God's Unseen Guiding Hands
“Heavenly Father, I thank you for this opportunity to share my humble testimony about the love and guidance you have provided me. I pray, Lord, that this testimony demonstrates a living example of your love and grace in my life. Also, Lord, that with these shared thoughts, I am able to glorify your name. Amen.” Ted Matsunari
During each of our lives we are faced with many challenges and we must decide which critically diverging crossroads we will travel. It is a very personal choice, one that requires great resolve because the choices we make bring very real consequences. We strive to make the best possible choices given the current set of circumstances. Do we always get it right? We try. I have been faced with many challenges in my life and would like to share some of those events with you today. I am convinced that these events illustrate how God’s loving, comforting, healing and guiding hands have helped to shape my life thus far.
When I was eight years old, the second World War had just ended and throughout Japan the post war destruction was not the only indescribable, but the society as a whole was confused and panic stricken. Hardships were the norm and families were forced to live without proper food, clothing, and basic necessities.
My mother owned a small hotel in Beppu, which is about 200 miles from Hiroshima. Beppu had been a thriving hot springs resort prior to the war, but the war’s economic toll was evident when Japanese tourists, a main staple, stopped coming to my mother’s hotel. They were replaced by American military personnel. Among these guests was a lady named Mrs. Kitty Foose, a long term tenant, who was secretary to General Westmoreland, commander of the U.S. airborne units based in Beppu City. Each week, without fail, Mrs. Foose brought fresh baked bread and butter to my mother, a carton of cigarettes to my father and to me, my brother and sisters with mouthwatering Hershey’s chocolates. I soon fell in love with the aroma of chocolate and made a habit of keeping an old wrapper in my pocket, taking I out from time to time to smell the wonderful fragrance and silently wishing to one day travel to the country which produced such a savory delight! This was my first personal encounter with what the United States of America could provide for me. It also forged a lantern relationship between me and Mrs. Foose because we kept in touch up until her death last year in Los Angeles. Some of the ugliness of war was somehow overshadowed by this beautiful relationship, forged by God.
As I grew older, my brother, then in high school, made the conscious choice to become a member of the United Methodist Church in Beppu. One night he took me and my friend to an evangelical meeting hosted by American GI’s. I don’t really recall any of the Bible passages that were read at the meeting, but I have never forgotten the overwhelming message I gained from the gospel music which was, “What a Friend we Have in Jesus!” This message and simple tune had a profound impact on my soul from that day forward and yet I was only 12 years old then. This became my first personal encounter with my Savior Jesus Christ. So touched was I that one year later, in December 1950 I was baptized at this Methodist Church along with my friend who became a pastor of the United Japanese Church in Kobe. A little mustard seed my brother planted bloomed so beautifully. A choice I made all those years ago might not seem a remarkable event in the eyes of many here today, but consider that I grew up in a family where my father was a self-avowed agnostic and my mother was a devoted Shintoist and Buddhist. How my brother and I ended up in a Christian church with such a family background like that can only be attributed to the fact that God’s unseen hands were extended to me and prompted a major turning point in my life.
My second diverging crossroad occurred when I arrived in the United States as a student in June of 1963 to attend Pepperdine University (then Pepperdine College without the Malibu campus). While at Pepperdine Graduate School, my studies included a major in Sociology and a minor in the study of religious Missions. I would later transfer to the University of Southern California to continue my studies. At Pepperdine I became aware that my American sponsor was a pious Christian who lived in the Crenshaw district of Los Angeles. He was an Elder of the Westside Church of Christ in West Los Angeles which consisted of two congregations, one English-speaking and the other Japanese speaking. Usually an English-speaking pastor was a faculty member of Pepperdine University. Our Japanese pastor came from Ibaragi Christian College in Japan, a sister college to Pepperdine. While studying at Pepperdine, the Japanese pastor abruptly resigned and went back to Japan. Somehow, the elders of the church decided to appoint me as the interim teacher for the Japanese congregation which I filled for three years. I often wondered why circumstances fell into place as they did to allow me this opportunity and still don’t have an answer, but I am certain that God, once again, reach out to guide and shape me for the better in all His Devine Providence.
