Posted by: Andrea Mullins | 1 August, 2010

The Fields Are Not Always White, Chapter One, Part 2: Little Things Count by Ann Reese

This is the second post from Ann Reese’s unpublished book, The Fields Are Not Always White, written in the early sixties. Ann gives us a glimpse of her awakening as well as others to God’s love for all people. Look under Ann Reese to find other posts from her book. Ann established the Jackson Reese Endowment for WorldCrafts, a Fair Trade company helping people around the world to have sustainable income and eternal hope. Ann’s concern for immigrant women led her to invest in the ministry of WorldCrafts. Learn more about WorldCrafts at http://worldcraftsvillage.com.

Kozue _____ was the most unhappy soul that we have encountered. Married nine years, and childless, she was the hapless victim of an arranged marriage by her Buddhist parents. No one could ever forget her wistful voice saying: “What would you think if I say—Sometimes I wish I die?” She thought American women frivolous, and much in need of a life of quiet contemplation. In short, she was not easy to love. But love her we did. We were to learn that she had experienced an unhappy relationship with a Christian group in Japan. She had been a teacher in a mission school, where they had pressured her to become a Christian, and forsake the errors of Buddhism. Remembering that one should never criticize or make light of anyone’s religious convictions, we took a different course. She accepted a Japanese-English New Testament and began to read it occasionally. When we seemed to want her friendship more than her instant conversion, she began to ask questions. But more importantly, she observed our lives and what Christianity had done for us. For we were happy, while she was miserable, still searching for an answer to the longing of her soul. One day in earnest conversation I told her that I thought if Buddha lived after the coming of Christ, he might have been a Christian, for he was a seeker of truth. Before she returned to Japan, she was our friend. A letter to our missionary in Japan kept the witness alive. When our pastor led a world tour in 1968, waiting in the lobby of a hotel in Osaka was Kozue _____. She had come 300 miles on a night train to meet the group. We still hear from her from time to time. Since our missionary is back in the States, we passed Kozue’s name to the new missionaries who will continue the witness. Although she has never committed her life to Christ, she is still open to the love He gives us.

*****************

At first all of the Orientals looked alike to us. And they tell us we look alike to them until they know us. But from the start Masaka _____ was unlike the others. Taller, slimmer, aloof, oddly beautiful, she had been a TV fashion commentator in Japan until her husband had brough her and her five year old daughter, Y____, to Birmingham. Masaka spoke almost no English. She came along to our group with Machiko _____, and just sat quietly and sewed. Little by little she picked up the language, even attending worship services to hear English spoken. This surprised us since she was a practicing Buddhist. One day she asked for help in finding a kindergarten for Y____. Since we had no kindergarten at that time at our church, we arranged for Y___ to go to the kindergarten at another church. The children and workers there adored their new pupil. Y___ is now a college student in Paris, but I am sure she has wonderful memories of her first American birthday party at kindergarten.

Perhaps as the years go by I shall forget many names and experiences. But one shall linger I think. It was Masaka’s last Sunday before her return to Japan. She slipped into her accustomed place beside me in church carrying the kerchief knapsack which the Japanese use as a carry-all. Out of it she took her Japanese-English Testament. As the time for the service drew near, I opened it to John 3:16 and said, “Masaka, this is the most important verse in the Book. If you remember nothing else we have told you, remember this. Then in her faltering English she replied: “When I come here, I do not know your God. Now I know Him.” All the problems of communication with our world friends were trifles, compared to this simple expression of faith. My heart nearly burst with pure joy. Then from the knapsack, she took her camera. As the pastor sat with bowed head during the prelude, she snapped a picture. Then another as he read the Scripture and another as the deacons came to receive the offering and finally one of the choir during the anthem. As she replaced her camera she said, “Now I show my friends in Japan what my church here do.” After church came the final goodbye. I expected her to thank us for the varied services we had been privileged to perform but not so. It was a trivial thing she remembered. “I will never forget the day you saw me with watermelon and take me home.” Nearly forgotten was that day when she first came to this country. I was leaving the church in a hurry to get to another appointment. As I crossed the church parking lot, I spied Masaka and Y___ going down the street, each carrying a too heavy load. After an argument with my conscience and the clock, I pulled alongside them in my car, and signaled for them to get in. There was no delay on their part, for the day was hot and the half mile walk seemed longer than usual. She could only repeat two of the few words which were her vocabulary then, “Thank you. Thank you.” And now I say when small opportunities come our way, “Thank you, Masaka, for teaching me that LITTLE THINGS COUNT.”

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