I am glad to be able to share my testimony. This trip to Australia was my first foreign trip. I never imagined that my fate would change so drastically as a result of this trip. For now I am being held as a prisoner at Fairlea Women's Prison. Another Japanese person, who was a member of this same tour group, has already written about our dilemma, so I will not spend any time writing about that. While I have been in prison, my Father in Heaven has helped me in many different and difficult situations and I am only thankful to Him. I was in prison for 15 months before I believed in God the Father and in Jesus Christ as my Savior. I was placed in prison in June of 1992 and 2 months later, through the Christian organization called Prison Fellowship, I was able to meet Rev. Stephen Young, minister of the Japanese Church, and then I was introduced to a wonderful Christian woman. At that time, as a result of this tragedy which I experienced, I was in the midst of great change, in great turmoil and confusion, wondering if this was a dream or reality? It was like I was in my own world because I could not speak English and was not able to understand anything. Each day went by without any variety or change and my feelings became worse and worse. I was lonely. I had reached utter despair and I was devastated. My thoughts were on my mother, sisters, my former boyfriend and other friends left behind in my home country of Japan. Every night I was crying in ed and my heart was shrinking. When Rev. Young came to see me at this stage, my heart was struggling with all these issues so I did not open up. I thought it was better to keep my feelings to myself and that way I could be stronger.
The Magistrate Court date was decided in September. I really believed that as a result of this court, I would be sent back to Japan. The worry of having to be in prison , my anger towards the person who invited me on this trip, made me more anxious and nervous. I did not know what to do with my feelings so I became more and more withdrawn. However, the continual gentleness and encouragement I received from Re. Young's visits slowly opened up my heart. I had received a copy of the New Testament, but I found it very difficult to read and not that interesting so I put it up. That was the first time for me to ever read the Bible. The Magistrate Court began in November and there was insufficient evidence to prove we were innocent, so the magistrate sent us to the County Court. Two days after this magistrate court hearing, I was called up for my bail hearing. The police prosecutor was determined to keep me in prison. At this bail hearing, I saw a number of Australian Christians who I had not seen before, and they were willing to put up property and oversee my time outside of prison. Rev. Young was placed on the stand to answer questions of the police prosecutor and a number of these questions were difficult and even threatening. When I saw the extent of the concern and Christian love these people, I broke down in tears out of thanks to them. From them, for the first time, I saw the gentleness, warmth, love and concern that Christian people have. I think my interest in Christianity was a direct result of experiencing the warmth of these Christians. With the end of the magistrate court and bail hearing, my legal representatives had no more responsibility, so for 6 months I waited to hear what would be next. During this time I continued to read Miura Ayako's books which Rev. Young brought from the Japanese church and as a result of these books I began to have an interest in the Bible. As I read the Bible again, my heart became a little more peaceful. I did not see the value of the Bible yet, but I began to recall how sinful I had been in my life in Japan.
One day I remember experiencing a very unfair thing. Whether it was due to my lack of English ability or because they did not like Japanese people, I do not know, but I began to feel the weight of this continual discrimination from prison officers and some for the prisoners. I had been holding these feelings in , but one day my angers, feelings of regret and wretchedness overwhelmed me and I felt like killing myself. But was I thought of my friends in Japan and my family, I had second thoughts as to what I should do. Living in prison was terrible and I came to a point where I wrote out a suicide note for my family. But it was that night, for the first time that I pleaded from my heart to God that He would save me. That spirit of prayer continued. I still cannot believe what happened that night. I am only full of thanks to God the Father for what He has done for me. In three days time that prayer was answered. I had been in prison for 15 months, but now I was full of peace and felt this way for the first time in my life. I know that Jesus is my Savior and God the Father is my Heavenly Father. God listened to my prayer and received me as His child. I had been selfish, proud, stubborn and so I repented to God and in Christ He forgave me. It was very strange for me to see how my way of thinking was changing about different matters. In prison I had many problems with human relations, but with God's help I was able to begin to pray for these people. But there were other times when I lost to the temptations of Satan.
Finally, the time for Country Court came. I had been faithfully praying before going to be every night, but now I prayed in the morning as well. During the trial I had to undergo three strip searches a day. One day I received a terrible treatment from an officer. I know that all humans are rational and emotional. On this particular day there were three of us prisoners who had to receive a strip search together in the same small room. As a Japanese woman, this was very humiliating and I broke down and cried out loud for a long time. What little privacy I had was completely violated on this day. After the trial on this day, I went back to my room at Fairlea. I was struck by the verse that was hanging on the wall. Up until that day, the verse did not have much meaning for me, but when I read it this time, my heart became peaceful. It was Philippians 4:13, " I can do all things through Him who strengthens me". I had gone through many things up to this time and had come through, and I knew all of this was God's testing and I knew that God would continue to give me the strength to prevail.
The County Court case ended and I was found guilty and given a 15 year sentence. The harsh reality of not being able to return to Japan slowly settled in. But I firmly held to the belief that God has a plan and some day God will help us out of this ordeal. My heart is at peace with God. My heart had been wrapped up in the fact of our innocence, that I am now a prisoner in prison and only want to learn what can while here. I keep telling myself to see each day as being important even now.
There are five of us Japanese in prison and I am the only woman. I have been placed in a separate prison. The four men have been together and I have been thinking that I have had the most difficulty. This way of thinking has been a mistake as the most difficulty has been faced by our families and close friends in Japan. They have worried greatly about us. Since I have come to know Jesus Christ and God as my Father, I am very happy in my heart. I am very thankful to many of you who have prayed for us.
On October 31, Mr Masaharu Ksuno is to be baptized at Barwon Prison. I will pray for God's special blessing upon Masaharu on this special occasion and for those brothers and sisters in Christ in attendance. I pray for a portion of God's grace to be upon each one.