Good Morning Everyone! Thank you very much for attending today's monthly service for July. I hope you are all in good health & excellent spirits.
Today I would like to tell you about the father of my wife, Kanako. His name is Rev. Setsuo Furuya, & we ask you to join our family in paying respects to him.
He peacefully entered the next world with a smile on his face at age 90 on Saturday, June 17 at 11:25 am, Japan time.
He had been bedridden for almost two and half years due to severe pneumonia. He was taken to hospital by an ambulance on January 13, 2015. He also had a stomach ulcer & eventually was not able to walk. He accepted this as his faith training to become a Living Spirit.
When I last visited him in October 2015, he welcomed me by putting his hands in prayer. His gratitude was shown through a lively look on his face. I thought, "Even though he can't physically move, his heart is so sincere that he polishes the gem of his heart from moment to moment, in bed, to become a Living Being."
It had been a long time since I had seen him. I now really appreciate the opportunity Kami gave me to see him & admire his faith training in bed. Whenever I've thought of him since, a feeling of respect wells up in my mind.
When Setsuo Furuya visited KC Airaku & told Rev. Soichiro Otsubo of his desire to become a Konko minister, Otsubo-Oyasensei received an image from Kami of Musashi Miyamoto, a great Japanese swordsman. He said to Kanako's father, "Kami-sama wants you to become a master of two-sword fencing like Musashi Miyamoto." What that meant was Kami wanted him to deepen his faith through learning both the Airaku way & the way of his church, KC Takanabekita.
The following is what his older daughter, Kanako Takeuchi, wrote of her father:
"Kami's arrangement is said to be truly wondrous. The marriage of my father & mother, Kimie was arranged by a curious turn of fate. There were several offers of marriage for my mother. She sought Mediation with Rev. Toichi Miyamoto, founding minister of the Konko Church of Takanabekita. He listened to her Mediation & then circled the name of Mr. Setuo Furuya.
"Thinking of it now, Rev. Miyamoto did pay good attention to his name. The beginning character of his first name was the same as the Most Reverend Setsutane Konko, the third successor of our founder. Since my mother knew both his brother & sister, she thought he also should be a very good person & so they got married on December 25, 1956. My younger sister, Hisako Ohara & I would not have been in this world if they hadn't married so I really appreciate it.
"At that time my father worked for the Kyushu Electric Power Company. And as a newly wedded couple, he didn't take kindly that his new wife spent so much time going to church. Then one day, he fell down from the top of a telegraph pole at work. Miraculously he survived & for the first time he realized he had been saved by Konko-sama. He started being very grateful for his good fortune & proved it by going to church with a whole new attitude.
"My father was known for being fond of his children. Once he learned that goat's milk was very good for children's growth, he went through the trouble to buy a goat, learned to milk it & gave it to us to drink.
"The 1970 International Exposition was held in Osaka when I was in sixth grade. My parents took my sister Hisako & I to it. I'll always remember it.
"My father's labor union recommended he run as a candidate to be a member of the Takanabe town assembly. He was elected with the greatest number of votes. And though I was just a little child, I admired how great he was.
"He was also elected to a second term. He ran as a candidate for a third term when I was in high school. But this time the labor union decided to support another person as their candidate. So my father ran as a candidate for the district of Shobuike. Unfortunately he lost this election. However Kami had different plans for him.
"The South-Kyushu district wanted him to become a member of the House of Delegates of Konkokyo & join in at their headquarters. If he had been elected as a member of the town assembly for a third term, this might not have happened.
"Rev. Toichi Miyamoto died on August 17, 1973. His successor, Rev. Tadashi Miyamoto died on July 20th the next year.
"My father played a role as a responsible officer at KC Takanabekita. Rev. Toichi Miyamoto always said, 'The responsible officers of a church all have to be in the same boat.' My father always kept these words in mind. That was why he changed his way of life by working at the South-Kyushu Chemical Industry during the day & serving Kami & people at the church in the evening.
"That caused my mother to worry about family matters. Her cousin knew about it & told my mother, 'There is a mediator like a Living Being. Why don't you go with me to see him?' My mother had a chance to visit KC Airaku.
"It was around March, in 1978. When I was 19, I told my father that I wanted to quit junior college & become a trainee at KC Airaku. My father was very surprised to hear that & said, 'I will think about it if I have a divine dream tonight indicating it would be preferable.'
