TENRIKYO PEARL CHURCH SERMON 2003 Autumn Grand Service
Good morning! I would like to take this time to thank you all for your kind support and sincere offerings. Today we have a guest speaker, a member of our church, who comes to church on a regular basis and who wants to share with you the joy of his faith. Please welcome Mr. Terence Fujioka.
Mina-san, Ohaiyo gazaimasu!
Good morning! Or Aloha Kahahiaka! Thank you for attending Pearl Church’s Autumn Grand Service. I am confident that God (Tsukihi) and Oyasama are pleased that you are present here today.
First, a little bit of ‘History 101” Owen and I are former classmates at Aliiolani Elementary, Jarrett Intermediate and Kaimuki High School. Although we were not very close during those ‘hanabudda’ days, I remember Owen as a very nice person, always smiling unless he was doing something that required concentration, when he’d have a look of ‘totemo’ determination. He hasn’t changed much except he’s a little bit more aerodynamic now. After high school, we all went our separate ways, but little did I know what God (Tsukihi) had in mind for both of us.
I was working at ‘Hawaii Country Store’ in the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center. The manager of the store was a very difficult person to work with. She constantly complained and was very arrogant. But despite the tension and discomfort of this job, a co-worker named ‘Linda’ impressed me with her ability to remain calm at all times. Her personality was, and still is, something to be admired. One day, I asked Linda if she went to church thinking that if she did, whatever church she attended was worth looking into. She said, ‘Yes, Tenrikyo Church.’ Then she proceeded to tell me about the church and its teachings, as I’ve never heard of Tenrikyo Church. She knew I lived in Palolo Valley, so she told me that there’s a Tenrikyo Church in Palolo, on 10th Avenue, run by a Reverend Owen Nakao. I replied, ‘Owen Nakao?! I know him! We were classmates. He’s a Reverend?! I’ll go check him out one day.’ Linda encouraged me to do so. By the way, ‘Linda’ is Linda Kawasaki, wife of David Kawasaki of Tenrikyo Aloha Church in Waipahu. Days, months, then years went by, and although I had in mind to visit Owen, I never took the first step. Then one day, while delivering the Star Bulletin on 10th Avenue, I see this guy coming towards me, full blast, going about forty miles per hour in a twenty-five miles per hour zone (nah!) on one of the ‘razor scooters’ wearing long pants and with his Aloha shirt tucked in. Tucked in, mind you, while riding a scooter! Initially, I thought, ‘typical Palolo nut case.’ A well-dressed nut case, though. When I had a good look at this ‘nut’, I recognized him. It was Reverend Owen Nakao! I yelled, ‘Owen! Owen Nakao, right?!’ At first, he didn’t recognize me until I mentioned my name. I told him of my chronic stomach problem. I’ve had ulcer-like symptoms since 1976. I’ve been to three major hospitals, been through all the exams, with ‘no diagnosis.’ I suffered the symptoms, but no ulcer. The doctors did not know how to treat it. I was told it might be something I’ll have to live with. This condition, along with constantly being in and out of jobs, sent me into depression. There were many times when suicide entered my mind. Owen offered to come pray for me. That very night, he and Taeko came to my house and performed the ‘sazuke’. I’ll admit, at that time, I was a ‘tough customer’. I didn’t really embrace the religion or its teachings. I was torn between Christianity, which I was raised in as a youth, and Tenrikyo, which I knew very little about. Owen and Taeko gave me some literature; then they gave me the space to decide for myself. In the meantime, they continued to come and pray for me. I visited Pearl Church now and then, started delivering the Nakao’s ‘complimentary copy’ of the Star Bulletin daily, but hadn’t yet fully accepted God. Then, on October 31, 2001, while riding my bicycle on my way to deliver Rev. and Mrs. Nakao newspaper, I was struck from behind by a van. The impact was enough to crack the windshield and according to Taeko, smash the front of the van. I remember thinking, ‘I’m in trouble!’ The E.M.S. (Emergency Medical Service) worker was describing my injuries when I heard him tell the dispatcher, ‘Broken big toe on left foot.’ I said, ‘It’s always like that!’ Then he said, ‘Bloated stomach,’ which indicates internal bleeding. Again I said, ‘It’s always like that!’ It started to drizzle and I remember seeing Taeko holding an umbrella over me. Then Owen performed the ‘sazuke’ for me. Just before I was put into the ambulance, Owen said, ‘Rely on God.’ On the way to the hospital, I repeated it silently, ‘Rely on God.’
