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Former yakuza Tatsuya Shindo turns to God

92 Comments
By Brett Bull

Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel? —Ezekiel 33:11

From the cracked exterior paint to the crumbling wood trim, the “snack” club June Bride has the rundown look of just about every other watering hole in Kawaguchi, Saitama. Impressions change, however, when you step inside and see the sketches of Jesus Christ taped to the silver wallpaper and the wooden cross propped against the back wall.

June Bride’s proprietor is Tatsuya Shindo, and he is not a barman. From the age of 20, Shindo peddled stimulants in and around Tokyo for a gangster family under the nationwide Sumiyoshi-kai yakuza syndicate. After several stints in jail, he decided to start offering something else entirely: the gospel.

“I know how bad I was and the bad things I have done,” says Shindo, 39, thin-framed and sporting a devilish bit of chin stubble. “At the same time, I know how much I was forgiven by God. So I wanted to engage myself in God’s work.”

Now, inside this converted bar, the former gangster presides over the Friends of Sinners Jesus Christ Church, where he takes the pulpit and preaches to former troublemakers on the mend. “They are seeking divine intervention,” says Shindo, a Kawaguchi native, of his congregants. “They want God to help them with their problems.”

Services are held on Saturdays and Sundays and accommodate roughly 100 parishioners, including former gang members and the parents of current prisoners. Red felt chairs—cigarette burns intact—act as pews. The bar counter remains in place, with stools rimming its edge and glasses arranged on shelves behind. Just to the left is the pulpit, where Shindo stands decked out in a robe and gripping the Bible.

The scant accommodations seem to make no difference to Shindo. A peek inside one of his services will reveal the minister standing, head bowed, arms outstretched and reaching towards the ceiling, not far from where a gaudy glass chandelier hangs. Followers sit beneath, listening intently, as he seeks guidance from above.

Such a scene would have been unbelievable two decades ago. With his parents separated, Shindo began using crystal meth when he was still a teenager. Not long after, he joined a yakuza gang and began selling on the street. By the age of 28, he had become a full-fledged gang boss, running credit-card fraud rackets and collecting "mika-jimeryo"—protection money due on the third day of each month—from sex clubs.

But troubles mounted. First, he grew addicted to shabu, using it three to four times a day. Then he got in a wreck with one of his gang’s vehicles while intoxicated. As a means of atonement, he trimmed the tip of his left pinkie. All told, Shindo was arrested seven times, three of which led to prison stays. Women began to give up on him, and his gang finally asked him to leave.

Things started to change during his second prison term, when he came across the writings of Hiroyuki Suzuki, a mobster-turned-minister who leads a congregation at the Siloam Christ Church in Funabashi, Chiba.

What could be considered the real revelation, however, occurred following his arrest in May 2001, when cops in Nihombashi searched his BMW and found 130 grams of stimulants. While behind bars for the final time in Matsue, Shimane Prefecture, he read the Old Testament’s Ezekiel 33:11, in which the Lord does not wish death upon the wicked, but rather encourages them to reform.

“That is my driving force, my gasoline,” he says of the passage. “I don’t have to read the lines any longer; it is all inside me.”

Upon his release, Shindo began to correspond with Suzuki. He entered the theological school Jesus To Japan in Taito-ku, and two years later, when he founded Friends of Sinners Jesus Christ Church, he began meeting with—and preaching to—society’s dropouts.

Being low on funds, Shindo found that holding services in the snack was not easy. Still, he knew that if he performed the duties of God, he would receive all that would be necessary.

“In the beginning, it was only me,” he recalls. “So I was preaching to the walls.” (It helped that June Bride is owned by his mother.) But he steadily found followers, and has gone on to pen two books: the autobiographical "You Can Always Start Over," released in January, and "The Mafia Minister’s Street Talk," a compilation of lectures that came out in April.

For decades, Japan’s criminal underworld largely operated in the open. Now, following the scandal that arose after gangsters were found to have assisted sumo wrestlers in betting on baseball games, society is showing less tolerance for organized crime, and some initial attempts are being made to exclude gangsters from industries where they have historically thrived.

