SAFETY, REST, AND QUIET
Upon completing about 2 years of Japanese language study in 1977, I moved to this town of Matsuida where I still live (2,003), and I started telling the Japanese people here about salvation in The Lord Jesus Christ. Very few of them were interested in hearing about Him. So attendance was most low at the services I held in my house and in a community hall, though I advertised those services to everyone as best I could. Because the people refused the invitations to my evangelistic services, I very soon began to do what I felt definitely led of God to do, preach out in public. “You can stubbornly refuse my invitation to come to church. But I’m not going to let you get the best of me. I’ll just bring ‘church’ to you. You can refuse to come and listen, but I’ll go to you and cause you to hear ‘thus saith the Lord God.’ I’ll just come preach to you, wherever you are.” So praying hard to God for the much needed courage, that is what I started doing.
This is a small, rural town where there is seldom ever a crowd of people anywhere out in public, but I never really had much of an urge to seek out a crowd to preach to. I was plenty content with a congregation of one or two eternal souls, the value of each being more than that of the whole world. So far, I have never once used any mechanical means to amplify my voice, so I commonly chose the quieter areas where people were present. That usually was residential areas. And in this crowded nation, many housing areas are most compact with little or no yard area around the house. So the houses are typically so close to each side of narrow streets. Some of those streets are no wider than a sidewalk with little or no vehicular traffic on them, which results in the area being plenty quiet for my “church” service.
I would stand in the street, read a Bible text of one or more verses, preach on that text for 3 minutes or less, then read the text again to close the sermon. Then I would walk on to about the second house down the street, choose a different text, preach a different sermon on it, and literally walk all over town, preaching “thus saith the Lord God” to everyone.
“Neither was I quiet.”
Of course, the “density” of the number of houses varies in the many various areas where I preached on the streets. In the more “dense” areas, the individual plot of land each house stands on sometimes is less than 30 feet along the street, often with almost no space between each house. Oh, this place was just made for street preaching. By raising my voice somewhat, the people inside 3 houses in front and 3 houses behind me (on one side of the street only), could hear my preaching as I stood in one place. On the many narrow streets, when I preached a short sermon standing in one place, people in 6 houses on each side of the street, a total of 12 houses, could hear “thus saith the Lord God,” though they adamantly refused to go to church.
In the daytime when many of them are away from home, likely there was still a total of 10 people or more in those 12 houses. And when I preached in the evening hours when most everyone was at home, likely at times, over 30 people heard me each time. None of them would put forth any effort to go to church. So I profoundly thank God for showing me a most easy way to get them in “church” anyway, just go to where they exist and preach to them.
In what few churches there are here in Japan, attendance is so low. I know of churches that on some Sunday mornings, the pastor and his family are the only people who come to church. Throughout the churches in this heathen nation, Sunday morning church attendance of 2, or 5, or 10 people or so, is common. And for a lost person to be among that small number in church is most rare. But when I preach out in public, usually about that many lost people hear each of my short sermons. How it thrills me just to simply take the preaching to them, wherever they are, passing their existence and refusing to come to church.
“Neither was I quiet.” Thank you; Job, for telling me that. I’m trying to be just like you. I do hope you are proud of me now as you look down on me. And when my street preaching days are ended, oh how I look forward to meeting you.
I watch missionary pastors here and Japanese pastors wallowing in the slough of despondency and despair, as Sunday after Sunday, few or no people show up for church. And I quickly decided that was not the life for me. So I just go out and walk through town preaching. And in one day, hundreds of stiffhearted, rebellious God haters hear “thus saith the Lord God.” Also, God fills me with so much joy for preaching to them, that sometimes I cannot contain all of it. Oh how blessed is the life of not being quiet about God.
“Heavenly Father, I want to know that blessed life also. Please give me the courage to speak to everyone I can, about Thee. Help me to be like Job. Help all other believers to be like him also. Amen.”
In the most compact housing areas here, there are houses that are accessible only by a narrow lane 5 feet or so wide, which is too narrow for 4 wheel vehicles. Usually small houses stand right adjacent to each side of that narrow lane. And when I stand there on that narrow passageway and preach; Christ haters inside the security of their own dwellings are often within 10 feet of me. When I started the street preaching in 1979, very few houses here had air conditioning then. So when the weather was warm, often doors and windows would be open. Even with the doors and windows shut during cold weather, still the houses are far from soundproof. Glory to God! It’s almost like Heaven on earth, standing out there preaching to them.
Pastor, doesn’t your flock of sheep just amaze you, the way many of them sit as far back in the church as possible? God quickly taught me a good way to get people within close range of my preaching. I have no pulpit and no pews. I just go to where people are and watch their amazement as they find themselves closer to me than your front empty pews are to your pulpit, Pastor, as I preach to them. How I glory over this “close” relationship I have with the Japanese idol worshippers who despise to hear my preaching and so much wish I was back on the other side of the world in Alabama, from whence I came. Glory to God! What a blessing to be out there preaching.
(Pastor, if it displeases you that many people in your congregation seat themselves as far from your pulpit as possible, then don’t forget that you are mobile, especially with a wireless microphone. As you preach your sermon, you can stomp throughout your church’s sanctuary and stand right in the face of anyone seated there with whom you desire to have a “close” preaching relationship. Please keep that option in mind, Pastor.)
At the end of each of my short 3 minute sermons, I would walk about one and a half or two houses down the street, stop there, preach a different short sermon, and keep repeating that mobile preaching all over town, till my legs or voice or lungs were too tired to continue. You might think that a 3-minute sermon is far too short. But God led me to keep those sermons short for several reasons. If it gets very long, what few people who do listen will quickly tire of listening and tune me out. Also, though I am standing out in a public street as I preach, what I am doing is somewhat an invasion of the privacy of the people so close by inside their own houses. In this crowded nation, sufficient personal privacy is so often lacking and that adds stress. So I try to be as considerate as possible.
As I move along, preaching at about every second house, my voice carries far enough for those inside each house to hear at least 2 of my sermons. You may think that 6 minutes is not a long time to preach to someone, but one can say a lot in that amount of time. I do no small talk or chitchat, just straight, “meaty” Bible preaching, mainly about salvation. Also, preaching such short sermons doesn’t limit the time I can preach, as I can keep changing locations like that all day, or as long as I have the strength and voice to do it. Preaching for hours a day, 6 or 7 days a week, it would often be a week or more before I would repeat preaching on the same street to the same people.
There were some days when I preached over 100 of those short sermons a day. I have no idea what was the average number of people who heard each sermon. I would guess it would be at least 5 people, maybe more. (Before, when I mentioned that, at times, possibly over 30 people heard me at one time, keep in mind that was in the most densely crowded areas only, and in the evening hours when most everyone was home.) Likely, there were several days I preached to over 500 people a day, maybe a few days when I preached to over 1,000 people. An average of 200 or more a day would be a fairly safe guess. There were times I did that 6 or 7 days a week, preaching in person to over 1,200 people a week, without amplifying my voice or wasting one cent of money or one second of time printing service invitations and passing them out to people who would all refuse the invitation. Glory to God, I just went out and preached to them without bothering to give them an invitation that they could refuse!
“Neither was I quiet.”
And I think of the missionary pastors here and the Japanese pastors who prepare so well for their Sunday morning service, pray so hard for people to come, but then few or none come. It is a good thing for them to have a church service every Sunday morning. But if that pastor is displeased that few or no people attend that one-hour church service, another 167 hours remain during that week. And if those pastors have any desire at all to not be quiet like perfect and upright Job, then they also have the glorious opportunity to do like I do and go out and preach to over 1,000 God hating idolaters a week. Oh, what a blessed way to do it. “Neither was I quiet.”
Having preached thousands of those short sermons over several years, there very well could have been a few times when no one happened to be at home in any of the houses within my hearing. If so, that would have been a rare occasion. But even if that were the case sometimes, I have no doubt that the many demons in each of those houses just cringed to hear that preaching. Most Japanese worship idols inside their houses, therefore the demons behind those idols take up lodging there. And I believe it glorifies God to torment them with good Bible preaching.
I recall one time when I was preaching on a street where almost no one was in sight outside and I had no idea how few or how many souls were hidden inside the surrounding houses. A boy about 9 years old came by and asked me why I was talking when there was no one around to hear it. I have forgotten how I answered him. But I do know that he was one soul who was around to hear me. He thought I was foolish to be out there preaching with no one else in sight. By their words and actions, adults sometimes imply that I look foolish when out preaching, especially when few or no people are in sight. Well, if so, then I am just going to have to look foolish. That is, until I meet at God’s Throne of Judgment, all those people who heard my preaching out in public. Then we will see who looks foolish at that time.
“Neither was I quiet.”
Likely you are wondering how the Japanese people reacted to me coming right to them unannounced and just hauling off and preaching to them. Japanese typically do not show much emotion. So overall, visible reaction was rare. Most people just calmly continued what they were doing. The first time each one heard me, I have no doubt they listened well out of curiosity.
Respecting their privacy, I would try my best to avoid standing directly in front of a window or open door where I could look in at them inside their own houses. But at times, it was hard to avoid doing that. So one common reaction was that people would close windows, curtains, and doors, usually as stealthily as possible. Often they would also lock the door. They would “close up” for privacy and “lock up” because they expected me to come to their door wanting to come inside to talk to them after I finished my street sermon. And once they got that door locked, they would have refused to respond to me, had I knocked on it. Privacy was one reason they “closed up” and “locked up.” Another reason was to give me that “silent” message that they opposed what I was doing and didn’t want me to ask to come into their houses.
Before I ever started street preaching, I knew the people here were opposed to it. But that didn’t silence me in the least. God had already told me to be like Job. And with God’s help, I was determined to obey Him. “Neither was I quiet.”
Some of the people would display kindness. Some would say “Thank you” in sincerity. On a rare occasion, someone would invite me inside their house, usually not to hear more from the Bible, but just to have a friendly visit. One family asked me in and served me supper, as it was mealtime. At a different time and place, a man “marched” his wife and two children outside the house to where I was and the entire family stood at a polite “parade rest” during my short sermon, then thanked me most kindly and went back inside. That act profoundly touched me. “Save them, Lord.”
Once when I was preaching in the dark, about 7:00 P.M., I was using my small military pilot’s flashlight to light my texts for reading them. The light was very small and thus convenient, and just sufficient to make the small circle of light I needed on the page of my Bible. I chose that light as being “perfect” for the job. Anyway, this one night as I preached using that light, a house window nearby came sliding open and a woman about 55 years old stood in the window watching and listening. When I finished my sermon there and started walking on, she hurriedly closed the window and soon came out the door, calling to me. I stopped and she came up to me trying to hand me a large, long flashlight of 3 batteries or more. “Take this. Your light is too small.” I was so touched by her wanting to help me, and I had plenty of trouble convincing her that my small light was sufficient. Bless her heart. That was about 23 years ago. I hope she got saved, as she might already be in eternity now (2,003).
