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Surprising apology

“I have read books and seen movies about what Japan did to Australia, China, and Korea in her wars. I know the Japanese military did many terrible things. I was not there, but as a Japanese person—please accept my apology on behalf of Japan for all the harm we did to your nations.”

When Kenji spoke these words, he caught me and my wife by surprise. Not just us, but also the Chinese and South Korean ladies we had been sharing a meal with. We blinked in silence at the gravity of his words.

It was also a very surprising place to be sharing a meal with such people. We were in a tiny village in the middle of a former Soviet Central Asian nation. Kenji had just treated us all to a meal with his family in his home.

Even more surprising: everyone around the table was there because of the gospel. My wife and I were on a short-term mission trip, still exploring where God might be leading us. But Kenji, the South Korean lady, and the Chinese lady were all there as missionaries.

Earlier I had the gall to question why people from “missionary receiving nations” like Japan and China were not in their home countries serving the church there. In response, the Chinese lady had explained to me:

“Missionaries have been coming to China, preaching, and even dying for the Gospel for centuries now. It would be selfish if Chinese Christians kept this message to themselves. We must go to the nations.”

It was a strange feeling to be both rebuked and encouraged at the same time.

Now, Kenji had mentioned Australia in his apology with respect to the land my wife and I grew up in—but my family was originally from Hong Kong. I remember the animosity my grandmother still held against the Japanese troops who had bombed and occupied Hong Kong during WWII. Events that happened during the war have not been forgotten by my aunts and uncles. As a child, I was warned not to say or do certain things which might inflame old wounds.

“Thank you for saying that,” the Chinese missionary replied to Kenji at last. “Many Chinese people are still very angry about the past. But because of Jesus I am able to forgive Japan. And we are citizens of heaven. No matter what nation you come from, we are now brothers and sisters in Christ.”

The gospel is such a surprising thing. The gospel alone can turn enemies into family members and bind old wounds into marks of grace.

By Andrew

Will you pray for Japan?

  • That the gospel would permeate Japan and those who hold grudges against Japan, so that old wounds will be healed.

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