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.
“By Any Means”
The construction of the Main Sanctuary leading to the 30th Anniversary of Oyasama was complete roughly nine years after was first announced. Myodo supplied 40 per cent of Muya’s donations during this time. This was born from Genjiro’s spirit of “Working without undoing the thongs of our sandals.”
Around this time, Genjiro spent 40 days and 8 yen to complete a mission tour of subsidiary churches belonging to Shuto and Hofu. This was during a time when it a round trip between Ogori and Hagi cost ten yen. Genjiro used his straw sandals when head ministers of other church lineages would spend the ten yen. Such a spirit permeated among Myodo’s subsidiary churches.
At the beginning of 1914, when the Main Sanctuary was near completion, Muya still had 30 per cent of its resolved quota left to fulfill. April was selected as the deadline.
At the time, Nishimatsuura Propagation Office in Arita-cho, Saga Prefecture was in its 12th year since it began its missionary activities. Head Minister Koichiro Takeichi was living through a narrow path at the depths of poverty. Most of his followers were laborers and others who worked for a living. It had not been easy to construct the sanctuary. Yet the propagation office donated 600 yen. When Koichiro heard about Muya was short, he cheerfully resolved that Nishimatsuura would donate the remaining 400 yen by April.
Genjiro came in late March on a mission tour and asked, “Have you got it?”
Koichiro replied, “Yes,” and handed him the balance sheet.
The entry at the top read, “Koichiro Takeichi: 5 yen.” Other entries had the names of several dozen church officers and their donations that totaled 400 yen. Genjiro put aside the balance sheet and asked: “You might be head minister, but there’s no way you could have saved 5 yen until today. You’ve left your old mother and your four children in Shikoku living near your parent church Kunina. They get by with the 20 sen your wife earns each day from weaving. Where in the world did this money come from?”
“Well, it’s been 12 years since I came to Arita to begin a missionary expedition. During that time, I’ve gotten by with a single Kokura hakama skirt. It started to tear, so a woman donated 12 yards of cloth. I sold this and another 12 yards of some other cloth I received and was able to contribute 5 yen.”
It was such a mode of thinking that moved his church officers. Genjiro held back his tears as he scanned their faces over and over.
Amid such struggles, Myodo poured its efforts with the single desire to accomplish their tasks “By all means possible.” The foundation of Myodo’s later growth was built by such a spirit. Subsidiary churches whose members staked their lives working to their utmost would see growth in their congregations.
At ordinary shrines, no matter how much one may donate, one never witnesses any tangible benefit or any increase in the number of shrines. Yet God’s path is different. God accepts everything one contributed in a tight situation and surely gives a return. These returns manifest as instances of salvation from illnesses and the spiritual maturity of Yoboku, both which lead the growth of the congregation.
Genjiro, witnessing such results, realized there was no mistake in God’s words that said branches withered where the roots were weak and shallow but they flourished where roots were strong and deep. Jiba is both the root and the Parent. By serving the Parent, children flourish. Serving the Parent means to change from a faith that rejoices in God’s protection to a faith that takes the initiative to express gratitude for the blessings one receives. This is the basis for spiritual maturity of Yoboku. Spiritual maturity is what God desires.
Based on this experience, when it came to his salvation efforts to help head ministers and their families when they encountered illnesses or other troubles, Genjiro began to reflect on whether or not there was someone mentally stopping God’s intention that urged forward their spiritual maturity. This was a matter Genjiro also applied to himself.
- Next installment in this series: The Beginning of the Construction