The third critical turning point in my life occurred when I met my wife, Sylvia, at Wall Street in New York. I was still in my early 30’s and had just been hired by Paine Webber at their New York head office. I work under the guidance of my boss, Mr. Harvey Pratt, a former undersecretary of the Navy, who was the Vice Chairman of Paine Webber. Assigned to the International Department as a Far East Section Manager, my job was to supervise all types of institutional investment trades. Because the job demanded so much of my time and frequent trips overseas trips, I was not able to attend Sunday services every week. And to be perfectly honest, I enjoyed the dynamics of my new surroundings and atmosphere of my office. I was really content working with international investment bankers from around the world. How much better could it get, this was Wall Street! I soon became aware of many secular temptations and impediments that easily began to derail my faith. Fortunately at this critical point, I met my wife, Sylvia, who was working as a secretary for the European Department Manager’s Office. Out of the hundreds of staff members in our department which occupied the entire 26th floor, to this day I don’t know how I found a devoted and loving Christian like Sylvia, but I know that her faith was God’s gift to me. From that moment on, I never wavered from my faith again, even with all the temptations that surrounded me in that green money jungle at Wall Street. Perhaps Sylvia’s faith was solidified through her parents’ many endeavors. They were missionaries for the Swiss Salvation Army in Zaire, which is now the Congo in Africa. As the daughter of missionaries her faith was solid and unshakeable. I have no doubt that God’s unseen hands lead me straight to her.
The next event that transformed my life occurred when Sylvia and I left New York and returned to Los Angeles. At that time I chose to set up a small international consulting company in downtown Los Angeles. In March of 1985 at 4:30 in the afternoon, two young black men attacked me at gunpoint. Bleeding profusely from my forehead and almost completely blinded by blood in my eyes, I was knocked down to the ground in a parking lot of a local restaurant. One man held a 38 caliber pistol to my nose while the other tried to rip my necktie over my head from behind. Strangling me in the process. Simple reflex cause me to stand up for my own preservation and I said, “you took my money, you don’t have to kill me. I’ll give you time to run away.” Then I turned and started to walk back to my car. Suddenly I heard a loud voice behind me. The man who took my necktie shouted to the one with the gun, “don’t shoot!” don’t shoot!”. Fortunately that shot was never fired. At the emergency hospital a Pasadena policeman said to me, “you are very lucky. You might have been shot when you stood up.” Maybe a bit of luck was involved in order to escape further harm, but without a doubt God’s protecting hands were there for me that afternoon along with my own prayer which went something like this, “God please help me to survive this ordeal somehow. I don’t want to finish my life this way!”
Another major crossroad would occur not long after that assault in Pasadena. After that event I began to have nightly nightmares causing profuse sweating and insomnia. I needed to find a place where I could go in order to feel safe and recuperate. Sylvia and I decided to go back to Japan for a year and a half. During our stay in Japan I was often asked to share my professional views regarding US-Japan relationship with the chairman and president of Beppu University. Eventually, this university hired me as a professor and appointed me to manage the newly created campus of the Institute of International Studies in Sunnyvale near San Jose, California. Soon after Sylvia and I returned to San Jose, almost simultaneously De Anza College in San Jose and Beppu University concluded a sister college agreement and allowed college credit transferring to occur. As a director of this joint venture I was able to teach here in the U.S. and return to Beppu, Japan to teach. I could never have imagined having such a wonderful opportunity, but I am certain God’s unseen guiding hands were in evidence once again.
The final turning point I wish to share occurred in July of 1991 when Sylvia was diagnosed with malignant and inflammatory breast cancer, one of the deadliest forms of cancer, which moves quickly to the lymph nodes and other organs. With the diagnosis, her oncologist informed me that her chances fo survival were very slim. The one ray of hope was that it was caught in the earliest stage. Sylvia patiently underwent a series of treatments which included a radical mastectomy, eight chemotherapy sessions and over 20 rounds of radiation therapy. Even before surgery at Kaiser in San Jose I new God was ever present as we offered up a short prayer. Then I listened as Sylvia recited her own prayer which went, “Father, I have no fear at all because I know you are always with me. Whatever happens in that room, I’m just fine. I thank you, Lord, for your love and grace.” Then a peaceful calm came over her. I witnessed once again God’s comforting hands were with us through this entire ordeal.
