Despite her health problems and the difficulty of learning the Japanese language, Sarah Andrews was instrumental in leading several people to Christ. Among those baptized her first year in Japan was a young girl named O Iki san. Iki became a life long friend and a fellow worker for the cause of Christ in Japan. Sarah gave Iki the title "Bible woman" because of her devotion in the work.
In 1919, Sarah, along with Iki and her mother who had also been baptized, decided to begin work in Okitsu. Here they opened a kindergarten from which a large Bible school developed. After a time they solicited the help of Oto Fujimori, a native Japanese preacher who had been converted in the states in Detroit, Michigan, and, then, had returned to his native Japan to preach. Fujimori held a meeting at Okitsu, and a church was planted. (Reports and Plans, 950).
After the work in Okitsu had stabilized, Sarah moved to another location to open a children's school, a Bible school, and to help plant a new congregation. Eventually, Sarah and Iki helped to establish works in Shizuoka, Shemedza, and Numadzu in addition to the work in Okitsu.
The late 1930s brought another problem to Sarah. War clouds loomed on the horizon in Europe and Asia. The American Consulate advised all American citizens to return home. J. M. McCaleb, who had been in Japan since 1892, returned home in the fall of 1941. Despite the advice of McCaleb and pleadings from family, Sarah stayed in Japan. She said, "I'm just as near heaven in Japan as in the United States." As the war grew closer, American assets were frozen, and foreign postal service stopped. How did she get by? After the war Sarah wrote: "I sold my furniture piece by piece in order to buy food. All enemy property was held by the Finance Department as confiscable; hence, to obtain permission to use any of it required excessive official routine or red tapery. I was required to get permission to sell each piece of furniture, then permission again to use the money. Although the amount I was permitted each month was only a pittance, it was sufficient to pay for my rations because food and all commodities were scarce." (My Maintenance, 919). At one point in the war, Sarah was interned in a concentration camp because of her refusal to turn over the titles to church property to the Japanese government. Later, she was released but confined to her home in Shizuoka.
Starvation became a reality. Sarah wrote, "I have never experienced hunger until I was caught in the throes of war and famine as an enemy national during this war. My weight reached the low ebb of seventy-five pounds, and my body became very edematous from malnutrition. In desperation I boiled leaves from the trees for food, boiled and used water from cornstalks for sugar, used sea water for salt, and after months of meatless days I relished grasshoppers for meat, wishing I could have the same dish often." (My Maintenance, 919).
Surviving the starvation, Sarah also had to face the threat of bombings. In an air raid in July 1945, the little chapel at Shizuoka was destroyed. Incredibly, Sarah, sleeping in her house across from the chapel, didn't know anything of the destruction until she awoke the next morning.
Then, one day the bombings stopped. A neighbor lady told Sarah that the war was over. Weeks passed until the day three American soldiers arrived in a jeep. One of them asked if she was Sarah Andrews. He explained that he was from Tyler, Texas, where Sarah's sister, Mrs. T. B. Thompson, lived. Not knowing if Sarah had survived the war, her sister had requested that this soldier look for Sarah Andrews if he ever got to Japan. Sarah's condition must have made an impression on the soldiers as they immediately gave her all their rations. They left but soon returned with blankets and a jeep loaded with food.
Sarah returned to the states in 1946 for convalescence, but she was determined to return to Japan. She shared why she wanted to return. "For a century Japan has been the foremost nation in the Orient. The aspiration that led to the war was to form a 'Greater East Asia,' it being the big brother; but it failed. This dream was worldly, without God. Defeated Japan still has the talent of leadership, however, and we should help it to the point where it can use it for the good to its neighbors. To give Japan the gospel is the answer to its greatest need and service to others." (Reports and Plans, 950).
After a year's recovery in the States, Sarah returned to Japan. In addition to her work with the churches, Sarah opened a rest home for Japanese women whose sons and husbands had been killed in the war. The minister for the Welfare department in Shizuoka Prefecture gave his assistance to help make the home a reality. Sarah also invited American Christians to support the home.
Sarah Andrews continued teaching Jesus to the Japanese for another fifteen years after the war. She died on September 17, 1962. She was buried in Japan and her fellow Christians placed a large marble marker at her tomb which told of the woman who went to Japan with a dream for sharing the gospel, and, despite the hardships, she trusted in God to make her dream a reality.
Works Cited: Sarah Andrews, "My Maintenance During the War," Gospel Advocate 11-13-1947: 919. Sarah Andrews, "Reports and Plans of Work in Japan," Gospel Advocate 11-20-1947: 950. 1002 Clairmont Ave., Cambridge, OH 43725.
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