Shindo hopes to convey the message that there is another option available for those wanting to escape a life of crime. “I wanted to show people that anyone can do this,” he says, although he also admits that he could have easily been killed by gang members who opposed his decision. “Especially, I wanted to show people with a similar background to mine.”

One avid follower is Yoshinori Ishido, 27, formerly a specialist in "yami kinyu" (loan sharking), whose turf included Otsuka, Takadanobaba, Nakano and Ikebukuro. He exchanged letters with Shindo while in prison.

“Little by little, over the years, his correspondence with me caused my heart to change,” says Ishido, who today works at a wine bar and attends services regularly.

With Suzuki as his predecessor, Shindo believes that it’s perfectly logical for gangsters to seek a path towards Christ. The rigid, top-down hierarchy of criminal families, he says, is similar to that of a church. “And in both cases, you have to listen to your boss.”

Shindo realizes, however, that there are some things he cannot change. His trimmed left digit and the colorful tattoos of mythic creatures that crawl over his upper torso and biceps offer vivid reminders of his past.

He also acknowledges that there will be critics who say he’s exploiting his background to win attention—a point that he finds understandable, but one that he’s ready to challenge.

“If I take a poll of ten people and one or two people criticize me but another one or two stand by me,” he says, “then it is worth it.”

Friends of Sinners Jesus Christ Church. 4-13-4 Kami-Aoki Nishi, Kawaguchi, Saitama. Services take place Sat at 7 p.m. and Sun at 2:30 p.m. Nearest stn: Nishi-Kawaguchi (Keihin-Tokohku line), east exit. http://tsumibito-church.org

This story originally appeared in Metropolis magazine (www.metropolis.co.jp)

© Japan Today

©2018 GPlusMedia Inc.


92 Comments
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I'm not sure if "Jesus To Japan" is an accredited seminary but regardless of his credentials to become a pastor or our differing religious beliefs, he's certainly doing much better work for society now than he was as a yakuza. Good luck to him.

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There are many FAITHS, but only ONE TRUTH!: jesus and Santa are the same guy! The bible is a work of fiction, but the gutless gullibles still want to believe that they are being supernaturally supervised. I personally always feel disappointed when the ignorant apostasize, and especially disappointed when the yellow man embraces the white mans` religious opiates. I wish hime luck, but it would have been extremely encouraging had he steered his life into a less harmful way without the fictictious lord, god nonsense!

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Shindo believes that it’s perfectly logical for gangsters to seek a path towards Christ. The rigid, top-down hierarchy of criminal families, he says, is similar to that of a church. “And in both cases, you have to listen to your boss.”

Still not thinking for himself, I see. It's nice he's no longer peddling drugs that only damage the body...

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Too much trouble even for the yakuza? Wrecking the gang's car was the last straw.

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handsome!

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WhiteyRocks: As a confirmed agnostict, I can dig it ... why pull Christianity through the mud and rag the religion that has so obviously helped him and countless others? You'll call a different tune on your own death bed, guaranteed.

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Sheep are always sheep. They need someone to follow. This guy followed his Yak leaders living under their tyranny to do whatever they told him. Now he has traded one master for another. Now he has the ramblings of ancient desert prophets to dictate his actions.

Too often these "breaking good" converts are the worst sort of ultra-maniac bible thumpers. Trying too hard to bury their black past by becoming born again zealots. Doing "gods" work which often amounts to making other people feel bad or guilty about their lives or telling others how they are going to hell if they don't comply.

Religion is a plague that humanity would be better off without.

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"You'll call a different tune on your own death bed, guaranteed."

As a former Christian who wised up to the fact that is was no more valid than say the cult of Ra. I have come to terms with the reality that human frailty has caused the creation of religion as a crutch, a tool of control and a means of empowering the powerful to control the masses.

Christianity is just one of the latest of uncounted superstitions that help aleviate the fear of death and other fears. Marx had it 100% dead on. Religion is the opiate of the masses. A delussional dream to escape the harsh face of reality.

On my death bed I will remember loved ones and wait for the light to dim.

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tkoind2: On your death bed, you haven't a single clue what you'll do. Neither has any of us. An admirable sentiment but you just don't know.

