“The Death Of Our Son”

Posted: April 16, 2016 in Billy Pietsch, Death, Gospel, Japan, Salvation

“Treat each day as though it might be your last day on earth.”  These are the words I often shared with one of my three sons who has lived in Japan for the last 15 years.  Billy (age 38) taught English in many Japanese public schools and came to know thousands of students and others whose lives he touched on a daily basis.  Many of the several schools in which he taught were an hour and a half away by taking a subway train to get there.  This, along with other factors, took a huge toll on his life.

Easter.  Even though I fully expected to be taken from this life before he was, he spent his last day here on earth on Easter Sunday.  He had just started his spring break and had talked to us about travelling to another country to visit.  He loved to travel and had been to over 50 countries including the Seven Wonders of the World.  As he traveled, he always tried to share the Gospel concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with people to give them hope.

No Show.  But when he didn’t show up for a Saturday lesson for three of his private 9 year old students, one of the mothers called our daughter in the States to ask if she knew where her brother Billy might be.  Our daughter herself had been an English teacher in Japan for 13 years and had had these three children as her students before passing them over to her brother to teach.  This was not like him at all. He was always punctual, never missed days of work, and usually stayed in touch with people.

Tsunami.  Both our daughter, Julie, and our son Billy were in Japan when the earthquake took place about 5 years ago.  Julie was in the business district when it happened and they shut down the trains.  She had to walk for over 4 hours in the rain to get to her brother’s place.  After the big one, they had over 1,500 aftershocks that also took a toll on both of them.  Their Japanese employers were amazed that both of them stayed in Japan while other American teachers went back to the States.

Fears.  Believing that something was wrong, our daughter asked this young Japanese mother if she would go over to his apartment where he taught these lessons, to see if he might be there.  She called the police who accompanied her to his apartment.  When they entered it, they found him dead.  Through some investigative work they discovered that he had been dead for six days. Although no foul play was detected, they took his body to the police headquarters to have an autopsy of his body.  They told us that we will have to wait up to 40 days to get the report.  In the meantime we are trying to piece the puzzle together as best we can.

To Japan.  Immediately upon hearing of his death, my wife and I and our three remaining adult children met up together at our oldest son’s home and flew over to Tokyo, Japan where I had grown up as a missionary kid.  After many long hours of flying through 16 time zones we were extremely tired but we went that evening to the police headquarters where our son’s body was.  We identified the body and spoke with a very gracious police investigator along with the funeral director who then took his body to prepare it for cremation on Friday, April 8th.

Cremation.  On Friday we went to the crematory in the morning.  Our son’s body was in a pine box which was to go into a furnace.  We watched them do this.  Then we went up to a room for some light refreshments for about an hour.  Then we went back and they removed the remains of his body from the furnace on a metal slab.  They gave some chopsticks to our three children who then picked up Billy’s bones and placed them in an urn.  When they were done, they gave the urn to me for us to bury where my parents are buried at the foot of Mt. Fuji.

Paper Work.  That sane afternoon one of the Japanese pastors from the English speaking church, where our son attended, went with me to the ward office (like our city hall) and we spent the rest of the afternoon going from person to person trying to get the paperwork taken care of before we return to the U.S.

Memorial.  On Saturday, (April 9th) we had a celebration of life for our son, Billy at the Tokyo Baptist Church were our son attended.  We were overwhelmed by the number of people who came at such short notice.  We were told that over 400 people attended the memorial service.  One man came all the way from Australia to be there since he said our son had so impacted his life.  Countless others expressed their shock at his death and the positive impact he had made on their lives.  We praise God for this.

Burial.  The church that my father, Timothy Pietsch, started many years ago in Japan, has a burial place at the foot of Mt. Fuji that can accommodate about 150 cremated bodies.  Here is where both my parents are buried along with my younger brother, Tim’s wife who died a few years ago.  We went there on Monday, April 10th. It took us about 2 hours by car to get there. The cherry blossoms were in full bloom and beautiful.  One of the Japanese pastors and a long time Japanese friend went there with us.

New Church.  On Sunday, April 10th I spoke partly in Japanese and in English to the folks in the Tokyo Bible Church.  They just erected a new church building on the site where I grew up in Japan and lived for 14 years.  I sang “What A Friend We Have In Jesus” and quoted John 3:16 for them in Japanese.

Street Meetings.  I told them that it was songs and verses like these that we used to sing and quote at our street meetings at the Shibuya train station when my younger brother Tim and I, along with our dad and sister, stood on the hood of an old Army Jeep painted black to draw a crowd to whom my dad would preach in Japanese.  It was at one of these meetings that Mitusuo Fuchida, who led the attack on Pearl Harbor in WWII, came and received a Gospel tract from my father and became of professing Christian.  Today this is one of the busiest places in the world where 2.2 million people cross the street every day.  This is where the statue of the famous dog Hatchiko is.  Perhaps you’ve seen the movie “Hatchi.”

Opportunities.  The death of our son has opened up many opportunities for us to share the Good News concerning Christ’s death for our sins, His burial, and His bodily resurrection from the dead with others.  Because Jesus lives today at God the Father’s right hand in heaven we have hope (a confident expectation) of being raised from the dead too.

Challenge.  On the way over to Japan I was able to share this story with two pilots who flew our plane, along with the flight attendants and many others.  I asked them to consider the same thing I’ve often said to my grown children.  “Treat each day that you live as though it might be your last day on earth or the last day of someone whom you love or of someone you know.”

You.  My friend, think about that statement.  This may be the last article I will ever write.  I’ve been writing articles (about 500) like this for the last 10 years and have been posting them on this site.  Some of them have been written up in the local newspapers in the community where I live and in a neighboring community. They are usually a summary of my Sunday messages at the church where I pastor some very precious people.

Death.  Perhaps you don’t like to think about death.  Neither do I, but it’s going to happen one of these days to you or someone you love.  We’re not really prepared to live until we’re prepared to die.  Where will you spend eternity?  Where will your loved ones, your friends, your neighbors, your fellow workers, and acquaintances spend eternity? Are you sure? On what basis should God let you into heaven? Our salvation is not based on our good works lest we should boast.

Good News.  The Good News that leads to our salvation is that the Lord Jesus Christ died for your sins and mine.  He was buried for three days in a tomb to prove that He had really died to pay the penalty for our sins.  But the story doesn’t stop there.  He rose again bodily from the dead on their third day and was seen by over 500 witnesses to validate it.  Then He ascended back to heaven in the presence of His disciples with a promise to return some day.  This resurrected, glorified Christ can save you or anyone else who places his/her faith in Christ alone.  Have you done this yet?  If not, why not do it right now?

Help.  If you need spiritual help and would like to have assurance of your salvation, feel free to contact us at 805-238-3549 or through our website: www.kelseypeach.com.

Share Story.  If this article has helped, encouraged, or motivated you, would you share it with a few other people?  God willing, if I’m still alive, I hope to write more about the blessed hope that we who are Christians have while we live here on earth.  We’re starting another chapter in our lives.  If you’d like to receive future articles as they come out, click on “Follow.”

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