Saturday, 23 February 2019


 

Kawaguchi, Japan (CNN)It's a rainy Sunday morning in Kawaguchi, a city of around half a million people on the outskirts of Tokyo. Men and women toting Japan's ubiquitous clear plastic umbrellas file into the entrance of a nondescript corner bar. 

The sign above the door reads June Bride. For 25 years, it was a popular watering hole in this quiet residential neighborhood in Saitama Prefecture.
Tucked on a street corner, the exterior of June Bride has changed little over the years. But inside, the place has undergone a drastic transformation. The old bar and karaoke stage are gone, replaced by a pulpit adorned with a large cross. Neat rows of chairs slowly fill with damp but mostly smiling faces. They chat silently amongst themselves. 
While some faces in the crowd are longtime bar patrons, they no longer come here to drink. This is, without a doubt, a place of worship.
One of the last people to enter the room is the man everyone calls teacher, Sensei Tatsuya Shindo. 
From the moment he walks through the door, parishioners forget the dreary weather as electricity fills the room. Shindo takes command of the pulpit -- raising his arms, nodding his head, and preaching with intensity as if he is pulsating with "energy from above." - extracted from https://edition.cnn.com/2016/02/22/asia/japan-yakuza-preacher/index.html CLICK HERE and read the whole article.
 
 Member of Japanese crime family ‘Yakuza’ found the Light  By Jiawen Qian
 "As a teenager, he was lured into a Japanese crime syndicate known as yakuza, and after surviving several violent episodes and prison experiences, God began to get his attention. “I admired the yakuza for what was visible only on the surface,” Tatsuya Shindo told CNN. “They have lots of money, spend their money lavishly, and play glamorously. The bad guys looked so cool in my eyes. I was a child. I didn’t think too deeply.” Many of the estimated 50,000 yakuza fall into a life of crime because they come from broken families. The yakuza cultivate a sense of family, of belonging and of loyalty. But if there were issues that seduced him to the mob life, the harsh realities began to pummel him. “People were killed in power struggles,” he recounted. “People’s legs were shot. A guy who was doing drugs with me died of intoxication. Suicides happened. Sudden deaths. I’ve seen many deaths,” said Shindo, 45. “I saw my henchmen get stabbed to death.” He got addicted to crystal meth. He crashed his boss’s car while driving under the influence. As a result, his pinkie finger was cut off with a chisel, which is a form of penance in the syndicate. For a first offense, the wrongdoer must cut off the tip of his left little finger and give the severed portion to his boss. hindo’s body is covered by tattoos, which make him an outcast in Japan. Many yakuza have full-body tattoos, which are still “hand-poked”, with homemade tools using needles made of bamboo or steel. The painful process can take years to finish. 
 


 Crime members cover their tattoos in public, but when they play cards with each other they often remove their shirts to show off their creative designs. Beginning at age 22, Shindo was arrested seven times and imprisoned three times, according to CNN. He saw his mob boss killed and friends die of overdoses. After his third prison sentence, he began to question the “lavish life of the yakuza” he once imagined. He finally decided it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. During his final 10-year prison sentence, Shindo began reading a Bible in solitary confinement. The Word and the Spirit began to soften his heart and enlighten his mind. Jesus broke through the outer layers of darkness surrounding him. Shindo finally reached a point of surrender and prayed for Jesus to be his Lord and Savior. Immediately he felt seas of the Lord’s mercy wash through his soul." - CLICK HERE to read the whole story.

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