The Life of Paul F. Rusch: The Road I Walked with Him (1) To Japanese

Tsuru Hiroshima

Paul Rusch was a native of Lousville Kentucky. He was sent to Japan in 1925 by the YMCA to reconstruct the Training Centers of Yokohama and Gotemba. The two Centers were collapsed by the big earthquake of 1923. Paul was then 27 years old and if it were not for the earthquake he would have been in Jerusalem as a trainee in hotel management. He had very little knowledge of Japanese culture and customs. Upon landing in Yokohama he wrote a letter to his friend g I had heard from the missionaries that Japanese liked fish for food but I had no idea that they liked them so much that they flew them from a top of a long pole.h From this letter I assume Paul arrived in Japan in late April or early May, 1925.

After one year of successful work for the YMCA, he was ready to go home to Kentucky when he was asked to stay on to help organize a Commercial English course at St. Paulfs University in Tokyo. Also Dr. R. Teusler at St. Lukefs Hospital in Tokyo had asked him to help raise funds to rebuild the damaged Hospital. Being an Episcopalian and being urged by Bishop McKim who said gyou are still young, stay just one more year and help ush Paul could not say gNoh. He regretted his fiancee was left in Louisville. This g just one more yearh promise became his life-time promise and work.

There is an organization called The Brotherhood of St. Andrew in the Episcopal Church. The goal of this group is gOne Brings Another to Christh just as the fisherman Andrew brought his brother, Simon Peter, to Jesus the very next day he became His first disciple. As soon as Paul began teaching at St. Paulfs, he started to lead his students to Christianity. It was in 1938 that Paul with the students gPrayh and hServiceh Volunteer work, built the Training Center at Kiyosato,Yamanashi Prefecture.

Almost the same time Ogochi Reservor for Tokyo was completed and 28 families, 62 people were relocated to Kiyosato. Their whole village is now under the water. The families owned land and mountains with timber were forced to become farmers of which they had no experience. To become farmers in the cold weather wilderness of Kiyosato was not as easy conversion and it was a continuity of hardship with no hopeful results. Paul met these struggling farmers. I have no way of guessing if Paul had these people in mind as partners when he started his gNew Village Movementh in later years.

The Training Center was located between two villages, Kiyosato and Oizumi and was named gSeisen Ryoh taking one Chinese character each from the two village names. According to an official report 800 people attended the opening of Seisen-Ryo n the summer of 1938. The Japanese National Railroad had to run additional trains from Shinjuku,Tokyo. Many young boys from Anglican churches all over Japan came for religious retreat and prayer meetings during spring, summer and fall. They also became missonaries to the village people. New buildings and cabins were constructed by these young participants.

Paulfs mission work continued even during the years when the relationship between Japan and America became difficult. Missionaries started returning to their homeland but Paul stayed on until he was repatriated after the war began saying: I cannot walk out on those studentsh. In 1942, six months after the war broke out, he was put on gAsama-Maruh which sailed to Africa to exchange Japanese repatriates from America. Three years later in 1945 Paul came back to Japan as an Intelligence officer of the Occupation Forces. Many of his past students had perished in the war but a handful of them came to see him. Before the war they were so full of life and helpful but now what Paul saw was young men with faces of desperation, with no hope for the future. Paul went to Seisen-Ryo, Kiyosato with some of the former students and met with the villagers he had known. They were happy to see him again but all were still striving with hunger and poverty.

gSensei (teacher), Democracy, what is it? What can we do? How can God tell us to work for Him in this painful conditions?h Paul lost words facing the skinny, desolated youths and villagers.

I must inform the Americans the poor conditions the Japanese are all in. I must extend my hand to help them become themselves again.h Thus the idea of Kiyosato Educational Experimental Project was started.

gFood, Health, Faith and Hope for the Youthh was the core of the Project. From Kiyosato, at the foot of the mountain range of Yatsu, Paul started a big movement of gDemocracy from Rural Japanh. Time and again he loved to say gAmerican Democracy must wear Japanese Kimonoh. He decided to give his life for this big project. 1949 he was discharged from the Army and started a fund raising campaign tour throughou America and Canada. From the pulpit, at womenfs group meetings, at farm machinery factories and medical service industry meetings, Paul appealed to countless, unknown audiences gGrass-root Democracy for the Kingdom of Godh.

1950, the American Committee for KEEP was founded as a non-profit organization in Chicago, Ill. with the great support of the Brotherhood of St. Andrew in America. Today, this Committee is still raising funds for KEEP and supporting the Project in Kiyosato in many ways.


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