“The Bible says that overwhelming joy and hope lie ahead beyond current pain and sufferings.” Northwest University alum Masayuki (Masa) Konishi made this confident declaration in his 2011 testimony for Seattle’s Japanese x Jesus ministry.
Several years earlier, Masa had plans to leave his hometown of Nara, Japan to pursue a college education in America. But soon before his departure, while being examined for a snowboarding injury, doctors discovered that Masa had polycystic kidney disease (PKD). Upon learning that PKD is hereditary and incurable, Masa felt helpless and hopeless, even contemplating suicide. But with encouragement from family and friends, he decided to keep his plans to go to America and moved to Seattle two years later.
As Masa pursued his associate’s degree at Edmonds Community College, he made some new friends who invited him to church. Though he was raised Buddhist, he attended periodically, searching for answers and struggling to deal emotionally with his illness.
After hearing a sermon about the power of prayer, he sensed God’s presence and knew that God was speaking to him and would give him the strength to deal with this disease.
After accepting Christ, Masa transferred to Northwest University to be part of a Christian community. “It is very important to have a community to be in,” he said. “You can’t live by yourself. . . . it is a great thing to have people to share with and pray for you.”
As Masa continued to struggle with his health, he felt supported by his friends’ and church’s prayers, aware of an almost palpable sense of calm and peace that he knew could only be from God.
Masa’s academic advisor, Professor Kara Heinrichs, described Masa as “a vibrant part of his church community,” commending “his faithfulness even in his difficult struggle” as “a powerful witness to many others.”
Despite undergoing dialysis treatments for his PKD, Masa’s kidneys began to fail in early January. He once again received the support of family, friends, and acquaintances as over 1,500 people around the world prayed for him and his family, flooding the “Pray for Masa” Facebook page with prayers and encouragement.
On January 5, Masa suffered an inoperable brain hemorrhage and lost consciousness.
At age 27, Masa left behind his pain and suffering for the overwhelming joy of heaven on January 7, 2012.
Those who knew Masa will miss his contagious smile and joyful attitude. Former NU student TJ Duffy described Masa as his first friend at NU and a “genuine, warmhearted man of God.”
In memory of Masa, Northwest University has created a scholarship award of $1,000 that will be presented to a Japanese student. “We are grateful for the honor of participating in Masa’s life,” said President Castleberry, “and our faith promises us that we will see him again in God’s Kingdom.”
Posted on Tuesday, January 31, 2012