From Wanting to Be Saved to Wanting to Save Others

This is a translation of an article written by Rev. Hiroki Ishii, head minister of Chikumiya Branch Church, for the Tenri Jiho newspaper’s column entitled “The Ofudesaki, My Companion along the Way.”

Ponder from your innermost heart to understand. Through saving others, you will be saved.

Ofudesaki III:47

On June 5, 1982, I was driving late at night from Fukuoka to Kochi (some 550 km or 310 mi.) in order to see my wife and our second daughter, who had just been born. Suddenly, the headlights of a car coming in the opposite direction shone into my eyes.

It was a head-on collision. My white shirt was bright red with blood, and my whole body screamed in severe pain.

“So it’s like this when people die, is it?” I thought, my consciousness slipping away. Then I faintly heard the sound of the service being performed somewhere in the distance. “I’ll be able to survive; I need to–” was the last thought before I passed out.

When I regained consciousness, I was lying on a stretcher in a hospital. According to the doctor, I sustained five fractures to my right arm and a compound fracture to my right thigh, with the result that I would need to be hospitalized for at least a year. My right arm was completely numb, apparently because of a condition called musculospiral paralysis, meaning that the muscles of my arm were paralyzed by the injury of a large nerve in the arm.

The thought “At least I didn’t die” occurred to me. Yet the fact remained that the accident happened at an important stage in my life, when, aged 30, I had my family responsibilities as well as church commitments. There was, however, nothing I could do with my bedridden body.

One day, I suddenly heard the sound of the same service that I had heard immediately after the accident. Something clicked in my mind. “I am preoccupied with the thought ‘I want to be healed,’ but I will never be healed if my mind is focused solely on my own needs,” I realized.

Suddenly, the verse cited above came to me, and tears flowed freely.

“I will no longer pray for this body to be completely healed,” I thought. “But if it can recover to the point where I can administer the Sazuke, I will devote the rest of my life to the path of single-hearted salvation.” Once my mind settled on that thought, my right arm miraculously began to move.

It has been 26 years since then. I was fortunate enough to receive more than sufficient blessings to allow me to participate in God’s work. Even now, I continue to engage spiritedly in salvation work every day.

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