The Protestant Missions — November 17, 2010 at 10:06 pm

The Young Man from Doshisha and the Rebaiburu.


Joseph Hardy Neesima (新島 襄, Niijima Jō?, 12 February 1843—23 January 1890) was a Japanese educator of the Meiji era, the founder of Doshisha University and Doshisha Women's College of Liberal Arts.

The year 1884 saw the movement in favour of Christianity extending and deepening. It was about this time that the word rebaiburu (revival) gained a place in the vocabulary of the Christians; and there was constant occasion for its use in connection with the spiritual awakenings that took place in the churches and Christian schools. One of the most marked of these was in the Doshisha. About the first of March, several of the Christian students began a daily meeting, which was held at half-past nine in the evening at the close of study hours. The numbers in attendance and the interest constantly increased until, on Sunday, March 16, the whole school showed that it was greatly moved. The different classes held meetings in which for hours they engaged in prayer, confession of sins, and praise. Through the following week the young men could think of hardly anything else than their relations to God. But few in the school remained unmoved. The students were eager to go out and tell others of the blessings they had received. It was with difficulty that they were induced to be satisfied with choosing three representatives who should carry the report to the churches, while the others should wait until the approaching vacation. To those that know the excitable nature of the young men of Japan, it will not seem strange that there were some extravagances. The teachers, and especially the missionaries, endeavored to guard against excesses; urging “as strongly as they knew how, that the regularity of school life be maintained as regards studies, meals, exercise, and sleep; that the prayer-meetings be held early in the evening and be rigidly restricted to one hour; and that special pains be taken to secure quiet during the evening.”

Among the churches there were many revivals. We read of prayer-meetings full of tears, sobbings, and broken confessions of sins.” In theatres and other buildings large audiences listened quietly and earnestly to the preaching of the Gospel. In Tokyo, where formerly such meetings had been subject to disturbance, four thousand people assembled in one of the theatres and showed no signs of opposition.

The rapid growth of the churches at this time is exemplified by that of the Kumi-ai body. In the year ending March 31, 1884, the total membership increased sixty-eight per cent.; and in the next year, fifty-three per cent.


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