We are not a people, generally, who are willing to make sacrifices. I know there are exceptions but, as a whole, we have become a people in love with comfort. We drive comfortable automobiles and we live in comfortable houses and we even belong to comfortable churches. Doesn't it concern you at times that perhaps we have chosen the wide gate and not the narrow one, the easy road and not the road that leads to life?
Chiune Sugihara was born on a day of new beginnings Jan. 1, 1900. As a boy, he cherished the dream of becoming the Japanese ambassador to Russia. By the 1930s, he was the ambassador to Lithuania, just a step away from Russia.
One morning, a huge throng of people gathered outside his home. They were Jews who had made their way across treacherous terrain from Poland, desperately seeking his help. They wanted Japanese visas, which would enable them to flee Eastern Europe and the Gestapo.
Three times Sugihara wired Tokyo for permission to provide the visas; three times he was rejected. He had to choose between the fulfillment of his dream as an ambassador and people's lives. He chose the latter. He dared to disobey orders. For 28 days he wrote visas by hand, barely sleeping or eating. Recalled to Berlin, he was still writing visas and shoving them through the train windows into the hands of the refugees who ran alongside. Ultimately, he saved six thousand lives.
Sugihara was not only a courageous Japanese; he was also a committed Christian. He spent his remaining days in Japan, humbly selling lightbulbs.
When his story was finally told, his son was asked, "How did your father feel about his choice?"
The young man replied, "My father's life was fulfilled. When God needed him to do the right thing, he was available to do it."
We all have choices to make in this life. Sometimes the right choices are not the comfortable ones. I pray you make the right choices, comfortable or not.
Pastor James "Skip" French is the pastor of Highland Christian Church, 1500 Forest Hills Blvd., Bella Vista. Opinions expressed are those of the author.