Friday, August 14, 2009


Sometimes life can keep you down, with your face all in the dirt
Now if you feel that left behind, need to get up and go to church
Church by Outkast
It had been over 3 months since I had set foot in a church. Then one day, one of the English Teachers whom I had recently met casually mentioned a local one during a conversation.

"Whoa, hold on, what was that? There's a church around here?"

Indeed there is. 40 minutes away, in the beach hugging city of Kuji, resides Allen Church. And as if trying to prove a point, it even rests on top of a hill.

Despite not stepping inside one for a while, the church had an instantly familiar feel. Some call it an aura while others the Presence of God. Regardless of what you call it, the impression was undeniable to me.

After sitting down in the back row, glances in every which way immediately took me down memory lane. With it's beautifully stained glass windows, jumbo church bible and perfectly aligned pews, this building fit the church archetype. I could've been in Kuji City or the Bible Belt.

Stepping outside, I took a moment to stare at it's steeple, the epitome of the common church blueprint. Towering and cross-adorned, it unapologetically stood out for every passerby to see.

I had found a church.

...but that was the easy part. Attending was another story completely. Though the building is familiar, the service is not. It's very traditional and conservative, unlike the one's I attended in San Francisco and Austin. And though they have a monthly English service, the Japanese one is hard to endure.

However, all of that was put to rest, recently, when we sung Jesus Loves Me. I hadn't realized how common that song was but any one spent more than a few years going to church in their childhood knows it. I had learned it in English and Spanish (at some point; I've since forgotten it) but now I know it in Japanese. It reminded me that despite the language differences, the same core message is being taught. Here's the romaji:

Shu ware o ai su
Shu wa tsuyokereba
Ware yowaku to mo
Osore wa araji
Wa ga shu iesu
Wa ga shu iesu
Wa ga shu iesu
Ware o ai su

I learned it when I was a kid and this church also teaches it to their children.

The same building, the same songs and of course, the same message. I left America but felt at home singing familiar hymns in this building. And likewise, the youth of Allen Church may one day leave Japan. But even if they initially feel out of place, they'll also be able to find comfort singing familiar hymns in a recognizable church.