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What Courage Looks Like  

What does courage look like? 

Chiune Sugihara is a name most of us have never heard of.  Yet this man, born in Japan in 1900, is a soul who embodies Christian courage. 

Joining a Christian fraternity at his university, Chiune became proficient at learning languages—English, German, Russian—launching him into a career with Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 

Bombing Raid 

In 1939, his government placed Chiune at the Japanese consulate in Kaunas, Lithuania.  There, he met a Jewish man who had recently fled Poland after a bombing raid had taken the lives of his wife and children. 

It was then Chiune realized there would be no stopping Hitler’s war from the borders of Lithuania.  He was determined to help the Jewish people living in Lithuania to escape by way of Japan.  Yet the Japanese government rejected Chiune’s proposal. What then?

Conscience Demanded

After praying and talking the matter over with his wife, Chiune did what his conscience demanded. The record shows that on July 31, 1940, he began writing transit visas—by hand—at a rate of 300 people per day.  Witnesses say he worked long hours, took only short meal breaks, and wrote as rapidly as he could. 

Word spread.  On September 4, the Japanese government closed the consulate, ordering Chiune back to Japan.  But he stayed up all night before he was to leave, writing visa after visa. 

"Cannot Write Anymore"

At the station where he was to depart, a crowd of Lithuanian Jews surrounded his train, begging for more visas.  There, he handed out those he has written overnight stating, “Please forgive me.  I cannot write anymore.”   Yet once on the train, he wrote still more visas, tossing them out the open window as the train slowly picked up steam.

No one knows exactly how many people were saved by his courage.  Estimates range from six thousand to ten thousand.

Chiune did what God called Him to do: save lives.   

And that's what courage looks like. 


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Jon GaugerJon Gauger

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