By God’s grace, I have been influenced and inspired by many spiritual mentors throughout my life and they have helped to keep me well connected to my faith. These people include:
Rick Marvin Los Gatos Christian Church, Los Gatos, CA
Rick Warren Saddleback Church, Lake Forest, CA
Mac McEloy Mission Viejo Christian Church, Mission Viejo, CA
Bob Thune Southwest Community Church, India Wells, CA
Denny Davis Friendship Church, Palm Desert, CA
Tate Crenshaw LifePoint Church, Banning, CA
I cannot begin to know what the future has in store, but I am certain that God’s healing, caring, comforting and protecting hands are always there for me and I just follow His unseen guiding hands.
Thank you and God bless!!
This article by David Kealy appeared in the 1999 Annual Report of Reach Beyond, formerly HCJB World Radio
In 1959 Nicolae Moldoveanu was arrested, interrogated and imprisoned for writing Christian songs considered to be “slanderous” to the formerly socialist state of Romania. He was also tortured, his arm torn from its socket, leaving him permanently disabled. Because of this handicap, Nicolae could not do hard labor, and he was denied the monthly package of food and clothing from home. He was forced to sleep on the hard, cold, damp floor beneath the bunk in his cell.
This hardship did not stop the music of inspiration from his lips. He obtained a piece of broken glass and coated it with soap so he could etch the words and music with a nail. After writing a song, he would teach it to his fellow prisoners, commit it to memory and clear the glass for yet another hymn of praise. During Nicolae’s prison years he penned more than 350 songs!
Although sentenced to 12 years, Nicolae was released after six years and told to stop. Writing Christian songs or he would be thrown back in prison. He replied by saying, “Just keep me here in prison and save yourself and me some trouble. I will never stop writing praise songs to my God.” Upon release he published the songs he had memorized during those bleak years, yet fruitful years.The Radio Voice of the Gospel network of Christian radio stations that Reach Beyond had helped establish across Romania play those songs that give praise to the Lord and encourage others to deepen their faith in Christ.
In 1999 I visited Nicolae and his wife in the single room they had called home for 51 years. They shared the kitchen and single bathroom with three other families who live in what was once a large single family home. In the corner he showed me a small box of clothes to keep him warm in case he ever had to return to prison.
Asked about his source of encouragement, Nicolae shared Colossians 3:16, “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”
At a recent visit to the Akuse Prison to dedicate ceiling fans
and horn speakers for Bible listening within the prison, inmates were full of praise for the Bible listening program
Theovision International has instituted there.
Read some of the interesting testimonies some of them shared during the visit.
Bible listening has led Randy to Christ. He also had this to say:
“When I was convicted and sent to prison, at first, I felt very bitter and hated anything called church, but now I never miss any church activity. Thanks to the Bible listening, I have received Jesus into my life and His word is my guide and protector. Even here in prison I have begun to witness to some of my colleagues and hope to continue even after I am released.”
“I felt abandoned and empty when I first entered the prison but the word of God I listen to daily has brought me hope and comfort.”
Bright on his part said:
“I used not to even read the Bible but during one of our Bible listening sessions at the Prison I heard Paul admonishing his son Timothy to study the Scriptures and that touched my heart. Today I read the Bible and also witness to my friends in the prison.”
Praise from Nepal ~ and a prayer request
Hi my name is Anita, I am a young girl from Brahmin family, I am still Hindu, but I truly trust in God. I have the Bible with me and read it. I have not been baptized yet but have received Jesus as my Lord and Savior. I have not been able to go to Church but I hate worshiping idols. God has fulfilled my heart. Some times I struggle being a girl from Brahmin family because when I share the good news of Jesus to others, they ridicule me, it hurts me. I would love to use my time doing God’s work, please pray for me.
REACHING PEOPLE FAR FROM GOD
2010 - 2020
2010 - 2020