Project Canterbury

Soldier and Servant Series

Glimpses of Missionary Work in the Diocese of South Japan (Kyushu)

The Right Reverend Arthur Lea, M.A., D.D.
Bishop of South Japan

Hartford, Connecticut: Church Missions Publishing Company, no date [1931]

At the continual and earnest request of friends, this brief "glimpse" of Missionary work in the Diocese of South Japan (Kyushu), has been compiled by Bishop Lea's sister, Mrs. Alfred Clark of Christ Church Rectory, East Haven, Conn.


"It took place on the 8th of December that is, my birthday. I am fifty. This fact is of no importance whatever, but the way in which that birthday was spent may interest some of the ever increasing number of our missionary friends.

"It was a busy Sunday, filled with services in and about the city of Kumamoto, in central Kyushu. The first service was at Trinity Church in the city, a church which has its own Japanese priest and is carried on without any help from the missionaries in the Diocese. Four candidates were presented for Confirmation, two men (one a student of the higher school and the other a school teacher from a neighboring town) and two women. There was nothing particularly striking about the service, but we were struck with the keen attention and spirit of devotion. The school teacher was a candidate for our Divinity School and has since come to Fukuoka and begun his studies. He is a man of considerable mental power and is really keen. He drinks in all he is taught and never has to have a thing explained twice. A powerful voice, manly mien and general make-up promise well for the coming Christian worker.

"After a hurried lunch we drove eight miles into the country to the Govt. Leper Hospital where at two o'clock there assembled a group of 25 persons, all lepers, either Christian or Catechumens. The hall in which the services were held is likewise used for Buddhist services. Incense burners, candles, images, banners and other paraphernalia of Buddhism were the background of a very solemn Christian service. We had a shortened Evening Prayer, Confirmation Service with sermon, and afterwards Holy Communion. There were only two candidates, both men, but there could be no doubt about the spirit in which they received "the laying on of hands." Their pallid faces were radiant with joy. The service ended, we spent a few moments in conversation and (as there were no other services to be held here) left them to go among their fellow-sufferers, with, we, trust added power for witnessing.

"The next service was also Confirmation, followed by Holy Communion, but this took place in the private ward of the Hospital, for the patient was too near the end of his sad life to be able to attend the service in the hall. He welcomed us very warmly and when we apologized for being later than the time [7/8] announced, he replied "On the contrary, it is a great honor that you condescend to approach us." It would not be becoming describe the appearance of this candidate who once possessed the grace of human form. It was not a case of disfiguring the figure of manhood had all but gone. But the grace of manner and word were there as he made a futile attempt to rise a little in respect for those who had come to worship with him. Another man, also a leper, just out of his teens, was confirmed at the same time and both were admitted to Holy Communion.

"In the next ward we held a similar service for one still nearer the end. Unmistakable joy lighted up his face, though his features were almost unrecognizable. As he went through the service, he clung throughout to a bunch of roses given him by the lady missionary and they did not look out of place. In accordance with a promise that missionary joined him in his first Communion. I think it was his last in this life. A drive of another eight or nine miles brought us to another leper hospital, this, a Christian one, and the change was marked. Bi people from the wards gathered for Evening Prayer and there was no doubt that we were in a congregation of Christian people: (The Church of the Advent, the Hospital of the Resurrection of Hope). Hearty singing, earnest responses and an attitude of keen anticipation made the congregation as other congregations, if one had not the power to see and think: and after one has seen and thought, one can never be the same again. One has learned. Here again there were four candidates for Confirmation, two men and two women, of whom two would not be recognized as lepers if they took the precaution to hide their hands. After this service, yet another awaited us in the ward where the candidate was too ill to go to the Chapel. Thirty or forty lepers, who were able, gathered in the garden outside the ward to take part in what they could and there was just enough light to enable us to have the last service. Then came a few minutes of hearty salutations which must never be omitted in this land, and the work of the day was done.

"It would be a mistake for anyone to conclude that all this happens in an atmosphere of indescribable sadness. On the contrary, THE TRUTH brings light and life and joy even here and the one who goes to strengthen and comfort, is himself helped a hundredfold.

"Can you conceive a happier birthday than this? You will not wonder that I shall not forget the work of that Sunday when I became fifty."

