Hiroyuki Kodama (click here)
“World War II changed the world as we knew it. All our belongings went up in flames,” Hiroyuki Kodama shared. “At 31 years old, my mother was widowed and had 5 children to feed. We fled to the countryside of Okayama and started a very poor existence. As soon as we returned from school, we went straight to the fields to help my mother work the land. As a 10 year old, I remember my mother telling me, Your father is dead and you are the eldest. The responsibility to build up the family name now rests with you. We are all depending on you! “My mother would sometimes speak of how she looked forward to the day when I, as the eldest child, would manage an inn or restaurant in the city to provide for my family. In my determination to succeed and rescue my family from poverty, I left home to work part-time while finishing Junior High and High School. “After graduating in 1954, I traveled to Osaka where I found employment with a company that sold snack foods. I worked hard and sent money home to my mother. After a while, the company entrusted a shop to me. At first things went well, but then a big supermarket moved into the area and sales started to plummet. I was frustrated and my heart was filled with jealousy, anger and worry. “Before the sales were tallied at the end of the day, I would often take money out of the cash register for myself. After closing, I would go downtown to drink at a bar. As the emptiness in my heart persisted, I started to crave more stimulation from various forms of illicit entertainment. I found myself losing any sense of direction and purpose. I was eating less, drinking more and my purse was always empty. As I dragged my tired body into bed, my conscience would shout out — this is not what I want!
“I was seeking something else, but I didn’t know what it was. As I went through the motions, it all became so meaningless and I felt very dissatisfied. “After 2 years, while still working hard, I began to feel very tired and developed a cough. This cough persisted and later I noticed that I was coughing up blood. I felt weak and collapsed as I experienced a lung hemorrhage. My colleagues helped me to get to the hospital where I was diagnosed with tuberculosis (TB) and immediately hospitalized. The surgeon found it necessary to remove a part of my lung. “At 21 years of age I started life in a TB ward. I hid the fact that I had TB from my family for one year, while hoping for a quick recovery. Five years later, I was moved from the critical care ward to the recovery ward. “One day a notice was handed to all of the patients, notifying us that a Gideon Bible would be handed out to those who wanted them. I was reading another book, so I ignored the notice. “A few days later everyone in my ward received a New Testament. The recovery ward was separate from the main building and contained 12 beds. The restrictions were relaxed and the doctors and nurses seldom visited us. There were people in this ward who were drinking and gambling. There seemed to be very few patients who were moral or serious about their recovery. “When I saw that all of these people were receiving a Bible, I felt that I had somehow missed out on something. I asked the person handing out the Bibles, ‘I didn’t order one, but could I have one?’ They told me that they had extra copies and handed me one. “I soon started to read the Bible. I’m the kind of person who likes to finish things that I start, so I read the Bible every day, morning to night. I learned that there was an Old Testament, so I asked the evangelist who visited me from Japan Mission (JM) to bring me one. I went to the hospital library and read many of the books on Christianity. “I thought that I was a relatively disciplined and honorable person, but my conscience was struck because everywhere I read, the Bible spoke of sin. I realized that I had done many wrong things and that even my illness was caused by my undisciplined and immoral lifestyle. “I was informed that those who gave us the Bibles would be visiting us to hold a meeting. About 20 Christian patients showed up to the meeting with two evangelists. This was the first Christian message I had ever heard. It was about the three crosses on Golgotha from Luke 23. Jesus was at the center, with a thief on either side. The one cursed Jesus and the other said, We are just getting what we deserve. Jesus then said to him, Today you will be with Me in paradise. “I was struck by the simplicity of the message and felt as though I was the thief who admitted his guilt. It was then that a bright light pierced the darkness of my heart. I was convicted of my sin and received Jesus as my personal Savior at the end of the service. The Lord filled my heart with a deep sense of joy and satisfaction. That night my pillow was wet with tears streaming down my cheeks as I experienced an inexplicable peace and joy in my heart.
“The moment of my salvation was so dramatic that it caused me to turn around 180 degrees. If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17). I could not sit still as my heart overflowed with joy. The next day I walked through the wards and told many about what Christ had done for me. People were surprised at the change in my life. Many said, ‘Kodama became a Christian’ and the group of 20 that gathered for the meetings, soon grew to be about 100! “I had all kinds of plans for when I was released from hospital, but then I started to seriously pray about becoming a hospital evangelist. Evangelist Karasawa from JM was the one who led me to the Lord and a true inspiration. I wrote him to ask what I needed to do to become a hospital evangelist.
“My life was changed when I took that Bible in my hands in 1962. I could see the Lord at work in circumstances all around me. Ten months after I had become a Christian, I was declared well by the doctors and left the hospital. I joined JM in 1963 and attended Kansai Bible Seminary for 4 years, after which I served many years with JM as a hospital evangelist. I am now 80 years old and have dedicated my life to missions for the past 50 years and still work as an evangelist.” Hiroyuki Kodama has authored a number of Christian books and continues to write a monthly column for the Fountain of Joy magazine, an evangelistic tract that JM publishes each month. Pray for wisdom and strength as Hiroyuki continues to reach many with the Gospel.
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