From olden days the people of Japan hated Christianity. Even the old people of the district where I lived felt that it was a terrible ting to go to a Christian church. One time as I was returning from Sunday School an old man asked where I had been. "To church." "Church!" he replied. "The Jesus church?" "Yes," I answered.
With a worried look on his face he told me to wait a moment while he went into his house. He soon came back with some salt in his hand which he proceeded to sprinkle over me. This is what was done to a person who had just returned from a funeral. he did this in order to purify me from the evil forces of Christianity. He also wanted to keep my parents' home from becoming defiled. I was then eight years of age. However, I didn't go back to the "dirty Jesus church" because of that old man's attitude.
"He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill..." (I Sam. 2:8). This is what the Lord did for me in saving my life from sin. I was born near the Japan Sea in the small castle town of Maruoka, in the Province of Fukui, on March 31, 1912.
From olden days my ancestors were in the fish and restaurant trde. My grandmother was a geisha (Professional entertainer). My father was an adopted son. My mother's father was the principal of a village primary school. Our large three story home and restaurant was a rare sight in our small city.
Even though there was much ungodly drinking carried on in our place of business we still daily sought the blessing of the lord Buddha upon it. After the lighting of the candles and the ringing of a small bell before the Buddha, the Buddhist scriptures were read. There was no breakfast for anyone who didn't first worship before this gold colored idol. This was repeated again at night. My given name, "Koji," was given to me in memory of a famous Buddhist priest.
As a young lad I sought the "Unknown God." When I got up in the morning I worshipped before the Shinto and Buddhist god shelves. Then I went to the Shinto shrine and Buddhist gemple to pray. At the Shinto shrine I sought the blessing of the fox god. With the same unclean dipper, as used by hundreds of others, I dipped up some water and drank it. I believed that I would become smart aznd receive some special blessings if I drank this holy water.
I was further protected from the unseen evil powers by a little cloth bag that my grandmother had bought at the Shinto shrine. I wore this lucky charm even when I went swimming. Superstition filled my little life. Above our Shinto god-shelf on the ceiling were written the wortds, "Clouds." This practice must have started years ago to deceive the gods that the above floor was really clouds.
Also in our locality were many idols. There were especially many of Jizo, the protector of little children. he is the god who keeps the old hag in hades from steaing the clothes of departed children. My mother told me that if I didn't worship this little god that the spirit of Buddha would haunt me. Therefore I threw stones at him. It was the belief that if the stones fell to the ground that one would go to hell, but that if they fell into the box on his lap that one would go to heaven.
One of my classmates took me to the Methodist Church. It was quite unusual for anyone to go to church because our town was a flourishing Buddhist center with many temples. However, I went there to learn English. When my staunch Buddhist father heard of it he was very angry. He said, "If my own son becomes a Jesus believer I'll be unable to explain it to our dead ancestors."
Later my church friend saw me and exclaimed, "Yesterday I was born again." I was surprised. I didn't understand what he meant. I told him so. Then he said, "I was baptized." He explained to me that he had become a Christian by becoming baptized. As I listened I thought to myself, "I'll get baptized too." So I went to the pastor and said, "Teacher, please baptize me too."
My village was well-known as a wicked place of prostitution. As a result of the many bad things that I saw many strong temptations of the flesh were daily pressed upon me. I began to steal money from my parents and from the school that I attended. As head of the school's student purchasing department I stole twenty yen (then about $30) over a two-year period.
I was tormented by my weak will. I talked to the preacher and he felt very sorry for me. I felt that if only I could become baptized that everything would change and that I would begin to live a better life. On a Sunday in July, I was baptized but much to my disappointment there was no change wrought in my life and heart. I was simply a baptized sinner.
Nevertheless, from that day on I attempted to live a Christian life. On the first of January I climbed Mt. Shiro and stood in the snow praying. "Dear Lord, I want to give you my life. In order that your kingdomn might come, please use me. Amen." I had previously heard Toychiko Kagawa and been challenged by his new "Kingdomn of God Movement." It was an earnest prayer of dedication from one who was not yet born again by the Spirit of God.
Shortly thereafter I graduated from the Fukui Commercial School. After that I went to Kobe where I secretly made plans to enter the Theological Department of the Methodist College, Kwansei Gakuin. This came as a shock to my parents. In the midst of my entrance examination I received the following telegram, "Please come home. Your mother is dangerously ill. Father."
When I returned home I found my mother in bed surrounded by many relatives, all engaged in a family discussion. They wanted me to cease following the Lord. With folded hands my father pleaded with me with tears in his eyes to quit being a Christian. "I will kill you if you don't," he threatened. I was silent, for I had already determined in my heart to follow Jesus completely. Today both of my parents are Christians and are following the same "hated Jesus".