Dan Trabue over at Payne Hollow Visit allowed me to share this post from his blog.Thanks Dan!!!
Have a Blessed Peace SundayThe following was written by Gary Kohls. I'm sharing it here because this Sunday is Peace Sunday, the time we stop to recall the devastation of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and to rededicate ourselves to the work of peace.
Gary is a Christian peacemaker whose writing I've read as a result of my connections to Every Church a Peace Church (www.ecapc.org). It's a timely history lesson.
Nagasaki is famous in the history of Japanese Christianity. Not only was it the site of the largest Christian church in the Orient, St. Mary’s Cathedral, but it also had the largest concentration of baptized Christians in all of Japan.
It was the city where the legendary Jesuit missionary, Francis Xavier, established a mission church in 1549, a Christian community which survived and prospered for several generations. However, soon after Xavier’s planting of Christianity in Japan, Portuguese and Spanish commercial interests began to be accurately perceived by the Japanese rulers as exploitive, and therefore the religion of the Europeans (Christianity) and their new Japanese converts became the target of brutal persecutions.
Within 60 years of the start of Xavier’s mission church, it was a capital crime to be a Christian. The Japanese Christians who refused to recant of their beliefs suffered ostracism, torture and even crucifixions similar to the Roman persecutions in the first three centuries of Christianity. After the reign of terror was over, it appeared to all observers that Japanese Christianity had been stamped out.
However, 250 years later, in the 1850s, after the coercive gunboat diplomacy of Commodore Perry forced open an offshore island for American trade purposes, it was discovered that there were thousands of baptized Christians in Nagasaki, living their faith in a catacomb existence, completely unknown to the government - which immediately started another purge. But because of international pressure, the persecutions were soon stopped, and Nagasaki Christianity came up from the underground.
And by 1917, with no help from the government, the Japanese Christian community built the massive St. Mary’s Cathedral, in the Urakami River district of Nagasaki. Now it turned out, in the mystery of good and evil, that St. Mary’s Cathedral was one of the landmarks that the Bock’s Car bombardier had been briefed on, and looking through his bomb site over Nagasaki that day, he identified the cathedral and ordered the drop.
At 11:02 am, Nagasaki Christianity was boiled, evaporated and carbonized in a scorching, radioactive fireball. The persecuted, vibrant, faithful, surviving center of Japanese Christianity had become ground zero.
And what the Japanese Imperial government could not do in over 200 years of persecution, American Christians did in 9 seconds. The entire worshipping community of Nagasaki was wiped out.