Project Canterbury

They That Sat in Darkness
An Account of Rescue Work in Japan in the Words of the Rev. Yoshimichi Sugiura

New York: Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, [1912]

Chapter II. The Origin of the L. R. U.

It is twenty years since I became the minister-in-charge of the Shinko Kyokwai (True Light Church). This church is in the industrial part of Tokyo, which comprises the districts of Fukagawa and Honjo. From the beginning of my work in these districts I investigated the condition of the laborers and my sympathy being roused I determined to do what I could for them. To this end I started the Good Samaritan Dispensary in February, 1890, and tried to use their bodily salvation as a means to bring about their spiritual salvation. The dispensary helped many poor people, but as the lepers of old few returned to give glory to God.

Beside the dispensary, I tried many other methods of reaching them, but their character was such that they gave thought only to the things of this world. One of the great difficulties was that their point of view and mine were so absolutely different, that we [13/14] mutually misunderstood each other, and all my plans ended with almost no fruits. These failures of my work for past seventeen years gave me the knowledge as the preparation to plan another, and I decided to select some of the few that did understand and reach others through them. That is how I came to organize the L. R. U. in April, 1907. The words chosen for the name of this society are secular, and the people who attend the meetings found that they are thrown with laborers like themselves--men they could understand. So the reputation of our society became great, and many people began to attend the meetings.

Truly their condition was like hell on earth. They are refusing to partake of the heavenly food offered them. They were drunkards and gamblers; they were lazy and servile. So first we taught them of an earthly paradise, to enter which repentance for such sins was necessary. Then I showed them the spirit of self-denial, self-help and self-respect could only come through God's help. Thus little by little I brought the truth home to them. Those who resolved on reform could become members of the Union.

[15] Laborers dreaming of an earthly paradise came in and they conquered sin and improved the condition of their lives; their thinking-became gradually higher and higher. At last they realized that man docs not live by bread alone and their ideals reached beyond an earthly paradise to the heavenly. Finally some were baptized and became Christians. I used those Christians as the officers of the Union, and made them direct leaders and overseers of their fellow laborers. This method works well. Their influence is effective, where my influence would amount to very little.

Project Canterbury