Fulfilled in Jesus

Our pilgrimage with our Beloved in Japan -- Yoko & Ramone on the journey with Jesus!

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Gunpei Yamamuro

By Ramone - May 14, 2005

This is a picture I sketched gesture style before eating at a Chinese restaurant with Yoko and Michi. Gunpei Yamamuro was a colonel, I believe, in the Salvation Army in Japan about 100 years ago. He had a great heart for the poor.

He himself knew poverty and was only able to study at a Christian university in Kyoto (Doshisha) because a senior student helped him. The senior student had been reading 1st Corinthians 13 and wanting to live for God. God showed him the poor & hungry Yamamuro and said, "Help this young man, that is the way to translate that chapter into life." From that time onward, the benefactor himself often went hungry so he could help Yamamuro, and later he began helping other students, as well.

Yamamuro's heart for the poor grew so much that left his theological studies early because he couldn't wait to help. He knew firsthand what it meant to go without food. When the Salvation Army came to Japan, he went to see how he could help. At first, the only job they had available for him was collecting dirty geta (traditional Japanese wooden clogs) at the door. From that humble beginning Yamamuro was able to help many in Japan. He was able to speak to common & poor people to help them understand the Gospel, which they often mistakenly thought was too difficult for them. I'm reading his simple book now, "The Common People's Gospel", in English.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Reading List

Books about or by Jesus otaku in Japan!

Here are some books that I've read, some that I recommend, some that I am still reading, and some books I want to read. The first two I highly recommend to any Christian, and especially to Japanese Christians and missionaries:

"Sensei: The Life Story of Irene Webster-Smith"
by Russell Hitt

I highly recommend this story of a missionary who gave her life to the Japanese. The stories of how God cared for her and the orphans He gave her to care for made me smile, cry, and look at the children I teach differently. God is great and He is so faithful!

"Shiokari Pass"
by Ayako Miura ("Shiokari touge" in Japanese)
This is a touching story by the popular Japanese novelist Ayako Miura, who was Christian, about a boy's journey from hating Christianity to giving his life for Christ. The story is partially based on an event that happened in Hokkaido, and partially based on Ayako Miura's own experiences. It gives a great portrayal of the old traditional reaction to Christians in Japan. I recommend this book to all Japanese Christians and missionaries in Japan, and anyone interested in how Jesus touches Japan.

"Remembering the Years"
by Violet McGrath
The story of a missionary who was a contemporary of Irene Webster-Smith (mentioned above in "Sensei"). Her story doesn't have as much detail as "Sensei", and in that way it kind of reminds me of the book of Acts -- giving basic outlines but focusing on the words of the Lord. After reading this I had an appreciation of His precious words and how He guides out lives with them.

"The Life and Thought of Kanzo Uchimura"
by Hiroshi Miura
A readable, well-researched book about Christian Kanzo Uchimura, a contemporary and friend of Inazo Nitobe, who believed in a church that was truly Japanese and not based on Western ideas and forms. Uchimura, a man ahead of his time, saw that "church" did not mean a building or a required necessity for salvation or sustained faith, but was where two or three gathered with Christ in their midst. He defined the "Mukyokai-shugi" (non-church movement).

"The Common People's Gospel" **
by Gunpei Yamamuro
A hundred years ago Gunpei Yamamuro was spearheading the Salvation Army movement of evangelism and caring for the poor in Japan. His passion was to speak the gospel to common people in ways that they could understand. His simple book about the gospel became popular and speaks the gospel in a truly Japanese style. I have a copy in English that I'm reading now, but would like to find a copy of the original in Japanese. If you know where I can find one, please leave a comment or email me. I haven't checked at the Salvation Army yet...

"Bushido: The Soul of Japan"
by Inazo Nitobe
Inazo Nitobe, a Quaker Christian who found faith with the Sapporo Band (which included Kanzo Uchimura), became famed for his diplomatic work and for this exposition on the Bushido code of traditional Japanese and samurai ethics, which he wrote for the western reader to help promote understanding between cultures.

