The following is a translation of Part 71 of the series “Senjin no sokuseki” (Footsteps of Our Predecessors) from the November 2008 (No. 479) issue of Taimo, pp. 34–35. This translation is a provisional one at the moment and may require further revision.
Part 71: Offer What Happens to Flow Down (Part 2 of 2)
In 1922, Yasu Yoshifuku, a student enrolled in the six-month Bekka course at Tenri Seminary, obeyed Rev. Michioki Masuno — the headmaster of Tenri Seminary and the head minister of Shikishima Daikyokai — who instructed her to “Collect donations in three days and three nights.”
She departed Yamato for Kyushu on the evening of May 27. She reached her destination on the night of the 28th. Her husband Yonetaro was astonished at her sudden return. Yasu told her church head minister and Yonetaro about Rev. Masuno’s instruction, but her minister laughed and said: “We just had someone on an official visit from the daikyokai. Although Yonetaro-san and I frantically made our best effort, we didn’t receive God’s blessing. There’s no way that a lone Tenri Seminary student such as yourself can accomplish what we couldn’t just because you’re here on Daikyokaicho-sama’s orders.”
Yonetaro called Yasu to sit and talk with her in the sanctuary. He repeatedly asked her, “Did you come fully prepared?”
She nodded vigorously and said: “Of course! Didn’t I say I was prepared to die when I originally enrolled in Bekka?”
“Okay, I’ll help you if you’re so determined.”
They split up and went out. They did not have the luxury to pick and choose who to visit. They simply each picked a route and visited anyone they could, one by one. All they did was but relay Rev. Masuno’s exact instructions. As his instructions were so clear, when the occasion demanded them, they felt it was the easiest task they could ever be asked to do.
They spent the night of the 28th going from house to house in this way and returned to the church at 2 p.m. on the 29th to express their thanks to God. When they turned their eyes to the offering tray on the altar, they saw the pile of paper envelopes that had collected while they were out. Yasu sat silently, with anticipation eating away at her as she thought to herself, “I wonder how much there will be before time runs out?”
When there was only an hour remaining, the followers they visited the previous night came in ones and twos. All of them had said, “I received a miraculous blessing,” as if they had made previous arrangements to say so.
When the time came and they counted the amount, it came to exactly 3000 yen.
When Yasu returned to Jiba, she immediately went to Rev. Masuno to express her thanks. When she greeted him, “I have returned,” he asked her, “Do you understand now?”
Yasu replied, “Yes I do.”
Rev. Masuno’s expression softened for the first time. “Well done. Yoshifuku, tell me everything.”
Yasu suddenly became overwhelmed with emotion. She cast her tearful eyes downward.
“Yoshifuku, tell me everything. Don’t hold back. You understand how God works now, don’t you?”
“I understand completely.”
“Come on then, please tell me what you experienced.”
At Rev. Masuno’s gentle words, the severe mental fatigue that built over the last three days melted away like snow and the joy of being able to accomplish an unforeseen task welled up from inside her. Her task came to a close that night as Rev. Masuno expressed his wholehearted appreciation and took the time to instruct her a little further.
On the day of her graduation, Rev. Masuno summoned Yasu once again.
“I handed out diplomas to 1600 Bekka graduates today. But I’m pretty sure I’ve already given you a spiritual diploma. I ask you to follow the path onward with that frame of mind from now on.”
Rev. Masuno thus awarded Yasu with a special diploma at her graduation from the Bekka course of Tenri Seminary.
Reference: Ueda Ritaro. Hi ni mo yakezu.
- Next installment in this series: 72. A Mark on the Parent (Yamazawa, Tamezo)
*Note: This post has been revised since its original publication.
Some quick sleuthing on the web took me to a site that says Yasu Yoshifuku 吉福ヤス soon went on to become the head minister of Yatsuda Senkyosho 八津田宣教所1. Her husband Yonetaro 米太郎 appears to have already been a head minister himself (Toa Senkyosho 東亜宣教所). Yonetaro went on to become the second minister of Saichin Bunkyokai 西鎮分教会 in 1923 and served in this position until his passing in 1939. Yasu took over as third head minister and served so until her passing in 1965 at the age of 80.
- “Senkyosho” 宣教所 literally means missionary or propagation office. All “senkyosho” that had not been promoted to bunkyokais or “branch churches” were done so shortly after WWII. ↩
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