The following is a translation of Part 29 of the series “Senjin no sokuseki” (Footsteps of Our Predecessors) from the May 2005 (No. 437) issue of Taimo, pp. 34–35. This translation is a provisional one at the moment and may require further revision.
Part 29: Utmost Efforts
Sei Imagawa went to China in 1930 to engage in missionary work. Her sister Fusa followed her the next year. The two sisters devoted their days engaging in nioigake (spreading the fragrance of the teachings) and o-tasuke (salvation work or administering the Sazuke, the Divine Grant).
On one occasion, the Imagawa sisters were asked to go to a place called Tianqiao 天橋 by a person named Rùn 閏. They were led there after being told there were many people suffering from illness in the area, which was widely known as a ghetto at the time.
They first went to the home of Rùn’s father. The house was small hut that simply had a single straw mat hanging at the entrance in place of a door. Once Sei administered the Sazuke on Rùn’s father, he shouted in a loud voice: “Hey, everyone who is sick, come over here! There is a minister here to pray for you! It doesn’t matter what your illness is; you’ll get better instantly!”
Fifteen to 16 people immediately streamed in. The Imagawa sisters took turns administering the Sazuke and conveying the teachings while the other recorded each of the persons’ names, ages, and ailments in a notebook. When they were finished, they repeated this at the next street and the next until no one showed up before returning home.
The sisters began passing through Tianqiao on a daily basis since then and because the people they administered the Sazuke to would usually receive blessings in two or three days’ time, they were continuously introduced to crowds of new faces when they arrived. The sisters were excited at the prospect of engaging in o-tasuke every day, but as everyone they prayed for received blessings, it soon came to a point where no one would show up when they went to look for people to pray for.
Just when they thought to themselves, “I guess it’s about time that we stopped coming here,” a boy covered in boils and who also had a hole on the upper side of his navel that revealed bright red flesh came to them. They applied a piece of sacred paper1 and administered the Sazuke.
When they visited the boy the next day, the flesh and skin of his navel had grown back so that it looked no different from the surrounding area of his body. It was such a vivid display of divine protection that the sisters wondered if they had mistaken the boy for someone else and found themselves reconfirming his name.
The sisters would occasionally visit Tianqiao thereafter but would never encounter anyone suffering from illness. One day, someone who had been healed by Sei’s efforts found her and said, “Look at how healthy I’ve become!”
The sisters discovered firsthand the extent to which people who came in contact with God the Parent’s parental love changed in both body and spirit. While they saw many other instances of God the Parent’s miraculous protection elsewhere, in Tianqiao they learned the importance of applying their utmost efforts in conveying the teachings to others without the slightest concern whether they were being understood or not, speaking in length in a language they had little command over.
Reference: Jie jie to mei mei 『姐姐と妹妹』.
- Next installment in this series: 30. “I Accept the Mind You Have Settled”
*Note: This post has been revised since its original publication.
I have no idea who the Imagawa sisters are or whether or not they ended up establishing a Tenrikyo kyokai (church) in China as a result of their missionary efforts. Even if they did, it is very likely the kyokai had to be relocated to Japan, which was the case for many kyokai that were established in areas that were freed from Japanese occupation after WWII. I also have no clue if the Tianqiao mentioned in the article is the one in Beijing or another city. I think I’ll leave it up to someone else to do the research to find out.
- “Sacred paper” or “sacred paper of breath” (o-iki no kami) refers to a sheet of clean rice paper that was breathed on by Oyasama or by someone who received the sacrament of the Sazuke of Breath; either Naokichi Takai 高井猶吉 or Rin Masui 増井りん. There is a photograph of the Reverends Takai and Masui actually sitting down and making the sacred paper in the Tenrikyo jiten (p. 26). While I doubt much of the sacred paper that were made in this manner exist today, the paper used to wrap the sacred rice (goku) is occasionally used in the same way, not unlike a bandage on an afflicted part of the body. I once heard someone call the goku paper “crazy paper” (as opposed to Crazy Glue) since it stopped a finger from bleeding with speed and ease. ↩