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Good luck to him for turning himself around. I don't care what anyones religion is but i detest the guys who stop you on the street and try to ram down your throat their beliefs as well as anyone who kills in the name of their god.....religion, in whatever form, should be kept inside your heart and mind and not hurled at someone else as well as ridiculing them for not following your way of thinking.

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nutsagain. I beg to differ. I have had two very close calls with death. One involving a bad motocross crash that I thought was the end. "god" didn't cross my mind once. All I thought about was wishing I could say goodbye to my family.

Not everyone is plagued by the irrational need for supernatural powers.

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ratpack. Well said. But if this guy is going public with his "conversion" then he is going to be preaching and trying to spread this virus.

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tkoind2: As I said, I'm agnostic which means I really don't know. The outcome of if there is a God or not a God is a bit of a coin toss unfortunately. My point is; let people practice as they please. This is not for me either but I'd rather see the man trying to get a life than running a pack of bimbos or whatever. Let people worship whichever faith they choose and if they approach you, it's easy to tell them to take a hike. I do ... Live and let live. This fellow has my respect.

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To nutsagain: it is another religious falsification that astute, unbelieving anti-thesits such as my good self scream for a priest on our deathbeds! David Hume very notably and famously had both the testicular fortitude, and perceptiveness not to call for a preist and was WITNESSED by James Boswell NOT DOING SO! And also tkoind2 above! And if because of fear, comfort or remorse we call a priest on our deathbed, then is it desulory, as reigion is itself! Cheers, but NO CIGAR nutsagain!

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Christianity is just one of the latest of uncounted superstitions that help aleviate the fear of death and other fears. Marx had it 100% dead on. Religion is the opiate of the masses.

I always found the phrase "The opiate of the masses" very telling. It is only Marxists, as far as I know, who believe that humanity, your fellow human beings, are all the same, are just a solid mass of automatons temporarily divided by economic realities but "destined" to overthrow their oppressors and again unite as one - an odd assertion - given the Marxist's faith in a mass of people he otherwise evidently despises.

Christianity has its faults, but you will note that the man in this story believes he is first and foremost an individual, and will be judged as such.

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"Live and let live"

I wish this could be the case. But have you spent any time around the faithful? Try Akihabara on a weekend and listen to the playback of the " you will burn in hell if you don't convert" crowd. Or let the Mormon missionaries tell you how wrong your life is at Hachiko some evenings.

Or spend a little time listening to the admonitions of Catholics about your sinful ways.

Or if you really want to measure the "live and let live" attitudes of the faithful, spend a little time in America where "god and jesus" are omnipresent.

Religion is an ideology no different than Stalinism, or Maoist Teachings or any other "faith" that thinks everyone who fails to follow them are damned or evil. Religion has given people the rationale to hate and kill each other for as long as there has been religion. It is a force of control, a force to implement the power of a few over the many and it is a blinding force for the masses.

What makes Christians think their faith is any more valid than worship of the Greek Gods or of Amen Ra? What makes a Mulsim any more sure they are children of absolute truth any more than Bhuddists?

My point is this, religion should be personal, but it isn't and never has been. It is a social force and it exherts power over both believers and non-believers. It is dangerous and is it certainly does not practice a system of "live and let live." It most often follows a policy of "covert or be damned." Thus why I am anti-religious. But not anti-spiritual. The people who do practice and believe in private and don't press their belief systems on others, I respect.

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tkoind2,

I get your point, and agree religion in general is corrupt and for many probably a worse influence on their lives than no religion would be. But I still think that for the majority of those who practice religion, it is something that helps them be at peace with themselves and something they keep within their hearts. Those who try and ram it down our throats are a small, but unfortunately vocal, minority.

And by preaching your gospel of anti-religion here are you really any different to the Mormon missionaries preaching their gospel?

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TimRussert. You miss the point and show your understanding of Marxist ideas to be limited to 20th century western propaganda thinking.

Of course everyone is an individal. This was never in doubt. But everyone also shares many similiarities with the society in which they exist. This is also obvious. Even more so when people adhere to a specific ideology of any kind, they take on traits and behaviors of that ideology. All you need to do is observe the group to see this fact.

