The View from where I sit....Mary E. AdamsYesterday I observed my 77th birthday here in Malaysia with some dear friends who took me out to a nice restaurant to eat my favorite Chinese dishes. We had a great time. Buton the minds of everyone in Asia is JAPAN and the horrible consequences of the earthquake, tsunami, and now the atomic power plants.We look upon the pictures and read the casualty reports as if we were watching a movie. But reality can never be replaced by tvs and digital cameras, no matter how high the definition. One cannot escape thinking of what it must be like to be in such a situation...yet this horror has happened before, also in JAPAN.All over Asia (and even in America) there are those who still hate the Japanese people and are actually rejoicing at this calamity to their nation. Why? Because they remember their parents' and grandparents' stories of the Japanese atrocities during WWII...which are true! A friend of mine down in Johor Bahru told me that he asked a Japanese friend why they were so cruel during that war. His reply was, "we were taught to be cruel, for us to conquer our foe we must make them afraid, therefore we used cruelty."I can remember the screams of mothers when they learned of the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941. I had never heard of Pearl Harbor and didn't even know where it was. But my pre-high school days would soon involve a lot of hunting for scrap iron and folding bandages for the war effort. I also remember when the first news of Japanese cruelty was experienced by an America officer who thought every soldier who fought knew about and respected tolerance for prisoners. Not so with the Japanese. They raped, they tortured, they pillaged and used prisoners as slave laborers. It was a total shock when we learned of the Bataan death march.But it has been a long time since those days. So much has changed. The devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki shocked that entire nation---and to suddenly lose a war and be humiliated by defeat was a severe blow to their traditional 1.000 year culture of emperor and ancestor worship. Their pride was so strongly ingrained that they would not say the word "surrender' but used another Japanese word which meant "quit fighting".MacArthur pleaded for Americans to send in the missionaries, the Bibles, the evangelists. He was greatly admired and revered by the Japanese themselves and a great opportunity opened for the spread of the Gospel. Emperor Hirohito asked a Christian missionary what all his God did. The missionary replied to Hirohito, "My God created the heavens and the earth". Hirohito answered,"I could not do that' and caused him to publically renounce his divinity to his people.Japan still was not rebuilt...no MacDonald's, no convenience stores, no shopping malls. Few missionaries were motivated to respond to MacArthur's plea or even stayed long enough to learn Japanese. What Asian country wished to take the Gospel to Japan? What American wanted to return there when the GI Bill would pay for a college education and they could start a family and forget war?When Communism later became a threat from China, MacArthur was fired by Truman. And Japan was now alone and ripe for the buzzards. The industrialization of Japan was on the minds of those who saw post-war Japan as a great investment opportunity and began funding the building of factories, the manufacturing plants with cheap labor and Japanese workers noted for their hard work ethics. The economy boomed as there was now no need to furnish an army or build war machines. America built its bases and assured them we would be their defenders.So what of Japan today? Only 2 percent of Japan is Christian, and of that number most are Catholic. Japanese returned to their ancestor-worship religion of Shintoism and became rich selling Toyotas, computers, and televisions. Money became their god, and we taught them well. Needing cheap energy, America helped Japan's industrial might by building the same nuclear plants now being blown apart by the recent earthquake and tsunami.Did you know that the Japanese are the largest unreached ethnic group on earth? After WWII, very few responded to the great opportunity that opened up, and they are still unreached today. That’s the worst thing to contemplate about this disaster – the eternal destiny of all those souls without the Lord.While I was in Tokyo several years ago, a pastor asked me: "What is the matter with us Japanese? We can't seem to find any acceptance from other countries; we are a depressed people and feel outside of the rest of the world." I knew that. I also knew the reason why. Once, I had ministered to an elderly lady in Malaysia who wanted to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit but was having great difficulty. I went to pray with her and after a long conversation she began to talk about her youth. She brought up the War years, and I asked her if she had forgiven the Japanese for their invasion of their country. "Never!" she almost shouted. "They raped, they pillaged, they were horrible!" "True" I answered her. "But that was another generation that was taught to do those things to please their god-emperor, Hirohito...we must forgive our enemies. In fact, we cannot receive forgiveness ourselves unless we forgive others," I continued. After some time, she did forgive the Japanese and receive the blessing she wanted and needed.After the war, few wanted to go into Japan or go to minister there. "Too expensive to live", "too much idolatry and unbelief"." Forget the war, and all this horror."Not many wanted to return to a bombed-out and devasted country that was a mostly a reminder of things they wanted to forget. So instead, the Japanese people adopted our lust for things of this world and materialism largely took the hearts of the Japanese people. They did not feel the love of God from other nations as they should.Are we aware that the squadron officer who led the raid on Pearl Harbor, Mitsuo Fuchido, became a Christian and an evangelist through a tract handed him by Jake DeShazer, a young airman who flew on the Doolittle raid on Tokyo? He had spent 3 1/2 years in a Japanese prison, but forgave his captors and later returned to Japan as a missionary. But if only more had heeded the call of God...Despite the bleak scenario we may see today, the very gates of hell have not been able to overcome that witness of the Gospel which came to the people of Japan, little as it was. An amazing story about our bombing of Hiroshima can be read here:
Howard Hamlin, M.D., a WWII veteran and then a Christian missionary doctor, visited Hiroshima soon after the atomic blast as part of the U.S. Military Occupation of Japan following the surrender. He was Chief Orthopedic Surgeon and Consultant for the Public Health and Welfare Department for MacArthur's Headquarters in Tokyo, 1946-48. When he went to Hiroshima, he was amazed at finding the sole remaining identifiable book in the great Asano Library, a Bible translated into Japanese. Overcome with emotion, he wrote this prayer in his journal these profound words, so applicable to this very hour:
"I don't know God, whether it was accidental or providential, but I do know that here today I have before me the concrete tangible evidence that the only thing here which withstood the atomic bomb is the Word of God. Out of thousands of volumes in this great heathen library ... [only] the gospel of Jesus Christ [survived]. "Oh Lord, forgive me for worrying. For why should I fret, even though we are in a new era? The blessed Rock upon which my faith is built is all the defense I need for even the atomic age. Not even a deluge of atomic bombs, yea not even the falling of stars from their place in the firmament can change the permancy of that precious Book. "I shall go out of this place today knowing that the Word of God is the only sure foundation in the age when all else is transient and unstable. It is the message of hope which we need to give to a frustrated and frightened world. Amen."
--(from The Challenge of the Orient, by Howard Hamlin. As quoted from the cabinet display in the First Church of the Nazarene of Kansas City. Among the artifacts in the display are the Bible pages that Dr. Hamlin found and writes about.
MARY E. ADAMS
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
March 15, 2011