モルモン

とは?

What of the

Mormons?

帰還宣教師から

From Returned Missionaries

 

戻る

Conversion Story of Elder Koichi Aoyagi

Part 1

In April of 1962, when I was 17 years old and a third year student in high school, I belonged to the High School English Club.   

Members of our club talked about learning English Conversation from a native speaker of English. We decided we would try to find one to be our teacher in our Matsumoto City. 

We found two teachers who were able to teach us English Conversation at our English club. 

One was a Catholic priest, the other a minister from a Protestant Church, both from Matsumoto. There was just one problem. It was a big problem. Both wanted us to pay and our club had no money to pay them. We were discouraged. We almost gave up on the idea of having a native speaker teach us. 

One morning several weeks later on the way to school, another foreigner handed me a tract as I rode by on my bicycle. I couldn’t look at it then, so I put it into my pocket. I forgot about it until my classes were over. 

Our English Club met after school so I remembered the tract and pulled it out of my pocket. On it was written in Japanese “Come to a Free English Conversation Class by Americans!” 

All the members of the English Club were so surprised and glad. We found native English teachers that we could afford. We decided to attend. The class was held Wednesday evening. About 30 of us showed up for the class. I think the missionaries were really surprised to see so many.

The church at that time was in a row house. It didn’t look like a church building. There were two Americans who taught English. They were very kind. 

After several weeks I was more interested in the missionaries than I was in English. They were so kind, so pure and so good. They almost glowed with happiness. I had never met anyone like them before. They were only a few years older than me. I wondered why they were such wonderful persons compared to myself.  

They invited me to hear their message and I accepted. I didn’t understand what they were teaching very well, but I could feel that what they were teaching was right. I wanted to be like them and I felt there was something wonderful about this church and I wanted to understand what that was. So I decided to accept baptism.  

I needed to receive permission from my parents to be baptized. When I explained my desire to be baptized to them, they were strongly opposed. They said that our family members were Buddhists and we shouldn’t become Christians. They were faithful Buddhists and our family had been Buddhists for many generations.  

I told the missionaries that I couldn’t be baptized. We talked about it together. They were not discouraged. They said we should pray about it. They were sure God would help us. They asked if they could go to my house and talk to my parents. When I asked my parents, they agreed.

It was about 10 kilometers by bicycle to my house from the Church over unpaved roads. It took about an hour to get there. I lived in a rural farm village. It was a strange sight for the children of my village to see these foreigners. Many children followed the missionaries. While we were inside my house, the children waited outside wondering what was happening.

My parents welcomed the missionaries warmly. My parents asked them what things they were teaching their son. This continued for about an hour. My parents were very interested in what the missionaries were saying. My parents and I felt a warm assurance as the missionaries spoke. Finally, one missionary turned to my father and asked him if he would give permission for me to be baptized.

To my surprise, my father who had been so opposed earlier, said to me that if it was so important to me that he would give permission for me to receive baptism. It was a miracle to me. I was so grateful. Later, I realize it was the Spirit of the Lord that my parents and I felt at that time.

The next Sunday, June 24, 1962, I was baptized in pure running water used for growing wasabi. The water was running quite fast so it took several times before my body was completely immersed. After the baptism, we returned to the church building where I was confirmed and received the Gift of the Holy Ghost.