Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 28, 1952

Those Bread Lines In Japan

Charles W. Doyle, Fort Worth, Texas

Brother H. F. Sharp has written an article criticizing what he calls "bread lines" in Japan. This was printed in the Gospel Guardian and reprinted in the May edition of the Apostolic Times. Inasmuch as the article is calculated to create a false impression about the work in Japan, I feel compelled to state the facts regarding the matter.

Brother Sharp alludes to the "bread lines" in Japan as though he had actually been on the scene and witnessed such, and he is so concerned about the matter that he must call special attention to it in his preaching and write a special article about it.

Now, I have no reason to doubt the sincerity of brother Sharp, and doubtless he has read something that causes him to believe we have set up "bread lines" in Japan. He apparently is concerned lest we be emphasizing a social gospel to the neglect of the true Gospel. But such is not the case. Like the church at Blytheville where brother Sharp preaches, we "have never turned a hungry man away," but to charge that we have set up "bread lines" is to become guilty of an overstatement that becomes the basis of an unjust criticism of the Japanese work.

The very use of the term "bread lines" in connection with the Japanese work is calculated to appeal to prejudice and to stir up ill-feelings and unpleasant emotions. When we think of "bread lines," we think of Roosevelt's New Deal, and W.P.A. workers leaning on their shovels all day and waiting in lines to receive a hand-out of food. Therefore, whether brother Sharp realizes it or not, he has adopted the tactics of a very skillful propagandist. This is the "name-calling" device, and the use of it is very effective when we want to discredit somebody but feel that the facts would not be strong enough to do it. I do not say that brother Sharp had this in mind, but his use of the term "bread lines" places him in this category.

Why didn't brother Sharp give us a concrete example of "bread lines" in Japan? Why not a simple, sober statement of fact? If he will center his criticism upon a single action of the workers in Japan that involves setting up "bread lines," we will give consideration to that action. If he cannot present one example, he has no basis of criticism regarding "bread lines," regardless of what he has read that might have given him the idea there were such in Japan.

Does brother Sharp charge that we are emphasizing a social gospel to the neglect of preaching the gospel? If so, I would like to submit the following facts. For four years I worked in close cooperation with Joe Cannon and Virgil Lawyer in Japan. During that time we baptized over nine hundred people and established seventeen churches. There are now about twelve men from these churches studying to be evangelists. In 1961, over twenty meetings were held in our area of activities and about two hundred and twenty-five people were baptized. We preach with boldness and strong conviction, challenging any atheist or evolutionist or unbeliever in general to meet us in debate. Recently, Joe Cannon had a four-nights' discussion with the best man that the biggest Buddhist sect in Japan could put forward. This past year I taught nine hours of Bible each week at school and had twelve different Bible classes in the churches. In addition to publishing a monthly paper, we have printed over a hundred thousand tracts out of our salaries. We put out weekly church bulletins, visited the sick and delinquent, and also engaged in some street preaching. And while we were doing this, we took the time to learn the language and adapt ourselves to the customs of the Japanese people. Now, how much time do you think we had to set up "bread lines" in Japan?

If brother Sharp thinks we are not doing the work of an evangelist, I wish he would give us a detailed outline of his activities as an evangelist, and in the future we will strive to imitate him.

I freely confess that we have engaged in some benevolent activity in Japan. With the clothing we received from America, we adequately clothed about six thousand poor, miserable people. If brother Sharp had this in mind, he should have referred to our "clothes lines" in Japan rather than "bread lines." If he can find fault with such actions, all I can say is that he would change his tune if he could trade places with the poor people we helped. If he were freezing and starving, he might examine his present positions in a somewhat different light.

Brother Sharp has taken the liberty to criticize us publicly so let me close with an admonition to him. I think that the next time he talks about "bread lines," he should qualify his remarks. One might draw the conclusion from his articles that he is opposed to a Christian's doing anything to help the poor?

I can't help but wonder how he interprets Christ's words in Matt. 25: "for I was hungry and you gave me food. I was naked and ye clothed me." What would he say about the good samaritan who bound up the man's wounds and paid his hotel bill and didn't even leave a tract behind for the man to read? Will he come out next with an article entitled "Bread Lines In Jerusalem," criticizing the Jerusalem church because there were daily ministrations of food, and distribution was made to those who had need?

Personally, I think it proper to follow John's advice: "He who has two coats, let him share with him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise."

No doubt brother Sharp will say that he agrees with me. If so, when he begins to practice this, he may find himself being criticized in the same manner he has criticized us. Some other alert brother who sees brother Sharp's actions may get so stirred up that he will have to take it to the pulpit and the press, charging: "Bread lines in brother Sharp's back yard."

"Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by?"