More than a hundred years ago, there was a remarkable Japanese preacher named Homma Shimpei, whose story is recounted in an article in our Malaysia Message by Rev J.H. De Forest, a veteran missionary in that country. It provides us with a shining example of living for Christ alone.
A Japanese St Paul
By Rev J.H. De
‘Some day the fuller story of this remarkable movement will come out – how Homma Shimpei became a Christian, how he with but fifty cents opened his marble works and gathered a band of a hundred rough workmen, among whom were several ex-convicts, how he built a chapel annexed to his great workshop, how he was hated and persecuted for Christ’s sake, how he conquered by marvellous love and sacrifices, how his influence grew till students from the government college, twelve miles distant, cross the mountains every Saturday to spend Sunday with him, how officials come seven or eight miles to hear him preach, how even a governor has visited him to see this man of God and hear his message, and how he is invited far and wide to speak before crowds of students.
It was a revelation to me to spend a night with this man, whom I have known now for five years, witness his magnetic power over all classes of men and women and children, and see his absolute abandonment of himself to God and his unwavering faith in the power to conquer the entire surrounding region for Christ.
There were at least seven visitors who spent the night in his house, and though I went to bed at eleven o’clock, after hearing five earnest prayers from him, I woke up at two only to hear him pleading in deepest earnestness and sympathy before the first students who were his guests. And when that talk was finished the paper slides did not prevent me from hearing each one pray, and the prayers were all wet with tears.
It was four o’clock when that meeting broke up, and according to Scriptural precedents one of these young men ought to have fallen out of the second storey window, but there were no second storey windows in his house, and even had there been there were no sleepy fellows there. I ventured to chide my friend Homma the next morning for doing such an unhealthy thing as to spend most of the night preaching and praying, but with a quiet smile under his deep eyes he said that once he spent every night for two months in this same way without going to bed a single time.
At my look of astonishment, and before I could tell him that he was a candidate for an insane asylum, he broke out with: “Well, what else could I do? People who had to work all day came to me nights, and some had to walk eight miles and didn’t get here till midnight or after, and by the time we had finished our talks and prayers it was daylight and I had to start for my quarry. It’s all right. God has given me this work to do.”’ (MM Nov 1906, p.16-17.)