You know about the dropping of the atomic bomb on Nagasaki in 1945. But do you know the other catastrophic event in Nagasaki’s history?
When missionary Francis Xavier entered Japan in the sixteenth century, he found some Christians already there, descendants of believers who had immigrated from China and Korea. As Xavier preached, these people returned to the Lord with all their hearts, sparking a revival in which multitudes of Japanese came to the Lord.
In response, the government launched a series of persecutions lasting 250 years. No one knows how many believers died, but estimates range upward to a million.
The purge began on February 5, 1597, atop a hill in Nagasaki where twenty-six Christians were nailed to twenty-six crude crosses. The oldest martyr was sixty-four. The youngest was a twelve-year-old boy named Ibaragi Kun. As the torture began, a government official begged the boy to recant his faith. The youth reportedly replied, “Sir, it would be better if you yourself became a Christian and could go to Heaven where I am going.”
Then the boy asked, “Sir, which is my cross?” The stunned official pointed to the smallest cross on the hill, and the boy knelt in front of it. On those crosses, the “Twenty-Six Martyrs of Nagasaki” died for their faith.
Jesus called all of us to a cross. Our first inclination is to take the easy way and avoid hardship at all cost. This is not the way God has for us. It is in crisis that He builds our character. It is in trouble that he builds our testimony. Friendship and fellowship with the Lord are tied to “followship.”
The hymn writer put it best who penned these words:
“Must Jesus bear the cross alone,
And all the world go free?
No there’s a cross for everyone,
And there’s a cross for me.”
It is time for us to ask the question, “Which is my cross?” We may never be nailed to a literal cross, but to bear our testimony in a hostile world is our daily job and joy.