This summer, Josiah had an incredible opportunity to attend Hiroshima’s 71st memorial of the dropping of the atomic bomb.
Six school children, from elementary through high school, attended. A newspaper ad had been written, inviting students from our city, Yamato, to apply. We saw the ad and Josiah filled out the application. How surprised we were when he was selected.
Josiah and his group traveled to Hiroshima for the memorial service. He was there to hear speeches from President Abe and others VIP’s as well as personally meet with survivors of the bomb. He sat under a canopy with hundreds of others watching the ceremony happening in the very same place President Obama visited earlier this year. President Obama is the first standing US President to visit the Hiroshima memorial.
As the the gong was struck, marking the exact time of the the bomb, there was a minute of silence. The people in attendance, from various backgrounds, prayed for the souls of those who had died. While they prayed to their various gods, Josiah prayed to the one God in heaven.
That evening, among hundreds of others, Josiah’s group released paper lanterns on the river. Each one represented a prayer. Josiah told me he selected a simple white one and that on it he wrote a prayer to Jesus. “I am the light of the world…” His lantern was a single prayer among many, but possibly the only prayer to God. How sad that makes me feel.
In addition to attending Hiroshima, they also had to write a speech about what they had learned. Josiah had to deliver his twice, to two different Yamato City public meetings. Josiah’s team also appeared in a local newspaper and was interviewed on TV. The other kids spoke about how the older generation was growing older and dying and that their generation had to take the responsibility for continuing the peace.
Josiah talked more practically about how he had a Japanese Father and an American Mother and that we should forgive one another. He also said “We should make peace” a paraphrase from James 3:18 as well as Matthew 5, the Beatitudes, “Blessed are the Peacemakers.”
We were able to share Josiah’s experience with our family here in Japan. Akira’s parents and siblings were all touched by his words. They were given copies of the newspaper article and watched a recording off his interview. Josiah showed great understanding and maturity. We are all very proud of him.
What an amazing opportunity we have to be in Japan. Simply by who we are, we live a life modelling forgiveness. Only a few short years ago, my grandfather and his brothers fought in World War II. Akira’s parents were small children at the time. America and Japan were heated enemies. And now, only a few years later, we are here living together as a family. We might be a husband and wife from two different worlds but our children tell a different tale. They are beautiful blends of our differences. What an amazing testimony of reconciliation and restoration.