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Saturday, June 11, 2016

Heroes of the Salvation Army

A little bit of a departure here - I want to cover people outside of the US that are also heroes of the Salvation Army. To that end I started with this couple that is little known here. That being Gunpei and Kiye Yamamuro. Now, there were European Salvationists that came and started the work of the Army in Japan, but for it to really flourish it needed native converts willing to make the Salvation Army relevant to the people and culture in Japan.

Gunpei was one of the Army's most devoted and ardent Japanese officers. He worked hard to bring the gospel to its predominantly Shinto, introverted and steeped is tradition masses. As was usual the Army appealed first of all to those who were neglected and poor. However, his work really did not take off till he met and married Kiye.

She came from the upper crust of its countries society. She was descended from a long line of Samurai and her family was rich. Due to bad weather, low crop yields and depression her family lost all of its fortune. Not because of those problems, but because of the family's devotion to their fellow man. When the crops failed they gave away their stock of stored food. Then they used their money to buy more to feed the hungry.

The family did rebound with their business being noticed by the Emperor. From that Kiye and her brother were sent to school in Tokyo where they got a western education in a christian school. Through that school she was exposed to and accepted Christ as her savior.  Years later after graduating she came back to Tokyo at the mention of this new christian organization that was causing a stir in the country.

At her first exposure to them she joined them. And shortly after met Gunpei. While her marriage to him was short, 17 years, it had a profound affect on their country. In that time She helped influence the Emperor in signing into law the abolishment of the slave practice that bound women into servitude for life, whether in the sex industry or simply female slave labor that had been in practice for centuries. In the first year of that law over 13,000 woman won their freedom. And Gunpei was able to write and publish the wide selling book "The Common People's Gospel." That book helped many Japanese come to the Lord.

In this image I have parted, just slightly, from the style I was using. I wanted to depict them in a humble way - just as they were. At the same time I used the same procedure as the other illustrations in this series. Also, I Kiye's hand is a tambourine. A common object for a Salvationist. But for Kiye it was a symbol of a crises of faith. In japan at the time it was only the Geisha who played musical instruments and to carry and play one would have been scandalous. But, with the help of prayer and God she came to realize that she was holding onto her own vanity and not surrendering it to God. So with a bit of revelation in a dream she prayed that prayer to not only accept God into her heart but to also give Him her entire heart. And with that she stepped out to the front of the nest open air march and played that tambourine with joy. Finally, yes that is Japanese for "The Salvation Army" on the left.

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