Thank You, Mr. Inoue【Parent-Child Reading Guide】
Many Heart-filled Thanks to Mr. Inoue
Inoue Inosuke (1882-1966) was born in Kochi Japan. He first came to Taiwan in 1911 to start a convert gospel mission by providing medical services. This came to an erupt end in 1947 when he was forced to leave Taiwan after World War II.
One Japanese scholar once criticized Mr. Inoue’s work in Taiwan with the statement, “He did nothing.” Objectively speaking, Mr. Inoue did not baptize a single aborigine while he was in Taiwan. Does this prove that his work in Taiwan was ineffectual?
Mr. Inoue seeking revenge for his father in Taiwan
Mr. Inoue Yanosuke, the father of Inoue Inosuke, was a Japanese technician who came to Wili Sha, Karengkō, Taiwan to work in a camphor factory. Due to a labor dispute that turned violent, 25 Japanese lives were lost during a conflict with the Truku. Mr. Inoue Yanosuke was one of the victims.
This tragedy struck while Mr. Inoue Inosuke was attending a bible retreat. He received a postcard, written by his younger brother in haste, to notify him of this terrible news. Mr. Inoue was lost for words and could not accept the condolences of others. His thoughts raced: “How can the aborigines in Taiwan be so cruel?”
In spite of his own grief for the loss of his father, Mr. Inoue started praying for the aborigines in Taiwan on a daily basis. He trusted that only God had the power to change people and to call on them to abandon their violent ways. However, God had a different plan for Mr. Inoue beyond daily prayers. In the summer of 1908, Mr. Inoue accepted the calling from God to preach the gospel to the aborigines in Taiwan. Through the Pastor Nakada Jūji, he was introduced to Miss Ono Chiyo. She shared his vision of spreading the gospel in Taiwan. They were married in 1908 and became great partners in the missionary field.
When Mr. Inoue proposed his plan to be a missionary to aborigines in Taiwan, his plan was denied. First of all, the national religion in Japan was Shinto and not Christianity; and secondly, missionary work was not permitted in a colonial state such as Taiwan. Mr. Inoue decided to change his approach and studied medicine. After receiving his medical license, he promptly departed for Taiwan in 1911 to work in a medical clinic. He said, “What do I do if I cannot openly preach the gospel to the people? I have to be intentional about daily prayers and preach to others through my personal actions.”
Daily prayers and preaching through example by Mr. Inoue
Upon his arrival in Keelung Harbor in Taiwan, he reported to the office at Shinchiku Prefecture. He started serving not only the Japanese, but also the aborigines in the eastern Hsinchu region. The two main tribes included Mklapay and Sinraku. When an aboriginal person became ill, the chief would send an envoy to see Mr. Inoue. They would then travel through treacherous mountain paths to get into the aboriginal location so that he could provide medical treatment. While providing medical care, Mr. Inoue realized that he was not able to communicate with the aborigines effectively. It was difficult to have a good understanding of the illness with limited interpretation. Inevitably, medical treatment was delayed, and many people suffered because of it. While watching people suffer with great agony, Mr. Inoue prayed for them in silence. He even made the resolution to study Tayal, the dialect spoken there, so that he could communicate directly with the aborigines. In addition, this freed him from the constant surveillance by the Japanese and he was able to speak to the aborigines about the gospel!
Mr. Inoue and his family lived by a hillside. Food supply was scarce, and the place was infested with bugs and snakes. Once his clay-house was washed away under a severe typhoon and monsoon rain, so they had to seek shelter from their Japanese neighbors.
Mr. Inoue’s second trip to Taiwan
Mr. Inoue, unfortunately, contracted dysentery in 1917 and had to return to Japan for medical treatment. He returned to Taiwan, for the second time, in 1922. In addition to working with the people in Hsinchu area, he broadened his territory to Taichū Prefecture. This area included Mebasin Sha, Mb’ala Sha, Malepa Sha, Naihunpu Sha and Mahavun Sha of Bunun.
