THE story of a south east Northumberland woman’s cultural and spiritual discovery has been brought to the pages of a new book.
Seaton Sluice-based author Olga Rutherford Abrahams has written A Geordie In Japan, which features stories of her conversion from atheism to Christianity, which led to 30 years missionary work in post-Second World War Japan.
Born in Lemington, Newcastle, and raised in Earsdon near Whitley Bay, Olga first studied at what was the Whitley and Monkseaton High School before being accepted at Girton College, Cambridge University, one of only two colleges for women there, to study science.
Olga, who was a staunch atheist until her university years, took her first steps along the path to Christianity when she gave up cigarettes, a challenge she set out for God to prove he existed.
She had also been encouraged by her lively debates with a college friend, Helen Roseveare, who was later to become a well-known Christian missionary.
Christianity led Olga into teaching and missionary work, first in China and then Japan in 1952, where she encountered a nation scarred by the catastrophes of the Second World War and one undergoing a traumatic transition from military imperialism to liberal democracy.
Supported by her husband Doug, she learnt the language and immersed herself in the culture and came to love the country and its people.
Olga and Doug’s children, Michael, Richard and Grace, were born in Japan.
Olga left the country in 1985 and threw herself into local politics and was elected as a councillor in the London Borough of Harrow.
As for the decision to write her book, the 85-year-old said: “I wanted to give my grandchildren and their era something of the past and I wanted my colleagues in Japan to know something of what I had done.
“My story will resonate with anyone who has ever been enchanted by other cultures or has found themselves looking at their own from a fresh perspective.”
A Geordie In Japan costs £9.95 and is available at all major bookshops.
It is also available at St Mary’s Lighthouse bookshop, Whitley Bay, and at Castaways Café in Seaton Sluice.
It can be ordered from Memoir Club publishers by calling (0191) 373 5660 or from Olga on (0191) 298 0734.