There were two women, from different communities, who came to the services in my house, at different times, because they heard me preaching in front of their houses. Sachiko, 18 years old, attended regularly for a time, made a decision to receive Christ, brought a friend to the service once, witnessed at the high school where she was a senior, and tried to get other friends to come to my services. She was really made fun of at school for witnessing. She attended my services in 1980 and I haven’t seen nor heard from her since. Please pray for Sachiko. The other woman was demon possessed, came to about two services, and then I never saw her again.
As a circuit walking street preacher, I would repeat much of my route ever week or two. I majored on the more densely populated areas and didn’t go to the sparsely populated areas as often. People got used to me coming by and preaching. No doubt they relaxed more, when they saw that I never asked to come inside their houses. My preaching in public let them know I was a zealous religious person. And that made many of them fearful that I wanted to storm into their houses, cram religion down their throats, have them repeat a prayer, make a decision, and such. (Certainly, it is a most wonderful thing for people to make a sincere decision to receive Christ. But that must be done of their own free will.) And when it soon became apparent that I would not try to force my religion on them, no doubt many of them relaxed. That also enabled me to relax somewhat.
Sometimes, when I would be buying groceries or when I would be in some other store, another customer there would say to me, “You haven’t been by the house (preaching) for a while. Why not?” They were not interested in the preaching, just making conversation.
Once when I was chatting with a woman in town (when I was not out preaching), she was talking about her house and neighborhood. I knew her face, but didn’t know exactly where she lived. So I asked her. “You know where I live. You preach right in front of my house.” Well lady, you just described about half of the houses in town. So a lot of them, to some degree, came to accept me as a “permanent fixture,” preaching right outside their houses. There really wasn’t much else they could do about it. “Neither was I quiet.”
Once a young man and woman came to my house to talk to me. They were in their early 20’s and I think they were engaged to be married. The woman asked me if her grandfather was a Christian. She said that he had recently died and the family had given him a Buddhist funeral. She said that if he were a Christian, they were wrong to give him a Buddhist funeral. I expressed sympathy at his death and told her I didn’t know her grandfather. She would say so little to me. So I had to keep prying her with questions to find out why she thought I would know if her grandfather had been a Christian. She finally told me it was because he had remarked to the family that he enjoyed my street preaching. (He lived with her family.)
I got the lady to tell me where she lived and I could not recall ever seeing her grandfather as I preached in that area. But an old man sat or lay in that house approaching death, and enjoying my preaching each time I brought “church” there. He never talked to me and I don’t know that I ever saw his face. Still, I preached to him in person, with no microphone, megaphone, or such. So my fellow preacher, if they won’t come to church to hear you preach, then all you have to do is to go preach to them where they are. It is that simple. So why don’t you do it? “Neither was I quiet.”
I found a Japanese Christian man here in town who had known that deceased “grandfather.” The Christian told me that the elderly man had attended church some. So I hope he got saved during his lifetime and that I will see him in Heaven.
These were some of the positive reactions to my street preaching. There have been several of them over many years, but there have been far more negative ones. Mainly, people just ignore me. As for some of the negative reactions, one time a lady opened her door and said her baby was sleeping. So I immediately shut up and went on, as that was a valid complaint.
On a different day, I walked into a small lot with a few tiny, matchbox-size houses in a semi-circle around the very small open area where I stood. I had to stand so close to all those houses that I was uncomfortable about it. Still, I hauled off preaching and soon a window flew open and an angry man in pajamas growled, “You’re noisy.” It was about 4:00 P.M., so people weren’t normally sleeping. Then he added, “I’m in bed with a cold.” So I apologized and crept away as silently as possible. He also had a valid complaint. So I immediately shut up, as was my custom to do in such cases, not wanting to be an undue bother to anyone as I plead with them to receive God’s salvation from eternal hell fire.
If and when that man with the cold plunges into Hell, he’ll wish he had listened to my preaching while sick with a cold. If that lady and her sleeping baby go to Hell, she’ll wish she had woke up the baby and brought it out to me for both of them to listen to my preaching. When death comes, people’s priorities drastically change. It would be most wise for all of us to get our priorities in order now.
Now I’ll share a couple of negative reactions that were not valid. Once, a man came out of his house, mad and complaining to me that I was loud and noisy. It was about 2:00 P.M. on a Sunday afternoon. He didn’t mention that anyone in his house was sick or sleeping. And it was out in a rural area where his house was not close to the road where I stood preaching. I was preaching a “decent” distance from his house, while standing on a public road. So he had no valid complaint against me. But he was full of the devil and very mad at hearing “thus saith the Lord God.”
He accused me of being loud and noisy. So I asked him, “Is the baked potato truck loud and noisy?”
“No, it isn’t,” he replied angrily.
“Is the recycled paper truck loud and noisy?”
“No,” he said irritated.
At that time (about 1980), two common sights on the streets and roads here was a small truck selling freshly baked sweet potatoes in the winter, and a larger truck collecting paper to be recycled. Both of those trucks had loudspeakers, broadcasting as they slowly moved along. Of course, they were a lot louder than my unamplified voice. But he didn’t mind them, simply because they were not broadcasting, “thus saith the Lord God.” And he was so full of the devil that he readily lied, saying they were not loud but that I was. My short (now forgotten) reply was likely, “I’m not as loud as them.” Then I went right back to preaching, ignoring him because he was being most unreasonable with his sinful lying.
When he saw that I chose to ignore him, he decided to go back to his house to get away from me. But an amusing event hindered him temporarily. His very young puppy followed him out there and played around his feet till about the time I started back preaching. Then it became apparent that ol’ God hater’s pup was a most spiritual little doggy, because it liked my preaching. That little pup left his master’s feet, came to me and started playing all over my feet. Picture that pup, 2-3 months old, just a cute little ball of fur. Apparently he had never yet been harmed by man or beast, so not yet knowing to fear anything, and taking to this stranger like I was his best friend (which may have been true).
The man was so repulsed by my preaching that he loathed getting near me, I believe, as he tried to call his pup back to him from a few feet away. But that spiritual pup was enjoying being in “church” so much that he just completely ignored his master and continued playing all over my long feet, just as happy as he could be. My first thought was to do the man a favor by reaching down to scoop up his puppy and take it to him. But I think it was the Holy Spirit that changed my mind on that and led me to just keep on preaching. So that miserable Christ hater had to walk up to me and bend down low before me to pick up his spiritual puppy off my feet to take it home. I felt good about God recompensing both him and me like that. And my sermon there lasted well over 3 minutes.
On a different Sunday afternoon in a different town, I was preaching on a narrow back street with houses lining it, seldom seeing anyone but knowing someone was in most houses. Whether inside or outside their houses, most people try to hide from me. And because they can hear me preaching half a block away, often they get the windows, curtains, and doors all closed and themselves well hidden before I get to their house. Anyway, I was preaching away with none of my “congregation” in sight, when a window came flying open on the side of the house nearest me. Then a boy about 15 years old stuck his head out and madly shouted, “You’re noisy!”
How pleasing to me to learn that I was loud enough for him to hear me, and also to learn that my sermon had penetrated all the way to his rebellious heart, evidenced by his anger. So with joy over his report on the effectiveness of my preaching, I just cranked up the volume a little more and increased the heat also by switching my sermon topic to that of “Hell.” He got hotter and madder, and pounded on the outside wall of his house with his hand, demanding that I shut up. But I didn’t. And he soon did, shutting the window and disappearing from my sight, but still not escaping my voice. Again, my sermon there turned into a long one. I get more excited about preaching when I see my “congregation” getting excited about hearing me. Don’t you feel the same way, fellow preachers? I felt somewhat obligated to that excited young man, to provide him plenty of excitement.
In 1981, when Brother Jim Norton asked me to come preach a 3-day revival service at his church, he printed up 50,000 invitations for it. For about a month before the scheduled revival, he and his church members passed out those notices. But no one who received one of those many invitations came to those revival services. (His faithful church members attended, but no one who received those invitations did.) I traveled to his place about 2 days before the revival started and helped them pass out the last of those invitations.
One morning, about 5 of us went to a large high school to pass out the invitations to hundreds of students as they walked through the school gate for 40 minutes or so. Over half of that time, there was a constant parade of 2-3 students abreast arriving there and we could view that column of souls a long ways down the sidewalk, as they approached the school gate where we were. A light rain was falling so most of them were under their umbrellas. Looking down that line, the students furthest away from us carried their umbrellas canted slightly backwards over their heads. But coming closer to us, the angle of the umbrellas changed to upright, then to directly in front of the faces and abdomens of the students to whom we were trying to hand an invitation. As for some of them, we could not see faces or hands, just black umbrellas from about waist up, held there like a shield against us. Many of them did not take an invitation. Most who did, took it “under protest.” After they all arrived at school and we were ready to leave, we could see many of the invitations thrown down on the school ground and knew that many more were already in trashcans inside the building. And none of those kids came to church to hear me preach. That was disappointing.
It was a good thing for us to pass out those invitations. They had some scriptures written on them. And as each of those souls stand before their Creator in Judgment, that Judge might just hand their invitations back to them for them to review as he passes judgment on them.
At the start of my missionary work, I passed out Christian literature in front of all the schools here in Matsuida. But I soon ceased doing it at the junior high and senior high schools, as so few of those students would take the literature. Standing at those gates, it was quite entertaining to watch some of the boys go over the fence or through a thick hedge to avoid the school gate where I stood.
At that age, they feel so great and tough and are so rebellious against God. Therefore I waste little time trying to put the printed Gospel into their hands when they battle so hard against taking it. Instead, I just love to stand on the street, 10 feet or so away from them in their own houses and declare unto them, “thus saith the Lord God.” It is impossible for them to refuse to hear it, like they refuse to take the printed literature.
That raving, mad 15 year-old boy, shouting and pounding on the side of his house, just could not keep the message out of his ears and heart. Neither could that angry man with the spiritual puppy shut out my preaching. Any of them can easily silence me by coming out with their kitchen knife and cutting out my tongue. Or that boy could come out with his baseball bat and batter my brains out to silence me. Such will likely happen some day. But till it does, may God help me to be like “perfect and upright” Job.
“Neither was I quiet.” Amen and AMEN!
“And they…yet shall know that there hath been a prophet among them.” That is exactly what I want them to know.
I have learned from much experience, that the devil has trained many of his children to be most skillful in avoiding Bible preaching and teaching that comes their way in most every form. But when a Christian just starts preaching to them anywhere they may be, I have seen that they sure do have a difficult time avoiding that. They do have the choice of leaving in some instances, but not when they are already inside their own houses. What a privilege and joy to go out and preach to people wherever they may be. Won’t you do it too?
“Heavenly Father, please instill such a desire in me, a burning, unquenchable desire to tell everyone I can, ‘thus saith the Lord God.’ Show me exactly just how Thou wouldest have me to declare Thy words to everyone and give me the courage to do it. I pray this for all other Christians too. Amen.”
