Thursday, December 11, 2014

My head covering testimony (Part 1)

My head covering journey is part of the whole recovering process which has started ever since Jesus came into my life.

I was born in a Buddhist/Shintoist family in southern part of Japan. My great-great grandfather was one of the last samurai who fought against the new government army in 1877. My grandmother used to tell me about her mother-in-law who was a wonderful obedient wife. She told me that complete submissiveness and deep respect toward husband were the important ethics of samurai wives.

While hearing this, I said to myself, “well, that might be fine at that time but the time has changed already. I am lucky to be born in the modern equal society.”

The place I was raised was a traditional area, where I had not seen any Christian nor church. Of course, I had heard the name Jesus in my history class but that was all. I recognized Jesus Christ as a founder of western religion.

When I entered university in Tokyo, I met several Japanese professors who had converted to Christianity. “Oh, what a shame!”, I thought. “Can’t they see how we have been threatened by western cultural colonization? Yes, we should learn from their great civilization and its academic heritage but we should never sell our souls to their religion.” 

But I must tell you that I had always had an ambivalent attitude toward the West,――that is, caution and admiration. For example, I was fascinated by gender studies at college and admired the western-educated feminist professors.

When I was sophomore, I joined one service-learning program in the Philippines, and I met many international students from various Asian countries. And to my dismay, most of them were Christians. Hong Kong, India, Philippines,,, these were the former colonized countries. Their being Christians, for me, was nothing but the aftereffects of the western imperialism. 

On the other hand, I could not deny their sincerity. They were good people. And it seemed to me that they were united under one faith in Jesus. 

My inner conflict began when I actually went to visit my Indian friend and her family in southern India the following summer. There was an undeniable radiance on their countenance and I saw the light in this Christian family. In India, I was fighting inwardly not to be drawn to something, or I should say Someone who was there, because it was impossible that I ever become a Christian and break my family’s heart.

But I was already in the Hands of God. His love finally conquered me when I went to Seoul as an exchange student in 1999. Korea has been my special country because I have been actively involved in the Korea-Japan student conference for reconciliation. 

What made me kneel down in front of Jesus was the sacrificial love of Korean Christians toward me. One pastor loved me and other Japanese students and later I heard from someone that his grandfather, who was also a pastor, was tortured to death by Japanese army during the occupation period. I wholeheartedly accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior and was baptized in the Protestant church in Seoul in 2000.

I immediately turned from my academic pursuit and worldly ambition and became an active member in the church in Tokyo. I went to divinity school while being an assistant of my leader in the church. I was in the leading position and I taught Bible and ruled over men in the church. 

Oh, may God forgive me! May church forgive me! I had made many mistakes and hurt people. I had passion and love for Christ but somehow I could not bear fruits out of my service.

I found it difficult to build good relationship with people around me. In a word, there was a disorder in my mental and spiritual life. And I did not know the cause of it. Out of so much stress, one morning, I collected my little belongings and left my beloved church. That was the most difficult period of my life.

The Lord, however, did not abandon me. I thought everything was finished but actually it was the beginning of my real recovery in Him. Through some divine ways, I was allowed to come to southern Europe for mission. 

There, I met a wonderful brother in Christ who taught me the real reason of my disorder and failure. I started to read the Bible with fresh mind and found that I had been violating God’s divine order of man and woman. That was the root cause of my problem! 

I found that God does not allow women to rule over men in the church, not because He wants to oppress us but because He loves us so much. I repented my arrogance and many other sins. And I asked Him to change me to be a woman after His heart. All of His commands are wise and loving. And I experienced that when we obey His command, it brings healing and joy in our lives.

The head covering command in 1 Corinthians 11 caught my attention during those periods. Having read many articles concerning female roles in the church, I have already found that many theologians explain away the plain commands of God by either switching the definition of the original Greek or changing the biblical principle to mere cultural argument.

