86. Great Salvation
Jyujiro Okamoto’s eldest son, Zenroku, and his wife, Shina, of Nagahara Village in Yamato Province, had had seven pregnancies. Of these, only two children, the eldest son, Eitaro, and the youngest daughter, Kan (who later became Yuki Kami), survived. The other five had either died early deaths or been miscarriages. The eldest son, Eitaro, was saved from fever in 1879, and as a result Zenroku and his wife became very zealous in their faith.
Shina faced a serious problem around August 1881. A messenger came from a farmer named Tarobei Imada, who owned about fifty-four ares of rice fields in Shoji Village, about four kilometers north of Nagahara Village, with the request: “We have just had our first son, but are having difficulty nursing him because of lack of milk. We realize this is an unreasonable request, but will you please take care of the child and nurse him at your home? Please agree to take care of him.”
Unfortunately Shina had no more milk of her own by then, so she could not accept this other child. They declined, saying, “We are very sorry, but we cannot take care of the child.” “But please, couldn’t you somehow take care of him?” was the repeated plea. Being at a loss for an answer, Shina said, “Then let me first ask Oyasama.” She returned to the Residence at once and was received by Oyasama, who said:
“No matter how much money you may have, or how much rice you may have in the storehouse, it cannot be given to an infant. There is no greater salvation than to care for and raise another person’s child.”
“Yes, I understand. But I don’t have any milk anymore. Should I undertake to care for child even then?” Shina inquired. Then, there were these words from Oyasama:
“If you just have a sincere desire to take care of the child, God will give whatever is needed because the gift is in the omnipotent hand of God. You need not worry.”
Hearing these reassuring words, Shina resolved to rely on God completely. So she told the Imadas, “I will take care of the child.”
The child was brought from Shoji Village at once. Shina was astonished when she saw him. He must have been fed only on rice water and sugar water. He had been one month premature, and was now a little more than three months old, skinny, without the strength even to cry, just barely able to whimper.
Shina embraced the child and tried to nurse him, but milk would not flow so soon. The child became peevish and bit her nipple. She was worried for a while because she did not know what to do.
This continued for two or three days, and then, marvelously, her milk began to flow. Thanks to her milk the child grew stronger day by day and became quite healthy. Later Shina took this robust child to the Residence. Oyasama embraced him and rewarded Shina with these words:
“Shina, you have done a good thing.”
Shina personally experienced the truth that one can receive God’s blessings by obediently following Oyasama’s words. Shina was then twenty-six years of age.
Anecdotes of Oyasama, pp. 71–72.