Rina Kawai (Tokyo)

My mother, Michiko Fujiwara, passed away on May 2, 2017. She was sixty-nine years old and was survived by her husband, four married children, and thirteen grandchildren. When she was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year [2017], she was already in the final stage and was told that she did not have long to live. I hoped that was not true and that she could beat the odds, but God had a different plan. He called her to her heavenly home.

The Priceless Time

Rina visiting her mother with her daughter

Her death was a great loss. However, through the last few weeks of her mortal life and her funeral I witnessed the power of faith and God's all-encompassing love. I also felt that I glimpsed the reality and certainty of heaven. The faith that shone in this simple woman was unveiled in her final days.

I visited my mother with my family for a week in April, a few weeks prior to her passing. No longer able to live independently, she was welcomed by our friends of the same faith, the Karakis, to live with them as they took care of her. My mother had lost weight, but her kind smile and loving gaze directed at her grandchildren were just the same as when she was raising us. She held my daughter, her youngest grandchild, for the first time and fed her baby food like a regular grandmother. That time was priceless.

My Two Questions

During our stay she was hospitalized, and it was decided that she would have to be moved to hospice care. While I sat with her the final time, I asked her two questions: first, "When was the most fulfilling time of your life?" She didn't answer that question. She had always kept busy, so it must have been difficult for her to pinpoint any one time that may have been most fulfilling for her. At the same time, she was not bound or preoccupied with matters of this world, and personal fulfillment was not of great consequence to her.

The second question I asked was "Who did you look up to?"

She paused and replied, "John Wesley's conversion was something special. I never reached the heights of his conversion, but I hope that such a conversion takes place in Makuya." Then she quoted from memory a passage about John Wesley's conversion experience that she had read in a biography of his mother, Susannah Wesley. It was the first time I had heard my mother explicitly mention John Wesley's conversion. I knew then that my mother had always been seeking a higher spiritual world.

My mother was always so kind and loving, a hard worker, and in times of difficulty she would make Christ her refuge. The refrain of her favorite hymn reads, "On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; All other ground is sinking sand."

In the last few weeks of my mother's life, it was as if there were an agenda in heaven and everything was written down and scheduled. She spent quality time with her family and everyone she was meant to meet. She received life and encouragement for her soul. She said everything she wanted to say, and when it was time, she returned to heaven.

She was taken to heaven much earlier than any of us had expected, but it consoles me to know that she fulfilled her last days with purpose.

The Fragrance of My Mother's Prayer

My mother died on the same day as the mother of Susanna Kuehnel, whose prayers after the death of her mother ignited the children's revival in Herrnhut, Germany. It has been exactly 290 years since the Moravian Pentecostal revival and children’s revival. When my eight-year-old son heard the mesmerizing story of the children's revival, he felt that his grandmother's death date was an auspicious sign, and he and six other youths began to pray that they could visit Herrnhut and encounter God.

This past summer [2017] my husband and son went to the first Makuya Youth Prayer Camp in Herrnhut. My son headed there with much anticipation.

When I reflect on my mother's life, I see that she had nowhere to go but to Christ. She would wake up early and light the menorah to pray, whether it was in the guest room or her own room. I remember the smell of smoke from the newly extinguished candles and the sight of her cheeks still wet with tears shed during prayer and the morning sunlight radiating from the room. I will never forget that otherworldly atmosphere.

Her faith remains a legacy that inspires us.

(2018)