Ein Shinto-Schrein, die Verfassung und der Friede

Discovery of Self-Identity: SONG Pu-ja

Japanese history textbooks have not contained information about Koreans living in Japan. In textbooks Korea is pictured as a country vulnerable to the invasions of other countries. Therefore, whenever we hear the word "Korea" we can not hold our heads up with pride, but are instead overcome with despair. As a second-generation Korean living in Japan, I felt accursed and ashamed for the first thirty-one years of my life. I was even pleased when told I looked Japanese, and I did not know how to read my Korean name.

When the eldest of my four children entered the Korean Christian Church Kindergarten in Kawasaki, Dr. Lee In-ha taught us the importance of our Korean names to proclaim our own human dignity and our own lifestyle. This was shocking to hear! For the first time in my life I felt that I had discovered the real me! I couldn't even sleep that night! For thirty-one years I had lived without any sense of human dignity, but now suddenly a creative power came alive in me.

During a six-months' Bible study led by Rev. Kosugi, the associate pastor, my prejudice toward things foreign disappeared and I found a sense of belonging to my own people. I was deeply moved by this humble Japanese pastor who so clearly demonstrated "love" in the way he lived. The more I studied the Bible, the more my joy and hope increased, until at last I became grateful for my Korean heritage. I was assured that only faith in Christ as our Lord makes us truly human and fully alive as we are destined by God to be.

I found that through faith in Christ my entire value system changed; though I had once believed that money, expensive jewels and a big house were the most important treasures in our materialistic world and that only the socially elite, highly educated and the wealthy were worthy of respect, I now realized that the wealth which I had deemed important had to be given back to God. I learned that the true value of money was in its usefulness for others.

Aware that my self-centered life contained no real joy, I sold my jewels, which were of no lasting importance but instead were destroying real life, and gave the money to the church. For the first time, I realize that a truly great person does not parade greatness before others, but instead lives a life of quiet love among the weak, boldly confronting the social injustice of society.

I learned the importance of living with human dignity through the guidance and direction found in the Bible. As a result I decided to use my Korean name and my children and I adopted traditional Korean clothing for important occasions like entrance and graduation ceremonies. Though people thought us quite mad, I found increasing joy and hope even in suffering.

Even though I had finished junior high school I was unable to do even simple multiplication and division problems. For the first thirty-one years of my life I had been obsessed with death and I had constantly tried to negate my Korean-ness. Finally I acknowledged my ignorance and immersed myself in study as a thirsty person gulps water, at last accepting myself and my God-given talent. Finally realizing that my poor self-perception was a result of my warped educational experience, I determined to devote my talents to the education of those young Korean people living in Japan.

What is the relationship of the Christian faith and true education? Our prayer must be not only to follow Jesus' teachings, but also to achieve self-identity and spiritual independence that we might speak our own minds, thus freeing ourselves.

True religion both leads us to find hope in the future and helps us to perceive the injustice in society. Though in Japanese society educators and Christians are highly respected, even they are not free from the influence of the emperor system. In truth, true greatness is found in the prophet who speaks out against social injustice and fights on behalf of the neighbor.

As Christians, increasing church membership should not be our only concern; rather, following Christ's example we must live lives dedicated to fighting to establish justice for the oppressed and to bringing in the Kingdom of God.

Even in times of suffering and trial we must receive the promise, "Seek and ye shall find," recognizing that God will give us courage and hope through the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Let us remember these words of scripture as we attempt to live lives faithful to Him, "In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood." Hebrews 12,4

(JCAN 595, March 22, 1983)


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