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The Case of the Japanese Barber

by Walter L. Wilson (1881-1969)

All morning long, I had sought time and opportunity to shave myself before starting on a trip to Los Angeles from the neighboring village in which I was visiting. One circumstance after another combined to prevent this, until it was time to leave for the city. Hurrying up the long road to the Interurban station, I went to the ticket window to purchase a ticket to the city, and there the agent told me that the electric train was two hours late.

I felt that the Holy Spirit had some special work for me to do, else I would not have been hindered from shaving in the home of my host. I surmised that somewhere He had a barber to whom I was to have the privilege of giving the Gospel that day.

Upon learning that the train was late, I started walking down the street, seeking a barber shop, at the same time looking to the Lord to guide and direct me aright. Two blocks down the street was a small revolving sign which attracted me and I approached the shop. As I opened the door, a bell rang, arousing the barber, who was then in the rear of the shop, behind a partition.

We met near the barber chair and I observed that he was a Japanese, a young man of about thirty-five. I asked for a shave and he politely requested me to sit in the chair, which I did. Adjusting the chair to a reclining position, he soon had the warm lather on my face, with a hot towel to soften the beard. While he sharpened his razor, I asked the Holy Spirit for wisdom to approach this man in a wise way, so that I might win him for Christ.

I inquired of him whether he knew a Mr. Kimura, who is called the "Billy Sunday" of Japan.

"Where is he from?" he asked.

"His home is in Kioto, but he preaches all over Japan."

"Oh, I came from Kioto. I was born there," he said. "Is this Mr. Kimura a little man who builds big, wooden tabernacles, with sawdust on the ground?"

"Yes," I said, "that is his method."

My answer produced a deep impression. He obtained a clean towel, wiped the lather from my face until it was dry, raised the chair in order that I might assume a sitting posture, then learning over the chair, with solemn countenance and a serious voice, he said: "I will never forget that little man. I went to one of his meetings in Kioto and heard him preach. When he finished, he came from the platform down the aisle, placed his hand on my shoulder, and said: 'Young man, how are you going to get rid of your sins?'"

"Have you found out how?" I asked at once.

"No," he answered, "I wish I could. When you rang the bell, I was walking up and down in my little room at the back of the shop, saying those words over and over again, and wishing that I knew. Can you tell me?"

"Yes, indeed, I can," said I; whereupon I arose from the chair, obtained my Bible, and returned to read to him the story of the Saviour's love.

Acts 10:43 impressed his heart very much--"To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins." Another Scripture was read, Colossians 2:14— "Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross."

"Have you any sins?" I asked.

"Oh, yes," he answered, "lots of them."

"Would you like to have them put away today?"

"If it could be so," he eagerly answered. "I would get peace in my heart, for now only trouble is there."

"Well, Jesus came to blot out your sins for you. I will read it for you in Isaiah 44:22— 'I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins: return unto me; for I have redeemed thee.'"

These passages seemed to deeply affect the heart of the barber, but still he did not have peace. He seemed in deep meditation as I explained the Scriptures to him, and told him about the Saviour of sinners who came to save him. I then turned to 1 John 1:7— "The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin." I explained it to him, saying, "Do you not see, Mr. Barber, that the Lord Jesus was dying for you? He suffered on the cross the punishment that you should have had." We then read Romans 5:6— "When we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly."

These Scriptures brought the light to his dark and troubled soul. The peace of God came into his heart as he confessed his belief in the work of Christ at Calvary and his acceptance of the person of Christ for his own soul. "Jesus put my sins away," he said. "The Bible says so. I believe the Bible. I believe God sent Jesus to save me and I take Him. He is mine." These were the first expressions from the heart of this man who had met the Saviour and received the gift of a new and eternal life.

I then said to him, "Did none of your customers ever tell you of the Saviour?"

"No, he replied, "they do not talk about Jesus to me."

"Have you not been to any of our American churches?"

"Yes," he said, "but they did not tell me that Jesus blotted out my sins for me and that I could have Him as my own Saviour. No one seemed to care whether I was saved or not. It was mostly religion and singing and talking about many things, but I could not find peace in what they said. I am so glad you have come with your Bible to show me how to get rid of my sins."

Before continuing with the shaving, I said, "Are your sins gone now? Are they blotted out?"

"Yes," he replied, "Jesus has put them away, and I believe in Him."

The shave I received that day will never be surpassed. How carefully he handled the razor and me. How kind he was and how grateful. I left him with joy and peace, for his sins had been blotted out.

From The Romance of a Doctor's Visits by Walter L. Wilson, 1935.

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