Good morning. I would like to thank all of you for taking the time to attend the February Service here at Pearl Church and thank you for your kind and sincere offerings. I am sure God the Parent and Oyasama is really happy to see you all here today and to have performed the service with joy and in high spirits!
The Tenrikyo faith in the Nakao family has continued for many generations since 1875. I would be the fifth generation in this faith. Due to this long faith continuing from generation to generation, I am blessed and thankful for the seeds of sincerity planted by my ancestors. One of the biggest blessings I received was being able to become a fulltime minister.
It was about thirteen years ago I was able to quit my regular paying job and do nioigake and salvation work fulltime. We have encountered many people through our salvation work. However, it was not easy as people are not necessarily receptive to the teachings. So we decided to care for a 10-year old boy who had ADHD, as foster parents. This boy needed to take medication to calm down and focus. He had a history of chasing his mother with a knife in his hand. The case manager suggested that we put a lock on the knife drawer as a precaution. We decided to hide the knives under the bed at night.
One-day, I took the foster boy to the barber shop on razor scooters. On the way and I met my classmate on the street. We shall call him Mr. A. We stopped and I asked him how he was and he explained that he had stomach pains for twenty-seven years. His stomach pains are so severe that he has to lie on the floor in a fetal position. When the pain attack comes he would go to emergency, sometimes by ambulance. But the doctors do not know the cause and they don’t know the cure. They just administer some morphine and send him home after which they later send him large hospital bills. We can only imagine how he went through life for twenty-seven years with this condition. I suppose it was like going through a dark alley with demons tormenting him with spears poking him every which way. He later told me that he wanted to take his own life, because he didn’t see any hope and because there was no cure for his condition. I asked him if I could pray for him and went to his house everyday for two weeks to administer the sazuke. He got a little better and started to visit our church everyday. He told me, “My life has really changed. Before I met you, I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, now I can see a faint light.
However, two months later, he was involved in a traffic accident when coming to our church on his bicycle. A minivan hit him. It happened very close to our church, a few houses down the street. Neighbors came to his aid and Mr. A asked one of them to call “Owen” at the church there. When I heard a man calling my name I came out. He explained what happened and I rushed out to see Mr. A. He was lying in the middle of the street, with many people coming out to see what was going on. I saw a damaged minivan near him. The windshield was shattered with a crater the size of a human head and there was a big dent in the front corner of the van. I assumed he was seriously injured due to the damage on the van, and at the same time I wondered, “Oh, no, why did this happen when he was on the way to our church?” He was crossing the street towards this church to deliver his extra newspaper to us. I immediately did the sazuke and told him to rely on God. After the sazuke, the ambulance came and took him away. At the hospital, while he was waiting for the doctor, I did the sazuke on him again hoping for the best. He was told he had to stay overnight.
The next morning I visited him and administered the sazuke. He said that he needed to do one more test. And that afternoon, he called me from his home to let me know that there was nothing wrong! What a miracle! I said, “You are so lucky!” And I felt he had received God’s protection.
In the Ofudesaki we read:
Day by day, hasten to begin the Service.
You will escape any danger whatever.
Ofudesaki X: 19
Previously, Mr. A said couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel and later he said that he can now see the light. However, after the accident, Mr. A, said, “Now, I have come out of the tunnel into the light and I want to tell everyone, how happy I am.” He said that now everything looks beautiful and pleasant. He said now I can see how beautiful the flowers are, the birds chirping and the beautiful blue sky. He said that previously, he didn’t really believe in God, but now, he says, “God really exists!” He said that through the accident, God gave him a second chance. Needless to say, I was very happy and relieved that he was ok. He was still experiencing stomach pains, but they were not as severe or as often as before. Like everyone, he has his up and downs in his faith, but he’s always very thankful for his blessings.
Thirteen years has passed since then. He now has a regular fulltime job for the past 3 or 4 years. When we asked him how he’s doing, he answered that he is fine and that he no longer experiences those stomach pains.
