CHIBA Hiroyuki Suzukis shoulders and upper arms are alive with colorful tattoo images of carp and monsters. His pinkies have both been trimmed at the first knuckle. All are sure signs of a Japanese gangster, a distinction he most definitely had for 17 years of his early life.
But time can do wonders even for mobsters; today hes born-again and a reverend, leading a congregation at the Siloam Christ Church in Funabashi, just east of Tokyo.
My tattoos and missing pinkies are my handicap, he says from his office in between services on a recent Sunday. I always tried to hide that fact. However, I stopped hiding it after I became Christian. [Before] I led a life of lies. But after I met Jesus and came to know the Lord, I wanted to live with my true self.
His life of lies included drugs, gambling, and general debauchery as a member of the Sakaume yakuza crime group in Osaka.
Now he uses his past as the ultimate icebreaker, bringing people of all walks of life to fill the roughly 100 foldable seats in his church. Here, they find a smiling man of confidence, a sharply dressed example of a life that has made a turn for the better...
Loading more stuff…
Hmm…it looks like things are taking a while to load. Try again?