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A Stone Cried Out: The True Story of Simple Faith in Difficult Days

Creators: Shigeo Shimada

A Christian minister reflects on his life, including the difficult years he and his family spent in wartime concentration camps.


Shimada begins with a brief anecdote about his entry into the U.S. in order to attend Southern Methodist University. The customs official expresses skepticism that he has sufficient funds to survive for a year as a student, but when Shimada appeals to their common Christian faith, the official gladly allows him through. This story serves as a constant refrain for the rest of his memoir.

Shimada then returns to his childhood in Japan, and describes his family, how he was first introduced to Christianity, his years in compulsory military service, and how his father disowned him when he declared his intent to become a Christian minister. He traveled to the U.S. in 1935 to continue his theological training, met and married his wife, and began working with a church in Alameda County. After Pearl Harbor was attacked, he and his family were first ordered to go to Tanforan Assembly Center , then Topaz concentration camp. He describes what life was like in both places, and also recounts how he was thought to be a traitor by some because he worked with the camp administration.

In June 1945, he and his family returned to Northern California and took charge of the San Francisco Pine Street Methodist Church, the first Japanese American church established in the U.S. He also devoted time to urging his denomination to keep open the ethnic Japanese churches—at the time, many denominations were trying to dissolve these churches and have Japanese Americans attend mainstream (i.e. white) churches. In 1950, he moved to Spokane in eastern Washington state, and stayed with this church until his retirement. The last section of the memoir addresses the restoration of a warm relationship with his father, his first return visit to Japan, and other episodes involving his family.

Author Background

Shigeo Shimada (1906-94) served as a minister for the United Methodist Church from the 1930s until his retirement in the 1980s. He served churches in the Bay Area and in Spokane, Washington.

Authored by Emily Anderson

Might also like A Brother Is a Stranger by Toru Matsumoto; Issei and Nisei: The Internment Years by Daisuke Kitagawa; Letters to Memory " by Karen Tei Yamashita

Further Information

Obituary . Seattle Times . October 2, 1994.

" Obligation is Felt: Retired Minister Returning to Japan ." Spokane Daily Chronicle , June 4, 1971.

Powers, Dorothy. " Japanese-American pastor enriches our lives again ." Spokane Chronicle , Jan 8, 1987.

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Find in the Digital Library of Japanese American Incarceration

A Stone Cried Out

This item has been made freely available in the Digital Library of Japanese American Incarceration , a collaborative project with Internet Archive .

Media Details
Author Shigeo Shimada
Pages 207
Publication Date 1986