OO n August 6, 1945, Hiroshima, Japan, became the first city in history to be destroyed by a nuclear bomb. Although the devastation and loss of life was atrocious, 75 years after that event, we can reflect on the stories of members of the Hiroshima Seventh-day Adventist Church – all of whom survived.
Asako Furunaka was born on August 12, 1921, the daughter of a successful businessman in Japan. Determined and very intelligent, she attended night school after graduating as a teacher. At 32, she became a newspaper reporter, a rare thing for a woman of her time. She married a university professor and, although they would not have children, they had a seemingly happy life together.
One day, during her early 20s, Asako’s life was shattered when her husband confessed that he had a lover and wanted a divorce. Feelings of despair and anger dominated her; sadness and hatred for her husband filled her days and nights. She felt she could never fully trust anyone or believe in anything again and she fell into a deep depression.
When her life was at its worst, someone invited Asako to a Seventh Day Adventist church, and she started attending regularly. She learned about forgiveness and found hope in the Bible. Peace had returned to her heart. However, she hadn’t decided to be baptized.
Because of her skills and qualifications, Asako was asked to be the children’s Bible teacher at the church. She happily accepted the position and began teaching the Sabbath School lessons to the children. One day, the lesson was about the story in the book of Daniel about the three young men who were kept safe despite being thrown into a fiery furnace.
She taught the lesson fervently, but when it was over, one of the little boys exclaimed, “I don’t believe it!” Then one of the girls said, “I believe it, because my grandmother told me that no member of the Hiroshima Adventist Church died when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima.”
Upon hearing that, Asako realized that, although she was teaching the lesson, she also didn’t really believe it, nor could she believe what the little girl had said. But at the same time, a thought came to her mind: “I am a newspaper reporter, am I not? I should be able to find out if what this girl said is true or not. I should check this out.” So she started her journey and began to visit each of the Church members who were in Hiroshima at the time of the bombing.
The world’s first atomic bomb was dropped in Hiroshima, Japan, on August 6, 1945. It destroyed everything within a radius of 2 kilometers: the ground temperature reached an unimaginable 6,000 ° C. Everyone within a 4 km radius was burned to death.
A tremendous wind, with a speed of 4.4 kilometers per second, was generated, causing even concrete buildings to collapse and broken glass to fly up to 16 kilometers away.
The radiation from the bomb was incredibly strong, causing those exposed to it to lose all bodily functions and their cells to undergo apoptosis, a type of cellular suicide. Between the explosion itself, the resulting fires across the city, and radiation burns, some estimate that 200,000 citizens of Hiroshima lost their lives that day.
No Adventists injured
In the midst of all this devastation, was it really possible that no member of the Church, even one living less than a kilometer from where the bomb hit, was killed or even injured?
With a doubtful heart, Asako began to visit every member of the Church who had been there at the time. She found that even in the midst of all the terrible possibilities of death that day, none of the Church members died or were injured. The little girl, who said she believed the three faithful Hebrew boys were saved from the fiery furnace because her grandmother told her that no member of the Hiroshima Seventh-day Adventist Church was injured, spoke the truth.
During her investigation, Asako heard the testimony of Hiroko Kainou, who, surprised by the sudden and strong wind on the day of the bombing, fell on her knees and prayed. Although all the pieces of glass in her house burst, she was left without a single scratch. Of the 20 members of the Adventist Church in Hiroshima, all were kept safe and sound.
Iwa Kuwamoto was 1 kilometer from the bomb site. When she crawled out of the fallen buildings, she witnessed the giant cloud shaped like a giant mushroom that enshrouded the sun and enveloped the area in darkness. She tried desperately to help her husband, an unbeliever, get out of the fallout, but big fires were beginning to approach them. Holding her husband’s hand, she said: “The fire will be here soon. I can not do anything else; we will die together. God knows everything. Please believe in Jesus Christ. I cannot save you! ”
Her husband replied: “No, I will die here; but you need to escape for the sake of our children. You need to somehow stay safe and find the kids. Do it for the kids! ”
Again, she said: “There is no way for me to escape this fire. I will die here with you. ”
But her husband continued: “No! I’ll be fine here. For a long time I rebelled against my mother and against you and did not believe in God. But now, I believe in God’s salvation, so we will meet again. Please, please, go and find the children. Please, go!”
Then, with burning tears and a broken heart, she left her husband there and, pouring water on her along the way, she escaped the flames and finally reunited with her children.
Tomiko Kihara was a doctor who had her own clinic at the time. She had been on call the night before the explosion and had come home at 2:00 am. She was sleeping when the bomb fell. Although she was less than a kilometer from the site of the explosion, nothing fell on her, and she was not injured in any way. Shocked by the explosion, she ran outside to see what was going on, but all she could see was the burnt and blackened floor.
Realizing the gravity of the situation, she rushed to a hospital on the outskirts of the city, and there, for a week without resting or sleeping, she worked for the victims as one of the few doctors who were still alive in the city after the explosion. In the weeks and months that followed the tragedy, she continued to use everything she had to help the victims. She was able to testify for many in this way.
A life of service
As a result of hearing these stories, Asako Furunaka came to believe totally in God and was baptized. She received a call to share with others about the Savior’s faithfulness. At 58, she enrolled in the Saniku Gakuin University theology program. After graduation, she became a pastor at the Kashiwa Seventh-day Adventist Church and later worked as a Bible teacher at the Kisarazu Adventist temple.
After her retirement, she continued to be an active evangelist for the people around her. She said: “I have no earthly family to support me. But I know that God loves me, so I’m happy. ”
Curse that turned into a blessing
The Japanese government ordered the Adventist Church building to be demolished in the summer of 1945. The first elder himself had to oversee the demolition of the church that had been in service since 1917. It was a sad day.
Because of the demolition of the church, members spread out throughout the country. What appeared to be a tragedy turned into a blessing when the bomb fell on Hiroshima. Because of the dismantling of the church, only 20 of the members remained in Hiroshima. Everyone survived the bombing.