"A History of Christianity in Japan"
by Otis Cary
A very thorough telling of the history of Christianity in Japan, described below in "sources" for this page. Apparently it's pretty expensive and rare to find.

"Japan On The Upward Trail"
by William Axling
Also described below in "sources", Axling gives an optimistic early 20th century description of the progress of Christianity in Japan up to that point (1923).

"The Golden Country"
by Shusaku Endo
One of Japan's most famous novelists, Endo wrote often about the heavy persecution of Christians in Japan's history. This book could be considered a companion piece to his most famous work ("Silence"), having a similar story line, except written in the format of a dramatic play. The conclusion may also be less defined than "Silence", and that struggle reflects better Biblical theology, I believe.

"Jizo vs. Jesus in Japan"
by Kenny Joseph
The compliation of Kenny Joseph's challenging research, theories, and overhead projector covers from his lectures about Nestorian missionaries who visited Japan long before Francis Xavier arrived with the Jesuits.

"The Bells of Nagasaki"
by Takashi Nagai
Dr. Takashi Nagai experienced the atomic bombing of Nagasaki and helped the sick and dying. "The Bells of Nagasaki", which he wrote while dying of leukemia, is the account of his experience and prayer for peace. Most Christians are unaware that the atomic bomb fell directly on top of Nagasaki's 400-year-old persecuted Christian community, killing 8,000 Christians instantly and countless more in the following days & years. One of Nagai's poems was about girls at the Christian Junshin school, and how a nun was leading them in reciting psalms when the bomb fell:

Virgins like lilies white
Disappeared burning red
In the flames of the holocaust
Chanting psalms
To the Lord

Nagai spent the rest of his short years crying out for peace, that we would love one another as we love ourselves, as Jesus implored us to from His heart.

"The Smile of a Ragpicker"
by Paul Glynn
The story of Satoko, a Japanese woman from a wealthy family who abandoned everything to live and work with Tokyo's destitute dustbin sifters. Published by the Marist Brothers.

"How I Became a Christian: Out of My Diary" **
by Kanzo Uchimura
Uchimura published this autobiography in 1895 "to explain how, and not why" he became a Christian, mainly to answer the questions of missionaries. It was well received in Europe but only 500 copies were made in America, and no one wanted to print it in Britain. I would really like to read it! Do you know where I could find a copy or look at it? Or copy a copy? Please let me know! Email me or leave a comment below. Thanks!

"From Sunrise Land: Letters from Japan" **
by Amy Carmichael
I would really like to read this out-of-print book by missionary Amy Carmichael. She became famous for her devotional literature and poems, as well as for her mission work in India rescuing girls from temple prostitution. However, before she began that mission she was a missionary in Japan for a short time. This is one of her first books. Irene Webster-Smith (from "Sensei" above) was inspired by Amy's book and became a friend by correspondance with Amy. Please leave a comment or email me if you know where I could obtain a copy, or if you know where I could at least get a xerox copy to read.

"Kazue's Diary" **
by Kazue Miki
(Mentioned in "Sensei" above)
Kazue Miki was a friend of "Sensei" Irene Webster-Smith. Kazue eagerly led her whole family to Jesus before getting married and falling onto hard times. She kept a diary and after she died, Sensei and her friends published the diary to encourage others and let them know about Jesus who loved Kazue so much. I would very much like to read this book, even though I am sure it's in Japanese only and no English version likely exists. I am sure it's very rare, and hope to check with the JEB or JCL later about maybe getting a xerox copy of it. A portion of the diary is printed in appendix of the Japanese edition of "Sensei". Please email me or leave a comment if you know where I could look at "Kazue's Diary".

I pray you're blessed by God's loving heart for you and for Japan! Please do leave any comments or feelings you have about any of these, or any other books or recommendations! Thanks!

