At age 4, Jesse lost his mother. By the time he was 9, Jesse lived in foster homes. As a teen, he met a young man who played basketball. When Jesse shared his name, the young man looked surprised.
Your mother and my father were brother and sister!
Taking Jesse home, the cousin introduced him to the rest of the family. That’s when Jesse learned that his mother had died of complications caused by his father’s beatings.
Jesse moved in with his uncle, and as his anger simmered, he joined the U.S. air national guard, then switched to the U.S. Marines. He married, had three children, but later divorced.
I felt hurt and empty inside, he recalled.
Once more I had no family and felt completely alone.
Feeling life wasn’t worth living, Jesse took his rifle and ammunition down to the beach with plans to end his life. Wading into the sea, he sat down on a rock. Soon a policeman came, but Jesse raised his rifle, warning him to stay away. Then the colonel from the Marine base arrived, ordering him to put the gun down. Jesse refused. But when he saw his father approaching, Jesse put the gun into his mouth and pulled the trigger. There was an explosion and he fell backward–still alive. The bullet had jammed halfway through the barrel.
Jesse was discharged from the Marines and tried again to commit suicide. This time he ended up in the hospital emergency room where he met Dr. Nozaki, a Seventh-day Adventist physician determined to save him. When he awoke after surgery, Jesse found a Bible by his bed, placed there by Dr. Nozaki. He hid the Bible, but each day he found another one.
When Jesse was released from the hospital, Dr. Nozaki urged him to read the book of John. Finally, Jesse agreed. The doctor called him each day, making sure that he had food and clothing. In time, Jesse realized that Dr. Nozaki really cared and he learned to trust him. He started Bible studies, and the doctor invited him to church.
One day Jesse returned to the rock where he had tried to kill himself and thanked God for saving his life. He continued studying and was baptized into the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
For the first time in my life, he said,
I felt peace.
Later, with the doctor’s encouragement, Jesse and his wife reconciled. They remarried in Dr. Nozaki’s home.