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Nekata~An Experience from Japan

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This was an experience from Japan , as told by a circuit overseer:

Jehovah's Witnesses were doing street work and placed some

magazines with a man. At first, the fellow decided he would discard

them in the next trash-can. He just thought he was doing the

Witnesses a favor by taking the magazines. As he walked along however, he

thought of a man he knew in prison; he would send them to him instead!*

So these magazines got into the hands of a man named Nekata, serving

time on death row. He was serving time for multiple murders, and considered

incorrigible. He was so mean and ugly that he would spit on anyone that

came near his cell and he would shout out the worst obscenities at people.


would often take his cup and bang it against the bars and shout "kill me

now, kill me now". Everyone hated this man, there were not very many that

didn't want to hang him themselves. Nekata had been in and out of prison

all his life and he was only 29 years old. The only person that ever came to

see him was his father, once a month, feeling it was an obligation.

This was the man that got the Watchtower and Awake and read them. And

something clicked. He noticed it could be obtained by subscription, so when


father came to visit him, he asked him for the money to get a subscription

to the

magazines. The father thought it couldn't hurt him, and gave him the money.

Nekata read them regularly. Eventually, the local congregation received a


notice for the expiring subscriptions. The slip was given to a special

pioneer, who

went out looking for the address on his bicycle. He didn't know Nekata was

in prison.

He went right past the prison, and couldn't find the address, so he went to

a guard

station and asked if they knew where this particular address was. They


him to go past he bushes, and to the tower down the road. "But that's the


the brother says. The guards reply, "No, you don't say! By the way, who are


looking for?" He says a man named Nekata. They both replied, "NEKATA!II"

"Are you sure you want to see HIM?, they ask.

This doesn't dismay the brother, and off he goes up to the big gate, and

asks to see the

warden, and asks him to see Nekata. Even the warden says "What do you want

with the man Nekata?" The pioneer explains and is allowed inside. He has to

go through heavy steel doors and gates and comes to this very thick door,

with a small window about two and a half inches in size with wire mesh,

just big enough to see the person on the other side. The brother starts


to Nekata, and can tell he has been reading the magazines and seems to have

a great deal of interest in them, so he offers him a Bible study. Nekata

readily accepts it. So the brother begins to have a study with him every

week. They have to conduct it with that thick door between them, though.

Very soon Nekata begins to change into a different kind of person. He even

begins to apologize to people he had previously spit upon and screamed

rebukes at. He tells them he is studying the Bible and learning a new

way of life, and he asks them for forgiveness and he would tell them a


about the Kingdom. He would try to write to people he could not contact from


cell. He continued to make great progress each day, and this encouraged the

brother studying with him, so much so, that he even kept the local

congregation informed on Nekata's progress. How would you feel if

you had a study like that and then were sent away? That was just what

happened, the special pioneer was sent to another part of Japan on a new

assignment. So he went to the Fukuoka missionary home, and asked Percy

Islop if he would continue the study. Br. Islop was delighted and went right

over and resumed the Bible study. Nekata continued to read everything he


get his hands on that would help him learn the Truth, and he was making

application of what he was learning. Finally, Percy went to the

warden, and asked if they could study face to face. The warden said that

this sort of thing is unheard of, as this man is on death row. But, the

warden says, even though it is against all regulations, I'm going to let

you study in the recreation center, next to my office. The warden had


the changes in this man, and that was why he allowed it, however, they had

to have an armed guard go along with them. The first time they met

face to face. Nekata just grabbed and hugged Percy, considering him a real

brother, and tears came to both of them.

Every week they would study one hour, and during that time Brother Islop

would also bring out a point from the Watchtower, Book Study, Service


Theocratic Ministry School, and the Public Talk. So that hour was always

jam- packed!

The guard couldn't believe his ears, he kept hearing Nekata make the


statements that a Christian would make. The guard became so impressed to see

the changes in this man that he began to allow them an extra 15 minutes each

week! He

began to like Nekata and sometimes he would even allow them a little extra


Percy began to look upon Nekata as a son, and a close bond developed

between them. What did Nekata do with this new -found information? Well, he

would watch the clock in his cell, and every time the hour came when the

meeting would start in the local congregation, Nekata would stand at

attention in his very best that he could get on death row, and would have

his hair all combed back neatly. Then he would begin the meeting with the

brothers, and he tried to imagine what songs they might sing, the prayers

they might say, and all the different parts of the program. This was his

pattern, and it didn't take long to realize that Nekata had dedicated his

life to Jehovah. He was also preaching to everyone on every occasion he

could. So Brother Islop went to see the warden and asked if he could

baptize Nekata. The warden said he didn't see why not, they would just get


water and sprinkle it on his head. Then Br. Islop explained that was not

the proper way to be baptized and explained that Nekata would have to be

completely covered by the water, and then come up out of the water,

symbolizing how he would in effect, die to his old way of life and come out

of the water to a new way of life, like Jesus when he was baptized in the


The warden said that was a bit of a problem, but that they would

have to find a way, because he had never seen anyone change so much as

Nekata! So they had the baptism on death row, and they were able to have a

number of the brothers come in and witness it. There was this little

ceremony and then they baptized him, and when he came up out of the water,

he was so happy, he cried for joy. They didn't know if there was more water

coming from the eyes of Nekata and the-brothers than the water he was

baptized in. It was a touching moment, and he hugged all the brothers. NOW

he was a baptized Witness!