As for the Opiate of the Masses. Marx meant that it essentially blinds the working and poor classes to their plight by offering this dream of post-life salvation and reward. It makes the masses compliant and easy to control. As religion has done throughout history.

I am not a Marxist. But that does not mean Marx was not right about many things. His view of religion was pretty much dead on.

Moderator: Please focus your comments on the story, not Marx.

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I offer opinions freely papasmurfinjapan. But I don't threaten anyone with damnation if they don't share my ideas. That is the difference between debating a topic and preaching a faith.

I hope more people practice their belief systems in private. But they don't. We even have pagan friends who are constantly pushing us to share their belief systems. I am simply tired of people telling me that I have to convert to something or be lost. This is one reason I prefer Japan over the US. The only time someone tries to preach to me is when I run into some kind of missionary.

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tkoind2 & WhiteyRocks: My hard charging pals; I didn't necessarily mean 'calling for a priest' rather an act of contrition to a higher power(s). Doctors see this all the time. "Okkkaaasssan!" is usually the last word of dying patients here, as an aside.

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I offer opinions freely papasmurfinjapan. But I don't threaten anyone with damnation if they don't share my ideas. That is the difference between debating a topic and preaching a faith.

You may not damn them to hell, but I think many may feel that you unfairly and harshly criticize their religion based on the actions of a few fanatics. I get your point though. I presume you don't knock on doors telling everyone about your beliefs. :)

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As always a well written and well researched piece by Brett Bull. You can follow him on Twitter at @tokyoreporter

All religions were created/founded by a man to control the hearts and minds of other men in order for the founder to control land and wealth. Religions are thus an illusion.The only reality is of course love

What Tatsuya Shindo has found is love. Why he cannot simply say that I have no idea but hopefully one day he will. Where he is now is part of his journey towards that I guess

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Tim Russet:

Christianity has its faults, but you will note that the man in this story believes he is first and foremost an individual, and will be judged as such

Well said.

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tkoind2 at 11:36 AM JST - 29th September: Japan is a pretty good example. there are religious parties, but religion plays almost no role at all beyond their very modest influence. Japan is a secularly moral state.

Are you sure about that. Japan is not base on a moral state. She is based on cultural traditions. One can say that Buddhism and Zen play a significant role in Japanese society and culture. Why do you think Japanese believes in taking shoes off before entering the home? Why do they refer each other by the relationship between them. Why were the Buraku or Burakumin discriminated in Japanese society?

Moderator: Readers, posts that do not focus on Tatsuya Shindo will be removed.

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Isn't that typical of most criminals - go to jail, then find God?

Ezekiel 33:11, in which the Lord does not wish death upon the wicked, but rather encourages them to reform.

Ezekiel 25:17 must be about some tough love then.

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I pray that everything works out for him. God bless him!!

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Glad his life is changing. Does not matter what changed his life. Religion without politics is good.

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Jkanda. Politics without religion better still.

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We can all forget our differences when unified under a single purpose. Maybe that is what humanity really needs. ;)

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may I suggest the erradication of poverty to start?

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Jkanda. We are both right. Religion without politics is good. It is free, spiritual and powerful for individuals. But equally politics without religion is good too. People can have fair and equal treatment, no negative impact from the impossition of faith upon those who don't share that belief system.

How is this so bad?

Moderator: Readers, we remind you that the subject is Tatsuya Shindo. Please make sure that your comments focus on him.

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When a person is down, there are many who are trying to take advantage of his situation.While it is good that we rely on some religion, religions all over the world have done irreparable damage to a number of human beings. Glad Tatsuya Shindo has a religion, but I really hope that no one takes advantage of him.

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Tatsuya Shindo is just looking for another line of work that might pay something. Religion as I was told in my training is a SHOW, and as I learned without the show there is no money. It just goes to show how low life tries to make a buck from SUCKERS who need a sky God to be good, as being good in and of themselves is just too much to ask.

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I wish him all the best.

To me you do whatever gets you through the day and if it involves religion all the power to you. I have made my decisions. Personally can't say I am all that much in favour of those "new Christian" or "reborn Christian" faiths".

