MY MOTHER asked me: “And just why won’t you worship your ancestors? 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.” After saying this, Mom started to cry.
A few months before that, Jehovah’s Witnesses had offered my mom a Bible study. She did not want to study, but to be polite she arranged for them to study with me. And now she was upset with me, which was unusual because I had always obeyed her. However, because I wanted to make Jehovah happy, this time I could not obey her. It was not easy, but Jehovah gave me the strength.
LEARNING ABOUT JEHOVAH
My family were Buddhists, like most people in Japan. But after two months of studying with Jehovah’s Witnesses, I was convinced that the Bible is true. When I learned that I had a heavenly Father, I really wanted to know him well. At first, Mom and I enjoyed talking about what I was learning. I began attending Sunday meetings at the Kingdom Hall. As I learned more, I told Mom that I would stop participating in Buddhist ceremonies. Suddenly, her attitude changed. She said, “Having someone in the family who has no love for our ancestors is a disgrace.” She demanded that I stop studying the Bible and attending meetings. I never imagined that my mother would say this! She was like a different person.
Dad agreed with Mom. I had learned from Ephesians chapter 6 that Jehovah wanted me to obey my parents. I wanted our family to be peaceful again, and I thought that if I listened to them, they would eventually listen to me. At that time, I had to prepare for my school exams, so I agreed to do as my parents said for three months. But I promised Jehovah that I would attend the meetings again when that time was up.
My decision was bad for two reasons. First, I thought that after three months I would still have a strong desire to serve Jehovah. Instead, my relationship with him became weak very quickly. Second, Mom and Dad tried even harder to convince me to stop serving Jehovah.
HELP AND OPPOSITION
At the Kingdom Hall, I had met many Witnesses who were opposed by their family. They assured me that Jehovah would strengthen me. (Matthew 10:34-37) They explained to me that if I remained faithful to Jehovah, my family could learn about him. I wanted to rely on Jehovah, so I started praying intensely.
My family opposed me in different ways. Mom begged me to stop studying and tried to reason with me. Most times, I just kept quiet. When I did say something, we would often argue because we were both trying to prove that we were right. Now I realize that if I had been more respectful of Mom’s feelings and beliefs, things might have been calmer. My parents gave me more chores to keep me in the house. Sometimes they locked me out of the house or did not leave me any food.
Mom asked others to help her convince me. She talked to my teacher, but this did not work. Mom took me to her manager at work so that he could persuade me that all religions were useless. She also telephoned our relatives and cried as she begged them for help. That upset me very much. But at the meetings, the elders reminded me that when Mom talked to others about our situation, she was actually witnessing to them.
My parents wanted me to go to university so that I could find a good job. We were all too upset to talk about this matter in a calm way, so I wrote them several letters to explain my goals. Dad got very angry and said, “If you think that you can find a job, find it by tomorrow or else you leave this house.” I prayed to Jehovah and asked him to help me. The very next day, while I was in service, two different sisters offered me a job teaching their children. Dad was not happy about this, so he stopped talking to me and began to ignore me. Mom said that it would have been better for me to be a criminal than one of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Jehovah helped me to correct my thinking and to know what to do
Sometimes I was not sure whether Jehovah wanted me to resist my parents this much. So I prayed to Jehovah and meditated on what the Bible says about his love. This helped me to be more positive and to understand that my parents opposed me because they were worried about me. Jehovah helped me to correct my thinking and to know what to do. Also, the more I went out in the ministry, the more I enjoyed it. Yes, I wanted to be a pioneer.
SERVING AS A PIONEER
When some sisters heard that I wanted to pioneer, they told me that I should wait for my parents to calm down. I prayed for wisdom, did research, thought about the reasons why I wanted to pioneer, and talked to experienced brothers and sisters. I then decided that I wanted to make Jehovah happy. I also understood that even if I waited some time before starting to pioneer, my parents might still oppose me.
I started to pioneer during my last year of high school. After pioneering for a while, I wanted to go to an area 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 I asked the branch office for an assignment near my relatives in southern Japan so that Mom would not worry so much.
While I was in that assignment, I was happy to see several of my Bible students get baptized. I started to study English because I wanted to do more in my service. Then, after seeing the zeal of two special pioneers in my congregation and how they helped others, I decided that I too wanted to become a special pioneer. During this time, Mom got seriously sick twice, and both times I returned home to help her. This surprised her, and she became a little kinder toward me.
MANY BLESSINGS FROM JEHOVAH
Seven years later, Atsushi, one of the special pioneers I spoke about earlier, sent me a letter. He was interested in getting married and wondered how I felt about him. I never had romantic feelings for Atsushi, and I did not think that he had any for me. A month later, I answered that I was willing to get to know him better. We realized that we had the same goals. We wanted to continue in the full-time service and were willing to accept any assignment. Eventually, we got married. I was very happy that Mom, Dad, and other relatives came to our wedding.
Soon afterward, while we were serving as regular pioneers, Atsushi was appointed a substitute circuit overseer. Later, we were assigned as special pioneers and then to the regular circuit work. When we had finished visiting all the congregations in our circuit for the first time, the branch office telephoned us. They asked if we were willing to move to Nepal and continue in the circuit work there.
I was worried about how my parents would feel about me moving so far away. When I telephoned them, Dad’s answer 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.
We were happy to be among the friendly people of Nepal. Later, Bangladesh was added to our circuit. Although it was close to Nepal, it was very different. We had a lot of variety in our field service. After five years, we were assigned back to Japan, where we now enjoy the circuit work.
I learned so much about Jehovah while serving in Japan, Nepal, and Bangladesh. People in these countries have different cultures, habits, and customs. And each person is unique. I have seen how Jehovah cares for people individually, accepts them, and helps and blesses them.
I have so many things to thank Jehovah for. He has allowed me to know him and do his work, and he has given me a fine Christian husband. God has helped me to make good decisions, and now I have a good relationship with him and with my family. Thanks to Jehovah, Mom and I are good friends again. I am deeply grateful that I found peace with God and with my mother.