Finding a Real Purpose in Life
As told by Masakazu Nakamura
MY WARMHEARTED and sincere parents showed keen interest in giving their children a good start in life. Though, like most Japanese, my father was a Buddhist himself, he encouraged me as a boy to attend a Protestant church near our home. There I heard readings from the “New Testament” and became interested in its message. I wanted to tell others about it, and therefore told my classmates at school. In fact, I thought it would be fine to become a clergyman. But on seeing my enthusiasm for this, my father opposed the idea.
Still, I wished to make my purpose in life the serving of others. I decided to become a doctor. This considerably cut into my religious activities. Since the university entrance examination required intensive preparation, I left off attending church. After entering the medical school at Tokyo University, however, I once again started going to church.
At about this time doubts about religion began cropping up in my mind. The message at church was a continual repetition of the same thing. Then my grandfather died. While helping with funeral arrangements I came to have serious misgivings about church doctrine concerning hell and the condition of the dead. So I left the church.
At the university I received no spiritual help of any kind. My thinking became atheistic. I felt lonely, and took up sports to fill what appeared to be a gap in my life. Horseback riding became a regular activity for me.
AN UNEXPECTED CHANGE
Halfway through my second year in medical school something important happened. One day at about noontime a gray-haired lady called at our home and began to talk to me about the Bible. Her name was Kinuko Sakato. Some years previously she had studied with an Australian missionary, Melba Barry, and now she spent her full time sharing Bible truth with others as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Though not immediately believing all that she told me, I was greatly impressed by her zeal and confidence. I asked about the Scriptural teaching regarding “hell.” She arranged to study the Bible with me regularly each week at our home.
We studied first about God’s promise to restore this earth to a paradise. (Matt. 6:9, 10; Luke 23:43; Rev. 21:1-5) The means God would use to accomplish this, I learned, would be his heavenly Kingdom government.—Dan. 2:44; 7:13, 14, 18; Rev. 5:10.
Mrs. Sakato invited me to attend meetings of Jehovah’s Witnesses. But for a time I preferred to go horseback riding on Sundays. Then she called my attention to what is stated at 1 Timothy 4:8: “Bodily training is beneficial for a little; but godly devotion is beneficial for all things, as it holds promise of the life now and that which is to come.” After about three months of Bible study, I began attending all the meetings at the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
After studying the Bible for about ten months, I heard an announcement of arrangements for members of the congregation to go out in the local territory and share Bible truths with their neighbors. “I want to go too,” was my response. That Saturday I joined a group in “field service,” which is what Jehovah’s Witnesses call their public witnessing activities. I came to realize that this was a living faith; and how it delighted me to share it with others! On August 24, 1963, at an international assembly of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Kyoto, I symbolized my dedication to Jehovah God by water baptism.
I WAS ABLE TO DO BOTH
The woman that first called at my home to talk about the Bible was known as a “pioneer.” In this capacity she spent her full time in Christian witnessing activities. I wanted to do the same; but what about my career as a doctor?
I talked to my father about quitting the university. He was a man of experience, being at the time the top general of the Japanese Self-Defense Force. He argued that I was still very young, and that as the eldest son I had a responsibility toward the family. Finally it was agreed that I would continue my university studies through to graduation, obtain my doctor’s license, and then I would be free to choose my own way.
Medical studies proved to be challenging to me in a number of ways. For one thing, there was the temptation to get absorbed in the world of medicine and to make a name for myself as a doctor. It took determination to maintain the desire to become a pioneer. Then there was the problem of blood transfusions, which are an intravenous feeding on blood. The Scriptures command that Christians “abstain . . . from blood.” (Acts 15:19, 20, 28, 29; 21:25) Desiring to live in harmony with this counsel from God, I sought out medical fields where this would not present a problem.
Throughout my university studies I continued to nourish the desire to be a pioneer. After classes I would conduct Bible studies in the homes of people. I filled up spring, summer and winter vacations with full-time sharing of Bible truths with others. In this way I could serve along with other pioneers, and we could encourage one another in this service.
Further opportunity for pioneering on a temporary basis came when student riots broke out at Tokyo University. Since all classes were discontinued for several months, I was able to spend that time pioneering. Firm determination and careful planning, along with Jehovah’s blessing, made it possible for me to achieve both my goals in life. The month after receiving my doctor’s license I entered pioneer service full time.
BLESSINGS FROM SHARING BIBLE TRUTH
Even during my time at the university I received many blessings from searching out opportunities to witness to fellow students. One of my friends was Mitsuharu Tominaga. He had graduated from a Catholic high school, and had noticed much hypocrisy in that religion. I studied the Bible with him to some extent during lunch periods, on the campus lawn. He was interested, but at the time we were very busy with our medical studies. So progress was limited. However, he subscribed to the Watchtower and Awake! magazines, and became an appreciative reader. After graduation, we went our separate ways, but used to correspond at times.
Dr. Tominaga began working at a leading hospital in Tokyo. One day he learned that an elderly missionary had been admitted to the hospital, and he made a point of visiting her. Her name was Mabel Haslett. Dr. Tominaga was delighted to learn that she was one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. He visited her daily in her room to ask Bible questions. Everything that he heard impressed him greatly. Out of appreciation, he often brought fruit and flowers for Mabel.
In due course the elderly missionary had to undergo a major operation. Since the issue of blood transfusion was involved, Dr. Tominaga made clear to his fellow physicians why Jehovah’s Witnesses refuse blood; and he personally attended the operation to make sure that blood was not used. Mabel surprised the doctors and everyone else in the hospital by her rapid recovery. She won the love and respect of the hospital staff. In fact, this hospital kindly gave her all treatments and medicines free of charge right up until her death on October 23, 1974.
Moved by what he had learned from the Bible, Dr. Tominaga transferred to a department in the Tokyo University Hospital where he would not have to administer blood transfusions. He studied the Bible diligently with an elder of the Yokohama Yamate Congregation, in the locality of Dr. Tominaga’s home. He now works at the hospital only one day each week. At other times he assists at the medical office of his father in Yokohama. Soon the entire family began studying the Word of God. Now both doctors—father and son, as well as their wives—are zealous, baptized witnesses of Jehovah, and the son serves as an elder in the local congregation.
THE JOY OF PIONEERING
During the fourteen years since my baptism, I have had the joy of studying with and helping nineteen persons to dedicate their lives to the true God, Jehovah. An especially fine experience for me was conducting a Bible study with my younger sister.
When I started this study, my sister was already engaged to marry a Protestant who was also president of a local blood donor association. I tactfully witnessed to him too. He was most interested and began to study. They requested that the city overseer of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Kyoto give their wedding talk, and this was arranged. Both continued their Bible studies in Kyoto and were baptized together.
That was not the end of this special joy for me. My new brother-in-law is a pharmacist. He got acquainted with another one of Jehovah’s Witnesses who worked with the same firm. The sister of this man also was a Witness, working as a nutritionist. Now she is my wife, and has served well as my partner in pioneer service. Two days each week I work as a doctor in a local hospital. Otherwise, our days have been filled with the joy of sharing the Bible’s “good news” with our neighbors. (Matt. 24:14) Also, I am serving as an elder in the Igusa Congregation, and more recently as city overseer representing the fifty congregations in Tokyo.
When I think back to the day that Kinuko Sakato called at my home, I still well up with joy. That visit effected a change of attitude in me. Rescued from atheistic thinking, I developed accurate knowledge and firm faith in the Creator of the universe, Jehovah. Serving God full time is indeed a delightful way to be occupied, as I pursue my purpose in life.