One other negative reaction by elderly women was also quite common. When they heard me preaching outside, they would kneel in front of the Buddhists altar in their house and start the chanting they do when they worship before that pagan altar. Many times when I heard it, I am quite sure they were doing it then to “counter” my preaching. If I got louder, they would get louder. When I finished preaching, if I stood in front of their house listening just a while, usually they soon stopped their chanting. So they sort of made that into a contest. And come Judgment Day, we will see for sure, just who won. “Neither was I quiet.”
I first came to this town of Matsuida in October, 1977, and started looking for a house to live in, but was not able to find a rental house till August, 1978, at which time I moved into it. During those 10 months that I looked for a house here, I stayed part-time in a Japanese inn in Matsuida and the rest of the time in my house about 17 miles away. I would pass out tracts, witness out in public, and I held some Sunday morning services in a community hall. A highlight of those 10 months was going to a small park, about one-quarter an acre in size, and having children gather round me there. I had a bag of songbooks and Sunday School materials and the children would sing with me and listen to my Bible stories. In that park, I saw the first Japanese person make a decision to receive Christ in response to my preaching.
Emi, an 8-year-old girl, came around a lot, enjoyed singing more than the others, and listened to my preaching the best. After several days of “park evangelism,” it started raining one day when I was there with Emi and 2 other children. So we got under the roof of a small Shinto shrine there in the edge of the park, and I continued talking about Christ under the roof right next to the idols in that shrine. Emi always listened well to God’s word. And at this time, with no urging from me, she spoke up, “I want to believe on Christ.” So all 4 of us knelt there on the floor of that pagan shrine and the 3 children repeated aloud the prayer I led. (I know the many demons in that shrine detested to hear and see that.) I believe Emi prayed in sincerity. The other 2 children likely just went along with Emi, without putting their hearts into it. Emi’s decision greatly blessed me at a most difficult time when I was butting my head against the barrier of this rural community treating me like the foreign invader I was.
It was late October or early November of 1977, when Emi prayed with me there. After that, she kept coming to my open-air services in the park, then to Sunday services in my house when I moved into it in August of 1978. As she got older, she grew cold to the Bible, and me. Then she steadily evolved into being rude and nasty to me. She completely quit coming to my house in 1979 or early 1980 and the last time I saw her out in public was 3 or 4 years after that. I do not know if she got saved when she prayed with me. Please pray for her, that she will trust fully in Christ and live for Him. I sure do want to see her in Heaven. She was born about 1969, so that will let you calculate what her age is now. “Heavenly Father, please keep dear Emi in Thy Loving, Protecting Care. If she is not yet a converted, born-again child of Thine, I beg Thee to save her and not let her perish.”
When I first entered this town of Matsuida in October of 1977 with an overnight bag and got an upstairs room in a little inn, I was soon shocked to learn that vacant rental housing was just about non-existent here. I prayed hard for God to provide me a house to rent, and so rejoiced when I found one after about nine months of hard searching. I moved into it on August the 1st, 1978 and still live in it (2,003). I didn’t even own a bicycle then, much less a motor vehicle. So I walked all over town, looking for children playing outside who knew me. When I found any children, I told them that I now had a house and told them where it was. Thank God they flocked to it just as they had flocked to the park to see me.
So I immediately started Sunday School each Sunday morning and attendance was “good.” Also, it was like “open house” most every day of the week, as children showed up most any time of the day, except during school time. They came to play, but I required Bible and singing also. For about six months after I rented this house, children showed up unannounced and unscheduled, more days than they did not show up. Oh, it was a blessed time. I soon announced services for adults on Sundays and just a few came.
I soon learned a disappointing thing about “building a church” in Japan. Despite all prayers and efforts, one often builds “down” instead of “up.” Attendance is the highest at the start and steadily goes down. People flocked out when I first came here, but mainly only out of curiosity and excitement over seeing a Caucasian person, which was a most rare sight in this town at that time. No other Caucasian lived in this town then, though some missionaries and English teachers came here regularly for their business.
When I first came here, a lot of people came to see me and attend my evangelistic services. But it was usually not out of a desire to hear about the Lord Jesus Christ. It was mainly for the same reason a crowd will go to a circus; it is rare and exciting. And have you ever thought about why the circus only stays in town a few days? It is because the excitement soon fades and therefore the crowds decrease in number. When I came to Matsuida, people flocked around to see me for just about the same reason they go see a circus clown. And as the excitement faded away, so did the people. Within three months or so after I moved here in August of 1978, the number of people who came to my house began steadily decreasing and just about reached zero in 1986.
Anyway, those first two years were so blessed, with someone coming very often. And I would tell them all I could about eternal life in Christ. In that park with many children flocking around and in my house with guests coming often, “neither was I quiet.”
During that autumn of 1978 and the following winter as I sadly watched the numbers drop, God’s leading to get out and preach in public steadily became clearer as time passed. So when the weather warmed up a little in the spring of 1979, on April the 13th I got out and preached on the streets here in Matsuida for the first time. For months, I had prayed for the courage to get started doing it. And when I finally did start, what great joy and satisfaction it brought to my soul. Words cannot describe it. To God be the glory for it.
Though I continued having Sunday services in my house and doing what I could do to get people to attend them, from the first day that I started that street preaching, it became my main missionary work till September of 1980. I often did it 7 days a week, up to 6 or 7 hours a day. I know that is a short workday, but my voice was usually gone after about 6 hours or so. (I never used any mechanical means to amplify my voice.) But “neither was I quiet,” at least until my voice gave out. The rest of my time each day was often spent alone with God in Bible study and intercessory prayer for those who were hearing my preaching. “Save them, Lord, I earnestly pray!” At that time, I gave out just very little Christian literature because I seldom had money to buy it. But I had a voice. God gave it to me free when He created me. He gave me that voice to tell other people about Him. So with His Help, I hope to always use it for this purpose.
To this time (2,003), I have continued to preach out in public somewhat regularly, and hope to do so until I die or till Christ returns to take me home. But because street preaching was my main outreach from April of 1979 till September of 1980, that short period benefited me so much spiritually and now abounds with such precious memories. Words cannot adequately convey that to you. It was a time when my life was so uncluttered and free from the cares of this life and things of the world. I had so few other affairs to attend to and almost nothing else on my mind besides going out daily and preaching simple salvation messages to all the lost Japanese around me. Therefore my eye was ever so single and what a blessing that was.
“The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness.” (Luke 11:34)
Daily I walked these many narrow streets and alleys, stopping every 30 feet or so to preach a 3 minute sermon. I became very familiar with everyday life in this town. I learned a lot of people’s faces, but few names. Though most of the people resented my intrusion, my heart became molded to this town as I fasted and prayed for revival here. Would you please pray for that too?
Once, a man remarked to me that it made a profound impression on him to see me preaching near his house, holding my umbrella as a light snow fell. I would stay on the job in light snow or rain, “holding forth the words of life,” the one thing these Japanese need, the one thing you or I or anyone needs.
As 1979 wore on, I became desirous to go further distances to preach, as I had repeatedly preached up and down the streets of Matsuida. About that time, a friend gave me a used bicycle, free. So I finally had some “wheels.” Then I began to pedal that bicycle east to the adjacent and larger city of Annaka where densely populated areas were even more abundant than in this smaller town of Matsuida.
From April of 1979 to September of 1980, I was a very rich person as I preached out in public most every day, lots of days till my voice gave out. God filled my heart to overflowing with joy. He gave me so much spiritual growth, which I firmly believe was a direct result of the street preaching. His Presence was so close, real, and glorious. These things made me so rich. Also there was one other important thing that made me ever so rich, physical poverty.
“I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich)…” (Revelation 2:9) My works then were Bible study, praying, fasting, and public preaching. There were some tribulations, and there was frequent dire physical poverty. “But thou art rich.” Amen! I sure was. I was so rich. Physical poverty is so conducive to spiritual richness in a believer’s life. And the opposite is just as true. Physical riches are conducive to spiritual poverty, as believers will come to live for all the exciting things money will buy.
“Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.” (Revelation 3:17)
In prosperous nations, that is the condition of so much of the body of Christ, living for the many varied pleasures that all their increase of “goods” brings to them. But spiritually, those Christians are “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked,” and are without enough spiritual sense to realize that is their condition. And you can readily see what the physically rich churches have resorted to, to get and to keep a crowd of people. They bring the world into the church, and then bring sin into the church as a calling card to get people to come and indulge in that which God so strongly opposes.
Had I been “blessed” with plenty of money when I started missionary work, I may have succumbed to using it to finance a lot of worldly activities to draw a crowd for engaging in worthless activity, then brag about the “success” of the vain, worldly uproar that I had going. Praise God for saving me from such foolishness by giving me the wonderful blessing of poverty. What a rich blessing in disguise, is that of poverty.
I could give out only a very little Christian literature, because I had no money with which to buy it. So my activities consisted mainly of street preaching, Bible study, prayer, and fasting. Fasting was greatly aided by the fact that, at times, I had no money to buy food. From the time I moved to Matsuida in August 1978 till about June 1980, I had no refrigerator. Not having one was sort of a moot point, as I usually had no food to put into it. The times I had no food to prepare and eat, afforded that extra time for preaching, praying, Bible study, and of course, fasting. Oh I was so rich, rich beyond measure! “I know thy… poverty, (but thou art rich).” Amen! I sure was!
I had the riches of most close fellowship with my precious Lord Jesus Christ. “Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.” (Hebrews 13:12&13)
One way that we can go unto Jesus outside of the “camp,” is to go outside our dwellings and our church houses and proclaim Him out in public. His Presence and His Fellowship is ever so dear and precious, when we obey His invitation to do that. But so few Christians will do it, simply because they are ashamed to bear His reproach. As we proclaim Christ out in public, it just hurts our sinful pride so much; the way people “reproach” us. Therefore we refuse His wonderful invitation here in Hebrews, to go unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach. Oh what blessed riches we miss out on, when we refuse to do that.
“My Dear Lord Jesus, please help me not to spurn this wonderful invitation of Thine. Please give me victory over sinful pride and help me not to be ashamed to bear Thy reproach out in public before the devil’s crowd. Help all my fellow believers to also please Thee by obeying this blessed invitation of Thine. Amen.”
At the start of my missionary journey, dire poverty often prevented me from using any evangelistic method that required money. So I had little choice but to opt for a free method, going unto my Lord Jesus without the camp and bearing His reproach as I stood ever so close to Him, proclaiming Him to the many Japanese who were adamantly rejecting Him. That close fellowship was ever so precious. How true it is that the best things in life are FREE! Amen!
From the fall of 1979 through the spring of 1980, many of my days were filled with long hours of street preaching. I preached a lot of days in the adjacent city of Annaka, instead of here in the town of Matsuida where I live. I would pedal my bicycle down to Annaka about noon and sometimes preach till after 8 P.M. Then I would pedal that bicycle back home, 5 miles or so up a steady incline in the road, arriving home after 9 P.M., sometimes with no food in the house. Upon returning home, sometimes I would just sit with my Bible opened, right in the midst of the glorious Presence of my Saviour. Other than one chair, a desk, and a small folding table, my house was void of furniture. There is no TV, almost nothing with which to amuse or entertain myself. Therefore, our God, Whose Name is Jealous (Exodus 34:14), was ever so glad to fill the empty house with His Splendid Glory. Oh how wonderful it was!