Owen drove my Mom to the hospital. Owen, my Mom and my brother-in-law ‘Ron’, who is my sister ‘Penny’s’ husband, were there for support. After they had left, every now and then I’d repeat, in my mind, what Owen had said ‘ ‘Rely on God.’ Rely on God, I did. I fell asleep knowing God would do what was meant to be. The next morning, I woke up hoping the accident was just a bad dream. No such luck, the accident did happen. I was in the hospital, with those wires stuck all over me, the I.V. in my arm and not being allowed to get up to relieve myself. I remember thinking, ‘I want outta here!’ A nurse came into the room and said that if I pass the physical therapy test, I could be released that day! I passed the exam and was sent home that afternoon, the day after the accident. To this day, only fading scars on my knees show evidence of being in the accident. I honestly feel that God, somehow, was involved in this accident, that God gave a me another chance to live my life with a whole new outlook on life, a different perception of people, plants, animals and everything else that exists. To me, God does exist. I believe that now. Just after Owen and I were ‘reunited’, I gave him a hard time when he wanted to talk about religion, telling him there was no way he was going to prove to me that God exists, even going as far as to say it was impossible for anyone to prove that God exists. It is believed that God exists. But little did I know what Owen had in mind for me! In fact, I think God and Owen were in ‘cahoots’ with one another to make it look like an accident. They set it up! Because now, no question, I believe in God. And now, more times than not, I rely on God. I’m not going to say that everything is perfect, but now, if I told you all the good things that have happened since I started attending Pearl Church, you’d have to set up camp, because I don’t know how long these blessing are to continue, but I do know they keep coming.
I thank God (Tsukihi), Oyasama, my Dad’s spirit, my family and friends, (old and new), David and Linda Kawasaki and family for the many blessings I’ve received. Thank you all for everything! Thank you for listening.
In closing, I’d like to say:
To be able to see God’s Gifts,
One must open one’s eyes.
To be able to receive God,
One must open one’s heart
Oh, and ‘ Rely on God.
Please turn to Song 3, 7th verse, it says:
Seventh, Whatever may happen, from now on,
I will go single-heartedly leaning on God.
And in Song 9, 2nd verse, it says:
Second, Against any hardship I will protect you;
So lean closely on the mind of God.
Both these verses mention leaning on God or lean closely on the mind of God. In other words God urges us to follow the teachings and as Terence mentioned, rely on God. For Terence, he could not create miracles of healing and protection. For me, I could not convince him or anyone for that matter, of the existence of God. But what we can do is practice the teaching the best way we can as human beings with a sincere heart and then rely on God for things we cannot do or accomplish by ourselves.
It is in this way we are able to receive marvelous blessings, both physical and spiritual.
I hope everyone enjoyed today’s speech and it is our wish that it will inspire and encourage you to practice faith in your daily life and rely on God. Thank you for attending the service today.
1. The Dendocho Autumn Grand Service will be held next Sunday at 9am.
2. The Dendocho Nioigake Day will be held on following day, Monday, October 20th at 9am.
3. The weekly service practices are held every Thursday night at 6:30-7:30pm.
4. The Boy’s and Girl’s Hinokishin and Hiking Day will be held on Saturday, October 25th at 8am. And Trick or Treat for Unicef boxes are available for those who wish to participate on your own for the annual Trick or Treat for UNICEF. Please return the boxes by the next monthly service.
As always, I encourage all of you to take advantage of these opportunities for further spiritual growth, which is the path of the joyous life.
TENRIKYO PEARL CHURCH SERMON 2003 Autumn Grand Service