We have enjoyed watching some beautiful flowers grow in our front yard. Angel trumpets, they are called. They are a welcome sight as they fill in some bare spots there. The spreading plant, exotic-looking leaves, and enormous blooms cover the area marvelously. Interestingly you can’t always tell when they will bloom; it is very dependent on humidity, temperature and amount of sunlight. They usually bloom in the late evening, stay open all night, and then wilt as soon as the morning sun touches the delicate peddles. They have been very unique to watch and a little tricky to photograph. Though the flowers only last for a short time, it is a vital part of their cycle of life. Once the temporary flower has finished it’s purpose of attracting insects to pollinate the plant, a seed pod can begin to grow. The pod itself isn’t exactly attractive, but it sure is the most important part of the plant, ultimately allowing it to continue through the winter and grow again next year.
The life cycle of our angel trumpets – how they were planted in a needy place, how they flourished and bloomed, how they wilted and fell off in the sunlight, and how they left a seed pod necessary for it’s survival – reminds me of a story from history that I was reading about the other day. Did you know that the first Christian missionaries to Japan arrived as late as the 1550s? To think that it took over 1,500 years for the seeds of the gospel to reach those needy shores should be quite disturbing. But finally a Portuguese missionary, named St. Francis Xavier, arrived and proclaimed the gospel starting the rapid spread of Christianity. For over 50 years, Christianity bloomed in Japan and many thousands were shown the way of salvation. However, the burning heat of persecution in the 1630s caused Christianity to practically disappear. Feudal lords were afraid of loosing their power and some 15,000 persons were martyred for the name of Christ. After a dormant period, the nineteenth century saw Christianity planted once more. Today, freedom of religion is guaranteed by the constitution and Christianity is once more able to grow.
Let us pray for those ministering in Japan that they might be strong in the Faith and be effective witnesses in the propagation of biblical Christianity!