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TESTIMONY OF GOD'S WORK: FROM BUDDHA TO JESUS

By Dr. Kiichi Ariga

"My name is Ariga Kiichi and I was born into a staunchly Buddhist and Shinto family. When I was three years old, my mother tried to teach me a long, Buddhist prayer, but I made so many mistakes that she often scolded me and punished me by making me go without breakfast!

"My father, a stone-maker, went up a mountain in the winter to a hot spring once a year and sometimes took me with him. After warming up, we would go to the waterfall, with little clothing on, and recite Buddhistic prayers, under the icy-cold water!

"When I was 12 years old, my best friend suddenly died. With deep sorrow, I asked him three times, "Where are you going?"But he did not reply because he was already dead!

"Where will you go when you die?" a voice inside me asked. "Of course, I will go to Buddhist heaven!" But the voice persisted. "Have you never told a lie? Have you been a perfect boy?" My reply was, "No, of course not!" "In that case, you will go to hell," the inner voice stated.

"I did not want to go to hell, so the following day I got up at 4.30 a.m., took a bamboo broom with me and cleaned up the yard of the local shrine. After that, I went into the inner chamber to pray.

"Please cleanse my heart!" I cried with a loud voice to the eight million gods of Japan.

"I continued doing this for two years, going to school during the day and in the evenings to the temple to practice Buddhist meditation. While I was doing so, I did not keep my eyes wide open, because then I might see things which would lead me into temptation. But if I closed my eyes totally, I would go to sleep. So I always kept my eyes half open!

"After two years of meditation, I asked the priests to give me a word of acknowledgement for my dedication. They replied, "Sorry, you have to die before you can see the result of your efforts!"

"Die first! I just could not believe it and was utterly discouraged. The best thing to do then was obviously to commit suicide, so I wrote a farewell note to my parents, "Please forgive me, but for two years I strived in vain to become enlightened."

"I then went to a railway line and waited for the last train that night. When it came, I threw myself on the line, bracing myself for death. But, when it had passed over me, to my utter amazement, I was unhurt. I had fallen between the two tracks!!

"I went back home, utterly discouraged, concluding that even the god of death disliked me!"
"On December 31, 1947, I was desperate and on my way to a large temple wanting so much to receive the forgiveness of my sins and eternal life. In God's providence, on the way there I met a Christian friend and told him where I was going.

"What are you going to the temple for?" he enquired. "I am going to pray to receive forgiveness for my sins and eternal life!" I replied.

"In that case I know a better place than the temple!" he said. "Where?" I asked. "Church!" he said. "Church?" I shouted, "Never!"

"You must come with me to church," he insisted.

"I don't want to go to church, I am going to the temple!" I said.

"We kept arguing with each other, louder and louder! Eventually, knowing judo, he twisted my arm behind me, threw me on the ground, and, against my will, dragged me to church.

"That day in church for the first time in my life, I saw a Japanese Bible and I heard the Gospel through a Swedish missionary. With power he proclaimed, Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." (John 3:16) and followed it up with the Words,... Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved and your household." (Acts 16:31)

"At that meeting I learnt four things that changed my life: (a) that there are not eight million gods, but only one true living God! (b) that I was a sinner and needed to repent! (c) that Jesus Christ died for me so that I could taste forgiveness of sins and receive eternal life and (d) that, contrary to the Buddhist teaching of doing one┼fs best, in simple faith I could receive Jesus Christ as my Savior and have peace with God!

"I discovered too the marvelous truth that... God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life!" (John 3:16) and I was born again!

"When I announced to my family that I had become a Christian, they were horrified and from that time on they started to persecute me.

"For seven years I was persecuted! Two nights every week, when I returned home from the evening meetings at church, all the doors were locked. I would knock and knock. "Who are you?"a voice from inside enquired. "Your son, Kiichi," I replied.

"You are no longer my son!" the voice said. "Only if you renounce your faith in Jesus and stop going to church, will I let you in! "Jesus Christ died for me, so I will die for Him if necessary!"I replied. The voice said, "Stay out then!" Having nowhere else to go, I went to sleep with my pet rabbits in their little house outside.

"After persevering for Christ for seven years, my mother became a Christian. After another seven years, my father, my brother, my sister-in-law, two sisters and two brother-in-laws found the Lord.

"Today, 55 members of my family are Christians! Praise God, He is faithful and He answers prayer!"


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When does God call people to long-term missionary service?

* 21% were called as a result of a missions education service in their local church
* 20% felt God calling them after listening to missionary speakers
* 19% were called because of their own family's missions vision and conversations
* 10% heard God's call through reading missionary books

-- Terry Read, missionary and missions professor