Tkoind2.

A always good posts and thoughts.

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tkoind2-"live and let live" well said as always. I agree!

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Good for him. God Bless

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Good for him. It takes courage to speak out and share his Christian faith, and I admire him for it.

Frankly, people who contemptuously break out the religion is the opiate of the masses meme are far more irritating than those who honestly share their own beliefs.

For those who claim that religion is responsible for all the evil in the world- it has also done immeasurable good.

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God bless who....? Are you guys serious? How about the crimes he committed! How about the poor people he victimized? And doesn't this blessing mean this: ( Go do whatever crimes like this guy did and do everything against the will of humanity, law and god, then comeback and hold a bible, and you'll blessed...) Mind blower

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Mr Shindo is fortunate to live in a nation that has no official state religion and grants him the freedom to worship as he believes. While his conscience perhaps haunts him for his past at least he does not have to worry about being arrested for leaving the state religion, or for the crime of simply holding religious beliefs.

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TimRussert. It isn't 1984. What propaganda are you reading? Much of the world is tolerant of various religions, South and Central America, N. America, Europe, much of Africa, a lot of Central Asia, Russia and more. So why is Shindo-san so lucky? Seems he could believe pretty much whatever he wants to anywhere on the planet.

Whether or not such belief is a good thing of bad... we can certainly debate. But he is clearly free to do so just about anywhere.

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umori. Agreed. God is the criminal get out of hell free card. Doesn't make sense. These guys find Jesus when they are in deep personal trouble. But couldn't manage to find him when they were harming others and making money doing so.

"god bless him"?? I guess having illusive, and probably non-existent dieties bless things can't do him any harm. But I would respect him more if he just took personal responsibility for changing his ways instead of leaning on superstition to rationalize his desire for forgiveness.

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"in fact pointless to ask about what is; we can only ask ourselves what we are able to do with things. The issue is not truth, but praxis, the domination of things for our needs. In the face of such an apparently enlightened limitation of human thought, the question naturally arises: What really is useful to us? Why is it useful? Why do we exist? One who observes carefully will see that the modern attitude reveals at the same time a false humility and a false presumption, a false humility that does not recognize in the human person the capacity for the truth; a false presumption, by which one places oneself above things, above truth itself, while, at the same time, making the extension of one's power, one's domination over things, the objective of one's thought." Ratzinger

Truth not judgement is our goal in life. That is all. I say also God Bless this individual. The Universe IS is good hands.

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IS in good hands.

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He should report his information to police and shutdown gangs

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OneForAll. Nice and interesting quote.

But is the universe in good hands? More likely, the universe simply "IS".

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He just wants to believe whatever feels most right to himself and do whatever feels most comfortable for himself, just like any other human. If a fish is fine with swimming in the same water it craps in, let it.

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Mr. Shindo is preaching for money. Where are his good works? Simple. There are none. He has learned from the best that you can have MONEY and sex with religion. So, Shindo--good luck with this one! A tiger has not changed his spots at all, it seems.

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I'm quite sure he universe is far more mysterious and complex than we can possibly ever understand. When I look at the night sky, I'm sure it's teeming with life, highly complex and partially evloved civilizations like our.

OK, OK, you all hear the twilight Zone theme playing, but it is unimaginably vast and we're zilch. Go for it Shindo san.

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TheRat: A tiger has not changed his spots at all, it seems.

Zoological Fail

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nutsagain. I agree in part with you. The universe is amazing, vast and we only think we understand it. That stands as both a statement of the wonder and possibility of the universe, but equally as a statement that our interpretations through religion can't possibly apply to all the universe, but are rather our attempts at explaining the vast unknown.

I hope at least this Shindo-guy is thinking better thoughts. But TheRat may well have a good point.

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Poor guy,probably better off being a gangster....

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So many funny comments.

First: he did his time for the crimes.

Second: He is now preaching and helping other people get back into society as crime-free individuals

Third: You come down on him like a ton of bricks when all I see is someone sorry for what's he done, and trying to make amends.

Fourth and Final: Instead of preying on society, he's praying for society and trying to help. So he's no longer part of the problem, he's part of the solution.