During the Musha Incident in 1930, the Japanese police force sought Mr. Inoue’s assistance in applying chemistry restraints to the natives. Mr. Inoue sternly refused the request. After that incident, many of the remnants of Seedig tribe were relocated to Alang Gluban, Kawanakajima. When there was a dysentery outbreak, Mr. Inoue went to help without hesitation.
Transformed by the beauty of the aboriginal people
After spending more time with the aboriginal people, Mr. Inoue came to appreciate the beauty of the aboriginal culture and principles. He was invited to speak in many churches and broadcasting programs. Without hesitation, he spoke highly of the aboriginal cultures. He pointed out that the communities were highly considerate in their care for their widows and orphans. These were important values and characters that were lost in the cities.
The changing world of 1945
Mr. Inoue became an integral part of the aboriginal community and decided to live the rest of his life in Taiwan. He even changed his name to “Kao Tien Ming” to demonstrate assimilation to the Taiwanese society. However, the world was rapidly changing. With the ending of World War II, the defeat of the Japanese imperial military, and the coming of Chinese government to Taiwan, Mr. Inoue was forced to leave Taiwan and returned to Japan in 1947.
After his return to Japan, Mr. Inoue continued his mission and teaching work. His heart was still connected to the mission field in Taiwan. He kept frequent contacts with missionaries from Taiwan through written correspondences. He also prayed for the salvation of the aborigines in Taiwan daily.
When leaving Taiwan for Japan, Mr. Inoue only carried a few simple items with him. The most important items included the ashes of his eldest daughter Rutsuko, son Masaaki, and second daughter Chieko. His youngest son Yuji returned to Japan with Mr. Inoue but harbored bitterness toward him. Yuji had a hard time understanding his father, who tried to conquer hatred with love by emulating the heart of Christ. He resented the fact that his father took great care of foreigners in Musha yet neglected his own family. The father and son, however, reconciled ten years before Mr. Inoue’s passing. Yuji took up the caretaker role for his father, which brought their relationship closer. Yuji had the opportunity to learn about his father’s actions and was touched by it. While Mr. Inoue was sick, the then-president of Yu-Shan Theological College, Pastor Kao Chung-Ming, went to pay his respect. He informed Mr. Inoue that more than 10,000 aborigines had turned to the Lord. Mr. Inoue smiled and said, “The Lord had used me as the fertilizer, and the seeds of the gospel are sprouting.” Mr. Inoue passed away on June 20, 1966, at the age of 84.
The creative idea of this story book is based on the writings and memoirs by Mr. Dong Shian-Yang. Obin Tadao, the wife of Dakis Nawi who was involved in the Musha Incident, had a difficult labor. She suffered from heavy blood loss and was on the verge of dying when she was transferred to Mr. Inoue’s care. Mr. Inoue was instrumental in restoring the health of the mother and the child. Many years later, she visited the clinic ran by Mr. Dong Shian-Yang in Pu-Li. She asked Mr. Dong to help her locate the burial site for Mr. Inoue. She wanted to visit and pay her respect.
Mr. Dong was able to make contact with Mr. Inoue’s youngest son, Yuji, and located the burial site. There is a large character, “love”, engraved on the tombstone. Below it, there is the Tayal phrase “tminun Utux” which means “God’s weaving”. The vertical and horizontal threads on the weaving board make the sound “cili cili, turum turum”. This symbolizes the work our Lord has done in Mr. Inoue’s life. His life is an intricate work of art made with interwoven threads bursting with splendid colors that no other can duplicate. Mr. Inoue lived out his life according to the God’s command in the scriptures: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21).” The greatest power of all is love! No military forces nor political regimes, but only love, can change people. Only because of love, people can live in peace and harmony.
*Special recognitions to Lu Chi-Min, Li Tai-guan, and Tan Engjiu for assisting and editing this project.