"That night he did have a miraculous divine dream in which, in the garden of my parents' house in Oise, I wept bitterly, saying, 'money is unnecessary, social standing is needless.' And there were banners put up that said, 'Peace throughout the nation!' ... & 'Safety for all people! True world peace!'
"Then another day, he had the following divine dream, 'The rear wheels of a ragged wagon were almost broken. There stood my father & he asked a man if this wagon would reach its destination. That man said it would definitely be alright because the front wheels were strong.'
"My father gave his permission for me to be a trainee under the guidance of Rev. Soichiro Otsubo at KC Airaku because of these two divine dreams of his. I really appreciated that he allowed me to pursue my own way. Later this path led me to marry Rev. Masanori Takeuchi & do missionary work in the USA, helping him to establish the Konko Church of Chicago. I am gratefully indebted for his broad-minded prayers to me.
"Our family: Masanori, daughter Hiroko, son Mitsunori & I, moved to the city of Portland - in the U.S. state of Oregon - on September 5, 1994 to serve Kami & people in a whole new country. Reverends Nobuharu & Michie Uzunoe very generously accepted us to become associate ministers at KC Portland for two years & 10 months.
"My parents visited us in Portland, Oregon in June, 1996. My sister Hisako Ohara, her husband & their three children also visited as she took a vacation for infant care. This was the first time that the three families - the Ohara's, Furuya's & Takeuchi's - had all gotten together in what became the last and only time. We stayed together at the lodge in Oregon's famous 11,400 ft. Mountain, Mt. Hood.
"My parents & my family were also invited to attend the wedding ceremony for the daughter of our friend, Mr. Ben Vose while the Ohara family went whale-watching & hiking through the mossy forest of the Pacific Coast mountains.
"It was a very wonderful wedding. Even after we came to Chicago, Mr. Vose is still a close friend who kindly helps my husband Masanori edit his sermons in English.
"Thinking of this wonderful time now, it's a precious set of memories for our three families, having a wonderful time together for the first, last & only time my father dared to take time off his church duties & visit us in America, which I'll appreciate forever.
"I have caused my father anxiety in various matters. Even so, my father has never complained or expressed dissatisfaction with me at all. He's simply accepted me calmly & prayed for Kami's blessings of my family.
"In the Konko Faith, Kami is said to be alive throughout all of one's life. I surely believe my father, under the guide of our founder, the Divine Mediator, prays for KC Takanabekita, KC Chicago, the Furuya family, the Ohara family and the Takeuchi family with our predecessors, and Reverends Toichi & Tadashi Miyamoto. Please continue to watch over us forever as a Mitama in spirit.
"My dearest father, Rev. Setsuo Furuya! Thank you very much for your precious life. I am proud to have been your daughter. You have unselfishly given all your faith & energy to the KC Takanabekita, especially since you became a Konko minister! As Rev. Toichi Miyamoto said, 'You have been constant in your devotion to the duty of the church.'
"I heard my father used to have a short temper. However the deeper he developed his faith, the calmer he became. I've never seen him get angry at all ... especially since he was ordained as a Konko minister.
"Since he was bedridden three years ago, he prayed by joining his hands together in prayer whenever I saw him. I believe he accepted his life in hospital with gratitude as Kami's training to become a Living Being.
"I hope I continue to pray by joining my hands together like him. From now on I will do my best to deepen my heart toward calm, broad, large peace and joy like him in Chicago.
"My lovable father, Rev. Setsuo Furuya! Thank you so very much! I am happy to be your daughter!"
Rev. Setsuo Furuya passed into the next life on Friday, June 16 at 9:25 pm Chicago time. I believe he entered the next world after finally accomplishing his faith training to become a Living Being.
The following morning, I offered my prayer of appreciation to Kami for Rev. Furuya's life and prayed for eternal peace & happiness of his Mitama spirit. I then opened the Wagakokoro Sacred book to pray for him. I found the selected teaching #18 of our founder which can be summarized as: "Anyone can become a Living Being. The Living Being is that within one's heart a truly wonderful feeling is born. This is the birth of a Living Being. Nurturing this feeling will lead the way to becoming a Living Being."
I felt Kami was clearly telling me that Rev. Setsuo Furuya had achieved this throughout his life.
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