Sunday, August 10, 2008



By Ramone - August 9, 2008

This picture came yesterday morning as I watched the Nagasaki peace ceremony on TV. On August 9, 1945, the second atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki killing probably more than 70,000 people. Thousands more were wounded, maimed, or died from radiation-related injuries or diseases. Having lived in Japan for seven and a half years now, I've learned a lot about these things, to say the least. I can't say exactly what this picture is suppose to "say" or represent or mean. I painted it like I saw it.

For me, I realize that this picture represents what I've come to know of Nagasaki. Growing up largely in white America, admiring the military and thinking of America's wars as always righteous, I knew almost nothing about Nagasaki. My school textblooks said almost nothing about the bombing or the city. I distinctly remember the footnote-like words,
"A second and more powerful bomb was dropped on Nagasaki three days later."
I didn't know that it exploded over a church with 850 people inside. I didn't know that Nagasaki was the historical center of Japanese Christianity, and that more than 8,000 of them died in the bombing. I didn't even know that Japan had a Christian history older than that of the United States. I didn't know that thousands of Christians had been martyred there, and that many survivors of the 300 years of persecution had their home and community in the city of Nagasaki. I didn't know that within one kilometer of the blast were eleven schools for children (including a Christian girls' school), and that they all died.

Juxtaposed with the destruction from the bomb is Nishizaka hill, where on February 5, 1597, twenty-six Christians were martyred -- twenty Japanese, four Spaniards, one Mexican and one Indian. They had been arrested in Kyoto and Osaka for preaching Christianity, and had been marched through the snow to be executed in Nagasaki, so as to make an example to the Christian population there. They were crucified there in front of a large crowd. Today they are known as the 26 martyrs of Nagasaki.

Knowing about the many Christians who died there in the bomb helped me contextualize and personalize what had happened there. Nagasaki's bombing was terrible, but sadly it was not "personal" to me until I learned about the thousands of Christians who died there. And now that I've lived here more than seven years, I know real people. My wife is Japanese, and we have a son now. Looking back at history, I can't say they were "enemies" anymore.

What does this picture "mean"? I am not sure. I only know that I was moved in the Spirit as I saw it, and am still moved in the Spirit as I speak of it now. I want to speak of some hope, but I can only seek God's heart.

I know that the only way we will have any "peace" in the world is by learning to see one another through different eyes, through eyes of love and value. God saw us with those eyes, didn't He?
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

- Romans 5:6-8
He didn't count our sins against us, but rather His Son took our sins on Himself so that we might be reconciled to Him. The only way we will have any "peace" between people on earth is by sitting still at the feet of that love, learning that the One who had right to destroy us chose instead to love us while we were His enemies. If He loved us so much, shouldn't we love one another? He died for my enemies, just like He died from me.

I don't know if this is the message or "meaning" of this picture, but I pray that His agape love is seen, taken in, and shared because of what His love has revealed to us, even what He's revealed to me in my life here and in coming to understand Nagasaki. Perhaps that's what "Nagasaki" means to me, representing a lot of things I didn't know, a lot of people just like me, and the heart of God that is necessary to see how much He loves us all, even when we were His enemies.

Help us see one another, Lord, as You see us. Help us look past our immediate feelings and whatever we've been taught. Help us forgive, help us love. Give us grace to overcome and be reconciled, in Jesus' name, amen.

Bless you in Jesus' name.


More thoughts are written here: "What Nagasaki Means to Me"
And finally the meaning of the picture: Reaping Nagasaki

I don't completely understand everything He's saying here. A friend was hit hard in the Spirit when she saw this picture, and I'm still asking God for more understanding.

Something that occured to me is that the destruction pictured in the foreground is generally wooden, and when you see pictures of Nagasaki after the bomb, there is not much wood left because of the fire of the bomb itself and the fires that it caused which continued burning the city for a long time. So I don't know if this means anything, but Lord, it makes me wonder. Please reveal Your heart!

As I looked at this picture later after I posted it, I thought of how somehow, somehow He has taken all of this in Himself on the cross... our pains, our sorrows, our suffering, our sins, our crimes, our terrors, our hatred, our shame, our tears... everything. He has reconciled us and healed us in what He has done in the cross. All of this "wood" -- the destruction of the people of the city, the many martyrs killed for Him and for the church, all fo this is reconcilied in Him deeper than I can respectfully or truthfully communicate. I know just the bare grasp of it. Thank You, Lord. Help us all see, help us understand, in Jesus' name, amen.

I can't wait for this to all be over, Lord, to go home and live in the full restoration. Night is falling, the sun is setting on this world. Thank You. Bring us home, Jesus, in Your name, amen -- and save our loved ones and our enemies, in Jesus' name.
There's another picture I'm working on now ... I wept in the Spirit as I prayed about how to draw it. As I thought on it, I suddenly connected it with this picture ("Nagasaki") and heard this word in my spirit (which again makes me weep in the Spirit), that "We are making martyrs today."

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