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This guy is just so full of it. He is just using the Jesus Christ thing to make money for himself. Like they say, once a Yakuza, always a yakuza. Before he can truly turn to christ, he must make amends with all of the people that he victimized. If he can`t do that, he is just another foolish preacher trying to make money through the church scene.

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And does his mother then serve drinks at her bar after the church service?

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i think it's great that this guy loves Jesus. i jumped on youtube and listened to some of his sermons. i think all the people that are judging him as a 'profiteer' of christianity would do well to observe that in japan, it doesn't work. about 1% or so are christian... you don't go into the church to make money in japan. you go into eikaiwa, the yakuza, banking, or some other crime...

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I enjoy seeing the reactions here, the fact that Shindo's adopted religion so enrages atheists, so many of whom like to think they are real independent, original thinkers; when in fact many of them panic at reading the experience and choices of someone like this guy. Some atheists are terrified to discover there are people like Shindo, people who hit rock bottom but refuse to put their faith in the State and its social engineers. Some of the people above actually want him to go back to his criminal ways, they probably view criminals as 'victims' and polite 'bourgeois' society as the worthy targets of the criminal's violence and depredations.

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With Suzuki as his predecessor, Shindo believes that it’s perfectly logical for gangsters to seek a path towards Christ. The rigid, top-down hierarchy of criminal families, he says, is similar to that of a church. “And in both cases, you have to listen to your boss.”

Assuming that his reference to the "boss" is Jesus (not the pastor) then he has it half right. Likening God's heirarchy to to the mafia, he has it wrong. Jesus does not tell anyone what to do and demand that he or she do it. That IS the mafia way. Jesus speaks, followers listen, and Jesus empowers them via the Holy Spirit to do what he told them. Fear of retribution from God is NOT what Christianity is about. Nor is listening to a pastor and doing what he says.

alladin said, Before he can truly turn to christ, he must make amends with all of the people that he victimized.

I'm so glad that you aren't in charge of the grace and mercy department. And how do you know he hasn't attempted to make restitution as Jesus reveals his sins to him and leads him through the rest of his life? That is a huge part of being a Christian.

And for tkoind2 who is standing firmly against Shindo and Jesus, and Christianity, your jealousy and hate are shining today! Methinks you doth protest too much. It's as if you have some personal ax to grind. Japan Today is probably not the best choice to work through bitterness. But if you must...

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Those reformed yakuzas are really attractive! I have never seen such an attractive man among the actors or talentos in Japan, look at the fire in his eyes, hopefully it is passion for life not relegious zeal!

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As the Bible says, it's not the healthy who need a doctor. But the sick. Jesus says in the Bible I didn't come to call the righteous, but sinners for repentance.By God's Grace he was saved.As yakuzas are holding the power of japan, my prayer is for many yakuzas to see the Glory of God. Brother Tatsuya Shindo, I LOVE YOU.JACKY.

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Good on him for turning his back on wayward ways. It shows that people can reform -but they must want it. He uses religion, so what. Self reflection, realization -whatevs. As long as people (and this is used loosely) don't infringe on my rights, I don't care what they believe in. Be they pastafarians, rastafarai, xtians, shinto, martians, etc. Ranting against religion/beliefs would be like ranting against mashochists, or fetishists --it's not for me, but hey, if it's your thing, just make sure you do not hurt (ok, that term's loaded I know) anyone and it involves adults who consent --go at it!

@tkoind2

But I don't threaten anyone with damnation if they don't share my ideas. That is the difference between debating a topic and preaching a faith.

But damnation is fiction, so it's really not a threat afterall. It's like someone saying they'll command billowing hyenas from Mars your way if you don't listen to them.

The way you interpret it it's as though you subconsciously actually believe it. That's just odd.

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When a man turns to Christ as his savior, it typically isn't because things are going well with his life. It's more often due to hitting rock-bottom and through that discovering His saving power. Personal failure and personal sins lead to faith once everything crashes down and we can no longer focus on the fleeting, but on the eternal.

To anyone enrolled in organizations such as AA or AlAnon, you know what I mean as the higher power becomes the "designated driver" in the person's life.