And you might think that was the end. But it wasn't, because Nekata

wanted to be much more. Now he was a full-fledged brother and he proceeded


thank Jehovah right there on that occasion. He wanted to do so much more but

was limited in prison.

So he wrote a poem, about the New Order, Jehovah God, and the Kingdom.

He then entered it into a contest, and it won first prize. It was a


poem. The winner was to go to the governor's mansion and accept the award

from the

governor himself. So they had to make a change in the arrangements- guess

who went to death row? The governor! But this only made more publicity for

the poem. It was published, and many more received a witness from death row

by means of that beautiful poem.

Nekata also began to study Braille and mastered it, then he took the

Kingdom book and translated every bit of it into Braille. He worked night


day on it. And he made copies of it, which the brothers distributed, and

people that

were blind were able to learn of the Kingdom from death row. The books even

went to Korea by means of a district overseer, and blind people in that land


able to learn as well.

Nekata would write letters to the congregation, letters expressing

his appreciation for the brotherhood, and he would ask the brothers not to

take the Truth for granted. He said if you could see it from my

situation, I would even crawl several miles to the meetings and crawl back

if I

could. He wrote also that they should never take the meeting for granted,

and never

miss one unless they had a scriptural reason. He said they would never know

how much he wanted to be there with them. Then he would say he wondered

what it would be like to preach regularly on the outside, to visit and

associate with other families in the Truth. He said do not even take the

Truth for

granted, and he encouraged them to endure.

One night, they got a call at the missionary home while they were all

sitting at the table. It was the warden and he told Brother Islop that

Nekata would be put to

death the following morning at 9am. He said there was no way they could stop


execution, because the government had set the date. Three witnesses hired by

the government, three government officials, and a doctor pronounced him

guilty for his crimes, so he had been tried and nothing could change the

decision. What a night the missionaries had, tears in their eyes as they

prayed for their brother. Nekata's father wasn't even informed until the

day after the execution. But the warden had called Brother Islop because he

knew of the bond that had developed between them.

The warden had made another concession, and in the morning he arranged

for a limousine to pick up Percy Islop, so that he could be with Nekata at


They drove into the large complex with the guards and way down the field

were the gallows. A group of officials were there along with the warden.

They brought Percy in, and about 20 minutes later they brought Nekata out in

chains. The news had spread allover the prison, about the study and about


changes, and they just hated to see this day coming down. Then everyone


saw Percy take Nekata by the hand and Nekata just hugged Percy. Here Percy

had come to encourage Nekata, but Percy just broke down and cried, and the


were flowing. Nekata said to Percy, "be strong, I'm going to be strong.

Percy. I'm only going to sleep a little while, and then I'll be able to

serve my Goad gain. I believe in the resurrection. And I'm ready to pay the

debt I owe to Jehovah God and the debt I owe to society for the crimes I

have committed." Then he encouraged Br. Islop and told him to be strong.

Then Nekata bowed to the warden in typical Japanese fashion and

said, "I want to thank this man, I want to thank the warden of this prison

for allowing me to study the Bible in the recreation hall. He will never

know what that meant to me." Then he thanked the warden for allowing him to

be baptized and for allowing his brothers to be there on that day. And for

allowing Br. Islop to be there this day." He made these concessions, and

may he see that it has brought me such joy, the Truth of God's word." Then


warden jumped up and held his hand and said, I want to thank you for being

such a model prisoner, ever since your contact with Jehovah's Witnesses. We

thank you!! And none of us want to see you die, this is the saddest day in

our lives.. You, Mr. Nekata, are a credit to your God, Jehovah."

What a witness that was! Now it was time for them to go to the gallows,

Percy in a car, Nekata in a truck. They go and pull up by the gallows and

all the people come down, the officials, etc. The gallows had a rope with a

noose on it and a long flight of stairs leading up to it, with ten armed

guards along the way. Now the people are becoming emotional and some

fainting, but Nekata is unusually calm. He gets off the truck and walks

right up those stairs, and Percy is right behind him. Nobody had to push

him along.

Percy has his book-bag, because he is going to share the Bible with

Nekata when they get up there. At the top there is a table and two chairs,

with some cake and tea on the table. You may wonder what this is all

for, it is the typical Last Meal. They sit down and Nekata offers Percy


but he is so upset, he can't eat or drink. So Nekata has his portion also

and says

"Percy, You will have a lot more time." Percy begins to talk to Nekata, and

Nekata starts to talk about the high points of the magazines, from the

first Watchtower he read down till the present time, and how the Truth has


his mind and heart on the way to life. They talk of a number of

highlights and Percy has tears in his eyes. Then Nekata suddenly says

"Percy, you know I've never heard a Kingdom Song." Percy says, "You don't

want me to sing, do you?" Nekata says "Yes", so Percy gets out his songbook

and tries singing, but he's crying all the way through. Soon Nekata says,

"That's O.K., I'll hear you in the new order" and lets him off the hook.

