The Village That Lived By The Bible

by Clarence W. Hall

Original title: "The Man Whom No One Remembers"

"The Sower sows the Word....
...these are the ones sown on good ground,
those who hear the Word, accept it, and bear fruit...
Mark 4:14, 20

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Sent by Pastor David Liebenberg, who wrote: 

"We are missionaries working in Kagoshima Japan. To gather all this small portions and send it out is part of the ministry which the Lord revealed to me sometime ago. Please enjoy it and thank the Lord for what He is doing.  We hope it will encourage people who are praying for Japan to keep on praying. Please also remember us in prayer."

And may this article remind us to pray for America! We know that our God reigns in the midst of today's corruption.. May He touch our hearts with His Truth and draw His people back to Himself. And may He give us the faith, love and determination to stand firm in Him - no matter what the cost!

 

 It was early in 1945 when, as a war correspondent on Okinawa, I first came upon Shimabuku, the strangest and most inspiring community I ever saw. Huddled beneath its groves of banyan and twisted pine trees, this remote village of some 1000 souls was in the path of the 'American' advance and so received a severe shelling. But when an advance patrol swept up to the village compound, the soldiers stopped dead in their tracks.

Barring their way were two little old men; they bowed low and began to speak.

The battle-hardened sergeant, wary of tricks, held up his hand, summoned an interpreter. The interpreter shook his head. "I don't get it. Seems we're being welcomed as 'fellow Christians". One says he's the mayor of the village, the other's the schoolmaster. That's a Bible the older one has in his hand..."

Guided by the two old men - Mojun Nakamura the mayor and Shosei Kina the schoolmaster - we cautiously toured the compound. We'd seen other Okinawan villages, uniformly down-at-the-heels and despairing; by contrast, this one shone like a diamond in a dung heap. Everywhere we were greeted by smiles and dignified bows. Proudly the two old men showed us their spotless homes, their terraced fields, fertile and neat, their storehouses and granaries, their prized sugar mill.

Gravely the old men talked on, and the interpreter said, "They've met only one American before, long ago. Because he was a Christian they assume we are, too -- though they can't quite understand why we came in shooting." 

Piecemeal, the incredible story came out. Thirty years before, an American missionary on his way to Japan had paused at Shimabuku. He'd stayed only long enough to make a pair of converts (these same two men), teach them a couple of hymns, leave them a Japanese translation of the Bible and exhort them to live by it. They'd had no contact with any Christian since. Yet during those 30 years; guided by the Bible, they had built a Christian community that truly  honored God. How had it happened? 

Picking their way through the Bible, the two converts had found not only an inspiring "Person" on whom to pattern a life, but sound precepts on which to base their society. They'd adopted the Ten Commandments as Shimabuku's legal code; the Sermon on the Mount as their guide to social conduct. In Kina's school the Bible was the chief literature; it was read daily by all students, and major passages were memorised. In Nakamura's village government the precepts of the Bible were law. Nurtured on this Book, a whole generation of Shimabukans had drawn from it their ideas of human dignity and of the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. The result was plain to see. Shimabuku for years had had no jail, no brothel, no drunkenness, no divorce; there was a high level of health and happiness.

Next day, the tide of battle swept us on. But a few days later, during a lull, I requisitioned a jeep and a Japanese speaking driver and went back to Shimabuku. Over the winding roads outside the village, huge truck convoys and endless lines of American troops moved dustily; behind them lumbered armoured tanks, heavy artillery. But inside, Shimabuku was an oasis of serenity.

Once again I strolled through the quiet village streets, soaking up Shimabuku's calm. There was a sound of singing. We followed it and came to Nakamura's house, where a curious religious service was under way. Having no knowledge of churchly forms or ritual, the Shimabukans had developed their own. There was much Bible reading by Kina, repeated in singsong fashion by the worshipers. Then came hymn singing. The tunes of the two hymns the missionary had taught -"Fairest Lord Jesus" and "All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name" - had naturally suffered some changes, but they were recognisable.

Swept up in the spirit of "All Hail the Power," we joined in. After many prayers, voiced spontaneously by people in the crowd, there was a discussion of community problems. With each question, Kina turned quickly to some Bible passage to find the answer. The book's imitation-leather cover was cracked and worn, its pages stained and dog-eared from 30 years' constant use. Kina held it with the reverent care one would use in handling the original Magna Carta.

The service over, we waited as the crowd moved out, and my driver whispered hoarsely, "So this is what comes out of only a Bible and a couple of old guys who wanted to live like Jesus!', Then, with a glance at a shell-hole,he murmured, "Maybe we're using the wrong kind of weapons." 

Time had dimmed the Shimabukans' memory of the missionary; neither Kina nor Nakamura could recall his name. They did remember his parting statement. As expressed by Nakamura, it was: "Study this Book well. It will give you strong faith in the creator God. And when your faith in God is strong , everything is strong."
 

The Unfailing Word of God:

Isaiah 58:11 "And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not." 

"Sometimes we don't know God is all we need until God is all we have." David J Liebenberg


Insights into the old occult Japanese spirituality      

(Notice that it resembles the occult practices of many other parts of the world.    

It would have fit my homeland before Norway learned about Christianity back in AD 1000)

 

Japan's Haunted History: "The flip side of Japan's belief in several hundred gods and at least two major religions is an equally rich and varied nether world. Spirits traipse the archipelago in forms ranging from deformed, tormented humans to quirky animal-like critters -- one explanation, some say, for Japan's deep-seated love of animation, Pokemon and cutesy characters.

      "...scientists and folklore experts say ghosts tend to exert far greater sway over the Japanese than over Westerners....  [F]olk art experts suggest that they were friendly, non-threatening and closely related to ancestor worship. Buddhism's spreading influence after the 6th century changed the hoary landscape, cultural historians say. Ghosts became scarier, reflecting a moral battle between good and evil. ...

     "No matter where they lurk, Japanese spirits generally fall into two broad categories. Those in human form, known as yurei, tend to be angry, emotionally complex and closely aligned with humans. Another world of strange animal shapes or half-human forms is known as yokai. These little characters abide by no particular logic and tend to be associated with places rather than people....

     "Japanese culture places a premium on wa, or group harmony. The most powerful ghosts, therefore, reflect its opposite, a world of tortured souls who have angrily left the group of the living. In the Japanese context, it's far less important what spurred the ghosts' anger... than the imputed lack of consensus behind it.... 'Japan's real religion is wa," said Motohiko Izawa, managing director of the Mystery Writers Assn. of Japan. 'The ultimate aim is to keep the wa so that powerful, grudge-laden ghosts don't appear.'"


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