Nobuko Fujiwara
Lethbridge, Canada

At Pentecost meeting. Nobuko is at center of second row.

At Pentecost meeting, Nobuko at the center of second row

I am thankful to be able to testify of the Christ of victory on this Pentecost day.

It has been over two years since I was diagnosed with Myasthenia Gravis. Many people have prayed for me and my body moves again because of your prayers. I am so grateful.

Last October, my beloved and respected friend, Mrs. Jane Nishioka, passed away. I wanted to thank her for always thinking of us and loving us, and I wished to inherit her burning prayer and love for the North America Makuya. So, without regard for my health, I flew to Los Angeles to attend her funeral. When I arrived at the airport, my condition deteriorated and I was admitted to an intensive care unit that night. I was a burden to everyone, and missed the funeral. I felt so ashamed and disappointed.

Every day the members of L.A. Makuya visited me at the hospital, praying and encouraging me. Elderly ladies prayed, "Lord, Lord," while massaging my feet and back. Such love was so precious that those memories bring tears to my eyes.

I was optimistic that treatment would help me recover but, while being treated, my body became weaker. I could not open my eyes, chew, swallow, nor stand up. Even breathing became exhausting and I thought I might not be able to return home alive.

After three weeks in L.A., doctors in both the U.S. and Canada gave their approval, and I was flown back to Calgary on an air ambulance and transferred to a hospital there. I am thankful that our enormous medical bill was covered by our insurance provider and that we were totally protected.

Seeing my husband's face at the hospital, I was so relieved and thought, "I'm so glad to make it back alive." By that time, I could no longer breathe on my own and they put me on a ventilator. When the anesthetics wore off, it felt so painful like I was just awaiting death. In my heart, I cried out, "God, do I have to keep fighting? I want to return to Your place in heaven." I jotted down a question to the nurse, "What would happen if you removed the ventilator?" She replied, "You are only breathing at 30 percent capacity, so eventually your breathing would stop." I replied, "Then I don't want the ventilator anymore," and began to write my will. When thinking I could return to God's place, I was no longer fearful of death. However, when I thought about parting from my loved ones I was overcome with sadness. It felt like my heart would be torn.

Hearing this, my husband who had just returned home from the hospital rushed back again, driving three hours on the snowy highway. Without saying anything, he started praying, shedding tears: "Heavenly Father, our small boat is sinking in the storm. Lord, help us! Christ, enter our boat and save us!" Hearing his prayer made me realize I was not alone, but that my husband and children were with me in this boat. Then I suddenly felt the fervent prayers of the entire Makuya pulling me up. "Oh, I can't die yet. I have to live!" I thought.

A few days later on Sunday, December 6, my muscles became drastically stronger and I could lift my head without anyone's support. The nurse who knew of my love for music pushed my wheelchair to the grand piano in the lobby. Without hesitating, my hands played the hymn, As the Deer, and then, Jesus, Lover of My Soul. "My soul thirsts for Your life. I can't live without Your life"—I played with all my prayer and was enveloped in a bright light, not knowing if I was on earth or in heaven. I heard a voiceless voice say, "Your prayer and cries have already reached heaven," and felt Christ's intense gaze. Tears flowed like a waterfall and I sobbed. Then I understood the verse, "the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it" (John 1:5). These words had been echoing in me since I was in L.A. I believe that was the moment Christ recaptured my soul from the darkness into the light.

The next day, my body weakened again and I was like a zombie for days. But my soul faced toward the light. Every morning I prayed, "Please just give me the life and fighting spirit for this one day; the power to breathe and live through today."

I had refused to let my children see me this way, but one day I suddenly heard, "Mommy!" as my kids entered my room. I worried they would be scared to see their mother's face all swollen, so I tried to hide my face. But my children hugged me and were just so happy to see me again. Before Christmas, they each gave me a homemade present and card, and wrote, "Mom, I love you. I'm glad I was born as your child." I was about to give up and leave my children, because of my own suffering. "Heavenly Father, I'm sorry," I cried over my weak faith. And yet, as if a switch had been turned on, my body began to move as all my cells cried out, "Let's get better!"

There were ups and downs after that but I have been blessed with such great doctors and medical staff and have recovered gradually. When I returned home from the hospital, it was like seeing a dream. This past year, many family members and friends have supported me and now I can do work around the house and take care of our children. I feel so happy, just to be able to cook for my family and to spend time with them.

I have put these words on the kitchen wall: "Do all things without complaining and disputing" (Philippians 2:14). All difficulties happen so we are able to know God's love. Therefore, no matter what, I don't want to dispute God's love nor complain about this illness. Instead, I want to give thanks.

My heart longs for heaven as before. But today I once again want to enter His peace, to be embraced in His bosom as if entering heaven, even while on earth. With this life, I wish to live each day.

(2016)