I was very sad and didn’t know what to do with my life. Then one day at the factory where I worked, I met a man named Silvio.
About 100 years ago, people from Japan started moving to countries in South America in search of work and a better life. These Japanese people stayed in South America, and over the years many more Japanese people came to live in South America. Today there are many people who are Japanese Brazilian, Japanese Ecuadorian, and so on. Some of these people are now coming to Japan—the land of their ancestors. Helio is one of many South American immigrants to Japan. He shares his story here:
My father came to Brazil from Japan. He was a Buddhist. My mother’s ancestors came from Japan; but she was born in Brazil, and her parents were Roman Catholic, so she was raised going to the Catholic Church.
The home I grew up in was kind of a combination of Christian and Buddhist. When I was 14 years old, my father became very sick with tuberculosis. He really wanted to be healed and he started praying every day, but he still died.
He had a small watchmaking business; after he died I had to take over the business. It was hard to lose my father and suddenly have to be the one responsible to earn money for our family. I started reading the Bible and found a text that stayed with me. Jesus says in John 14:6: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (NIV). I kept thinking about that text again and again.
I worked hard and got very tired, but I had to keep working so that my family would have enough money for food. I did this for many years while I was growing up. Twelve years after my father died, I decided to move to Japan. I thought things might be better there, but instead things only got worse! My back started to hurt terribly, and I went to many doctors trying to get help. But it seemed that no one could help me.
A New Direction
I was very sad and didn’t know what to do with my life. Then one day at the factory where I worked, I met a man named Silvio. I could tell that he was a very nice person and that he was always in a good mood, even though he was often in pain because of a very bad accident that he had been in. I knew what it was like to be hurting, so I really admired Silvio, who was always happy even though he was in pain.
At that time I was a member of a Japanese spiritualist group called Mahikari. We believed in a god of the universe, and a god of the earth. Every time I bowed down to these idols, I remembered John 14:6, and wondered where Jesus Christ was.
Silvio was a Seventh-day Adventist; and a few months after meeting him, he invited me to visit his church. We became good friends, and Silvio told me about Jesus and how He could change my life. Because of the wonderful things Silvio shared with me, I wanted to know more about Adventists. I began going to church every Sabbath with Silvio, and I took Bible studies with the pastor. Before long, I was baptized. I am so happy that I met Silvio and that He told me about Jesus and invited me to come to his church!
There are many other people from South America, who, like me, came to Japan looking for a better life. These people need to know about Jesus, just like I did. We are trying to find them and invite them to our church where there are many other Japanese South American people. One of the Thirteenth Sabbath Offering projects this quarter is to build an international evangelistic center here in Japan. Thank you for helping us by giving generously to the Thirteenth Sabbath Offering!