There is one very special pastor here in Japan whom God allowed me the priviledge of knowing since my first year of service here. Sensei is so amazing. I always say I wish I could clone him and have about 100 more just like him. To put it in a few words this amazing man just adores Jesus! Everything he does is all about his Lord! He is kind and caring but straight forward and strong. He is so respected by so many and so loveable! Sensei is so precious to me.
Last year his wife passed away. It was powerful to watch him lose his wife with such grace. He did not tell anyone outside his immediate family that his wife had passed away because an engagement ceremony for a young woman in his church was scheduled for the very next morning. He blessed that couple and enjoyed the fellowship at the church and did a normal Sunday worship and message, while holding his grief at bay. I'v never known someone that gracious and giving. The next week he was at a concert we did. He had made a commitment to help at this conference and did so with true joy even though he was still deep in the fresh grief of his loss. I gave my testimony of losing my Dad at that concert and I could only look at him once as he was weeping in the front row on my far left and it was all I could do not to break down sharing in his grief! That day giving my testimony was one of the hardest in a long time. Later as we sang songs like Amazing Grace and Sweet By and By he sat in his seat with his arms raised high in worship to Jesus with tears just streaming down his face! That was a powerful picture of true worship to me!
This last Sunday he came to our Afureru! meeting and told us that his mother, who was 102 and 10 months old, passed away this week. For years he has also been caring for her and lately she has had a lot of demintia. Through out caring for her and his wife, Sensei conintued to pastor a church and serve other ministries all over. He is in his 70's but Rocky and I say it is like he is 17, he has so much energy.
His mother's passing was a powerful testimony at the hospital where she died. She loved the Lord too, and even in her latest stages of severe demintia, she had no problems remembering the words of hymns. When Sensei would go and visit her during her last month, he said she was totally unresponsive unless he would sing her a hymn and she would seem to try and sing along although she was in a deep coma. Also, at her passing when the heart monitor had been flat, a pastor was praying and when he said "Amen" her heart beat three more times. The doctors and nurses were at a loss to explain it and all were deeply moved.
As I talked to him on Sunday he said, "My wife is gone, my mother is gone and I also just retired from a church. For the first time in my life I am on my own. I have to find out who I am. I was a son, a husband, a pastor, now I am just me." At this point I was about to say to him that he needed to take it easy and take care not to get depressed. I was going to warm him that he might experience some issues similar to culture shock or post traumatic stress syndrome. But before I could say anything else, this is what he said... "I look forward to it. I am going to bask in finally being simply A CHILD OF GOD. Simply that, and that's all. I really really look forward to exploring what that is like."
WOW! I pray that if I ever find myself at that point in life, I can have such a precious and sweet outlook on what lay ahead. Instead of focusing on his loneliness, or expecting sorrow and difficulty, he is looking forward to being alone, to just being a child of God...