In August 1978 I received an assignment to attend a stake conference in Seoul, South Korea. After priesthood leadership meeting, I was in the hallway when a sister about 60 years old whispered in my ear in Japanese, “I don’t like Japanese people.”
I was shocked and surprised. I turned around and responded in Japanese, “I’m sorry you feel that way.” I wondered what she had experienced in her life that caused her to feel that way. What damage had my people done to her people?
In my talk during the evening session of stake conference, I spoke of the Savior’s Atonement and His great sacrifice. I shared with stake members the story of Nephi and how the Spirit of the Lord took him to a high mountain. There he saw the tree of life, which his father, Lehi, had seen, and there he saw the baby Jesus (see 1 Nephi 11:1–20). Then an angel asked him if he knew the meaning of the tree his father had seen in vision.
Nephi answered, “Yea, it is the love of God, which sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men; wherefore, it is the most desirable above all things.” The angel added, “Yea, and the most joyous to the soul” (1 Nephi 11:22–23).
The love of God can help us overcome all prejudice and misunderstanding. We are truly God’s children, and we can take His love into our souls if we will.
Who Am I to Judge Another?
Without planning to, I began to share my connection with the Korean people. I told the congregation that I had grown up with nine Korean cousins. They came to our home, and my siblings and I often went to their homes. I ate Korean food and learned Korean songs. My aunt married a wonderful Korean man. They raised their children in Japan, in the same town where I grew up.
In the middle of my talk, I asked someone to play the piano as I sang a Korean folk song with President Ho Nam Rhee, the first stake president in South Korea. Then I asked President Rhee to help me sing the Korean national anthem, though I hadn’t sung it since my boyhood. It had been a long time since I had learned it from my Korean uncle, but the words came back to me. I then asked the congregation to sing it with me. They all stood and sang their beautiful national anthem. Many tears were shed, and it was hard for me to sing. A wonderful and sweet spirit prevailed.
I told the members of the stake that just as I loved my Korean cousins, I also loved them—because we are all God’s children, because we are all brothers and sisters in the gospel, and because of the love of God (see 1 Nephi 11:22, 25). We all felt that eternal love, and almost everyone in the congregation wept. I told them, “I love you as my brothers and sisters in the gospel.”
After the evening session had ended, stake members made a long line to greet me. The last person in line was the 60-year-old Korean sister, who came to me with tears in her eyes and apologized. The Spirit of the Lord was strong. The Savior’s healing wings carried all of us, and the spirit of peace spoke to the congregation. I felt as one with them.
Your Message Changed My Thinking
I was called as a member of the Seventy in 1977. Since then I have had the privilege of visiting hundreds of stakes. After one priesthood leadership meeting in Taylorsville, Utah, a large man approached me and whispered that his brother had been killed during World War II and that he hated Japanese people. Following the stake conference, however, this same man approached me with tears in his eyes. Crying for joy, he gave me a hug because I had shared my conversion story and my love for Americans and it had touched him.
On another occasion a sister approached me at a stake conference in Georgia, USA, and said she had lost her father in World War II. But after the meeting she said to me, “I have to apologize to you. Because my father was killed by Japanese people, I have harbored hatred in my heart.” Then she said, “You told us that your father was also killed during the war, but later you accepted the gospel, which changed your life. And now you are telling us that you love us. I am ashamed of myself. Though I was born in the Church, I have felt hatred toward your people even to this day. But your message has changed my thinking.”
I have had so many similar experiences. I have been able to meet many people, and because of the gospel, we are able to love and understand each other.
All of My Guilt Has Been Taken Away
A few years later at a devotional held following a visit to Adam-ondi-Ahman, the supervisor of service missionaries in the area asked me to share the story of my conversion. I did so and then thanked the couples attending the devotional for preparing their children to serve missions and for figuratively sending them to my door.
As I shook hands and prepared to leave, the supervisor spoke up. “Before we dismiss this meeting,” he said, “I have a personal confession to make.” I don’t remember his exact words, but in essence he said:
“As you know, I served my country as a U.S. Marine while I was a young man. While serving, I killed many Japanese soldiers. I thought I had served my country faithfully, but for many years, whenever I saw Orientals, particularly Japanese people, I experienced great depression. Sometimes I could not even function. I visited with Church authorities and discussed my feelings with professional counselors.
“Today, when I faced Elder and Sister Kikuchi and their son, a flash of memory returned. But then I listened to Elder Kikuchi share his testimony and conversion story, his love for the Lord and the gospel, and his love for each of us. He said he had hated Americans and American soldiers but that the gospel had changed his life through the Lord’s healing power. When I heard this, I also seemed to hear a voice from the Lord saying, ‘It is finished. It is OK.’”
