Takeji Manabe

It was fifty years ago, in 1959, that a copy of the monthly magazine of Makuya, the Light of Life was sent to the U.S. The late Rev. Takeji Manabe, then a lay pastor of a group of laymen in California received it and read it with amazement. He passed the magazine around and his Christian friends, mainly of Japanese descent, began to read Light of Life.

They gradually gathered to hold meetings. Ikuro Teshima visited them for the first time in 1961. Through this visit, the group developed into California Makuya. The following is Rev. Manabe's letter to Ikuro Teshima printed in Light of Life in 1959 (No. 106).

Ikuro Teshima (left) & Takeji Manabe (right)

* * *

I praise the holy name of the Lord. I am very excited to know that you, a man of the Holy Spirit, and your group Makuya had been raised in Japan. They remind me of the believers of Christ in the original Christian Church days. As I have been praying to God for salvation of my homeland Japan through Christianity, I am filled with indescribable joy to know the emergence of Makuya.

Several years ago, I read in a certain religious magazine of a new leader who emerged in the city of Kumamoto, Kyushu (the southern island of Japan). While being a Non-Church believer, he had a rather different type of faith; the article even indicated that he was heathenish. To be fair with whatever matter is concerned, we have to listen to voices of both sides without prejudice, standing on neutral ground. I somewhat wished to know Makuya in Kumamoto for a long time, though I did not have a chance until today.

Now, coincidentally or owing to God's guidance, a special issue of Makuya's monthly, Light of Life was sent to me by Ms. Misao Shudo, major of the Salvation Army of Japan in Yokosuka. Wishing to find out about Makuya, whether its faith was heathenish or genuine, I began to devour it with keen interest. As I read it, tears gushed out until I was unable to read it. Repeatedly crying with overwhelming emotions, I finished reading it, and then read it over and over.

To tell you the truth, I have attended several meetings of a certain Christian leader and have read his magazines for the past few years. I came to earnestly wish that a charismatic ministry like his would be performed in Japan and that testimonies to the living Lord, like those of the Acts, would be also given by actual happenings. Therefore, my heart was filled with exceeding gratitude and excitement to encounter with Makuya through Light of Life.

Realization of a Prophecy

Today's Christendom is too preoccupied with theology, philosophy, and dogmas, and it became rigid as various denominations rival with one another. It is far from the Lord who is capable of redeeming us with God's mercy, power, and love. The situation is truly regrettable. At this crucial time, Makuya has emerged, breaking the dawn, in the corner of Kumamoto; its existence has an extremely great meaning. I feel that it will be the very source of a prophecy described in Kanzo Uchimura's dream of the New Year:

Mercy drops were descended upon the peak of Mt. Fuji,
Trickling down to moisten the skirts of the mountain and
Overflowing into two streams, one eastward and the other westward, …
Thus, just as the water fills the ocean,
The wisdom of knowing Jehovah fills the earth,
Then the Kingdom of Christ will be born…

At any rate, God did not abandon my homeland Japan. O how thankful I am for His infinite grace! I cannot help but pray for God's blessings on Makuya and especially on you, Professor Teshima.

The Christendom today places an excessive importance on theological studies, is obsessed with Marx and Karl Barth, and is concerned with religious ceremonies and denominations. Far from the living Christ, Protestantism has retired to Catholicism. This has notably influenced Christian churches both in Japan and the U.S. after World War II (1939-1945). The priests of certain denominations are even clothed with long robes; this is a remarkable change.

Just like myself, my Christian friends are worried about such changes, so I sent them copies of Light of Life. I keep receiving letters of gratitude; they ask me to introduce them to you.

Yesterday, I received a letter full of excitement from Mr. Sakae Toda of Chicago. He wrote that we, of Japanese descent in the U.S., should receive the fire of the Holy Spirit; it should not be confined within Japan. I do believe that the Lord will perform His will. It is His will to spread the Holy Spirit throughout the earth, for He said, "I came to send fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!"

May the Holy Spirit overwhelm Japan, and spread further to Asian countries and through the entire world, just as the water fills the ocean, so that a vast eschatological movement may be fulfilled!

* * *

Kanzo Uchimura: A man of religion, a graduate of Amherst College (1861-1930), and the author of How I Became a Christian. By publishing the magazine, Non-Church, he proclaimed the Non-Church movement after returning to Japan from the U.S.