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Testimony of Chika Honda
I give thanks to the Lord for His guiding me towards receiving baptism, which is the greatest joy of five year and on month internment in prison. It is now four years since I first came to believe in the Lord, yet it has been fours years filled with great many sadness and joys. Participation in worship and undertaking baptisms in the church outside prison boundaries is prohibited under prison regulations. Unaware of these regulations, my unit manager and the Programs Manager gave me leave of absence for my July 27 baptism; however eleven days ago, this permission was withdrawn. This news was devastating, and left me drained of all energy. When I thought of Pastor Stephen Young of the Japanese Church of Melbourne, the congregation of that church, and all the people who had been praying for me, I could not help but cry. Why had the Lord stopped me from going to church? I wondered: was it because my faith is still weak? Or was it perhaps the end of the evil? But now I realize that it is this which is the will of the Lord.

Why do I want to be baptized:
Last November brought the retrial of Yoshio Katsuno, one of the four friends with whom I was traveling and is now in the male prison. As our appeal to the Supreme Court had been rejected, we had really placed our hopes with Yoshio. We believed that his retrial would reveal his innocence and that we are also innocent. This would then provide a way for us to become free. I was therefore devastated when I heard that a guilty verdict had been passed- it was such an incredible shock., yet I cannot begin to express just how much of a shock it was for him. It was on that day that I determined that I wanted to be baptized. I was so overwhelmed with joy that I could have run and skipped around.

Earlier, I had considered being baptized after Masaharu Katsuno was baptized in October 1995. However I thought that irrespective of whether I was baptized or not. , my belief in the Lord would not change, and if I was to be baptized, it would be either following my return to Japan, or at the Japanese Language Christian Church in Melbourne. At that time, I also did not know the World of the Lord well; my faith was still shallow; and I was often made to repent of my slandering and continual fighting with my friends. It was my hope that through being baptized, I should be changed and that I might somehow become closer to the Lord and love Him even more.

I have spent my time becoming lost in the despair of being in prison, finding relief in placing my hopes on my application for a temporary release, and for a supreme court hearing, as well as on Yoshio's retrial., only always to have despair return once again. Never once, though, have I lost my faith or felt resentful towards the Lord. The Lord remains my staff in whatever confronts me. He has provided me with a deep joy through the many prayers offered, and the letters and visits with which I have been blessed. I am filled with peace through the grace of His blessings

" The Lord is good, a refuge in the times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in Him". ( Nahum 1:7)

July 27, 1997