As Silk and I are saying farewell to our home of the last 4.5 years, we have visited our friends and colleagues in several places. We wish we’d have time to see everyone but the coronavirus has limited our options.
One of the places we were able to visit was the sites of the “Hidden Christians” in Japan.
By now you have heard of the book and film “Silence” which reveals some of their story. They went through horrendous persecution for their faith and the stories we heard of their resilience, perseverance, and faithfulness despite the awful treatment and their ultimate sacrifice were sobering and inspiring.
A modern inspiration from this long trail of tears was shared by our friend Pastor Yoji Nakamura from Kumamoto (pictured below with us). As he was visiting these sites years ago, he was inspired to become a church planter and today he carries a passion for church planting in Japan like few I have met. I’m so proud of him and the work he has done following the Kumamoto disasters and seeing those tragedies as a modern springboard for the hope of Christ.
Out of the suffering from the disaster, God is doing a new thing. And, from Japan’s history, we know that...
“the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church” ~ Tertullian
A beautiful picture of this is seen in the flowers that populate the island of Kyushu today: the camellia. They are everywhere and their four petals reminded the Hidden Christians of the cross of Christ. Today, they are a living reminder of the tragedy of persecution’s history here in Japan. But, just like the Gospel, they have become a symbol of hope for the world.
I pray that the Church of Japan and those of us who are her worldwide partners will rise to the occasion to shine the light of Christ.
“on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.
– Matthew 16:18
Rev. Joseph W. Handley, Jr., Ph.D.
President, Asian Access
- Silence - 1966 novel by Shushaku Endo
- Silence - 2016 feature film
- Articles related to Pastor Yoji Nakamura