I recall one particular, cold day in the winter of 1979-80, arriving home well after 9 P.M., cold and exhausted after pedaling my bicycle slightly uphill about 5 miles, after standing and preaching for 6 hours or so throughout a wide area in the city of Annaka. I had eaten very little all day and on returning home, I sat down in my little kitchen, cold, tired, and hungry, with thoughts of eating some bread, potatoes, and onions that I had. All I had for heat in the house were two small, portable electric heaters. But I didn’t bother to turn on either of them. Rather I just sat in the kitchen, bundled up, with the intent of eating some of the little food I had in the house. But before getting out the food, I first sat at the small table in the kitchen to catch my breath after pedaling that bicycle uphill for 5 miles. I was plenty worn out after what I had done that day, preaching all alone and absolutely no response to my 5 or 6 hours of holding forth the Words of Life, not even an encouraging word from any of the many people who heard it.
But my precious Lord knew just what I needed after such a bland day. So He just came right into that little, cold kitchen of mine. His Presence and Great Glory were so real and so blessed that I was quite overcome by it all as I sat there, basking in the most real and so glorious Presence of my dear Lord. The concrete reality of His Presence with me overcame my cold and hunger, causing me to forego alleviating either of them, just to sit there basking in the Great Glory of Almighty God. Words cannot begin to describe that marvelous time to you. There was no wind, no fire, not even a still, small voice; just the glorious reality of Almighty God right there with me. The definite reality of His Very Presence right there with me in that cold kitchen thoroughly convinced me of how pleasing it was to my Lord, for me to just stand out in public and tell everyone “thus saith the Lord God.” I was so poor, but I was also the richest person in the whole world.
Charles Dickens said it ever so well: “It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.” All of us know the truth of that paradox. Looking back on the worst of times, we can later realize they were the best of times. And the vice versa is usually true.
There were so many nights like that glorious one I just described, when I would pedal home late after preaching several hours, and the Presence of my Lord here with me in this little house was so real and precious. There were plenty of nights when I went to bed with an empty stomach, but so full of the joy of the Lord that it just flowed out of my upturned toes as I lay there on my pallet, thinking about Heaven. And one day soon, I will turn up my toes in death and go out to meet the reward for what I did with my life on this earth. And how I rejoice that I haven’t been quiet about eternal matters. “Neither was I quiet.”
Now you are a lot smarter than I am, aren’t you? So please act like it and be like Job in this matter of not being quiet. One day soon, you too are going to turn up your toes in death to lie in a morgue with a nametag tied to one of your toes or with your name written on the sole of your foot. By all means, when that day comes, make sure it is the most joyful and glorious day of your life.
I started that street preaching in the Matsuida area in April 1979. And though I also held services weekly in my house, few people came to them. Therefore long hours of preaching on the streets was my main ministry (and such a blessed ministry it was) till September 1980. Then I started renting community halls and holding services, mainly aimed at children, as they were about the only ones I could get to attend.
I would reserve a community hall; say from 4 to 5 P.M. on a weekday. And on the morning of that day, I would go to the elementary school nearest that community hall and pass out invitations to the children as they came walking to school. God blessed with good attendance at those services and I kept spreading out and holding services in more communities. I completely wore out that used bicycle someone had given me. So I bought a new 27-inch, 18 speed “roadster” bicycle that would really move along.
I spread out till I was going to about 40 communities on that bicycle to hold services, the furthest being about 9 miles away. I held as many as 8 services a week (averaging 4 or 5 a week), each in a different location. The most services I held in one day were 5 services on a Sunday, 2 in the morning, 2 in the afternoon, and 1 at night. “Neither was I quiet.”
Previously, I related how that there were plenty of negative reactions to my street preaching, even from junior high school students, 14 or 15 years old. But children were always a great blessing. Wherever I went street preaching, there were always children who shunned me. Some were afraid of the loud foreigner. But there was often a good number who would flock out to me when they heard me preaching. Sometimes, I looked like the Pied Piper with several children following me around their neighborhood as I preached. I would give them Christian literature. At times, I would take a break from preaching to play with them a while. Children often brought bright sunshine into my long hours of street preaching. What a boost that was to me, and how I thank God for them.
So when I started those services and showed up in front of the school and gave the children an invitation to come to a service in their community hall, many children came. Oh what a blessing those services were. Sometimes I would preach to the children as I passed out the invitations in the mornings. And sometimes I would go back to that school gate about 2 P.M. and stand there preaching to them as they left school, preaching there till almost 4 P.M. Then I would pedal that bicycle to the community hall nearby and rejoice to see several waiting outside. I would open up the hall, have the service, play with the children a while, close up the hall, and then walk through part of their neighborhood an hour or more about supper time, preaching. Sometimes children who had been at my service an hour before, would now come to the window of their house, or come to me outside, when they heard me preaching near their house. Then I would pedal home late to have a bite of supper, my heart so full of joy over having broadcast so many Gospel seed that day. Oh how blessed it was. “Neither was I quiet.”
One afternoon when I had no meeting scheduled, I walked down to the grammar school nearest my house and started preaching as the children started walking out of the school to go home. In Japanese, I had written “CHRIST IS ALL” on a sheet of paper. I taped that sheet of paper onto my back, and faced away from the school to preach. As the children came out of the school in small groups, usually one or two of them would read aloud, “Christ is All,” upon seeing that sign on my back. Whereupon, I would pull out some used postage stamps from the U.S., give one stamp to each child who said that aloud, and tell them that is what they got for saying that. Whereupon the rest of the kids present would shout out, “Christ is All,” because they also wanted a foreign stamp. Then I would give one stamp each to the rest of them who had just chimed in.
Then I would tell them that they could have another stamp each if they would say “Christ is All” two times. They all immediately screamed it out. I would give each another stamp and offered another stamp for them to say it three times. They did of course. I think I kept on till they said it five times at once. Other children coming out of school would run to us, asking the ones already there what was going on. And upon being told, they immediately started chanting, “Christ is All,” and holding out their hands for stamps. For quite some time, close to an hour, I guess, shouts of “Christ is All” reverberated regularly through the air for all the people and demons around there to hear. Oh, how that thrilled me!
There is a Buddhist temple in front of the school, another one on the east side of the school, and a Shinto shrine on the west side of the school. All three of these demons’ nests are right adjacent to the school. So there were plenty of demons present and I delighted to know how they detested hearing those many shouts of “Christ is All.”
I put a limit on the number of stamps I would give each child, and upon receiving their limit, they soon headed on home. So, toward the end of my time spent there, I was preaching with no one around, when 5 or 6 girls came out the gate. When they saw me, they called my name, hurried up to me, and all of them appeared to be so scared. They were 5th or 6th graders, 11 or 12 years old, not small children. So I asked them what was wrong. And they related a horror story that their schoolteacher had just told them. “Late at night in a large, old house, a woman had been brutally murdered.” The teacher told his class that story with plenty of gory details and then concluded with; “Now it is said that if any of you dream about this story, then you too will meet the same fate as the murdered lady.”
Now folks, isn’t that a high quality education? Here in Japan, teaching about the true God, the Bible, and the Lord Jesus Christ, is forbidden in the public schools. But apparently there were no rules at all, against telling those 11-year-old girls this devilish story designed to literally scare them to death. They were in a panic, almost in tears, moaning to me that there was no way they could be sure not to dream about that. “What can we do?” they asked me in desperation.
The only proper response was to preach the Lord Jesus Christ to them, which I immediately started doing. They had heard plenty of my preaching over the past few years, had gotten plenty fed up with it, and even in their terrible fear now, didn’t want to hear it. So I hadn’t said but a few sentences when one interrupted to shut me up. “What are you doing out here now?”
So I twisted around to show them the sign on my back and said, “If you say that, you get one American stamp.”
“Christ is All,” they all immediately piped up.
As I handed out a stamp to each of them, I said, “If you will say it twice, you can have another stamp.”
“Christ Is All! Christ Is All!”
“If you will say it 3 times, you can have another stamp.”
“CHRIST IS ALL! CHRIST IS ALL! CHRIST IS ALL!”
With each round, they got more excited and louder, and I watched their fear and panic turn into smiles and joy. And soon one girl said with a beaming face, “I’ve forgotten that!” (Referring to the death threat that her nice teacher at school had put her under.) And with happy faces, the other girls confirmed the same thing; that they also had “gotten over it.”
So I told them that if that ol’ tale, or anything similar to it, happens to come into their minds again, to just start screaming out loud, “CHRIST IS ALL! CHRIST IS ALL!” They took note of that and went on their way, much happier than when they had left that scary classroom.
You see, in addition to the natural fear brought on by that wicked story told by that wicked teacher, demons of fear had latched onto those girls. And in cahoots with that demon loving schoolteacher, those demons of fear were now trying to scare those girls to death. But when those girls started repeatedly shouting, “CHRIST IS ALL,” those demons just couldn’t hold on. They couldn’t stand to hang around and listen to that. They had to get away from that sound. So they fled. Oh what Victory in Christ! Oh what Power in the spoken Word! Let us not be quiet! Let us shout it from the mountaintops! “CHRIST IS ALL!” “Neither was I quiet.”
“Now Brother Richard, you just have too active an imagination. Those girls just got happy and excited over getting those stamps and therefore simply forgot what the teacher had said, and cheered up.”
The stamps may have had just a little, tiny part in cheering them up. But I believe that most of their cheer came from just exactly what I described above. You can give the glory to those stamps if you want to. But I’ll give the glory to Almighty God and to the great power in those words, “CHRIST IS ALL.” Amen and AMEN!
I continued doing this type of evangelistic work until December 1984. I held services in 42 communities, a service most every day of the week, each in a different community, taking a few weeks to complete that circuit. And I preached on the streets most every day. I used most all of my time doing that. There was very little else that I took time for. It was the most joyous period of time I have known in Japan. “Neither was I quiet.”
“It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.” It was the most severe poverty that I have known as an adult, rivaled only by the poverty of my college days. But it was a most rich time spiritually. Now, about 20 years later (2,003), I look back on it with such fond memories. So far, that time (1979-1984) has been the richest and most blessed time I have known in Japan. How I praise God for it!
During that time, there were lots of nights I would come home after 9 P.M. from street preaching, eat a little, pray, then rest a while. Then about 1 A.M., I would head out again on that bicycle with my little flashlight and a wire clothes hanger that I had straightened out, leaving the hook on one end of it. I would pedal through some of the business areas of Matsuida and Annaka, looking for coins under the many vending machines on the streets. And when I found a coin, I would fish it out from under the vending machine with that wire hook, working at that an hour or two to collect 1 or 2 dollars worth of “yen” for buying a little food the next day. (I did that in the dead of the night, so people would not see me doing it.) I was so skinny then, but how God flooded my skin and bones with such great joy. “It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.” And how I thank God for those times.
