This story begins with a father’s prayer. Roy Olsen’s son, Graham, hadn’t attended church for more than ten years, and there didn’t seem to be much hope that he’d ever come back. After years of praying, Roy offered up a plea to heaven: “Please, Lord, do what it takes to bring my son back into a loving relationship with You.”
Shortly after Roy’s prayer, Graham was diagnosed with bowel cancer. The family, including Roy, was shocked. This wasn’t what they’d prayed for! Graham underwent surgery to remove a piece of his bowel. The operation was a success, but some time later, a secondary growth was discovered lodged in Graham’s liver. This time, chemotherapy was not successful.
“Please, Lord, do what it takes to bring my son back into a loving relationship with You.”
Graham decided to take a trip to Japan, where he attended a theatre performance one evening. A young lady was seated next to him, and they struck up a conversation during the intermission. Graham learned that her name was Emiko and, like him, was on her way to Hong Kong. They planned to meet up, and for a few days, Emiko was his tour guide.
After returning to Australia, Graham and Emiko kept in touch via email and phone. Several months after their first meeting, Graham returned to Japan and proposed to Emiko, and she accepted. By this stage, however, Graham’s cancer was quite advanced, and he was hospitalized in Japan. The doctors were able to stabilize him to fly back to Australia for one last round of treatment, and Emiko followed him, sitting by his bedside day and night.
Things soon took a turn for the worse. But as his parents and Emiko watched on, Graham’s sister Glenda invited him to accept Jesus as his Savior. Graham responded positively, and soon after, closed his eyes for the last time.
Though heartbroken, Graham’s family was comforted by the knowledge that he’d accepted Jesus. Emiko, on the other hand, wasn’t so sure. After some time, she returned to Japan confused—her heart hurt, but she’d felt something watching her fiancé find peace. The Holy Spirit had touched her, and it was the beginning of something special.
Roy, knowing how much Emiko was hurting and prompted by the Holy Spirit, started to email her. Through a flurry of emails exchanged back and forth, Emiko was impressed by Roy’s kindness. She decided to come and stay with her adopted Australian “Mum and Dad.”
While in Australia, Roy and his wife Kathleen continued praying for Emiko and answering her spiritual questions. Emiko started attending church with Roy and Kathleen, and later went to a series of evangelistic meetings run by Pastor Danny Milenkov at the Blue Haven church, in New South Wales. After the meetings, Emiko gave her heart to Jesus and requested to be baptized.
“My prayer was simply for God to do as only He knew how with my wayward son,”
Emiko is now back in Japan but has joined an Adventist church close to her home and is learning more through Bible studies with the local pastor. In her broken English, she says she’s found a church and a home. She also says that she now has the hope in her heart that she will not only be able to spend eternity with Jesus, but with Graham too.
Roy is still amazed at how things worked out.
“My prayer was simply for God to do as only He knew how with my wayward son,” Roy says. “A diagnosis led to a chance meeting on the other side of the world, which led to Emiko witnessing Graham give his life to Jesus. That led to her pursuing truth, attending church, evangelistic meetings, and eventually, requesting baptism.”
In praying for his son, Roy never anticipated that Graham would be diagnosed with cancer. But he did believe faithfully that God would work on his son’s heart—and even bring a second heart to receive Him.
“God’s ways are not our ways,” Roy says. “He has a thousand ways of doing things we have no knowledge of. But His way—no matter how strange it may seem—is always the best."