“AND just why won’t you worship your ancestors?” my mother asked. “Don’t you realize that it’s because of them that you have life? Will you show them no gratitude? How can you cast off customs handed down for generations? Refusing to honor our ancestors is saying that our worship is foolish.” Then Mom broke down and cried.
It was not like Mom to speak this way. Besides, she had arranged for me to study the Bible, although she did that as a gentle way to refuse a study for herself. I had always obeyed her, and now I found it hard to refuse to follow her guidance. This time, though, I had to in order to please Jehovah. Without strength from him, I could not have done it.
BECOMING A CHRISTIAN
Like most people in Japan, we were Buddhists. But just two months of study with Jehovah’s Witnesses convinced me that the Bible is true. Discovering that I had a heavenly Father, I yearned to come to know him. Mom and I happily discussed what I was learning. I began attending Sunday meetings at the Kingdom Hall. As my knowledge of the truth increased, I told Mom that I would no longer share in Buddhist rites. Suddenly, her attitude changed. “Having someone in the family who has no love for our ancestors is a disgrace” were her words. She demanded that I quit studying the Bible and attending meetings. Never had I imagined that my mother would say this! She was like a different person.
From Ephesians chapter 6, I learned that Jehovah wanted me to obey my parents. Dad took Mom’s side. Initially, I reasoned that if I listened to them, they would listen to me and peace in our family would be restored. Besides this, examinations to enter high school were coming up, and I needed to prepare. So I agreed to do as they said for three months, but I promised Jehovah that I would attend the meetings again when that time was up.
My decision proved to be bad in two ways. First, I thought that my feelings would not change in three months’ time. Instead, I quickly began to feel spiritually starved, slipping further away from Jehovah. Second, instead of meeting me halfway, Mom and Dad put even more pressure on me to quit everything that had to do with true worship.
HELP AND OPPOSITION
At the Kingdom Hall, I had met many who were experiencing family opposition. They had assured me that Jehovah would strengthen me. (Matt. 10:34-37) They impressed on me that I was my family’s main link to their gaining salvation. So I began to pray earnestly, wanting to learn how to rely on Jehovah.
In the family, opposition took many forms. Mom tried both pleading and reasoning. Usually, I kept quiet. When I spoke up, we often became emotional, as we each focused on making our point. I should have acknowledged Mom’s feelings and beliefs more, which might have calmed things. My parents increased my chores in an attempt to keep me indoors. Sometimes I was locked out of the house or no food was left for me.
Mom turned to others for support. She appealed to my schoolteacher, who remained neutral. Mom took me to her manager at work so that he could try to convince me that all religions are useless. At home, Mom telephoned various relatives and tearfully pleaded for help. That upset me, but at the meetings the elders urged me to think of all the people to whom Mom was inadvertently giving a witness.
Then I faced the issue of going to university. My parents planned to give me what they considered to be the best start in life. They hoped that I could find a good job. We were too emotional to discuss matters calmly, so I wrote Mom and Dad several letters to explain my goals. Furious, Dad threatened: “If you think that you can find a job, find it by tomorrow or else you leave this house.” I took the matter to Jehovah in prayer. The next day while I was in the ministry, two different sisters, independent of each other, asked me to tutor their children. Dad was not happy with this development and stopped talking to me altogether; actually, he began to ignore me. Mom said that she would rather I be a delinquent than one of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Jehovah helped me to put my thinking straight and to see the way to go
Sometimes I wondered whether Jehovah wanted me to resist my parents’ wishes to this extent. But more prayer and reflection on Bible texts about Jehovah’s love enabled me to view opposition objectively and to understand that, in part, it stemmed from my parents’ concern for me. Jehovah helped me to put my thinking straight and to see the way to go. Also, the more I shared in the ministry, the more I enjoyed it. Yes, pioneering became my goal.
SERVING AS A PIONEER
Knowing that I wanted to pioneer, some sisters advised me to wait until my parents calmed down. I prayed for wisdom, did research, examined my motives, and talked to mature brothers and sisters. I concluded that I wanted to please Jehovah. In addition, delaying pioneering was no guarantee that my parents’ attitude would change.
I began my pioneer service during my last year of high school. After pioneering for a while, I had the goal of serving where the need was greater. But Mom and Dad did not want me to leave home. So I waited until I was 20 years old. Then, to ease Mom’s mind, I asked the branch office for an assignment in southern Japan, where we had relatives.
In that assignment, I was blessed to see several people with whom I studied get baptized. Meanwhile, I studied English with a view to expanding my service. Two special pioneer brothers were in the same congregation. I could see their zeal and how they helped others. Thus, special pioneering became my goal. During this time, Mom twice experienced serious health problems. On each occasion, I returned home to care for her. This surprised her, and her attitude softened slightly.
BLESSINGS UPON BLESSINGS
After seven years, I received a letter from Atsushi, one of the special pioneer brothers mentioned earlier. He said that he was thinking of marriage and wondered about my situation and feelings. I had never had romantic feelings for Atsushi, nor did I think that he had any toward me. A month later, I replied that I was willing for us to get better acquainted. We discovered that we had much in common, both of us wanting to pursue the full-time ministry and being willing to serve in any capacity. In time, we got married. How happy I was to have Mom, Dad, and several relatives attend our wedding!
Before long, while we were serving as regular pioneers, Atsushi was appointed a substitute circuit overseer. Soon other blessings came. We were appointed as special pioneers and then to the regular circuit work. After we had served all the congregations in the circuit one time, we received a telephone call from the branch office. The question? ‘Would we accept an assignment to circuit work in Nepal?’
I wondered how my parents would feel about my going that far away. So I telephoned them. Dad answered, and his response was: “You’ll be going to a nice place.” Just a week before, one of his friends had given him a book about Nepal, and Dad had even been thinking that it would be a nice place to visit.
As we served happily among the friendly Nepalese, another blessing came our way. Our circuit was to include Bangladesh, a place so close yet so different in many respects. Field service was quite diversified. After five years, we were assigned back to Japan, where we now enjoy the circuit work.
Japan, Nepal, Bangladesh—serving in these countries has taught me so much about Jehovah! Each country has its unique background and culture. And within each country, every person is unique. I have seen how Jehovah cares for people individually, accepts them, helps and blesses them.
On a personal level, Jehovah has blessed me with knowledge of him, work to do, and a fine Christian husband. God has guided me to make right decisions, and I now have a good relationship with him and with my family. Thanks to Jehovah, Mom and I are once again good friends. I am deeply grateful that I found peace with God and with my mother.