Some of you think you would be that happy if only you weren’t overweight. Well, here is a good diet plan for you. Spend all of your time holding forth the Words of Life to everyone around you. Then see how many Christians will support you for doing that which most Christians consider a total worthless waste of anyone’s time.
In December 1984, I went on furlough to the U.S. and that ended an era. Likely, I will never again have that exact kind of evangelistic outreach. What a blessing it was. How rich are the memories of it. “Neither was I quiet,” was a dominant part of it.
I returned to Japan in May 1986, after having been away about 17 months. Being desirous for some relief from constant, dire poverty and also needing money to continue printing my first two books I had recently written, I started a small business here in Japan, selling souvenir goods on the street in the nearby mountain resort town of Karuizawa where I had studied the Japanese language. I did that selling part-time and was diligent to get out the Gospel while working that job. I put Christian literature in the bags with the things my customers bought, displayed short Bible verses and placards about salvation in Christ. And though at first I balked at doing so, I soon started preaching while there on that busy street, operating my little business. There was such a crowd of people that I couldn’t resist turning them into a “congregation” and preaching to them. Their rudeness also helped fire me up and encourage me to preach.
One place I sold was on the edge of the street in front of the entrance to Karuizawa Church, the pastor having given me permission to sell there. The church was on the crowded main street of this tourist town, a street lined with rather small store spaces that rented for big money. Therefore many of the merchants were beast-like in their efforts to gain all the filthy lucre they could. There are no sidewalks on that crowded street. If anyone parks a car in front of a store for just a couple of minutes, usually the merchant will come out mad and run them off. I watch them even tell their own customers not to park their bicycles in front of the store when they come in to shop. I have seen merchants tell people to move on, when those people were simply standing in front of their store. Most every store used every available inch of space for selling, wanting customers to hand over their money and then quickly get gone out of their way. Don’t dare sit on their front stoop for a minute to catch your breath. It amazed me at how strict and rude those merchants were on the Japanese tourists and also how much the tourists respected the merchants’ money gaining efforts and fairly well complied with their greedy, selfish rules.
But they sure didn’t show any such respect for God’s church and its property. The entrance to the church is only about 20 feet wide on the street. And it was appalling the way the tourists would mob that area. In hot weather, people would flock there for the shade under the 2 trees in the churchyard and because merchants would not tolerate them standing in front of stores. People would freely enter the church property; throw down garbage, and such, till the church put up a lightweight metal, accordion-like gate against the encroachment. I was there when the church installed the gate, and then I watched the mob just about completely destroy it in about two years. Many people would lean against it. Children would “play” on it and with it, pushing it back and forth and such.
Rental bicycles are a big business in Karuizawa as the Japanese tourists pedal them around town. And because the many merchants who receive the tourists’ money do not want the bicycles in front of their stores, the church entrance drew the bicycles like a magnet. People continually rammed bicycles against the church gate as they parked them there, destroying the gate. Though the pastor gave me permission to sell in front of the church entrance, out of respect to the other church people, I used a small cart for my wares, which was only 19 inches by 28 inches. And I placed it at the corner of the entrance to be out of the way of church people entering the middle of the gate. (The pastor’s family lived in the church. Also the church operated a kindergarten. So people came and went daily through that gate.)
Though merchants seldom tolerated even their own customers parking bicycles in front of their stores for just a short time, a few store personnel would ride bicycles or a motorcycle to work and park that in front of the church all day long, as they worked in the store all day. Tourists would line that entire 20 foot church entrance from edge to edge with a tightly packed row of bicycles and sometimes start a 2nd row behind that 1st row. They would ram the bicycles against my tiny stand and pile bicycles up around it, preventing potential customers from reaching my little “store.” And then the bike riders would walk away, so glad that they had found a place to park their bicycles. Some people left their bicycles heaped on me and on the church for hours, as they leisurely browsed through stores, leaving their money with merchants who wouldn’t tolerate customers’ bikes in front of their stores. And some of those merchants even had their own bicycles parked in front of the church all day.
I watched the people who entered and exited the church, having to untangle a pile of bicycles and move them, before they could get through that gate. I watched bicycles destroy that expensive, new church gate as they were rammed against it and laid against it. And how my righteous indignation rose within me. The pastor posted large signs on the gate: “BICYCLE PARKING FORBIDDEN.” But most people ignored those signs like they were blind people. Once a lady and teenage daughter arrived on 2 bicycles. Mom parked right against that sign and told her daughter to do the same. The girl looked at the sign and asked, “But is it O.K.?” And Mom haughtily replied, “Sure.” As people pedaled up to leave their bicycles there, I would tell one after another to not do that, till I grew most weary of it. (You who think that all Japanese people are polite and well-mannered… well, you just haven’t rubbed noses with them long enough.)
It was amazing to watch their sinful hypocrisy of respecting greedy, sinful merchants by not getting in the way in front of stores. But with glee, they would completely obstruct the entire church entrance while destroying its gate. Though they loved to freely use and destroy church property like that, a team of strong horses couldn’t have pulled any one of them through that gate and into the church house to hear the Bible being preached. Therefore I soon concluded that there was only one sensible thing for me to do, preach to them there at that church gate where they loved to congregate. So that is exactly what I started doing.
When I first started selling in front of that church, I didn’t preach while I was out there. I would kindly ask people not to put their bikes there, but to little avail. Then I began putting Christian literature (a tract) into the bicycle baskets. One man just about got fighting mad upon returning and finding a tract in the basket of his bicycle that had sat there blocking the entrance to the church. I soon concluded that the best thing I could do for that mob of rude, Christ-rejecting sinners gathered at the church gate, would be to just preach, “thus saith the Lord God” to them. So I soon started doing that. “Neither was I quiet.”
Me preaching there greatly cut down on the number of bikes rammed against the church gate and the number of sinners ratcheting that gate back and forth for their entertainment and its destruction. But it was like bailing water out of a boat full of holes. Each time I stopped preaching to attend to one of my customers, or to get a drink of water, or to eat lunch; like buzzards flocking to their roost, another mob flocked in.
Because of the above mentioned and various other interruptions, I only preached about 5 to 15 minutes at a time. At first, it greatly taxed my courage each time I had to start up preaching again, as a new flock of buzzards would be there who were unaware that I preached. And it was quite a shock to them each time I started up. But I soon got over my initial state of “shyness” and came to be quite entertained by their shocked reactions.
In peak tourist season, there would be lots of people standing in front of that tangle of bicycles, licking soft cream cones they had bought next door. And when my courage was at its peak, I would elbow my way right into their crowded midst. I could just about read their minds. “What does this foreign missionary with a Bible think he is doing, crowding us like this as we block the church gate?” My fellow preachers, picture this. Sometimes with my elbows in their ribs, or vice versa, I would haul off preaching.
Talk about some shocked Japanese. And so often their poker faces could completely conceal the shock. But if I looked closely at their eyes, I could just about see demons of hate dancing in them. And I learned an amazing thing about Japanese human bodies. Apparently it is possible for them to relocate their bodies without moving a single muscle. Because when the first loud words pealed forth from me, everyone close by seemed to instantly freeze, some in mid-lick on their ice cream. Then thawing came quickly and their bodies seemed to slowly distance themselves from me without the body’s owner moving any muscle. I am not 100% sure of that. But it did appear that way and it was plenty amusing to observe.
Frequent interruptions to my preaching resulted in frequent new startups, with my elbows in the ribs of a fresh new “congregation” of sinners. How amusing to see their shocked reactions, and then watch them just float away. Preachers, that was a close preaching experience with Hell-bound sinners, and I invite you to preach to such “close congregations.” It will do wonders for you.
That church gate turned out to be such a good preaching spot, because the mob loitering there were not even half of my congregation. I mentioned that a lot of them were licking a soft cream cone. They bought it next door at a popular coffee shop that sold the soft cream at a walk up window on the street. And in peak season a long line formed from that window and extended along the church entrance. Sometimes the line of people went all the way across the 20 foot wide church entrance and then doubled back to make 2 lines of eternal souls on the street in front of the church. If the people in line failed to double back, but instead extended on across till they were in front of the store on the opposite side of the church entrance, that merchant would quickly come out and tell them to double back in front of the church. Sometimes when the line of ice cream customers started forming, in their ignorance they would line up in the opposite direction on the street, obstructing the entrance to the store on the other side of the coffee shop. Whereupon, a worker from the coffee shop would instantly come out, show them the error of their ways, and get them lined up in front of the church.
“You dummies! Don’t you have any better sense than to block the store entrance of a money-loving merchant! Can’t you see from that tangle of bicycles and that mob of ice cream lickers blocking the church entrance, that is where you should line up? All the church is doing is holding forth the Words of Life to us Hell-bound sinners. They’re not doing anything important! But all these merchants here are busy making money (which is their god). So don’t you dare get in their way. Get over there in front of the church, so as not to bother anyone who is doing anything important!” (That is not much of an exaggeration on their attitude. It was most appalling to see.)
Anyway, in addition to the mob of ice cream lickers in front of the church gate with their elbows in my ribs when I started preaching, often a greater number (up to 40 or so) were lined up in front of me. Because the street was so crowded, the people in line tried to stay as close as possible to the street’s edge that was already cluttered with bicycles, people, and one preacher, all up against the church gate. Therefore before I opened my mouth to preach anew, as I faced the street, that line of souls running from my left to right was often within 2 feet of my face. Fellow preachers, it wasn’t like them being on the front pew. It was like them being in the pulpit with me. Close. Ever so close. Oh how I liked that! Too bad that they didn’t!
As soon as I “let’er fly,” those standing in line would also freeze. Then the slightly meandering (not room to meander much) line would change to a line as straight as a stiff rod, as far away from me as they dared get out into the street, but still only 4 or 5 feet from me. They too appeared to relocate themselves without moving a muscle. What a marvel to behold. Usually their talking ceased momentarily. Then as the mob licking their cream at the gate floated away, the ones in line were faced with a big decision; “Do I love this ice cream I am waiting to buy, more than I hate Bible preaching?” The ones that loved that ice cream more than they hated preaching stood there in line like true soldiers and endured listening to me so they could get that cream. But frequently 2 or 3 people would break ranks and stalk away without their ice cream, showing that they hated my preaching more than they loved that cream. What a sight to behold.
Most, who left that line because of my preaching, were not mean looking or punk like people. Most were highly refined society ladies. They are admired throughout Japan (and the world) as an important pillow of this “great” Japanese society, and are looked upon by many as being such good people. But their proud hearts are overflowing with sinful hatred for their Creator.
“Heavenly Father, please change their hearts. Grant them repentance. Give them faith to trust in Christ and convert them into Thy Children. Have mercy on them, I humbly pray. Amen.”
