A letter from Barbara Easton in Japan
July 25, 2009
Thank you for your continued support through prayer and giving for God’s mission.
Rainy season this year in Nagasaki is slow in ending. We had an unusually severe thunderstorm last night, but today the Chinese dragon boats are competing noisily in races in the local harbor festival.
Every week in Christianity classes at Kwassui Women’s College, the students write in their chapel logs about the theme of the week’s chapel messages. Currently the focus is on “peace,” as the anniversaries of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki approach. Let me introduce in translation what some of our students have been writing.
Yumiko, one of the mature students, begins: “When summer comes, war and peace are talked about a lot [in Nagasaki]. Always there is a tendency to forget the things of the big war of 64 years ago, but attending chapel hour the other day I thought again, ‘Oh, this is indeed Nagasaki.’ Because it is Nagasaki, praying for peace is indeed important.”
A student who moved here three years ago reported feeling fearful when she first heard the siren that marks the time for the people of Nagasaki to join in a silent prayer for peace on August 9 at 11:02 a.m. (This is also the time of the regular weekly Sunday worship service by the Baptists at their Nagasaki Church.)
Yukari, who grew up in Nagasaki, commented on the local summer scene of floating lanterns on the river to wish for peace: “This kind of scene is rarely seen in other prefectures of Japan, so it would be good if this activity for peace continues and spreads.”
Ayu went on to state: “As we become adults, we stop thinking about Peace except on August 9. This is because we can live in a peaceful era. This is great happiness for us, but when we turn our eyes to the world outside Japan, it definitely can’t be called a world of peace. In various places there are disputes, about religion, nuclear weapons, poverty and so on …. It is important to think about not only our own country’s peace, but also world peace.”
Eriko agrees with this conclusion, but has a different perspective: “Every year, in Japan there are a lot of days to think about peace: especially August 6 and 9 when atomic bombs were dropped. Also various mass media such as television and newspapers commemorate the end of the war in Japan on August 15. When I came to Nagasaki, I felt this more closely. Because my birthday is August 6, every time my birthday comes, I think about peace, and I try at least to keep this in mind even though I have not experienced war.”
Our chaplain, Rev. Nihei, told the students that: “Christ himself has brought us peace” (Ephesians 2:14). Still, because wars are started by faulty human desires, we “must build a fortress of peace in our hearts.” Otherwise, as Yumi observes about going to school to pray for peace, “Before we know it, that becomes perfunctory …. We must think soundly about what peace should be.”
Ayumi said that she “felt happy knowing that people from outside the prefecture were not uninterested in the atomic bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima.”
Kisato reflected: “In Nagasaki, on August 9 as a special day of prayer, it is a day for all pupils from elementary through high school to go to school. In elementary school it is mostly to listen to the experiences of atomic bomb survivors. In junior and senior high school at Kwassui there is a service of worship, including music by the choir. Every year, I remember folding origami cranes to hand in clusters of 1000 at places such as Peace Park and the Atomic Bomb Memorial Hall. To be honest, I cannot bear looking directly at the photographs in the exhibits and movies there. As an elementary pupil, I couldn’t sleep because of fear when I recalled them. I knew it was rude, but I turned my eyes away.” She does not want to experience or cause the sufferings of war.
These students are gradually learning about Jesus Christ, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, leading to real lasting peace with our Creator God, as the “living waters” of Kwassui flow into their hearts by the working of the Holy Spirit.
Let us all join in praying and making efforts for peace in the days ahead of us.
The 2009 Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 123