In Christ and in Japan,
Ramone Romero

Comments on Asian Healing

Recently I read a May 19 article on the Japan Today news site: Koizumi says UNSC bid separate from Yasukuni issue

I left some comments about the painful feelings going back and forth between Japan, China and Korea. The issue revolves around Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi's visits to Yasukuni shrine, a large Shinto temple that enshrines those who died fighting for Japan throughout the years, particularly during the Fifteen-Year War (World War II). Shinto believes that people are essentially absolved of their crimes after death, and so sees no problem in enshrining the people who were executed after the war for commiting war crimes against Asian nations, such as the massacres in Nanking, China, and elsewhere. However, this doesn't make the pains of the nations any easier, and on top of it, the right wing in Japan has taken efforts through books, national history textbooks, speeches, etc., in order to say that the "crimes" from the war are exaggerated or entirely untrue. So in effect, the Shinto belief seems a convenient way out, if you know what I mean. But why the need to deny the history?

(I attached my comments in the comments section because they're long!)

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Our new art page!

Hi family in Jesus!

Recently I looked at a wonderful page by a sister who was filled with God's heart, and had translated it into art, and the Holy Spirit's handwriting was all over it! I was inspired so much that I finally decided to get back into art. But it's not like before. There may be no future job in it, but it's for God now, and from God. He's really cool. So I went out and bought some necessary stuff, and not only did I get into it, but Yoko got into it, too!

We put up a little blog page here to show what His heart has done in us, shown us, and what He Himself is for us! -- http://art-for-jesus.blogspot.com/ -- Right now there are only thumbnail-size pictures and you can't see a lot. We'll take bigger pictures with a digital camera when we get the time. I was going to wait until then to tell you all about the page and what we're doing, but today we did two more pictures and I realized I need to write about them sooner rather than later.

Something my friend Gwen helped me realize was that the story is more important than the technique. When God gives you something, the way He does it through you and the way He shows it to you is important. He's teaching us and speaking to us in His ways. The meaning of the picture is more important than the picture, if you know what I mean! So like she did on her page, I wanted to write about the pictures. So far I've only written about two of them -- one is pretty long, sorry!...they'll usually just be short blurbs.

Our stuff is really simple right now, and that's okay and we won't be embarassed in Him, haha! He's given us many smiles as we've done this and as we spend time with Him understanding it. I pray you're blessed! If you'd like to comment, please do! At the bottom of each post there will be a place you can leave comments (you can click "anonymous" but please sign your name in the comment so I can know who you are and send you some love!).

In His heart of love,
Ramone (and Yoko)

P.S. So far I only have written the stories behind the two most recent pictures, but others will follow, and I won't update here or by email, so you'll have to check back every now and then, haha. Love ya!

Sunday, May 01, 2005

A life without pain

A few days ago I began reading "Where is God when it hurts?" by Philip Yancey. I bought the book at least three years ago but haven't started it until now.

I was astounded by Yancey's friendship and conversations with Dr. Paul Brand, a man who has done much work in India and America with people who suffer from Hansen's Disease - leprosy.

The shocking thing is learning what leprosy actually is -- a deadening of nerves that stops your ability to feel pain. It's not a flesh-eating virus that makes your joints fall off. Instead, sores happen and parts of your body fall off because of wounds and infections. When you can't feel pain, you don't know when you're pressing something too hard or pushing too much, and you do a lot of damage to your body.

How different from the stigma that is associated with leprosy! How emotionally traumatic it must be to be cut off from society, and even to think that the disease is eating you away, when all it really has done has taken away your ability to feel pain.

What do you think? There is a spiritual message, an uncovering, an awakening and finally a healing in all this. Remember all the stories of lepers in the Bible? How does this understanding change our understanding of those precious people that Jesus reached out to touch?

Perhaps they hadn't "felt" anything physically for a long time until He reached out to them. His touch may have been their first feeling, physically and emotionally.

This is astounding to me. Please let me know what you think.

To leave a comment, if you have a Blogger blog, you can sign in. But if you don't (and don't want one), just click "anonymous" and sign your name in your message so I know who you are. I really want to hear your thoughts on this because it's kind of earth-shattering for me. It's God's heart, changing the way we understood and condemned ourselves, and setting us free to love ourselves and one another as He loved us.