The following is a translation of an excerpt from Ishizue: Kashihara Genjiro no shinko to shogai (Cornerstone: The Faith and Life of Genjiro Kashihara) by Teruo Nishiyama. Note: This translation is presently incomplete.
A Parent’s Love and Strength
On his mission tours outside Tokushima Prefecture, Genjiro cut back his spending to the bone.
As Genjiro experienced the bitterness of being on a missionary expedition, he could not forget how many difficulties a missionary must go through to even gain one follower. Much selfless dedication was necessary before that follower will begin to make donations. When Genjiro considered this, he could not allow himself to let even a cent go to waste.
When he took the train, it was always third class. Often times he had to stand in a crowded train throughout the night. It was also not rare for him to stay at a low-grade cheap inn that had no lightning but the light of the moon. He always took a rising sun lunch box, which he always looked forward to, with him.
As an example, I will provide a portion of a log recording his expenses from his mission tour in 1934. He was out 265 days on mission tours this year.
- January Kyushu 9 yen, 8 sen
- March Hiroshima 3 yen, 85 sen
- April Kyushu 5 yen, 72 sen
- May Kyushu 17 yen, 62 sen
His expenses for the year totaled 117 yen and 89 sen. Although the differences in the value of currency after the war make comparisons difficult, his expenses were about 56,000 yen in 1949 and about 23,000 in 1950.
Genjiro meticulously recorded every detail and always returned whatever money he had left. Genjiro once made the resolution to be transparent regarding his expenses for the sake of the path.
No matter how far he went, Genjiro made it a point to send a postcard to Rev. Tosa every day. This was certainly an expression of his love for his spiritual parent. Yet it also reveals his frame of mind when he went on his mission tours.
What does it mean to undergo hardships for the path? For Genjiro, because he was saved from certain death, he did not consider refraining from having good food and clothes as hardship. His only source of hardship was coming up with a way to repay the blessings he received.
He had to walk the path of expressing his indebtedness by firmly instructing God’s truth to the followers he had been entrusted with. Otherwise, he was not responding to the parental love of God the Parent, Oyasama, and Rev. Tosa. He could not allow himself to die before accomplishing this.
With this being said, he would not be able to catch up if he merely idly waited, anticipating that his followers spiritual mature some day. Genjiro’s genuine source of hardship was being caught between his followers on one hand and his urgency to express his indebtedness. Because he had to do everything he could to have his followers spiritually mature, he could not allow himself to stop.
From Sasebo he frequently crossed the sea to visit the Goto Islands. Many of Hofu’s subsidiary churches located here. On May 27, 1905, the sea on his way back became rough and tossed his ship like a leaf. Genjiro was able to make it back to Sasebo only after much difficulty. The day also happened to mark Japan’s decisive victory over Russia at the Battle of Tsushima Strait. It was as that famed wireless telegram stated: “Weather sunny but be cautious of high waves.”
In October 1904, Genjiro’s older brother Eki’emon died in the Battle of Shaho. That summer, Genjiro was on a mission tour to Aso and Hitoyoshi. While he was traveling down the Kuma River to go to Yatsushiro, his boat nearly capsized due to flooding. He narrowly escaped death.
When he returned and reported this to Rev. Tosa, he said: “Thank God. Since you always give me a daily report on your whereabouts when you go on your mission tours, I make it a point to make special prayers each morning and evening, thinking of where you might be that day. Thank God.”
He then took out his opened right hand.
“Your four fingers are a source of much strength when it is accompanied by your parent finger (thumb). It is a mistake to think that you are doing everything on your own strength. You are unable to do anything without your parent’s strength.”
As he bowed deeply, Genjiro muttered to himself in his heart, “So that’s what happened, so that’s what happened.”
- Next installment in this series: Churches’ Reception on Genjiro’s Mission Tours