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Walls of Hostility

“If you’re Japanese, I’ll stop the car, and you can all get out now!”

That was the taxi driver’s response when he questioned our accent, and my friends and I told him we were of Cantonese descent. We were in a taxi in the Chinese city of over 9 million people that I call home, and I could not believe my ears.  His tone of voice was clearly hostile, and I could feel myself getting defensive.  “Have you even heard Japanese people speak Chinese?”

“Yes,” he replied defiantly, and again insisted we should get out if we were Japanese. A wave of grief, sadness, and anger swept over me as he adamantly described the Japanese as the world’s worst people. In my frustration, I interrupted, “On what basis are you saying that the Japanese are the worst?!” Quite predictably, he listed the atrocities of World War II. When I sensed his list would not be ending any time soon, I interrupted again, “If you say Japan is the worst, then which nation is the best?” He hesitated before saying that all other countries are ok. Our conversation continued rather hopelessly. He would not see that every  nation is guilty of having done terrible things, and by the time our journey ended, he still wasn’t convinced we were Cantonese Chinese. I’ve had similar conversations with locals before, but none this bitter and resentful. I got home feeling so grieved that someone could be so full of hatred towards another nation’s people.

Somewhat disturbed by the “taxi incident”, I brought the subject up with one of my teachers who is also a local pastor. Do believers also feel this way? I was saddened even more as he told a story of how a teacher at his seminary had asked if any of the students felt called to Japan. After unbearable silence, one brother stood up and resolutely stated that the Japanese should all be sent to hell.

This year marks 70 years since the end of World War II, and China has declared 3rd September to be a national holiday to specifically commemorate the end of its war with Japan. This taxi driver’s response reveals the depth of bitterness and resentment many Chinese have towards the Japanese. I do not want to take lightly the very real and deep scars that exist. However, we preach a message that has torn down the greatest wall of hostility – how much more should the wall of hostility between Jew and Gentile, Chinese and Japanese, be torn down? And yet it would seem that even believers have a long way to go on this journey.

Please pray that believers in both countries would lead the way for their nations in extending grace and forgiveness, and that these walls of hostility might be destroyed and lead to true reconciliation with each other, and with their Maker. May it be that in the years to come, we would see Chinese and Japanese believers serving alongside each other for His glory.

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