Akiko Suzuki
Tokyo, Japan

North America Makuya's summer holy convocation was held in Tulsa, Oklahoma, this year. I went to the US for the first time after twenty-five years to participate in the holy convocation. I was very thankful to God who brought me back to the place where I was redeemed.

An Unexpected Accident

I am from Hiroshima, where my devout mother brought up my sister and me. At night, she would hold us tight and pray for us before we went to bed. Thanks to her prayers, I gradually began to yearn for God. Wishing to be useful to God with my English, I studied at the University of Missouri.

I lived in a dorm during the school term. But during the summer and winter breaks when the dorms were closed, I stayed with Mr. and Mrs. Tsuji in Tulsa. They held Sunday meetings of the original gospel at their home which I attended whenever possible. I had also found Christian friends whom I could pray with on campus. Studying was hard but I enjoyed my school life.

In the fall of my third year, I was in a car accident. I was driving home after studying at the library until midnight. When turning into the main street, I failed to notice a motorcycle moving straight toward my car. By the time when I noticed, the motorcyclist had taken a fall in order to avoid the collision. Although the motorcyclist sustained minor injuries, we were both fortunate that it wasn't more serious.

Afterward, I was called to court. There, I was instructed that it was standard procedure for the judge to ask, "Are you guilty?" Whereupon, I would reply, "Yes, I am guilty." That was an administrative procedure of dealing with accidents. Several people were carrying out the procedure in turn. When my turn came, the judge before me addressed the charge. I answered, "Yes, I am guilty." When I said the word "guilty," my heart was overwhelmed with darkness.

Returning home from court, I wanted to pray but could not even open the Bible. I just kept crying, remembering the scenes from the accident. The faces of those who loved and prayed for me came into my mind, but I thought I would not be able to face them. I wanted to erase myself from their memories and to escape somewhere.

Calling His Holy Name

Two weeks after the accident, a Pentecost meeting was to be held in Tulsa. It is a meeting in which we earnestly pray for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. As I had been looking forward to attending the meeting, I told my friends about it. However, feeling remorseful and guilty, I could not bear to see anyone. So I thought of excusing myself from the meeting.

At that time, two of my friends asked me, "Aren't you going to Tulsa for the Pentecost meeting?" Seeing my unwillingness, they said, "You must go there. We will come with you. You must drive there, otherwise you won't be able to drive for the rest of your life." Hearing this, I reluctantly decided to go to Tulsa with them.

The gloomy mood filled the car on the way to Tulsa. We hardly talked during the six-hour drive. When the Pentecost meeting began, I was so depressed that all I could do was to sit still in the meeting room. I did not even have hope for forgiveness. During the final prayer, I mumbled, "Father, heavenly Father …" At that moment, something bright suddenly came down to me just like a waterfall, and I felt great joy welling up from the bottom of my belly.

I tried to suppress the overwhelming joy, thinking that I should not be rejoicing, but I could not stop it. So I asked God, "Is it all right for me to rejoice?" Instantly, I was brought back into light, although I had been confined in darkness and unable to move even an inch.

At the Pentecost meeting, one of my friends regained speaking in tongues. She told me, "I had not been able to speak in tongues since the minister of my church in Malaysia stopped it. But today, I was given tongues again. I am so glad!" We joyfully drove back to Missouri, talking endlessly.

Only if we call God's name, even from the bottom of despair, He immediately responds to us and turns darkness into light. This experience has supported me up until today. Since then, Psalm 139 has become my favorite scripture.

If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there
If I say, "Surely the darkness shall fall on me,"
Even the night shall be light about me;
Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You,
But the night shines as the day;
(Psalm 139:8, 11 NKJV)

(2017)