Inside Story: New Life From Death

Japan – Masaaki Toge

As a mortician in Japan, I am surrounded by death every day as I prepare bodies for burial and direct funerals. For years I have watched people mourn the death of a loved one and go through the ceremonies their religion requires in order to assure that the deceased have a peaceful and speedy journey from this life to the next.

Resurrection of the Just

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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 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 to examine the differences between their beliefs and those I had known since childhood. 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 one again.

One day I was in charge of a funeral in an 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 terrible motorcycle accident. As I remembered these near-death experiences, I was surprised that instead of feeling fear, I felt a deep peace. I sensed at that moment that I was not alone.

The next morning I visited the pastor of the Adventist church. We talked about God for quite some time, and he assured me that Jesus wanted to be part of my life. I asked the pastor to help me learn the principles of Christianity. I was eager to know how the Christian faith could give its followers such hope.

I studied with the pastor for several months and learned a lot about the God who not only created us but came to earth to live and die so that sinful human beings could live with Him forever. I had never heard of such love!

I thought of the sinful things I had done, and I rejoiced when I realized that all I had to do was to ask Jesus Christ to forgive my sins and accept me as His child. I prayed my first prayer to the God of Creation, and He filled my heart with a peace and joy I had never known.

I was not sure how to tell my family about my new faith, so at first I said nothing. But soon I realized that I did not have to tell them; they saw the changes in my life, the happiness that shone on my face and in my expressions. My colleagues and friends noticed the differences too and asked me what had happened. I told them that I had met the living God, Jesus Christ, and had accepted His gift of salvation. I had become a Christian.

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 to study the Bible and learn about the love of God so I can answer people who ask about my faith and know how to encourage the sad families I meet every day.

Produced by the General Conference Office of Adventist Mission.
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Inside Story: New Life From Death — 7 Comments

  1. I woke up today and read todays lesson and felt blessed of God. I thank God who has blessed those who ensure we have these lessons every day. God bless u all. I also ask the brethren to pray for my family and myself for strength and power to live and survive in this evil world, for zeal for the service of the Creator, for purity and perfection and the presence of the HolyGhost in us always. God bless you. Hallelujah, amen.

  2. I read the Inside Story with much interest in the evidence of GOD, HIS PRESENCE, HIS WORD, HIS POWER TO CHANGE...I strongly and boldly believe that the GOD we are worshiping to is not what many say or believe, but A TRUE LIVING GOD.

    HE not only change a person who is willingly in search for HIM, for his own good but more importantly for also the good of others. The last quarter lesson and this quarter elaborates that. I thank the LORD for inspiring Lesson's Commentators and also Commentators for listening to GOD rather than their own.


  3. This is a wonderful story. It has taught me how I can instill hope in my patients I meet everyday. Some are very sick and hopeless. Thank God for this.

  4. I'm so blessed to see and live in hope, reading today's Inside story gave me a lot of hope as I struggle with the pain of losing two daughters at birth in last two years..... I have learnt to grieve with the hope that one day they shall be brought back to life.... Thank God Christ is Risen.

  5. It is such a pleasant surprise to read Mr. Masaaki Toge's inside story, because he was a mortician who was servicing Amanuma church, where I served as a pastor from 1979 to 1985 and he was baptized soon after I left there. Now I know he was carefully observing our church and had finally reached his conviction in Christianity. Because Amanuma church locates right next to Tokyo Adventist Hospital, we conducted quite a number of funeral services. I made every funeral services opportunities for evangelistic meetings. I am so glad that the mortician, who was working so closely and so often with us found his way of salvation through our church. I am praising the Lord and congratulating on Br. Toge's decision for Christ. May God bless him.

  6. Mr. Toge, I am very happy to know of your conversion, especially in a country too"cold" in terms of faith. It is a great challenge to evangelize people in this great country, which has people so kind and polite.

    May God bless your work.

    Greetings from Brazil!


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