“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”
― Emma Lazarus
Lady Liberty shouts this amazing phrase from Emma Lazarus sonnet.
It was a picture that came to it’s fullest light yesterday when I visited Takamori Church here on Kyushu island. How inspiring to hear of the missionary pastor Spoor who after planting 6 churches around Kumamoto before being called to serve at the Takamori Church. Visiting this church inspired me as there are so many wonderful stories to tell about it’s history and outreach.
For now though, when the world is wrestling with a global refugee crisis and debates are raging with how to best help them, I thought this particular story so telling.
You see, Pastor Spoor took in everyone and I mean everyone! She would go to the train station and find those who were new, seemed lost or helpless and offer them a place to stay and food to eat. They could stay at her home (the church) as long as needed and while there she shared of her life of hope.
In addition, she took in the homeless and the police in the town even brought prisoners to her. That’s how welcoming she was! One man was even on the verge of suicide and the police didn’t want to deal with him. So, what did they do? They took him to Pastor Spoor and she took care of him, inspiring him to simply serve others and that through that would find purpose in life. He later went on to marry a minister and lead a very happy life!
Not only did she take these destitute in but she led many to Christ and they told me that several of them went on to become pastors and leaders in churches around Japan. How awesome is that!
Lady Liberty echoes the call of Jesus from the Gospel of Matthew:
"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
— Matthew 11:28-30
So today, what will we do? Will we be like Jesus and take up the call? Will we take in the lost, the displaced, the refugee?
I can’t wait to tell the stories from the Takamori Church. Years later, now following the fourth pastor of the church, the church became the hub of relief for the area following the Kumamoto Earthquake. It was so inspiring spending a few hours with them!
May we live out the call Jesus put before us to take in those less fortunate than ourselves!
- Born: July 22, 1849 in New York City
- Died: November 19, 1887
Emma Lazarus was an American Jewish poet born in New York City.She is best known for "The New Colossus", a sonnet written in 1883; its lines appear on a bronze plaque in the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty placed in 1903. The sonnet was written for and donated to an auction, conducted by the "Art Loan Fund Exhibition in Aid of the Bartholdi Pedestal Fund for the Statue of Liberty" to raise funds to build the pedestal.