Miss S. was in need of a strong man to draw her jinrikisha as she made her daily rounds visiting and superintending the work of the daily schools under her care. Our faithful cook, who had become an earnest Christian since coming to work for us, had undertaken to find a suitable man.
"Sensei," (name for a teacher) he said, returning one day from a tour of investigation, "I have found a young man who would be just the one for the place, I think, but one thing makes him hesitate."
"And what is that?" asked the missionary.
"Well," he replied, "he is only just married, and he and his wife would be glad to come here to work; but his mother, who is old and dependent upon him for support, is very faithful in the worship of her gods, and especially of her husband's spirit. And as her worship is her only satisfaction in life now, her son is afraid to go and live at a Christian place, for fear she would not be allowed liberty in her religious worship. As for himself and his wife, he said they were not particular about such things; but it was different with his old mother, and he could never consent to anything that would interfere with the happiness of her last days. I told him," continued our cook, "that if they came to live here, he and his wife, being servants in the household, would be expected to attend morning worship daily, but that I was sure his old mother would be allowed perfect freedom to worship as she pleased in her own room."
"You are right," replied the missionary. "See the man again, and tell him that as we are not engaging his mother to work for us, she will be entirely at liberty to worship as she pleases, and never obliged to attend our Christian services. Only we can not permit the display of the emblems of her religion outside her own room or on our gateposts, of course."
So they came, and took up their abode in the gatehouse. The tiny, wrinkled old lady who claimed the dutiful Cho as her son, evidently shrank in awe from the big, fearsome, "foreign teachers"-specimens, to her, from a strange and unknown world, utterly foreign, truly, to everything she had ever known.
At a stated hour each morning the servants of the household were gathered together for instruction in the things of God. Miss S. was the faithful and efficient teacher of this daily class, carefully explaining the word of God and the way of salvation, and leading these darkened souls into the light. Cho and his wife were regular attendants at the morning service, and after we had smiled a cherry "Good morning, O Baa San!" (title by which old ladies are addressed) often enough to the dear, wee little woman sitting on the mats in her room by the gate, so that she was accustomed to the sight of us, as we daily passed by, and was losing her fear of us, an invitation was sent to her to come with Cho and listen to the teaching. However, invitation after invitation was declined and the missionaries quietly waited for the Spirit of the Lord to woo and win her.
Meanwhile, Cho's interest was awakened, and developed until at last he took Jesus to be his own Savior and erelong sought and received baptism.
One morning, just as the morning service was beginning, in slipped the little old mother, quiet as a mouse, and dropped on the mats beside her son. No notice was taken of her, and the service went quietly on to the close, and then, as the members of the class bowed low with their heads to the floor-as is Japanese custom before taking one's departure-the missionary said, quietly but cordially: "We are glad to see you here this morning, O Baa San." Thereafter she came regularly to hear the "Jesus doctrine," always quietly dropping in, the last one, at the little gathering, silently listening, and as silently slipping away again at the close. Whether or not any impression was being made upon the heart so long shrouded in the darkness of heathendom, we had no means of knowing. But we prayed on.
Cho's wife was getting supper ready for the little family in the gatehouse one evening. A baby daughter had come to cheer their home, and had been the unconscious means of drawing the delighted grandmother and the sympathetic "foreign teacher" near together. Just now, however, the wee treasure was tucked away in her quilts in a corner of the room, fast asleep, while Kinu, the young mother, was boiling the rice for the evening meal. A diminutive oil lamp dimly lighted the small apartment. It was early autumn, and the night was cool and clear, and the stars shone brightly down upon the quiet, temporary home of the Bible Training School, their light filtering down through the branches of the weeping willow that stood by the well, and resting tenderly upon the figure of a dear little woman, so small and so frail standing there in the shadows, with clasped hands and upturned face. "O God!" she pleaded, "if there be one true God, who has done so much for my son Cho, reveal Thyself to me also."
Presently one of the sliding doors of the gatehouse was quietly pushed aside from without and Kinu looked up inquiringly: "Where have you been, mother? I have noticed of late that you frequently slip outdoors in the evening. Is it not cold?" And to the amazement of the daughter-in-law came the quiet earnest reply: "I have been praying to Cho's God." In the old lady's face there was a new light and in her heart a strange, deep, sweet peace-the answer from the unseen Lord.
We heard with great joy that this precious soul, so near the end of a weary lifetime, had at last found rest and peace, and we watched quietly to see the Spirit of the living God still further teach and lead on the soul so newly awakened. Nothing was said about the old idol worship, but daily Miss S. expounded the word of the Lord, and all unseen to human sight the good seed took root and grew up and bore fruit.
One day we were both sitting at our desks in the one room that served us then as office, dining and reception room, when there came a knock at the door. In answer to our "Come in" the door opened, and in came our wee O Baa San. Approaching the table, she placed upon it a small wooden shrine. "Sensei," she said, turning to Miss S., "you may have this shrine. I don't need it any more. I have something better."
Mary Bell Griffiths. The Youth's Instructor, November 21, 1901.