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 a provisional one and may need to undergo further revision.
Churches’ Reception on Genjiro’s Mission Tours
Genjiro would always wake an hour before morning service. Yet on his mission tours, he would wake another 15 minutes earlier to give himself time to contemplate on his schedule for the day.
At times, he woke up earlier than the people who lived at a church he was visiting and went around to wake them up. He found considered it unfathomable to allow oneself sleep in late while preaching the importance of rising early to others.
At one particular church, the head minister knew beforehand about this and woke early to wait in the next room to greet him. At morning service, Genjiro sat directly behind the head minister on a seat cushion. Yet another head minister felt uneasy at the prospect of this happening so he made it a special point to conduct the morning service at 4:00 in the morning, which even surprised Genjiro.
He would send notification beforehand to each church he visited with the following precautions, which did not change even when he was promoted to a headquarters executive official: “Only reserve trains seats in third class. I will not ride a vehicle with a hired driver, so do not prepare one. I only ask for a meal of rice served with one side dish and soup, there is no need to prepare or buy anything more. I do not drink alcohol.”
He would scold those who would prepare anything more than he asked. He would take it upon himself to walk distances under two kilometers, even in the twilight of his life. He would take the bus for any distances farther than this and insisted for no more than two people to welcome him at the bus stop.
Genjiro was able to serve God in wonderful health until he was 83 years old because he always walked to his destination on his mission tours, enjoyed simple meals, and refrained from alcohol.
There may be a tendency for a minister’s lifestyle to turn erratic on reaching his mission tour destinations. There arise many opportunities to indulge in alcohol, and the toll of exhaustion repeating this over and over can shave the years off one’s life before one realizes it. In this regard, Genjiro handled himself in accordance to God’s truth. While it may be fine to be treated to a fancy meal and alcohol once or twice, it becomes a burden for anyone who does it three nights in a row or more.
In extreme cases, Genjiro gave sermons without eating. He especially devoted his attention to nurturing the congregation at Shuto. He always gave a sermon without dinner there, a practice he continued for more than ten years.
After the monthly service was over, he would speak for two hours, take a ten-minute break, and night would fall while he spoke for another hour. When he stepped down from the dais to take his break, he would say: “I’ll be back and resume speaking in 15 minutes. Don’t eat dinner. If you eat dinner, you’ll get sleepy and miss my important talk. I won’t eat dinner either.”
Genjiro was singly motivated to do as much as he can so that members of the congregation would avoid being swept away by self-indulgence, take things for granted, and be contented with small success. It may be possible that Genjiro’s memory of having been scolded for falling asleep when he attended his first Besseki lecture was responsible. Back then, he attended his next lecture without eating. Whatever the case, regardless what he did, Genjiro took an immediate step to make progress.
Since Genjiro proved to have such an attitude, the seinen who accompanied him were different from others when it came to their mental preparedness. Genjiro was strict when instructing and training seinen from Myodo’s subsidiary churches. He was strict because of his desire to have them be grounded spiritually so they could become Yoboku in the future who served God by firmly dedicating themselves solely to the path. Genjiro felt there was nothing more unfortunate if these seinen were unable to serve God efficiently when they became head ministers or missionaries.
Genjiro was even stricter with seinen whose parents lived short lives, that is, those who were born with the causality to live a short life themselves. At the same time, he showed special concern to them by taking them along on his mission tours and taking it upon himself to teach them a way of life that would help them cut away such a causality.
A young Manabu Motobuchi from Nadaka Branch Church accompanied Genjiro to a church located in a farming village where the only three worshipers were senior citizens. While he thought the talk would probably be over in an hour, Genjiro passionately spoke for over two hours. Genjiro later said: “Yoboku ought not to pay attention to numbers or to who happens to be in attendance. There is no knowing what kind of large path will open through these three people. This comes from my experience doing missionary work in Kyushu. Never let your guard down. You cannot uphold the divine truth if you pay attention to numbers or to who is in your audience. It leads to unspiritedness.”
Sadaichi Fujinami of Kunimitsu Branch Church once accompanied Genjiro on a mission tour to Mito. They rode a night train from Osaka Minatomachi Station (now JR Namba). It was the rainy season and the train was packed, but one seat was open. Sadaichi had Genjiro sit down as he stood in the aisle. Genjiro did not sleep even after they passed Nagoya. When Sadaichi encouraged Genjiro to go ahead and sleep, his reply was: “You are standing up while I am sitting down. I am unworthy. How can I let myself sleep?”
Hearing these words, Sadaichi thought to himself that he had to get a seat somehow and put Genjiro’s mind at ease so to let him sleep. He then remembered the talk Genjiro gave earlier that day on how blessings from heaven depend on the efforts one made. He realized that he had to make up for his inadequate efforts in the train. He began talking to another young man on the train about God’s teachings. About an hour later, a passenger informed him he was getting off the train at the next station and allowed him to sit down. The seat was right next to Genjiro’s.
When Sadaichi told Genjiro about what happened, he said, “Then I’ll rest now,” and went to sleep.
The next morning, they got off Ueno Station to transfer to the next train, which did not leave for another hour. They washed their faces at sinks in the station, paid their respects toward the direction of Jiba, and said, “Well, let’s eat then.”
Sadaichi suggested they go to a cafeteria nearby, but Genjiro told him no and pointed his finger to a bench on the station platform. The taste of breakfast eaten amid the swirling mass of people and dust during rush hour was something entirely different.
Since going on a mission tour was a part of his calling, Genjiro hardly rested whenever he was on a tour.
In 1925, Genjiro was appointed the diocese superintendent of Kyoto and four other prefectures. There was a celebratory dinner on the night he reported to his new post. He woke at dawn the next day and cleaned the sanctuary himself while the diocese directors still slept after drinking the previous night. He astounded them when he announced after breakfast, “I am going on a mission tour to visit the congregation this afternoon.” He quietly collected the tokens of appreciation he received on his tours while he was superintendent and presented the money at the end of his tenure to the diocese, saying he wished for them to use it to repair the diocese buildings.
- Next installment in this series: Instances of Salvation on His Mission Tours