Shinichi Tanaka believed vaguely that an all-powerful god who created the universe was out there somewhere. But it was not until a near death experience that he found his way to God.
From a young age, Shinichi had a great respect for nature and the “gods” of the Shinto religion. However, when visiting the shrines to pray, he felt that something was missing.
“I went there to feel a sense of purification, also to pray and give thanks,” Shinichi says on a Japan Kingdom Church video. “But it was like praying to a vague God, like the air.”
“I realized the existence of God, which had immeasurable power,” he continues. “Since then, I would close my eyes and meditate that the universe would send energy like bright and dazzling lights. That was my God.”
Shinichi did not know God yet. This would change when, at 49 years old, he experienced a heart attack that left him hospitalized.
“My life hung in a fifty-fifty balance,” Shinichi says. “But I kept a strong will to survive.”
“One night, while sleeping on the bed in the hospital, a beautiful world spread out before me, and I was drawn outside my body,” Shinichi recounts. “It was actually the entrance to death.”
“Then, suddenly, a voice shouted ‘No! Don’t go!’” Shinichi continues. “When I regained consciousness, I suffered from strong pain, and tried to get out of it.”
His first encounter with Christianity, at the age of 60, occurred thanks to his daughter.
“In Canada, my daughter became a Christian and came back to visit Japan,” Shinichi recalls. “Soon after I encountered the Christian faith for the first time.”
A Christian couple had come to visit Shinichi’s home, after an invitation by his daughter to have lunch.
“My daughter and her friends sang praise songs,” Shinichi says. “Then we all held hands together, and they prayed for my health.”
Shinichi’s heart was filled with so much love from the experience, that he was brought to tears.
Shinichi realized that Christianity has love in it, and was driven to learn more and more about it, including Jesus and His sacrifice.
“My daughter and I would pray for my body several times,” Shinichi says. “As a result, at times I would experience something in my body that science couldn’t explain. It was a good change happening to my body.”
A few days later, Shinichi was touched by God and once again moved to tears. He called out to Jesus, repenting and asking for forgiveness.
“I felt like I wanted to cleanse myself of everything, so I took a shower,” Shinichi continued. “Then I accepted Jesus Christ. It was the moment through Jesus Christ that I made a relationship between me and God.”
Shinichi felt gratitude towards God for saving his life and felt a need to spread the gospel. When he joined the Japan Kingdom Church to attend the Christmas Gospel Event, his wife, although not saved at the time, followed suit.
“They welcomed me with a warm heart,” Shinichi recounts. “Also, Gospel music is amazing! The power and unspeakable joy inspired my soul.”
“If your heart is filled with love, like a cup overflowing with water, your situation will surely go well,” Shinichi continues. “How can you be filled with this love? It’s by faith.”
Shinichi believes that he has been changed by his personal relationship with Jesus Christ, that God has a love for humans, and that He desires that they get closer to Him.
“If you open the door of your heart like a child, pure and free, and turn towards the true God, He will surely answer you,” Shinichi states. “He can work in any situation you have.”
“God is Love, and this Love brings us joy,” he concludes. “My desire is to share God’s grace and love with all people.
If you want to know more about a personal relationship with God, go here
Nazarii Baytlor studies at the Lighthouse Christian Academy a few miles west of West Hollywood, CA.