* * * * *


"Can you visualize a congregation of 80 persons, all lepers, taking part in Evening Prayer?" thus commented the Bishop. "We commenced the General Thanksgiving in which the congregation joined heartily--'Almighty God, Father of all mercies, we, thine unworthy servants, do give thee most humble and hearty thanks.' I stopped, I could not go on. Like a flash there smote upon my soul afresh the realization that the whole congregation was imprisoned for life with the awful disease of leprosy, but they went on 'for all thy goodness and loving kindness to us' (Lepers! how could they!) 'we bless thee for our creation' (to be lepers); 'preservation' (as lepers) and all the blessings of this life' (lepers, shut away from loved ones, condemned to slowly die; no hope of recovery) the voice of the congregation continued, 'but above all for thine inestimable love in the Redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ' ....then I understood--I no longer saw a congregation of lepers but of souls washed in His most precious blood, pure, immortal: and with a heart overflowing with thanksgiving and joy, I humbly joined my voice again with theirs....'for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory. And, we beseech thee, give us that due sense of all thy mercies, that our hearts may be unfeignedly thankful we show forth thy praise in our lives by walking before thee all our days; through Jesus Christ our Lord Amen."

* * * * * *


"Sometime ago we bought a machine for making rope which the lepers are thankful to have. They keep spinning all day long. In this way one person can make 25 cents a day.

"We had extremely great obstacles to overcome in buying land for the lepers to till to enable them to grow vegetables and eke out their living. We wanted only an acre but people do not want lepers at hand. After we had bought it, opposition arose in a village near by and it required the most careful hand ling to overcome their objections. But it is wonderful how it all turned out and we have been asked to hold meetings in the village. I told them that although I had bought the land, I should not build without the good-will of the village. This did much to disarm them. I went to the Prefectural office at least 40 times to get the matter through. We hope to build little houses for them."

Two months later, the Bishop writes, "We have nearly [9/10] completed 7 tiny houses for the lepers and they are wonderfully and beautifully made. This was due to a grant from the American Mission to Lepers. We are most grateful. It is wonderful how the lepers are open to the appeal of the Gospel and how they respond to the love that Christianity offers them.

"Recently we have been trying to solve the difficulty of locking after two untainted children of lepers and, after a very long consultation, I returned home to find a letter from the Governor of the Prefecture, whom I have never met, saying that if I had children to provide for, he could arrange to let me have yen 10 (5 dollars) a month each, and would also provide expenses for a doctor if we had one desirous of studying leprosy carefully This was unexpected and undreamed of.

"One of our Divinity students is working earnestly for the lepers and one of our Church committee (a doctor) has done a great deal in preparing injections for them. We have given one of our doctors (a Christian) to another part of Japan, where ht has become head of a leper hospital.

* * * * * *


"Receive the Holy Ghost," "Take thou Authority in the Church of God" Japanese and Missionaries together laid their hands upon eight of their fellow-workers while the crowded congregation, gathered in Alpha Church, Fukuoka for the opening of the thirty-third Synod of the Diocese of Kyushu, joined in prayer that those who had been chosen to be leaders in the Church might be endued with the promised power from on high. The moving words of the Ordination Service brought to mind the wonder of the commission and inheritance to which our brethren were being admitted

Leaders in the Church of Christ! One seemed to be looking down the vista of the centuries and to see the long line of witnesses who amidst coldness, error and failure in the Church, held and passed on the torch of living faith One thought of the Saviour and His little group of disciples and felt that somehow the centuries were bridged and that we stood with them in the upper room to hear the simple words that launched the most daring adventure, the final campaign for the conquest of the world "Receive the Holy Ghost" The words are His, and nearly everyone in that Japanese congregation was a living proof of the power that still works to turn men and women from idols to serve the Living God Only one of the eight [10/11] priests and one deacon ordained that day had been brought up in a Christian home. The rest had been won from the outer darkness, and the same was true of the majority of the people who filled the Church.

* Japan Quarterly, June 1931.
Rev A. C. Hutchinson

* * * * * *

A number of years ago, the Bishop took young men into his home to train them for the native ministry. This work has developed into a Diocesan Divinity School under his leadership. Writing in Sept. 1930 he said the grind of the last 16 years in the Divinity School has meant 35 men trained for the work in Japan, of whom 14 are in Kyushu

Referring to the Ordination Service described above (which took place in Fukuoka, during the Synod meetings, June 1931) "Recently I ordained eight priests and one deacon The increase in the number of native Clergy is a great help in manning the Diocese, since our foreign staff is so low at present. The stipends of the C. M. S. missionaries have been reduced and we have been asked to retrench at a time when cutting down means destruction to vital parts of the work. We are in very great need of funds to enable us to carry on the work of our Divinity School."

* * * * *


"We have two Island Churches in the Diocese--one 75 miles out in the Pacific and the other half way across the Japan Sea. There are about 35 Christians in the Island which is called Tsushima, with a population of 40,000 people.

