the joy and mission of preaching the gospel that we, who are experiencing the splendor of Christ, tell those who do not know it I can hardly think that it is a mission and the heart of God to distinguish and forcibly convert them.
Mother Teresa's way of faith made me awaken.
Instead of telling the dying to believe in Jesus and go to heaven, she made people peaceful by asking what their religion was.
Because she could recognize Jesus is with them.
I could never grasp her way immediately. I took time through decades.
I am not any less passionate to convey Christ than I used to be.
I believe that pastors and missionaries do not need to worry about the number of people in their churches or the number of baptisms, either.
I think it is important to reflect more on whether I am living out the love of Christ to the person in front of me without looking at statistics and being pessimistic that Japan is less than 1% of the Christian population.
Jesus met the needs of over 5,000 people with bread, while He reached out to one sinful woman and said, "I do not judge you either. His grace is so deep, broad, and high that we cannot recognize it all.
The words of J.B. Phillips, "Your God is too small" is my daily lesson.