The following quotations, with many other like statements from the Spirit of prophecy, throw out to the missionary in the foreign field an almost staggering challenge as he faces the teeming millions of his field who are in physical and spiritual bondage. He cannot but realize that his feeble efforts are all too small for the great task set before him.
"God has qualified His people to enlighten the world. He has entrusted them with faculties by which they are to extend His work until it shall encircle the globe. In all parts of the earth, they are to establish sanitariums, schools, publishing houses, and kindred facilities for the accomplishment of His work."—"Testimonies," Vol. VII, p. 51.
"We must educate, educate, educate, pleasantly and intelligently. We must preach the truth, pray the truth, and live the truth, bringing it, with its gracious, health-giving influences, within the reach of those who know it not. As the sick are brought into touch with the Life-giver, their faculties of mind and body will be renewed."—"Medical Ministry," p. 262.
"If we would elevate the moral standard in any country where we may be called to go, we must begin by correcting their physical habits. Virtue of character depends upon the right action of the powers of the mind and body."—"Counsels on Health," p. 50.
Need for Correction of Habits
In Japan we are confronted with the stupendous task of giving this great message of physical and spiritual healing to seventy million persons. The physical health conditions are appalling. In passing, we shall give just a few facts, figures, and comparisons. Japan holds the unenviable record of the highest death rate from tuberculosis of all the civilized countries, and the financial cost of this disease is estimated to be 800,000,000 yen yearly. More than 130,000 persons, most of them between the ages of fifteen and thirty, die yearly from this disease alone. Japan's record for infant mortality also stands well toward the top of the list among the nations, and is greater than it was fifty years ago.
Rejections for military service because of physical unfitness have increased from year to year. Between 1912 and 1922, there were 250 rejections in every 1,000 examined. From 1928 to 5933, this rose to 350 rejections in every 1,000. In 1936, more than 400 were rejected. The poorest showing was made among students in colleges and universities. This well bespeaks the great need for a correction of physical habits.
All Japanese authorities agree that the greatest cause for this physical degeneracy is the dietetic habits of the people. The daily ration of polished rice, fish, very little of vegetables and fruits, and practically no milk, tells at once of a diet too high in starch, and too low in protein, fat, minerals, and vitamins. Nutritional disaster, with its inevitable train of evils —lowered resistance, disease, and premature death—follows such a dietary program. This condition is all the more pitiable because all the necessary elements of nutrition are to be found most plentifully among the foods available to the Japanese people. All the fruits and vegetables of the Temperate Zone can be secured in abundance, and grains are plentiful.
It seems almost providential in these Oriental countries where dairy products, such as milk and butter, are out of the question for the masses because of the density of population and the resulting lack of land to raise the cattle, that the soybean, so rich in complete protein, fat, minerals, and vitamins, has been provided. This bean has these elements in abundance, but throughout the ages it has been processed into shoyu, miso, tofu, and other products which are far less nutritious than is the bean cooked and used in its simpler form. Surely the great destroyer of mankind has set into motion his infernal designs, the world around, to destroy the life-giving properties of the foods that are consumed by the millions of earth. We quote again:
"God has formed laws which govern our constitutions, and these laws which He has placed in our being are divine, and for every transgression there is affixed a penalty, which must sooner or later be realized. The majority of diseases which the human family have been and still are suffering under, they have created by ignorance of their own organic laws. They seem indifferent in regard to the matter of health, and work perseveringly to tear themselves to pieces, and when broken down and debilitated in body and mind, send for the doctor and drug themselves to death."—"Counsels on Diet and Foods," p. 19.
Here is a most graphic word picture of the very conditions that we find all around us. The rice polisher eternally hums ruthlessly on, tearing away the precious life-giving elements from the natural rice grain to the tune of 15 per cent of the protein, 42 percent of the fat, 72 percent of the minerals, and 100 percent of the vitamins. Here is a breaking of natural, divinely implanted law, and if we do not raise our voices against such law-breaking, we are falling far short of even beginning to correct the physical habits of the people to whom we come. A Japanese Seventh-day Adventist can no more consistently eat like a Japanese unbeliever than he can disregard the Sabbath like a worldling. Sabbath reform and health reform go hand in hand.
Political and other conditions in Japan point most emphatically to the fact "that soon there will be no work done in ministerial lines but medical missionary work." With these facts in mind, our regular missionary paper, which for many years came out as the Signs of the Times, changed its name to Life and Health, and with this new health appeal, after less than eighteen months, it has nearly doubled its subscription list. It is meeting with favor everywhere, and is proving a most valuable pioneer in the great evangelistic program. This, with other things that have been set in motion, is giving our church members and workers the courage to cast out the fish and flesh pots from their homes. In most of the homes our people are eating the life-giving unpolished rice. They are consistently using more bean and vegetable products. Our boys' and girls' schools are both setting the example in this field.
In May, a year ago, our workers were all together for a month to study the Bible and methods of evangelism. It was my daily privilege to have these workers, many of them with years of experience, in a class in health principles, in which we especially stressed the need of renewing our vows to the Lord with respect to health reform. Material was presented that could be used by the workers in their own churches and among non-Adventists. These workers went back to their churches to live the things that they had learned and to teach them to others. We have been instructed:
"Send out into the churches workers who will live the principles of health reform. Let those be sent who can see the necessity of self-denial in appetite, or they will be a snare to the church. See if the breath of life will not then come into our churches."—"Testimonies," Vol. VI, p. 267.
A new element is at work. It is sure to bring results to a great company in Japan who will be ready physically and spiritually to meet their Saviour when He comes.