He put his hands outward, raised them, and said, with tears in his eyes, “All of my guilt has been taken away. My burden is lifted!”
He came to me and hugged me. Then our wives approached, and we all hugged each other and wept.
I have learned that the Savior can heal wounded hearts, misunderstanding, and hatred if we look to His word and His Atonement. He heals us the same way He healed the Israelites of serpent bites (see Numbers 21:8–9; 1 Nephi 17:41; Alma 33:19–21). It is “the pleasing word of God … which healeth the wounded soul” (Jacob 2:8), and it is “with his stripes [that] we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5; Mosiah 14:5).
I’ll Give You 10 Minutes
I was born in a small community on the northern island of Hokkaido, Japan. When I was five years old, my father was killed by an attack from an American submarine. As a little boy I became bitter toward Americans. I grew up that way, not really knowing what had happened to cause the war.
When I graduated from junior high school, we were so poor. My mother could not afford to send me to senior high school, so I decided to go to work in order to fund my continued education. There was no work in our small village, but I found a job producing tofu (bean curd) nine hours away from home in Muroran, where my mother was raised.
Every day in Muroran I got up by 4:30 a.m., made tofu until noon, and then delivered it to various stores until 6:00 p.m. After work I washed, changed, ate, and ran to night school. I returned home about 10:30 p.m. and jumped into bed at 11:00 p.m. Because of my exhausting schedule, I soon lost all of my energy and became ill.
I was staying in the tofu shop owner’s home, but I quit my job and asked my uncle to take me in so I could finish my first year of high school. Despite medication, I remained sick. I didn’t know what to do, and I became desperate and felt that I might be dying. I prayed hard, saying, “If there is a God, wilt Thou bless me that I might be able to get well.” Then I prayed something somewhat presumptuous: “If I am cured, I want to repay Thee.”
While I was at my uncle’s home, two foreigners knocked at the door early one evening. They were missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. One, Elder Law—the senior companion—had been a farmer in St. Anthony, Idaho, USA; the other, Elder Porter—a new elder—was from Salt Lake City. It was cold, rainy, and nearly dark, and they were ready to go home. But for some reason they persisted in knocking on doors.
When they knocked on my door, I was alone. I answered the door and said, “No, thank you.”
These young men were humble and persistent, but I said again, “No, thank you.” Then I added, “You folks killed my father.” I was still bitter.
Undeterred, the elder from Idaho asked my age. I said, “What does my age matter? Please go.”
He replied, “I want to tell you a story about a boy your age who saw your Savior, Jesus Christ. We want to share that story.” I almost froze at the door.
I said, “I’ll give you 10 minutes.”
Those 10 minutes touched me deeply and changed my life. The story the missionaries shared was so profound and beautiful. I found out that I am a child of God and that I came from Him. The elders came every day because I was sick.
During their discussions with me, the missionaries taught me the beautiful gospel of the Restoration. I found my Savior. The gospel gave me hope and the will to live. A few weeks after the missionaries knocked on my door, I was baptized.
The healing power of God is magnificent, profound, and beautiful. I thank Him for His mercy, His love, and His miraculous heavenly healing. I thank Him for the reality of the Savior’s Atonement, which by His grace “provides the power to wash away sins, to heal, and to grant eternal life.”2
To Be True Disciples
“I am told that racial slurs and denigrating remarks are sometimes heard among us. I remind you that no [one] who makes disparaging remarks concerning those of another race can consider himself a true disciple of Christ. Nor can he consider himself to be in harmony with the teachings of the Church of Christ. …
“We are members of the Church of our Lord. We have an obligation to Him as well as to ourselves and others.”
President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910–2008), “The Need for Greater Kindness,” Liahona and Ensign, May 2006, 58, 60.
Love One Another
“Mother Teresa, a Catholic nun who worked among the poor in India most of her life, spoke this profound truth: ‘If you judge people, you have no time to love them.’ The Savior has admonished, ‘This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.’ I ask: can we love one another, as the Savior commanded, if we judge each other? And I answer—with Mother Teresa: no, we cannot.”
President Thomas S. Monson, “Charity Never Faileth,” Liahona and Ensign, Nov. 2010, 124.
He heals us the same way He healed the Israelites of serpent bites. It is “the pleasing word of God … which healeth the wounded soul,” and it is “with his stripes [that] we are healed.”
The healing power of God is magnificent, profound, and beautiful. I thank Him for His mercy, His love, and His miraculous heavenly healing.
Christ the Consolator, by Carl Heinrich Bloch; Christ Healing a Blind Man, by Sam Lawlor
Detail from Moses and the Brazen Serpent, by Sébastien Bourdon
Detail from The Crucifixion, by Carl Heinrich Bloch, used by permission of the National Historic Museum at Frederiksborg in Hillerød, Denmark; photo illustration by David Stoker