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Truth is inexhaustable. Meaning, everyone has a right to explain things as they see it. Through dialog with others we can actually help each other to walk towards the light. We must listen to each other. No one has a monopoly on truth. Truth exists and this gentleman has found a path. A bit myoptic perhaps but he is on a secure path if he remains open to others. Unfortunately, some use the Bible as blinders and fail to see that reason is here for a purpose. A cosmic event includes the cosmos and Shindo may be awed by this fact. Logos is reason and the reason is love. Peace.

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If Christians were to practice what they preach, this world would be a much better place for everyone to live in, but it sure seems like that is not happening much at all. People like this Yakuza preacher is just another dysfunctional person who is using christianity to make money which I think is a very evil thing to do. If he really wants to make a change, he should first go up to all of the people that her hurt and make a face to face apology to them in a very sincere manner and from then, create an organization where he can help people and not just preach to them and take their money for talking, talking and talking.

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@alladin Wow there's a bit of a vile, generalized diatribe. What makes you think you know what's going on in this guy's head/heart? And what's with the random suggestion of creating an organization? A church IS an organization that helps people. If we wanted money, don't you think he would have stayed a yakuza?

"Before he can truly turn to Christ, he must make amends with all of the people that he victimized." Christianity isn't about making amends and THEN turning to Christ. Christianity teaches that every person has sinned, and that being forgiven is not a matter of going out and playing catch up by trying to spend your life undoing all your mistakes--it's having your slate wiped clean. That's something that none of us deserves, but are offered.

"Like they say, once a Yakuza, always a yakuza." I don't believe "they" say that, whoever "they" may be. Try looking at 2nd Corinthians, 5:17. "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!".

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From Yakuza to preacher? Not such a big leap these days - only the uniform changes.

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No seriously, good on him. People who hate religion will attack him, but there are worse stories in the news than a former criminal telling people to love God and do good to others.

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@tkoind2 "I don't threaten anyone with damnation" I don't think Tatsuya Shindo is threatening anyone with damnation (nor is that what Christianity teaches). You blast religion, with your "Religion is a plague that humanity would be better off without.", but it seems that this guy's life is better for his having turned from his yakuza lifestyle, wouldn't you say?

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LoveUSA at 08:58 PM JST - 29th September

Those reformed yakuzas are really attractive! I have never seen such an attractive man among the actors or talentos in Japan

beauty is in the eye of the beholder i guess.

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When it comes down to it, there two kinds of people: 1) Those that don't know and are okay with it and 2) Those that don't know but delude themselves--and attempt to delude others--into thinking they are privy to non-existent information.

Tatsuya Shindo is the latter and based on your comments, I think that like him, you're not okay with not knowing.

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look at the fire in his eyes, hopefully it is passion for life not relegious zeal!

That passion is the passion for money and for sex, which is what he is going to get when he convinces you that God told him for you to have sex with him. Raise your standards a tiny bit LoveUSA.

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@TheRat The one who only can detect a passion for money and sex is the one who needs to raise his standards. @SiouxChef So the people who experience something that could shatter your world view must be liars in order that you can feel save. I am amazed how ready people are to abandon logical thinking just to save their own philosophy.

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Omg! He is so handsome. I totally agree with LoveUSA., there is passion in his eyes.

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he looks dangerous and magnetic, he does not need the Bible though...

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All the best to him. I really don't understand some of the negative comments knocking this guy's past. Reforming yourself doesn't undo all of your past actions, but imagine how different the world would have been if some horrific dictators had realised the error of their ways and attempted to make some kind of ammends for their actions- and then faced justice. If an ex-Yakuza can inspire others to turn their lives around, then all the power to him, and I hope he is genuine about it. As for faith, I'm religious and a science geek who isn't a huge fan of authority, and I don't turn to God out of mortal fear- or blatantly do good things for brownie points. If people can believe that there is other intelligent life out there in the universe based on the likelihood of inhabitable star systems based on current findings; then what's wrong with believing that there is a vast intelligence which is interconnected with and underwrites the complexity of the universe- and life as we know it?