As I preach out in public, I look for “captive congregations,” people who are in a certain public place for a certain reason, like those waiting for their ice cream. Though some of them will immediately cancel their “business” there and flee, most will stick it out and remain there as the Bible preaching flows into their ears. If you preach out in public, you might also want to look for “captive congregations.”
From 1988, I preached in front of that church for 3 or 4 summers, when the peak season mob of Japanese tourists was there. Thousands of Japanese who never attend church heard how to get saved from the punishment of their sins. On that final day when they line up for God’s Judgment instead of for ice cream, I reckon I’ll be standing along side them again. There’ll be no bicycles in the way. And I will no longer be preaching, as it will be too late for that. I will just be standing there with a river of tears streaming down my face, sadly shaking my head and saying to them, “I sure do wish you had heeded my preaching. I sure do wish you had gotten saved.” “Neither was I quiet.”
Any place I preach in public, people’s angry reactions clearly show how intensely they hate God. But just watching how these Japanese respected store property and gladly abused church property, even when I wasn’t there preaching, showed me even more clearly just how deeply they despise their Creator. In addition to all I have already said about them, they just loved to throw down their garbage on the street in front of the church, or to toss it over the gate onto the churchyard. Those ice cream cones come with a sleeve of paper covering the lower part of the cone (for sanitation). Those little papers were like a plague of lice, thrown down onto the church property and the street in front of it. Though the coffee shop had a trash can placed conveniently out front, so many people liked to “donate” those papers to the church rather than take them 20 feet to the trash can. I soon started watching them closely and told them to “pick it up,” when they threw it down.
Sometimes 3 or 4 people would do their ice cream licking while ringing my little cart, faking interest in my goods while hindering potential buyers. If I weren’t watching closely, some would leave their cone papers on my cart when they finished licking and left. The line of people in front of my cart greatly curtailed my customers. Trucks delivering to nearby stores would completely shut down my selling, as they parked right in front of me. Those wholesalers purposely parked in front of the church instead of the stores they delivered to, so as not to obstruct customers going into those stores to buy those wholesalers’ goods. One truck driver assaulted me right there in front of the church, when I objected to his large truck blocking the church entrance. All these hindrances deeply curtailed my sales, as much as 60% to 70%, I would estimate.
All these things were light afflictions, so very light. And the Word of God certainly wasn’t bound, as I offered eternal life in Christ to masses of souls. The coffee shop had a nice upstairs area where people leisurely sipped strong coffee. Through those opened upper windows (in the summer), distorted faces glared down on me as I preached. Those faces had such sour looks, from the strong coffee, or strong preaching, or something. But I strove to do my God-given duty of warning those sinners to flee the wrath to come. And I am headed for the reward of what I did, just as certainly as they too are headed for the reward of what they did. “Neither was I quiet.”
“Please save them all, Lord. Amen.”
You Christ rejecters who are reading this, some of you hate your Creator just as much as those Japanese ice cream lickers do. Well, I’ve got some good news for you. You do not have to be so foolish and so stupid as to send your own self to an eternal Hell of fire and brimstone, to weep and wail and gnash your teeth forever. You could get down on your knees right now and cry out to God to give you a repentant heart, and to help you turn from your sins and to help you receive Jesus Christ and His forgiveness, cleansing, and eternal life. Why don’t you wise up and do yourself that greatest favor right now?? I pray that you will do that.
“Almighty God, please help me not to be so foolish as to destroy my own self. Please draw me to Thee, break down my stony heart, grant me true repentance over my sins, and give me faith to trust in Thy Saviour, Jesus Christ. Have mercy on me and help me, I pray. Amen.”
After preaching to that ice cream licking “congregation” in front of Karuizawa Church for about 4 summers, through 1992 I guess, I then obtained use of a larger place to sell and therefore moved my preaching elsewhere. But I still have many profound memories of that “ice cream congregation” hanging onto the church gate and destroying it. And I expect to see them all again on Judgment Day. “Save them all, Lord, I pray.”
From 1992 till now (2,003), I have continued to sell for a few months each year in Karuizawa in a larger place. There, I can put out more Christian literature and more Gospel placards. I continue to preach to the crowds there, and sing to them too. I pray that God will help me to be faithful to continue preaching out in public. Doing that is one thing that makes me feel somewhat worthy to receive the monies from you few who support me financially. Thank you so much for this great help you give to me and I do want to be a missionary that is worthy to receive it. Please pray for me, that I will always be that.
“Neither was I quiet.”
Think seriously on what I say next, because it is most important. Down through the years, I have sadly observed many preachers quit preaching because few or no people would listen to their preaching. My fellow preacher, don’t quit because of that! Think on Noah’s example of preaching 100 years with no converts, except his own family. Think on God commanding Ezekiel to let the people know there has been a prophet among them, even if none of them heeds that prophet. Think on the many other such examples in the Bible. And if you get absolutely no positive response from your preaching, that is absolutely no valid reason to quit preaching. And likely God would be most displeased with you quitting for that reason.
I have observed pastors in the U.S. who quit preaching because they cannot find a church that will let them pastor it. I have observed “independent pastors” try their best to start a church or at least get a gathering of people. Then after some time, they become so discouraged that they completely quit because few or none attend. Evangelists quit preaching because few or no churches ask them to come and preach.
Here in Japan, I watch Japanese preachers quit for those same reasons. And I watch missionaries, especially “independent missionaries,” quit because few or none will listen to their preaching and/or few or no churches or Christian groups invite them to come as a guest preacher. What a tragedy! Don’t you quit because you can’t get a pulpit. Make the whole world into your pulpit!
It is a most rare occasion for any church, Christian group, or anyone here in Japan to ever invite me to come preach to them. When I conduct my own services, many times no one attends. But not for one split-second, do I believe that gives me any reason to quit preaching. I am still duty bound to my Creator to be faithful to His Calling to me. So please pray for me, that I always will be.
You Christian believers are often around preachers who are discouraged and are considering quitting because few or no people listen to their preaching. Please ask them to read this book and pray that they will be faithful to their calling. These “about to quit” preachers often come to you “successful” preachers for advice and encouragement. Please ask them to read this book, as there is plenty of advice in it and I pray that it will be encouraging to them.
If no one gives you any tithes and offerings for preaching, then work a paying job to make your living. Many preachers throughout the world do that. So you can do it too. After working enough hours to pay for your family’s necessary food, clothing, and shelter, there are still plenty of hours remaining each week to get out and preach. If God has called you to preach and you have obeyed Him by putting your hand to the plow and preaching His Word, then don’t you dare look back. Don’t you dare quit because so few people smile at you, pat you on the back, and compliment you for preaching. Don’t you dare quit because many scorn and ridicule your preaching. Don’t you dare quit because few or none give you money for preaching. BE FAITHFUL TO GOD’S CALLING! Preach His Word, no matter what! For all eternity, you will be most glad that you did. For all eternity, may that which is forever said of Job, also be forever said of you. “NEITHER WAS I QUIET!!”
“Heavenly Father, please give me the fortitude to do that, to preach Thy Word faithfully, as long as I am in this life. Make me to fully understand what a terrible thing it is to turn my back on Thy calling and to quit preaching, no matter what the reason. Help me to faithfully hold forth the Words of Life to the many lost souls around me who so desperately need them. Help me never to give up and quit for any reason. Amen.”
A few months ago, as I was selling and preaching on the streets in Karuizawa, another missionary came by and chatted with me. He got to talking about street preaching and remarked that I was one of 3 people he knew in Japan who had this gift. (He had been in Japan 50 years and knows a lot more missionaries than I do. But I know over a dozen who preach on the streets.)
Anyway, his remark about so few people having that gift struck me as most silly and ridiculous. That’s because essentially all I am doing, when I preach in public, is talking. And the vast majority of people have the ability to talk. And most people use their talking ability much. And when they do so, they tend to talk about that which they love. That is simply what I am doing when I preach out in public, just talking about what I love, God and His Holy Bible.
And likely you also talk much about that which you love. Now I want you to think on that. Think on it long and hard. You regularly and habitually talk much, don’t you? And come Judgment Day, you will give an account to your Creator for each and every word you have uttered during your lifetime. Therefore it would behoove us all, to make much of our talking about God. May God help us to do that.
“Heavenly Father, please help me to do that. Please help me to love Thee with all my heart. Please help me to love talking about God my Saviour more than I love talking about anything else. Help me to tell all the lost souls I can, about salvation in Christ. Help me to be like Job and not be quiet. I pray this for all other Christians too. Amen.”
“The entrance of thy words giveth light.” (Psalms 119:130)
“And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.” (John 1:5)
The Japanese people boost of having 8 million gods in their religions. Each of those is a false god. Each of those is an idol. And behind each is a demon or several demons. Therefore this land is filled with demons and the thick spiritual darkness they bring. And because the Japanese people worship these many idol gods and thereby worship the demons behind the idols, the people’s hearts become so full of darkness. What a miserable existence they have because of that. Then eternity in Hell fire awaits them after their present life of enslavement to the devil ends.
But I know the remedy for hearts in darkness. God’s words giveth light, the True Light of God that has come into this ol’ sin-darkened world. That True Light shineth into that satanic darkness and the darkness cannot possibly overcome it. Glory to God! Oh how lost souls need that Light. And God forbid that I fail to let that Light shine, the Light that is so needed in this ol’ sin-darkened world. The Japanese around me are so blinded by Satan that most of them oppose me letting that Light shine. But I pay no heed to their opposition. Instead I heed my Lord’s command to let that Light shine. “Neither was I quiet.”
Letting that Light shine out in public has been a main source of spiritual growth for me. I memorize much scripture by repeatedly reading it as I preach. Most all of the “deeper” preaching God has entrusted to me, is a direct reward from Him to me in return for me preaching out in public. Most of the power I have when I preach in a pulpit in a steeple house, God has given to me because I have preached many hundreds of more hours out on the street without a pulpit. The vast majority of the content of this book came to my mind while I was out preaching in public. I firmly believe that God gave me this book’s content as a reward for street preaching. And I believe that God is going to use this book to change a multitude of lives for the good. To God be the glory for it all. I say all that to strongly urge you, my fellow Christian, to zealously proclaim God’s words out in public. It will give you a wealth of blessings, benefits, and joy unspeakable and so full of glory.
“Neither was I quiet.”
I have before me on my desk here, two booklets, each a true written story that is also illustrated in picture form (like a comic book). Each is a heart-breaking story of great misery and destruction that spiritual darkness wrought upon some Japanese souls. Each is also a marvelous story of the wonderful change wrought in some of those lives when God’s marvelous light shined into them. So let me share them with you.
One booklet is the story of Yoneko, a Japanese lady. While growing up, Yoneko was so attached to her mother. Therefore she was most devastated upon her mother’s death when Yoneko was in senior high school. At that time, Yoneko did not know about Christ. In her deep grief, she fervently worshipped her deceased mother as the family’s religion taught her to do. Finding no solace there, she more or less cursed the vanity of religion. Then she turned to worldly pleasures, looking for help there. With friends, she madly pursued most every thrill available, trying to overcome the pain in her heart, but to no avail, of course.
