New Life From Death
As a mortician, I’m surrounded by death every day as I prepare bodies for burial and direct funerals. For years, I have watched people mourn the deaths of loved ones and go through the ceremonies to assure that the deceased have peaceful and speedy journeys from this life to the next.
Japan is largely secular, but most people honor their ancestors by prayers, elaborate ceremonies, and worship rituals. At certain times during the year, families visit their ancestral burial sites and offer gifts and prayers. My family was no different; we prayed to our ancestors.
As I watched the leaders of various religions conduct funeral ceremonies, I noticed that most funerals involved great sadness and much weeping. But I noticed that during Christian funerals, sorrow was tempered with hope. They seemed to have faith that they would see their loved ones again. No such hope existed for most people. I began to wonder whose beliefs were correct. Just where did the spirit go after a person died?
I began watching Christians more closely. Christians, I quickly saw, faced death with a deep-rooted faith in their God. Their pastors showed great compassion toward the grieving family and spoke of their hope to see their loved ones again. One day I was in charge of a funeral in a Seventh-day Adventist church. After my preparations were completed, I sat down alone in the empty church and let the peacefulness of the sanctuary wrap around me. I thought about the times when death came close to me, the time when I almost drowned in the ocean, and the time I should have died in a motorcycle accident. As I remembered these experiences, I was surprised that instead of feeling fear, I felt a deep peace. I sensed that I was not alone.
The next morning I visited the Adventist pastor. We talked about God and the pastor assured me that Jesus wanted to be part of my life. I asked him to help me learn more. I was eager to know how the Christian faith gave its followers such hope. We studied together for several months, and I learned a lot about the God who not only created us but came to live and die so that we could live with Him forever. I had never heard of such love!
I prayed my first prayer, and God filled my heart with a peace and joy I had never known. My family, friends, and colleagues noticed the changes in my life and asked what had happened. I told them that I had met the living God, Jesus Christ, and had accepted His gift of salvation.
Now when I conduct a funeral for someone who is not a Christian, I want the grieving family to notice a difference in my life. I continue studying the Bible and learning about God’s love so I can answer people who ask about my faith, and know how to encourage the sad families I meet every day.
ASSL L13Q22015 Inside Story