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As for the poster who is "disappointed when the yellow man embraces the white mans` religious opiates"...Jesus wasn't some white dude who got about the Roman Empire preaching the righteousness of 'Arians'. He was most likely a lower class, Arab-looking man in a multi-ethnic environment who spread a message of peace and hope.

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If he wasn't strong enough, he'd still be peddling his crystal meth to others and what-not. Finding religion isn't about putting your life on autopilot and letting a deity run things for you. It takes a certain deal of strength and humility to say "I was a total wreck and now I'm going to do something about it", with inspiration from a higher power. Christianity has been on the wane in Britain, but you have far worse social and economic issues than people practising their faith(s).

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This man who of course makes money through faith " as they always do" is fake as any book claiming to be the word of Gpd.

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Some good news, for a change, despite some of the hateful comments here. I dont think that this guy is making too much money as a preacher, from reading this article. Give thanks for a changed life - the Power of the Gospel at work.

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Some people love to hate others because it makes their pathetic existence seem better. Then when they leave the keyboard after typing their piffle filled vitriol realize they are the same pathetic person with hate that sat down at the keyboard.

Others love to pass judgment on others because it makes their sins and crimes seem less.

Others like myself rejoice when a person turns from crime and to a life changed. Funny how many here are the same who complain that "Japanese never change or buck the system" then get all hate filled when a story comes that proves them dead wrong.

Bile, it's what's for dinner on JT apparently.

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Good on him for finding a reason to turn his life around and for doing something positive, and if he convinces even one other gangster to change his ways then I think we're all better off. The police can arrest them and jail them, but isn't the entire point to REFORM these people? If he speaks their language and can get throught to them and bring down the crime rate then more power to him.

What he did, what you did, what I did, it's all in the past, and the only way to live life is by looking forwards and being a good person now and tomorrow. Sure we can learn from our past mistakes, but living in the past is a dead-end.

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So the people who experience something that could shatter your world view must be liars in order that you can feel save.

By "world view", you must mean "reality".

I am amazed how ready people are to abandon logical thinking just to save their own philosophy.

I don't think "logical" means what you think it does.

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Tatsuya Shindo has discovered love. Its good

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There but for the grace of God go I.... how can I dump on Shindo san for his crimes and sins, especially since he has repented/shown sorrow for them? And how can anyone else on here? (Even if you don't believe in the Christian path) What the real issue is, is how I deal with MY sins and crimes, and how do you deal with YOURS? Judge not lest ye be judged.....because we are all poor sinners, and should be praying for each other, and trying to make this world a better place. If you are a Christian (Catholic/Protestant/Orthodox), then be the best Christian you can be...and if an athiest....then be a good athiest....or a good Moslem or a good Jew, or whatever.......just try to follow what EVERY religion (and even humanism) teaches....that we should all follow the law written in our hearts...(The Golden Rule) and try to make amends if we fall short.....God bless, my "sermon" is over, thanks for listening!

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I wonder if he is a METHodist.

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Praise the LORD for his changing of Shindo!!!!

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I am surprised that some women find this guy sexy?? Passionate?? But, who am I to judge. Anyway, if this Shindo guy needs Christ, fine by me. We are all sinners, and if you believe in karma, it is very, very strict, you know this law of cause and effect. Sometimes I think Christ may have also know about Buddhism.

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religion is opium for the mind. Why can't people be reformed using simple human moral and ethics and commons sense for good and evil. Why use the threat of God-like power?

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I am surprised that some women find this guy sexy??

He is sexy but his mind is blurred by nonsense.

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He wins my Beautiful Eyes Award. His eyes put me on fire. Kind, strict eyes and notice - no need of glitter to look shiny!

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I wish him well in his endeavor.

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What a inspiring story!! Being a Christian is not being ignorant. God wants us to acknowledged HIM and not be self centered, with malicious minds.

Matthew 5:14-16 You are like light for the whole world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one lights a lamp and puts it under a bowl; instead it is put on the lamp stand, where it gives light for everyone in the house. In the same way your light must shine before people, so that they will see the good things you do and praise your Father in heaven.

Romans 12:2 Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.

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"let he that is without sin cast the first stone"... search your heart, what have you done to love someone in need lately?

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