She asked one of her school teachers the meaning of life, and got a worthless answer from him. Still searching for the true meaning to life, she went to the library and read books by godless philosophers who taught that life was vain and that death was to be welcomed. What a heartbreaking tragedy that as she desperately sought for the true meaning of life, she found no one who had the Words of Life to hold forth to her. Therefore she chose suicide as her best option. And on Valentine’s Day in 1955, as a high school senior, she stepped in front of a train to end her life, hoping to then be reunited with her beloved mother.
But God spared her life. Then He soon saved her and raised up Yoneko to be a bright and shining light throughout this dark nation of Japan and in several other nations also.
Those heavy iron wheels of that train cut off both of Yoneko’s legs (just below the knees, I think). The wheels also cut off her left arm above the elbow, and cut off 2 fingers (little finger and ring finger) from her right hand. She was rushed to a nearby hospital where the doctors and medical staff put forth every effort to save her life. And with God’s Help, they did that.
But when Yoneko later regained her senses on a hospital bed and came to realize her maimed and crippled condition, she was more despondent than ever and more desirous to die. Daily she received pills for pain and to aid sleeping, but would not take the medicine in the presence of the nurse who brought it. Then when alone, she hid the pills in a candy bag under the bed sheets, planning to save up enough for an overdose and kill herself with it.
Meanwhile, that teacher of hers now felt mighty guilty about being so worthless to her when she had asked him the meaning of life. So he went to a Japanese young man who was a Christian (a high school student, I think). And the heathen teacher asked the Christian boy to go visit Yoneko in the hospital, thinking a Christian might have some help for her. Amen! Way to go, “Teach!” You finally got it right.
So that Japanese Christian young man, Mr. Tahara, took a young American missionary man with him and visited Yoneko in the hospital. She gave them a rude and cold reception. She was so bitter with everything about life and resented them trying to help her. She resented their smiling, cheerful faces, somewhat regarding their joyful dispositions as fake. How could anyone find anything to truly be happy about in life? She did her best to give those 2 young Christian men a cold sholder, hoping that would cause them to cease visiting her. But they just kept coming back regularly, singing hymns, reading the Bible, and such each time.
So, with the Holy Spirit working in her heart, she soon faced the reality of their joy being genuine, and also that it might be possible for even her to have such joy in her messed up life. Time and again, those 2 young Christian men told Yoneko how much the Lord Jesus loved her, what Christ had already done for her, and what He NOW desired to do for her. So one night alone on her hospital bed, she opened up her heart to God and poured it all out to Him in a screaming prayer.
“GOD, HELP ME! If Jesus is truly the Only Begotten Son of God, then please show me that. But if that is a lie, I want to die now in this condition. I have no hope in life and no desire to live. If I am going to be just a big bother to other people in my condition, then it would be much better for me to die. But God, if You are telling me to keep living, THEN PLEASE HELP ME, GOD.”
That night, Yoneko truly prayed to the True God for the first time in her life. Then she soon fell into a deep and restful sleep like she had not known since her mother’s death, and especially since her own suicide attempt. On awakening the next morning, she noticed a bird outside her window and beholding its beauty with joy bubbling up in her own bosom she pondered, “I wonder if that is because I prayed last night? Could God really have heard and answered my prayer?”
With her one remaining hand that had only a thumb and 2 fingers, she picked up the Bible those 2 Christians had left for her, opened it up at random, and her eyes fell on 2nd Corinthians 5:17. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
“THIS IS THE ANSWER TO MY PRAYER LAST NIGHT!!! The ‘old person’ of me existed until last night. Starting today, all of me has completely become a ‘new person.’ Look, I’ve got 3 fingers! Nurse, bring me a pencil! Look! I can hold a pencil and write! I can do anything because I have 3 fingers! It’s not like ‘I only have 3 fingers!’ Thanks be to God that I have 3 fingers!!!”
Amen and AMEN! Suddenly Yoneko’s heart was flooded to overflowing with a desire to live, to learn all she could about God, and to tell everyone she could tell, about the marvelous things God wants to do for them.
That Japanese Christian man, Mr. Tahara, soon proposed marriage to Yoneko. Because of her physical condition, that proposal tore at her heart. “NO!” She cried to him. “I’m just part of a human being! You don’t want me for a wife!” But he pleaded with Yoneko to pray about it. And as she did, God led her to say, “Yes.” So they married and God blessed them with 2 daughters. What a most splendid love story!
And Yoneko certainly hasn’t been quiet about what a marvelous change the Lord Jesus Christ wrought in her life, giving her so much to live for. She has won a multitude of lost souls to Christ and has been such a great blessing to many Christians, including me. I have had the privilege of meeting Yoneko in person, once hearing her testify in a church service here in Japan.
She told of going from house to house to witness to people about her wonderful Saviour, walking on artificial legs to do that. So much of Japan is hilly, with steep inclines on so many streets. Yoneko told how she was not able to walk “forward” on much of an incline, as she would soon “tip over” forward or backward. So when walking uphill or downhill, she would have to turn sideways and take short, jolting side steps to maintain her balance. Doing that, there were times when she jolted the stumps of her legs against those artificial limbs, until the stumps bled. WHY? Because she refused to be quiet about what miraculous help Christ has for troubled souls.
Now as for me, I have 2 strong legs and feet, plus all my arms, hands, and fingers, all still attached to me and in good working order. Therefore God forbid that I shouldn’t constantly “go quickly, and tell.” (Matthew 28:7) “Go and tell!” Constantly “GO AND TELL!! Go and tell” everyone about the eternal hope in Christ. “Neither was I quiet.”
My fellow Christian believer, just look at the healthy, sound, whole body with which God has blessed you. And seriously consider that it is you who decides whether to expend your body’s energies on your own sinful, selfish pleasures, or whether to expend those energies going and telling sin-darkened miserable, desirous-to-die souls, what marvelous hope awaits them in Jesus Christ.
“Lord Jesus, help me to seriously ponder that choice right now, as for all eternity. Break my heart all to pieces over the miserable plight of lost mankind and please set me on fire with a burning passion to go and tell everyone I can, about the Help that Christ offers to them. Please help me not to be quiet. I pray this prayer for all other Christians also. Amen.”
The other booklet here on my desk tells the tragic story of a young Japanese lady who did succeed in committing suicide. Her younger brother, Kenji, whom God saved when he was also considering suicide to escape the much dark misery that filled his life, tells it. Kenji starts the story with his birth in 1953. He was the third child born into his family.
“My birth should have brought the joy that a new baby normally brings. But instead, it opened up a curtain of great pain and suffering for my family. That is because my birth was traumatic to my Mother, bringing on schizophrenia. My Dad divorced her and Mother was committed to an insane asylum. That happened when I was 3, my sister, Eiko, was 6, and my brother, Shunichi, was 10 years old. I was never held nor hugged by my Mother, nor could I remember her face. What a sad little boy I was.”
Starting soon after that, Kenji’s Dad married and divorced one woman after another, till by the time that Kenji was 15 years old, Kenji had his 5th stepmother. Apparently his Dad was hot-tempered and fought with each woman he married, resulting in the marriage soon breaking up. This illustrated booklet shows his Dad arguing and fighting with one of his wives. She is throwing dishes and they are crashing and breaking, so Shunichi is shown herding little Eiko and Kenji into a side room for their safety. Their Dad is screaming to the wife to get out of that house and she is screaming back that she will be glad to leave.
Kenji: “Elder brother, this is scary.”
Shunichi: “You will be O.K. in here (in the side room). Nothing will come flying at you.”
Eiko: “Daddy is so bad to divorce that woman. I’M NEVER GOING TO MARRY!”
Shunichi: “Eiko, all men are not bad.”
With tears flowing Eiko bawls out: “I hate marriage! I want out of this house!” She hugs little Kenji to her and says to him, “Ken, let’s die together!”
Clinging to her, Kenji bawls back, “Oh, sister! Sister!”
The illustration shows Eiko to be 8 or 9, and Kenji to be 5 or 6 years old. How my heart breaks as I now look at the illustration of that tender, little girl so messed up by her Dad that she is weeping and saying, “I hate marriage! I want out of this house.” Then next is the tragic scene of her hugging little Kenji to her pain-racked bosom, Kenji clinging to her too, and both are bawling their eyes out as Eiko wails, “Ken, let’s die together!”
The story then moves on to the time when Eiko did kill herself at about the age of 22. (Likely it took her that long to get up the courage and/or come to the knowledge of a way to take her life.) Kenji says he has recently turned 19 in this new, and much later, scene. He returns home one afternoon from school (likely college), greets Eiko who is cooking at the stove, and notes that it is strange that she said nothing to him in return. (Apparently she had determined to take her life upon his return home that afternoon and didn’t dare open her mouth for fear of her emotions showing.) Kenji flips on the T.V. and facing it, says to Eiko who is behind him, “The old man isn’t home yet. So hurry and fix my meal so I can eat and leave for work. I don’t want to see his face.”
He got no response from the kitchen. But in his heart, as clear as a bell, he heard Eiko screaming, “KENJI, IT’S HOT!” He whirled and was shocked to see no one in the kitchen. He flew out the back door screaming, “Sister!” And there is Eiko kneeling, engulfed in flames. (Most Japanese homes then had a can of kerosene for the stove. Likely Eiko poured that kerosene over her and then set herself on fire.)
Screaming “SISTER!” Kenji grabs a fire extinguisher out of the house and sprays it on her, but to little avail.
Eiko: “I want to die.”
“I want to die,” again comes her weak, dying voice out of the flame. Someone calls an ambulance that soon arrives. But Eiko dies, likely before the ambulance gets there.
The next scene shows Kenji on his knees before a bag containing Eiko’s cremated remains, weeping his heart out. “I’m sorry, Sister! I’m so sorry!
Kenji narrates the story: “I was so caught up with and busy with my own personal affairs that I had no idea Sister was going to take her life.” (He feels guilty that he hadn’t been paying close enough attention to her to recognize her condition and intention, and thereby prevent her from killing herself.) “I knelt before my elder sister’s cremated remains and shed half a lifetime of tears.”
“Then all I could do was to curse my Dad and God! Why is my life so full of continuous sorrow and misery? Does God or Buddha really exist?” (He continues cursing God.)
As time passed after Eiko’s death, Kenji tries to pull himself together. “Since death will some day end my existence, then I might as well have the biggest fling possible now while I live.” Thus setting out to enjoy excitement and thrills, he chose “hot rodding,” racing cars with his buddies, on public streets. Soon, with a friend riding with him, Kenji turned the car too sharply at high speed and the car rolled over 3 times. Kenji received only slight injuries, but his friend was hurt worse and took some time to recover. Kenji’s drivers’ license was revoked because of the accident. And he plummeted ever so low emotionally now, feeling guilty over causing injury to his friend, on top of feeling guilty for not preventing his sister’s suicide.