Next, in our more recent salvation work, we are helping a Japanese man in his fifties, who worked at and owned a computer software firm and also owned a restaurant in Japan. He came to Hawaii about ten years ago with a dream to start a business. However, he couldn’t speak English and his health deteriorated due to a health condition. Soon he was forced to quit his job and became homeless. He was told that in the U.S. there were many social welfare services to help the poor such as housing, food stamps, medical insurance and interpreter services for immigrants. He could live comfortably with these support services. He finally obtained housing and started a normal life. Because of his health condition, he has a hard time seeing and hearing and experienced numbness in his legs. Many people in his condition will eventually need to amputate. However, he was able to improve his health condition through medication and medical care and is able to walk.
A few days ago, he got a notice of violation of the rental agreement which terminated the rental agreement and has to move out. When I asked him the reason for the violation, he answered that it was because he doesn’t understand or speak English. Due to the language barrier, he was found at fault for a recent dispute with a neighbor. It has come to a point where he has to move out and become homeless again.
He takes the government welfare services for granted. He said that it is only natural that the government should help the poor and the sick. I felt that his attitude would not take him to a better place and improve his situation.
I told him that since he has received much assistance and benefits from the government, he should do some volunteer work in the community or church. But he answered that due to his physical condition, he cannot stand for a long time and didn’t display any interest at all. I felt that he didn’t want to do anything that doesn’t pay for his efforts. It is not good for followers of the faith to point out the negative traits of another person. We should look at any negative situations as opportunities for self-reflection and spiritual growth.
In the Ofudesaki, we read:
There are a great number of people living throughout the world,
but their minds are all as if in a haze.
Ofudesaki VI: 14
The population in the world is about 7 billion. I feel that the Ofudesaki is saying that the people of the world cannot see ahead because of this haze or selfish thinking.
Again, in the Ofudesaki:
Day by day, your innermost heart will be purified and understanding
will come. You will come to see the truth as you mature.
Ofudesaki VI: 15
The people’s minds are as if in a haze. However, if you follow the Teachings on a daily basis and have faith in God, the mind becomes clear and can understand the will of God the Parent.
This is the difference between people who have faith in God and those who do not. Those of us without faith in God, cannot see our face in the mirror. Those of us with faith can clearly see our mind and know what we need to do. When the mind is clear, we can see clearly, and can tell whether we are acting in ways that conform to God’s intention or according to our own selfish desires.
By the truth to helping others, our dreams can come true and we can receive necessities when we need it.
In conclusion, by helping others and making other people happy, our life will be lifted up, with good health and we will want to do even more to serve God and the community.
In the Osashizu: January 29, 1889, we read
Faith lasting for one generation is rewarded as such, that for two generations as such; and that lasting from one generation to another is rewarded with an eternal virtue.
Thank you very much for your kind attention.
- Thank you for bringing your deposit cans and bottles for our fundraising drive. We are still continuing our fundraising efforts to recoat the roof in preparation of the solar panel installation later this month. Please continue bringing your deposit cans and bottles and any yard work referrals.
- Also thank you very much for helping at the BGA Leadership Camp and annual New Year Park Cleanup and BBQ Picnic held last month. One counselor and three adult volunteers from Pearl Church participated and helped to conduct the camp. About 80 persons came for the Moiliili Stadium park cleanup of which 13 were from Pearl Church. Thank you for volunteering your time to do nioigake in the community!
- The annual Tenri Cultural Center cleanup is scheduled for President’s day, Monday, February 17 from 9am. Lunch will be served at 11am.
- As one of the activities leading up to Oyasama’s 130th Anniversary, the Mission Headquarters will be conducting a Yoboku Gathering on March 15th, 9-11:30. The guest speaker will be Setsumi’s brother, Rev. Toshi Yukimoto of Central Fresno Church in Fresno, California. Please mark your calendar for this important function.
- The annual BGA Spring Camp will be held next month on March 21-23, Friday-Sunday. We would like to ask for everyone’s hinokishin.
- Please take advantage of these activities accomplish several tasks at one time:
- Sweep away your mental dusts and further your spiritual growth.
- Do nioigake by inviting friends and family.
- Transmit the faith to the next generation.
- Plant seeds of sincerity by sharing the joy of faith to the people around you and the community.
- Please welcome: Bishop and Mrs. Yamanaka and son Goichi. Also two Tenri Kyoko Gakuen students staying at Setsumi’s place. Also, Minori Hirata who is attending the NICE program at the University of Hawaii Manoa campus.