Conversion Story of Elder Koichi Aoyagi
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
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
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
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
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.