By Joe Mita; Joe and his wife, Noney, are missionaries in Japan.
In November 2012, Hiroko Koso came to a special evangelistic meeting at Bethel Baptist Church in Iwatsuki, Japan. A visiting US pastor, Rev. Randy Gilmore, spoke on “A Christian World Prospective.” Since her youth, Hiroko had desired to know the true God. She tried Catholicism and other religions but could not believe their teachings. However, she continued to have a longing for God. During the meeting’s invitation, she came forward and said, “I had been to other churches and read the Bible myself, but I had not understood the meaning of the cross of Christ. But I understood it today.”
Soon afterward, she studied a five-lesson Bible study, What is the Bible?, with my wife. As she understood more clearly about the Bible and the cross, Hiroko received Christ as her Savior. She began to come to church regularly, attended home Bible studies, and volunteered for various church ministries.
The Lord is my shepherd
In April 2013 she was hospitalized. Her cancer, which had been in remission, resurfaced. In her hospital bed, she clearly told her husband that she wanted a Christian funeral and burial if she died. In Japanese culture, if a family member dies, a Buddhist funeral and burial in the family Buddhist graveyard after the cremation is expected.
Without knowing what to do, her unsaved husband, Tsuyoshi, called me. In our first meeting, he expressed his desire to be buried with his wife when he died. I urged him to study the Bible to understand his wife. He agreed and started to study What is the Bible? with us. By grace, he also put his faith in Christ in June 2013. When Hiroko told her husband, “You don’t need to believe it just for me,” he replied, “I studied the Bible myself and believed it.” Tsuyoshi continued the Bible study with me once a week, and his faith grew.
The valley of death
As Hiroko’s health continued to decline, the faith of Hiroko and her husband kept growing. Their sons began to notice the difference, and as they watched their mother walk through the valley of death with complete peace and faith in God, they also wanted to know more about her faith. They completed the five parts of the same Bible study.
When the doctor gave Hiroko permission to come home for the last time, her husband brought her to the Sunday worship service in July. In her weary condition, she was so happy to come to worship with her husband. Hiroko was taken to heaven on August 18, 2013, and many unsaved family members attended her funeral at Bethel Baptist Church.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
Change in Mr. Koso’s life was obvious. He had such peace of mind as he cared for Hiroko at her last stage of life. Mr. Koso’s faith keeps growing. He is serving the Lord joyfully with newly gained church friends. A month after Hiroko died, he shared his testimony in the church and was baptized. On the same afternoon, we had the ceremony to bury Hiroko’s bones in the cemetery lot our church recently purchased at the Christian graveyard. His sons and their families came to participate. Both of the sons started to open their hearts toward the gospel.
After his retirement, Mr. Koso was working as a delivery man at an auto parts store. My wife said, “If he quit the job, he could have study at our Bible school in the fall.” To our surprise, a few weeks after this, he told us that he had a disagreement with his boss at work, and he decided to leave the job. So when I asked him to enroll in the Bible school with two other men, he was ready. Though he was an auditing student, he took all the courses with two other full-time students for four years. He also opened his house as the dorm for the Bible school students.
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord
He is now over 75 years old. His serving heart has been such an encouragement to everyone in the church. He told me, “I have no talent, so please tell me whatever I can do to help.” He comes to church early with other Bible school students to prepare for the service. He had never cooked before, but now he sometimes cooks church lunches for 25 people. He often says, “I cannot imagine what I would have been now if I weren’t led to Christ my Savior. I cannot thank my wife enough, who gave me the opportunity through her illness.”
His prayer is that three of his sons and their families would be saved and he would be used of the Lord more. We thank the Lord for what a wonderful encouragement his joyful service has been to our church people.