I used to work for a large Japanese electronics company as an electronics engineer in hardware development. The mid-80s was a period of high growth in Japan, and competition was fierce. I worked every day, Monday to Saturday, until midnight. I was married, with two young children—a girl and a boy—but I only saw my family on Sundays.
Enslaved to work
In Japanese business culture, it is not uncommon to be expected to put one's work well before family. My boss often used to say to me, "Your career depends on how much of yourself and your family you are willing to sacrifice."
One day, I was told we were being relocated overseas. But to my relief, the transfer was delayed by three years.
To prepare for living abroad, I enrolled in English classes, where my teacher was an American missionary. My wife wanted to learn English too. So I encouraged her to go to the English classes at a nearby church , as I knew my English teacher taught there also . But after attending this church's English class for a year, my wife told me that she had decided to follow Jesus Christ—she had become a Christian! I wondered what changes this might mean for us. It wasn't long before I began to think this was not good news for me.
Every Sunday morning (actually, at about noon), I would wake up to find that on my only day off work, my family had all gone to church and left me all alone. I sometimes went to pick them up at the church. But because I was afraid my English teacher would notice me and invite me to go in, I always stopped the car some distance away, and ducked my head every time someone walked past.
My wife had a Bible, and one day, when she was not at home, I opened it. I started at the beginning—Genesis. I was shocked. It said that the whole universe was made in only six days, that man was made from dust, and woman from one of the man's ribs. How could Christians believe this? They must be insane!
Studying evolution to undermine the Bible
But this gave me hope. I thought that if I studied evolution well enough to out-debate the people at church and prove that the Bible is unscientific, I would be able to get my family back. So, I studied evolution for about a year, after which I gathered courage to go and talk to the pastors at church.
"Genesis clearly goes against evolution. How do you explain this?" I asked them. However, they were American missionaries and their Japanese language ability was somewhat limited. So, we were unable to communicate on such a complex topic. I was disappointed. However, they gave me a book to read. It was a book popular in the early days of the creation movement—Bone of Contention by Sylvia Baker, translated by Masami Usami. I took it home and read it.
I remember being extremely surprised because it discussed the book of Genesis—which I could only view as a myth—in a scientific way. I was intrigued, but was still determined to find flaws in it.
Eventually, though, I came to the point where I had to admit that evolution was not as scientific as I had thought it was. So much so that I found myself mumbling to my wife, "Maybe the truth really is creation, and not evolution." My wife leapt at this opportunity. "I remember you once said that if you ever came to believe in creation over evolution," she said, "You would come to church with me!" I had forgotten I'd said that. I had done so only because I was confident that I would never reject evolution!
A question of authority
When I began thinking that creation might be true, I became afraid, because it forced me to become aware of 'some being out there' who may have created me. As an engineer at a manufacturing company, I knew that every product has a designer. I knew that the meaning and purpose of every product were given to the products by the designer—it was not the products themselves that decided how they were to be used! So, if there was a Creator, that meant that the meaning and purpose of my life lay with Him, and not me! This was a question of authority.
I already had some major authorities in my life. They were my company and my boss, for I spent most of my waking hours at work. And at home I was under another authority, my wife (just joking!). I didn't need any more authorities, I thought.
So, each Sunday, I parked my car even further away from the church and reclined my seat as far as it would go so that no one could see me through the windows. I wasn't hiding from the missionaries; in reality I was hiding from God the Creator. As I look back now, I realize I was doing exactly what Adam did after he sinned, when he was awakened to God's holiness and authority over him (Genesis 3:8).
The time finally arrived for me to move abroad. But prior to the actual transfer, I had to hop around different countries on a business trip to conduct tests on our products, which meant I had to fly on many airplanes. There were quite a few hijack incidents happening around that time, which made me very concerned. On leaving my house to go to the airport, my wife said to me, "I know you haven't yet decided to believe in Jesus, but if your plane gets hijacked or has an accident, please believe in Him before it crashes." Because I was trying to run away from God, her words upset me. So, I angrily replied, "Just leave me alone!" Then I boarded the bus.
But I soon regretted what I had said. If I did die and never saw my wife again, those would be my last words to her. I wanted to take them back. As I reached the airport, just before boarding, I finally made up my mind to call her.
"I'm sorry I told you to leave me alone. I want to take those words back," I told her.
"Oh, do you mean you want to believe in Jesus?" she immediately asked.
Oops! I had gotten myself into a hole. I was tempted to tell her to leave me alone again, but then I'd have to apologize again. Instead, on the spur of the moment, I surrendered my life to God.
"OK. I believe," I hurriedly said to my wife. "Please pray for me," and then I jumped on the plane. During the flight, I nearly came to the point of trying to undo my sudden decision. But I didn't, because I thought that would come across as being weak-willed.
So, funnily enough, this is how my Christian life began—a sequence of battles with my own pride. But thanks be to God that I did not ever take those words back.
After my business trip, I returned to Japan, got baptized [immersed in water as a symbolic death to my old self], and went to the UK a week later. My family and I spent eight years there.
Some years after my surrender to God, I realized I was completely mistaken about the nature of His authority—the authority I was so afraid of. In John 10:18, Jesus says this about His authority:
"No one takes it [my life] from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father."
I always thought I had to sacrifice myself for my authorities. But Jesus' authority was the other way round. His authority caused Him to sacrifice Himself for me. The Maker of the whole universe, the One who created me, sacrificed Himself to save me. Now I live in absolute awe of this amazing Authority. Praise God!•
Toru Yasui, M. Eng., has been translating biblical creation resources and speaking on creation topics fulltime in Japan since 2003. He earned his Master's degree in electronic engineering from the Shibaura Institute of Technology.
This article first appeared on creation.com and is used with kind permission.