On Saturday, June 29 of this year, Mr. Timothy Osamu Kondo of Niigata St. Paul’s Church was baptized and confirmed. The 75-year old Mr. Kondo had a stroke 16 years ago and suffers speech impediment aftereffects and is physically challenged.
After every monthly Holy Eucharist, while each individual tells about one’s daily thoughts or God’s works discovered through occurrences, Ms. Michiko Kondo, Osamu’s companion, would oftentimes talk about him. I told her I would like to see Osamu, and the preparation time came for baptism and confirmation.
I visited Osamu with Michiko at the nursing home he was staying at and explained to him about baptism and confirmation that Michiko had told him about beforehand. When I asked him if he wanted to think about it a little more, he immediately answered my question, telling me he would like to be baptized and confirmed. I was truly happy to hear his answer.
It had been a while since the last baptism at Muramatsu, so with the godparents-to-be Mr. Tadashi Sato and Ms. Atsumi Sato, we took a moment to read the Book of Common Prayers and pray after the Holy Communion, and shared a time of learning.
We had asked support from the people of the nursing home beforehand and were able to have the baptism and confirmation in the room where Osamu was staying.
The following day was “Paul’s Festival” at Niigata St. Paul’s Church. Michiko had joined us hoping to give her gratitude to all those who had prayed with joy during the preparations of the baptism and confirmation. Michiko had wanted to have her wedding in a church, but Osamu, who was not a Christian, opposed to this idea and her dream was never realized. She had always regretted this and told me that she had always kept in mind the wedding vows said at her relative’s wedding.
“Wilt thou have this woman/man to be thy wedded wife/husband to live together in the Holy Estate of matrimony? Wilt thou love her/ him? Comfort her/him, honor and keep her/him, in sickness and in health, and forsaking all others keep thee only unto her/him as long as you both shall live?”
The two had been supporting each other as both of them worked at the photo studio. Their religious beliefs were different, and everyday was not all fun. When Osamu, in charge of managing the photo studio, had a stroke and was unconscious for several days, Michiko was very nervous. So, when Osamu woke up, she told him, “I’m so relieved. Don’t worry about a thing. Leave it all up to me. When people get married at church, they make a promise to keep each other in sickness and in health.” She remembered when Osamu, unable to formulate speech, heard these words and tears rolled down his cheeks.
Michiko said that Osamu’s baptism and confirmation seem as if Michiko herself has received a reward for her faithful life. One’s joy had become the joy of our community of faith, and those who had gathered were all happy. “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,” thank you!
Revd. Fides Sunhee Kim
Niigata St. Paul’s Church