"On a recent visit there I was met at the wharf by about 35 people and I had a wonderful time for three full days Four addresses in the Govt. schools, two in halls with two hundred people each time, and six in the house which we use as a parsonage and church in one. They have been without a Christian worker for sometime and were feeling the need of spiritual help.

"How is this for Morning-Service Ante-Communion Service, Service for the Reception of Catechumens, Infant Baptism, Adult Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Communion and a sermon We went through the Prayer Book except perhaps the Burial and Marriage Service--but the people had come to stay and they showed no sign of fatigue after a three hour service The women of the Church devoted themselves chiefly to feasting [11/12] the Bishop. I told them to make things simple, but they said it was too late as preparations had been made. We had a wonderful time and never before have I had the feeling of Apostolic Days so definitely. 'There was great joy in that city' seems express the feeling. We are hoping to build a little Church there and I am sending a worker to them for alternate months.

"One reason of the splendid spirit shown by the people was the confession of a High School girl of 17 years who recently died of tuberculosis. She had been visited for several weeks by a Christian Catechist, until the message filled her soul. So great was her joy, that as the end approached, she desired a farewell photograph should be taken.

"This was carried out within 12 hours of her death. They saw her face 'as it had been the face of an angel.' Her joyful witness and 'passing' known to her school mates 200 in number, was the subject of conversation throughout the place. The whole town turned out for her Burial Service. The attitude of the people underwent a remarkable change, resulting in crowded Evangelistic meetings and many accepting the faith."


"I have just consecrated a beautiful little Church which cost only $2300. in the Island of Tsushima where we have a wonderful congregation of earnest people who gave $500. towards the building."

* * * * * *

** FOR SALE UMEKO ... £26

"During the past few months we have asked one of our women Catechists to undertake two ten-day missions in the Diocese, the second being in the mining district of North Kyushu. According to reports these two efforts have been successful, a benefit and happy experience both to the Christians of the Churches and to the worker, herself.

"This story has to do with the aftermath of the latter mission, and will show Christianity at work on practical issues.

"After the last meeting a recent visitor laid before those gathered together a tale of distress, requiring immediate attention and action. The facts are typical of many similar tragedies enacted in poverty-stricken homes, where Christian influence has not made itself felt.

[13] "A large family, sunk in poverty, with all possessions mortgaged to the limit, the money-lender ready to take his toll: nothing more to sacrifice . . . . . . . except 'Umeko,' aged 17, just finished school. Arrangements have been made for her to enter the 'Kwaryu-kai,' the gay world, known in the west as 'White Slavery.' Motives on the part of the parents, the pressure of debt; on the part of 'Umeko,' the absolute demands of traditional filial piety: price £26.

"Something had to be done and done quickly for in two days the transaction was to come into effect.

"It was decided to hold a consultation in Fukuoka the next day, in the hope that experience in other cases might lead to a solution. During that consultation a generous offer of the $26 was received, but in the end it was decided that 'Umeko' must not be saved by money, for that would involve, morally at least, on the part of the parents, a sale even though it might mean a Christian home for 'Umeko.' A victory must be won on moral and spiritual, grounds. The relations must be visited and the Christian appeal once more put to the test.

"Early next morning, it was the last day, after prayer for a successful issue, a start was made at 7, for 35 miles had to be covered in a car before action could be taken. In two and a half hours we were at the home of the convert, who had laid the case before the little group of Christians. Here again 30 minutes of preparation and then another five miles to the home of the parents. It was, the first time Christian messengers had entered that home, or even the village, so far as we know.

"The bareness of the home told its tale, though there were some signs of better times. The family were gathered together, and they heard for the first time the Gospel of the love of God and the value of personality. An effort was made to awaken the dormant parental feelings, dulled by anxiety and years of poverty. When tears began to flow we knew that victory was 'near, and it came soon. Money had not been mentioned.

"The outcome of it all was that the family decided to take all the consequences arising from the debts, provided 'Umeko' was placed beyond the reach of danger. We decided to take her away at once, and within a few minutes her few belongings were packed and farewells said.

"On the return journey another call was made at the home of the only Christian among the relations, the new convert mentioned above. As a victory had been won on spiritual grounds it was decided to avail ourselves of part of the generous [13/14] offer of the day before, and £5 was sent to lighten the burden of the parents. It is now hoped that 'Umeko' will be able to earn sufficient to send her parents a small allowance each month.

"This incident shows the cheapness of human life and personality where Christ has not been preached. It also shows that the appeal finds a real response in the human heart, especially where sorrow and stress of circumstances have prepared the way. The head of the family has since sent word that it is their first experience of disinterested sympathy. We hope to follow up this advantage but anyway 'Umeko' is safe."

Bishop in South Japan (Kyushu)

** Japan Quarterly
September 1931.

Project Canterbury