They talk a little more and Nekata says, ' I've often thought of being

free like a little bird to go out and preach the good news. But if I had


free Percy, I may never have listened to the truth. And although I'm on my

way to death, I'm on my way to life, because I know Jehovah and I wouldn't

trade it for the world." He encourages the brotherhood and tells Percy

what to tell the brothers. Then they have a prayer and say good-bye with a


bear hug. Percy then has to go down, Nekata takes his slippers off and

starts walking right over to the trap door and then he turns around and

says, "Percy, what's that verse, the one about the heart?, that is, the one

they had been talking about. Percy replies that it is about the

circumcision of the heart and he says, "You don't have to worry, your heart


circumcised, you can die clean." Nekata says, "I want to remember that when

I die.

Percy, just a few steps to the noose and I've fought the fine fight,

I've run the race to the finish and soon it will all be over for me. My

reward is ahead.. Percy, you and my brothers are the ones that have the

hard fight ahead of you, you're the ones that have to endure, you're the


that will have to stay faithful, and not take the truth for granted.

And, if you stay faithful I'll see you in a little while. Then I'll be


and restored to life, and I'll see you there if you are faithful and my

brothers if they are faithful. Sayonara!"

Then he walked over to the trap door and they put the noose around his neck,

and they dropped the trap door. And he was heard to say "Oh, Jehovah help."

The rope came tight, and they pronounced him dead 11 minutes later.

A further development in this story came to light a little while later.

One of the government witnesses to the hanging worked in a government office


one of Jehovah's Witnesses and he revealed something to that Witness. Right

away the Witness got in touch with Br. Islop and asked him, "Do you know

what Nekata said at death?" Percy said yes, he was there. He said "Oh,


help." The Witness said that his final words were "Oh, Jehovah help Brother


Who was he thinking about when he drew his last breath? He was praying for

Brother Islop, and if he had enough breath left he'd be praying for the

other brothers too! He was a Christian. He really appreciated the

brotherhood and unity; he loved the brothers. What a fabulous Witness he

turned out to be.

The warden told the father the next day about the

execution, and the father went to the morgue. He had kept up to a degree on

the progress that his son had been making in the Truth. At the morgue he

demanded to see the face of his son as accorded by law.

They took him in, along with Br. Islop, and he saw the face of his dead

son. He saw the changes Nekata had made and what he stood for and he said he


have had the truth! The father came into the truth and became an elder in a

congregation, and Nekata's invalid mother also came in the truth as well as

many others. All because of this man and what he did.

The circuit overseer closes these remarks to the congregation by saying

that before today you probably never heard of this brother, but Jehovah

knew about him.

In the new order we will meet brothers like that, but we have to endure and

highly esteem the Truth as something wonderful in our lives and not let the

Truth take a back seat to anything.


"No bruised reed will he crush, and no smoldering flaxen wick will he

extinguish, until he sends out justice with success." ~~ Matthew 12:20

Life is not the way it's supposed to be, it's the way it is. It's the way

you cope with it that makes the difference.

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I am so glad you enjoyed it Brother.

There is some more written about Brother Nekata in the yearbooks and some of the magazines.

I found the original from the year book 1998 pg 76-77

Some ten years later, in the city of Fukuoka, Percy had a monumental experience. Kimihiro Nakata, a violent death-row prisoner who had been paid to kill two men, requested a Bible study, and it was Percy who studied with him. As a result, Kimihiro completely abandoned his “old personality.” He was baptized in the prison, and Percy described him as “one of the most zealous Kingdom publishers I have known.” (Eph. 4:22-24) He studied Braille and transcribed the book “Let God Be True,” the booklet “This Good News of the Kingdom,” and Watchtower and Awake! articles into Braille. These publications were distributed to various parts of Japan, including schools for the blind. However, early on June 10, 1959, a police car pulled up at the missionary home. Kimihiro had requested Percy’s presence at his execution that morning. Percy complied. In the execution yard, they conversed briefly, and at the last, they sang a Kingdom song together. Kimihiro said to Percy: “Why are you shivering, Percy? I am the one who should be nervous.” Before he was hanged, his last words were: “Today I feel strongly confident in Jehovah and in the ransom sacrifice and the resurrection hope. For a little while I will sleep, and if it be Jehovah’s will, I shall meet you all in the Paradise.” He sent warm greetings to his brothers around the world. Kimihiro died to satisfy justice, giving life for life—not as a hopeless, hardened criminal, but as a dedicated, baptized, faithful servant of Jehovah.—Compare Acts 25:11.

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