How to Save a Life by Lucas Nakao

Lucas Nakao giving a sermon on September 14, 2013


Hello everyone and thank you for attending this month’s Pearl Church monthly service! I was asked by Rev Owen Nakao to give this month’s sermon titled, “How to Save a Life.” (*sampai*)

As some of you may know, I’ve been in East Los Angeles for the past year doing missionary work at the Tenrikyo Mission Headquarters of America Missionary House. To keep it short, I will refer, “Tenrikyo Mission Headquarters of America” as “America Dendocho.” It all started about a year and a half ago when I was asked by my father to do missionary work. The first thing that went to my head was, “is he telling me or asking me?” Then as if God was correcting me I heard, “Oyakoko shinasai,” or the Tenrikyo term to practice filial piety. Then I quickly made my decision and he then told me “and I also want you to leave your laptop behind.” “What?!” I thought.

It was last year August 2012 when I headed to East LA to do missionary work. The first thing you hear about America Dendocho is about the shootings they had around the church or at the church.

East L.A.

East Los Angeles is home to many Mexican immigrants who crossed the border illegally for the riches in America or to escape from the Mexican gangs also known as the Cartel who are notorious for killing many people who defy them or are from a rival gang and also have a big influence on the government. Because there are so many Mexican immigrants, there are many people who can only speak Spanish but after learning a few words, it was enough to introduce myself and the Tenrikyo teachings and to ask for permission to administer the healing prayer or the Sazuke.

One surprising thing I notice when going door to door is when asking a Hispanic child, from middle school to about high school, if they would like to listen to me talk about the Tenrikyo teachings, 9 times out of 10, they are likely to say yes. For every 1 out of every 10 houses, there is someone who will accept the healing prayer of Sazuke. Continued visits are a little rare though.

Throughout my one year experience, I have come to realize many things. For one, I truly believe that this world needs the Sazuke. The Sazuke is so powerful, that when you administer it to a person, it will immediately change their life. There are so many people out there that need help that once we administer the sazuke and hear the teachings, they will become enlightened and their life will change for the better even if it is just a little.

Life as a Missionary

My weekly schedule would be, weekdays I would normally visit 22 people and about 4 people on saturday whom I had to bus to. On 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Sundays I would go to different church Monthly services and on the 4th and 5th Sundays I would do full days worth of door to door missionary work.

There are a few experiences I would like to share that would better explain how I may have come to realize many things:

The Man on the Wheeled Crutches

During the first month I was in East LA as I was walking around doing nioigake and saw a man sitting on his wheeled crutches on the sidewalk under a shade. He seemed very old and weak. He looked very tired and so I introduced myself with the little Spanish I knew and asked him how old he was and what his illness was. To no avail, I could not understand what he was saying and wasn’t even sure if he understood me and just asked him, “Orashyon?” or “prayer?” in Spanish. He replied mumbling something in Spanish then scuffled, “ahh” with a nod. I then began the sazuke and prayed for his head to his shoulders asking for God to save this person from whatever illnesses he had. From that day on, I would look for him on the street to pray for him. I would always greet him, “Guenous dia! Comoestas?!” which means, “Good morning how are you?,” and he’d reply, “bien” or “I’m fine,” shake his hand, then I would say, “Orashyon?” “ahh” and perform the Sazuke. I was not sure what was wrong with him until another missionary named Shishido Takanori translated his Spanish.

Apparently he was 76 and had pain in both his lungs and heart. I continued to pray for him for a few months until I coincidentally pass his house and found out where he lived. His son was having a yard sale who asked me, “can you pray for me too because ever since you prayed for my dad, he’s been getting better.” I was so happy to find out how he was doing because I could never communicate with him. His son suffer from alcoholism and also pain in his left leg.

For a long time, I never asked about his alcoholic addiction but after visiting him so many times he told me one day that that he began drinking when his mother and girlfriend pass away within one year. It saddened him so greatly he would have to drink until he could stop thinking about them. I apologized that I could not save him and prayed earnestly for God the Parent’s guidance. When the 1 month spiritual development course at America Dendocho was about to start, I invited him in the hopes that it will help him with his illness telling him, that going to this course will change his life.

I had an application ready for him to fill out when he decided. Believing that pressuring a person to do something is wrong, I just told him that he can decide on the last day by showing up, hoping that he would realize how much this course can help him. When the day came, he did not show up and felt sad because didn’t have any more ideas on how to help this person besides doing the Sazuke.

I kept praying for him until my last day when he told me he was sad that I was leaving and if he were to quit drinking, it would be because of me and my prayers.

The Truth of the Three-Day Promise

Next I would like to talk about 62 year old woman who I met through a missionary who had to go back to Japan asked me to continue praying for her. She was doing chemotherapy on a regular basis and was being home ridden, not being able to do anything too physical due to her condition.

At that time I was taught to give massages to the people I prayed for so I began to pray and massage her. To my surprise, her neck and shoulders were very stiff probably due to the stress of the cancer.

This worried me a lot. She really liked receiving the sazuke, but to me I did not see immediate change and continued to pray for her as much as I could. Then one day she said that she could not go to her last big chemotherapy because of a check up she had that determined her body could not handle it. She became very depressed telling me the news and caused me to worry even more.

That day I decided make a 3 day promise to God or “kokoro sadame” where I would do a specific hinokishin on my own for an hour each day. She did not know I was doing this but the 4th day would be when she would go on her check up. I could not get in contact with her on that day but on the 5th day I went to her house only to talk to her son. Her son confirmed that she had passed her check up and was doing her last big chemotherapy that day.

A huge relief had come over me and I began to cry. Not knowing if it was because of my prayers, God’s blessings, or just plain luck I thought, “If it was God who healed her, then what did I do?”

That was when I realized I was saved by growing spiritually through earnestly praying for her. She finished her chemotherapy and is currently working at a bakery.


I have many other stories to tell but it would take too long so I would like to conclude my experience by talking about the end of my missionary work. I had just ended on August 14th, and everyone who I’ve been visiting appreciated everything I have done for them.

That really taught me that you will never know how much you appreciate someone until they are gone.

Through my experience, I’ve gained many disciplines or the tools I need to continue my faith as a Tenrikyo follower. I strongly believe that if you do Nioigake, blessings and good things just happen automatically and putting your faith in God will be much easier with no worries for the future. Thank you very much for your time.



































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