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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 VI. The Effect of My Work on the Hearts of Poor People.

Most of the laborers can get money enough to support their families by their own work. God is not partial, and so long as they lead their lives in honest way, there is no reason that they should be so unfortunate that they must depend upon others' help. Nay, they are even able to promote their happiness by their efforts, if they have the higher spirit. However poor and miserable they might be, all the laborers who became the members of the Union were excited to strive with wonderful courage to overcome the devil's power, which debase them, trusting only in God. Let me describe here an instance of our triumph:

At the end of the year 1907, in which I started this work, a gentleman called at my house and asked my wife to give him assistance by leading him to the poorest slum for his charitable work. But as I was not at [24/25] home then my wife told him to go to the meeting house of the Union, where he was directed at last to the house of one of the poorest members of the Union, who lives in a slum that seems more like hell than like this world.

He was much pleased and satisfied that he had come to such an ideal place for his purpose. He then told the member about his mighty plan, and asked him to help by distributing his charitable presents to his neighbors, expecting that the member should accept the commission and be very much pleased. Ah! How the friend answered? How he acquitted himself? This was the true test not only of him but of my own work!

Thank God. The member, showing the greatest vigor and perseverance with his cheerful smiles, answered as follows: "I was fettered for more than thirty years of my past life under the power of the devil, and lost all the money that I could earn, wasting it in merely drinking. I was so debased and poor that I oftentimes was forced to ask my wife to go abroad as a beggar. If this kind offer had been made to me at that time I should have accepted it with the utmost eagerness and [25/26] heartfelt thanks for myself and for my friends about here. But I cannot do so now, as I am a member of the L. R. U. My only hope is that you will understand the reason of it perfectly. The people about here are truly poor and miserable, as you may see for yourself; most of them are shuddering in this cold season without clothes and crying with hunger for food. But what made them so miserable? It is the necessary question to be solved before you do that act of charity. God gives them a good many jobs of work every day, but they do not use the money thus given for a proper purpose, and are losing it by gambling, drinking, and committing every other sin. It is by God's law and will that they are in such a state, so long as they lead their lives in the present way. I am an old man over sixty years of age, and am not able to work as hard as they can, but since I became a servant of Christ, and my life was changed, I am made so happy with my wife and children. Not only can T supply the necessity of my family, but I am moreover able to help others and to save money. You see by this (and he showed him the book of a savings bank), and may know that I am speaking [26/27] the truth. I am a prophet among these poor people, and am persuading them to repent their sins and to yield to God to become happy like myself, witnessing God's grace with tills actual change of my character and life. Now my sincere hope for you is that you may understand perfectly that your charity can do no good for them, except to make them lazy and help them to go on in a more sinful way, while they are declining to accept our instruction. Is it not more clear now, that man shall not be saved by bread alone, in this case? You had better spend your money in a more useful way."

When this old member told me how he has answered, with pleasing countenance, I praised him highly, and received his report as if I had heard the first shout of victory in my battlefield, and Banzaied many times in my heart. Whether this gentleman could have understood the truth, or displeased by such proud and unwelcome answer of this poor fellow at that time, was unknown to me, but when he called on me again a year afterward he praised my work and promised to help it.

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