As I started to dig these issues in the 1 Corinthians 11, it became so clear to me that to cover my head while we are praying or prophesying is the universal command of God which is applicable for today. Brothers and sisters in Scroll Publishing really helped me for my historical research on this issue.

I was eager to know the truth, but at the same time, another voice told me it was better not to dig in these issues. Yes, this voice was the voice of my timidity and fear. I was afraid to know the truth because inwardly I knew that this truth shall eventually push me to the place of shame and loneliness. 

It seems to me that the decision to obey or not to obey is always in front of us. And invariably the way of obedience is narrower and harder, the way which usually does not appeal to our flesh. As a person from oriental syncretic background, I can testify that for the followers of Christ, there is no middle way. 

When we say “yes” to Jesus, we must say “no” to our flesh and to the world. It is painful but it is the only way which we can show our ultimate allegiance and loyalty to our King Jesus.

After much inner struggles, I finally made up my mind to put on head covering wherever I pray.

Soon after this decision, I was invited to a house of pastor’s family one night. When the pastor suggested to pray together, I secretly took my veil from my bag and held it tightly in my hand and waited until everybody closed their eyes. Yes, I wanted to do my “head covering thing” without being noticed by anybody.

But somehow this pastor noticed the stuff in my hand and shouted “What?? Veil?” in a criticizing tone. My whole being got burned out of shame and I could hardly hold my tears.

Fear of being different might be rooted deeply in my Japanese mindset, or it’s simply because of my timid character, I don’t know.

With all my weaknesses, however, I had a faith that the power of Jesus surpassed and conquered all of these if only I surrendered to Him wholeheartedly. He is above cultures and human limitations. In Him, we shall be victors.

For the next 4 years or more since my decision, I had been covering all alone. From time to time, I doubted, wavered, wondering, if it was truth, then how come I was still alone in doing this. However, He also brought me a deep sense of “order” and security in my head covering journey.

For the first time in my life, I truly truly rejoiced in being a woman.I started to cherish the beauty of natures.

Small birds, big birds, moss and oak trees,,,they are beautiful because they simply accept His design without complaining nor resisting. They are content with the place where they are placed by God.

They simply submit to their creation order and sing praises to Him. I learned that where there is order, there is beauty. By putting on head covering, I felt I was part of this great mystery of God’s creation. I felt my inner being started to be integrated and healed in a deeper level.

I have been covering for more than 7 years now. From this year, with my husband’s permission, I started to cover full time.

Looking back my life journey, I can see His loving Hands all the time. He not only saved me from the kingdom of darkness but from various worldly ideas and human opinions. I have made many mistakes but He graciously forgave me. May His name be gloried forever and ever. Amen. 

p.s. My headcovering testimony (Part 2)- what made me decide to cover full-time is here

For my dear readers who want to know more about head covering issues;

1) Useful Christian site

① The Headcovering Directory
② The Head Covering Movement
③ Head covering through the centuries (←you can see many pictures here)
④ Let Her Be Veiled (e-book)
⑤ Headcovering e-book by K.P.Yohannan (Gospel for Asia)
⑥ Is the Head covering for today?

2) Early Christian writers

① Hermas, Ante Nicene Fathers (=ANF), vol.2.p18.
② Clement of Alexandria, ANF, vol.2. p264-266,290,578.
③ Tertullian, ANF,vol.3.p95-96, 102,687-689, 286,445/ vol.4.p27-29, 33-35,37.
④ Apostolic Constitution, ANF, vol.7, p395, Vol.3.p687-689.

3) Books, CD and Youtube

Warren Henderson, Glories Seen&Unseen, A Study of Head Covering, 2007

David Phillips, Headcovering Throughout Christian History: The Church's Response to 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 (Covered Glory) [Kindle Edition]

David Bercot, "What the Early Christians Believed About the Head Covering" (CD), Scroll Publishing Co. (you can listen to this CD lecture below.)

An Introduction to Christian Head Covering by Jeremy Gardiner (Youtube)