Kenji: “What can the future possibly hold for me? How can I possibly go on living? What can I possibly do to keep on living? Is there no other choice but to do what Sister did?”
Eiko’s voice again sounds in his heart. “Ken, it’s hot! It’s hot! IT’S HOT!”
Kenji: “NO! Not death! I don’t want to die! Not death!
Death was about the only choice left for Kenji. But it was so scary and repulsive to him.
Kenji: “In this desperate, hopeless condition I was in, God’s Hand finally touched me.” The illustrations show Kenji walking into a Gospel coffee shop named “Shalom,” and ordering coffee. Wandering the streets in despondency, apparently he just went in for coffee, not seeking Christ and not aware that any help awaited him inside. Of course, God in mercy led Kenji in there to rescue that miserable soul. Kenji compliments the young waitress on the bright, cheerful atmosphere of the coffee shop and asks her for matches as he pulls out his pack of cigarettes. She complies and hands him a box of matches. Immediately the writing on the matchbox catches Kenji’s attention.
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
“Hey, lady! What is this writing?”
“Those are Jesus’ words, recorded in the Bible.”
Following that conversation with the waitress, Kenji narrates to us. “Those words fit me perfectly. I was just totally worn out and weary of life.” “All ye that labour and are heavy laden…” Kenji ponders that in his mind. “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
Kenji hears Christ’s gentle voice speaking to his heart. “Kenji, do you want to die? Do you really want to die?”
“I am SO tired,” Kenji replies to Jesus. “Please take my burden away. Please help me.”
Due to this encounter at the coffee shop, Kenji started attending church, where he heard good Gospel preaching about salvation, true Help, and true Hope in Christ. About 2 months later, he prayed this prayer during his baptismal service. “God, if You truly live, then please make me anew. Also, please make my family members anew.”
He thinks on his Dad, whose existence Kenji has detested for so many years. “I wonder if Dad will go to church with me?”
Upon being invited to church by Kenji, his Dad replies, “I sure have seen a change in you since you quit your bartending job. But just don’t push your faith onto me.”
Soon Kenji became engaged to a young Christian lady. So his pastor visited his home to discuss the upcoming marriage, and Kenji’s mean ol’ Dad got to talking to the pastor. “If your God is the real God, then I have a request of Him. For many years now, I have had constant back pain and I want Him to heal it.” So the preacher prayed for Kenji’s Dad and God immediately healed Him. “It’s healed completely,” Kenji’s Dad exclaims with joy. “God lives! This is wonderful!” Turning to his wife he proclaims, “Woman, from now on, we are going to church together!” That must have been his 6th wife. And the illustration shows a most shocked look on her face when that mean husband told her they were to start going to church.
One week before Kenji married that Christian bride in a beautiful church wedding, his father, then his older brother, Shunichi, and his stepmother, all three put their trust in Christ to save them. What a miracle!
A few months later, Kenji got word that his real mother wanted to see her children. “MOTHER! It’s been over 20 years!”
Kenji’s Dad declined to go, but Kenji and Shunichi took their pastor along and the 3 of them went to the hospital where his Mom was. He said medication had improved her condition and the illustration shows her weeping, “Shunichi! Kenji! I’ve been wanting to see you. Been wanting to see you.” Kenji narrates that for all his life, he had drawn a blank when trying to visualize his Mother’s face. Now he was so glad to behold it, an old and very worn face after 20 years in a mental institution. Looking at each wrinkle on her face, he could readily see what a life of suffering she had endured.
Kenji started visiting his Mother regularly in the hospital and soon began telling her about her Creator. “Mother, I know you have endured much terrible pain and suffering. How I wish I were fully able to comprehend the extent of that pain and suffering and thereby be properly able to sympathize with you. But Mother, there IS Someone Who does completely understand all your sufferings and can take them all away. That is Jesus! And it would be so good for you to trust in Him.”
“Really? Really? Thank you. At Christmas time here in the hospital, they have a Christmas service and tell us about Jesus. Is an old one like me now supposed to follow my child? Kenji, if you believe in Jesus, then He must be the True God.” Thereupon, Kenji’s Mother put her trust in Christ.
Kenji soon became a pastor. About that time, he started bringing his Mother home from the hospital once a month to stay a couple of days and attend his church on Sunday. The illustration shows her in front of his church with 2 of Kenji’s children clinging to her, their grandmother. And the artist did a good job in that simple sketch, of showing her old, worn, wrinkled face smiling and aglow with the joy of the Lord. Kenji said she wrote him a short letter every week and one is displayed in this booklet. “God is the God of all comfort. He has shown me that no matter what kind of trials we go thru, He comforts and encourages us.” What a powerful testimony by that woman who had suffered so.
The story closes with a flashback of Kenji, at his baptismal service, praying for God to convert his family. Then the final scene is Pastor Kenji saying, “That prayer was answered and my family was translated out of darkness into God’s Light. Truly, God is presently alive and working mightily!”
Folks, that is a true story, not some make believe tale of fiction. Praise God for saving Kenji when he was despairing of life, then saving his brother, father, stepmother, and mother. As I sit here at my desk flipping through that booklet, reading his story in Japanese and writing it by hand in English, the task has been made difficult by the tears that constantly blur my vision. I have read his story several times and weep each time I read it.
How wonderful that almost all of his immediate family, have eternal life. But still, about all I can think about (with my tears again flowing) is the family member who perished, precious little Eiko. I flip back in the booklet to the picture of her 8 or 9 year-old tear-stained, anguished little girl’s face, as she hugs a crying little 5 or 6 year-old Kenji to her. And she is crying to him, “Let’s die together, Ken!” When she did kill herself at about age 22, apparently she went out into a Christless eternity, lost forever without hope. Though the rest of her family became Christians and thereby gained an eternal home in Heaven, there is absolutely nothing they can ever do to change Eiko’s fate of eternal torments in Hell fire.
Soon, when God conducts His Great White Throne Judgment of all lost sinners, Eiko will be summoned from Hell to stand before it, have her eternal fate of doom decreed to her, and then be returned to the torments of Hell to remain there forever. Likely God will have Eiko’s Daddy present at her final judgment. There he will stand, with his hands ever so bloody with Eiko’s blood. At that time, possibly Eiko will have the chance to say anything to her Dad that she wants to say. If so, what would she be likely to say to that Dad who made her young life so miserable that she chose to end her own life?
“Well Papa, you sure made out like a bandit, didn’t you? Your harsh cruelty to all of your family scarred your little girl’s tender heart so badly that it made life totally unbearable for me, causing me to kill myself in my lost and undone condition. Therefore I am doomed to the torments of Hell forever. As my earthly father, God ordained that you give me much tender, loving care when I was growing up. But instead, you dealt me unbearable misery during my short life on earth and sent me to a Hell of never-ending torments. But YOU got saved, Papa. And therefore will enjoy the bliss of Heaven forever. I sure do wish I could be up there with you, Dad, and with my brothers, and with Mother. All the family is going to be there around God’s Shining Throne forever, everyone except little ol’ me. That is just too bad about me, isn’t it? But as for you, Papa, congratulations! You sure made out like a bandit, didn’t you? It’s just too bad that I didn’t fare so well, isn’t it???”
Eiko’s Dad will be so thankful for God’s promise in Revelation 21:4. “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain.” What a miracle it will take to wipe away all of Eiko’s Dad’s tears and take all that sorrow from his heart, when he sees his daughter judged and doomed to eternal torments, and God causes him to fully realize just how largely he is responsible for sending her to Hell. Oh, what an eternal tragedy!
Parents, listen to me! You only get one chance to train up your children in the way they should go. You must do it right. You must not fail. Train them up on your knees. I do not mean with them sitting on your knees. I mean with you on your knees, interceding for them and calling on God to help you train them up right. Ever so heavy is your eternal responsibility toward them.
Papas, listen to me. Your little daughter’s heart is a most tender and delicate thing created by God to receive and give much love in her lifetime. And normally the first man that she falls in love with is you, Papa. That is what God has ordained to be. What a pity it is that so many fathers wound and crush that tender, little heart of their daughter beyond repair, by being overly stern and overly harsh to her, even being cruel to her. God forbid that you do that to your little girl.
Several Christian women have related to me how that their Christian father’s undue harshness to them, as a little girl, left them emotionally scarred for life. They tell how it built up barriers in their heart against males, making for so many problems in their married life. And though they constantly call on God for help and for the healing of that damage, still to some degree the scars and the emotional problems remain for all their life here on this earth. Oh what a tragedy! You Papas reading this, you must cleave close to God to ensure that you do not produce such a tragedy.
You only have one chance to do it right, you Dads. So by all means, do not fail to give that little daughter all the tender, loving care she needs. That doesn’t mean to spoil her rotten. God will hold you accountable to discipline her properly. But you do not have to be harsh and cruel in doing it. Start by loving God with all your heart and ask Him to show you how to be a perfect Dad.
I could write a book on these previous 3 paragraphs, but now is not the time and place to do it. Parents, seriously consider what I said in those paragraphs. Think about poor, little Eiko’s fate. Her young life made so miserable by her own Dad that all she could think about all the time was wanting to die, when she should have been enjoying childhood and her teenage years. Her Dad made her life so miserable that she did end it just about as soon as she got old enough to be capable of killing herself. Then she went out into a Christless eternity. It breaks my heart all to pieces to think about what a tragedy her existence was from the very start, and it will always be a tragedy with out any possible remedy. And Eiko’s story is multiplied millions of times over throughout the world as untold numbers of little girls (and boys) suffer as acutely as she did.
Parents, with all your heart, seek God’s Help in rearing your children. They are most precious, eternal souls that God has used you to create and God has entrusted them in your care. Heavy is your responsibility to ensure that they have a blessed existence that never ends.
Also, may God help all us Christians to constantly bear in mind that there are lost souls around us suffering terribly in the deep misery of sin, and are soon to enter into even greater, never-ending sufferings in Hell. May God help us to ever be vigilant to do everything we can to point them to Christ.
These 2 booklets of Yoneko and Kenji’s stories, I keep handy to glance at from time to time. Their testimonies often come to my mind, helping keep my heart freshly burdened for the many lost Japanese around me. Only about 2 or 3 Japanese out of 1,000, profess to have repented to the True God and to have put their trust in The Lord Jesus Christ to save them. What thick darkness fills their souls, as they worship their many idols. Presently, suicide is all too common among Japanese teenagers (and older people too, of course).
Always bearing that tragic fact in mind helps me stand out in the streets the longest hours possible, preaching, singing, and passing out Christian literature; holding forth the Words of Life. I do it when faint from the heat, numb from the cold, and when my voice is hoarse and almost gone. I have done it several times with my belly empty. WHY? Because as likely as not, there is a YONEKO, or EIKO, or KENJI, within my hearing, someone in such despair that they are about to take their own life. For over 2 decades now, I have stood before dozens of school gates, passing out to the children entering those gates, Gospel literature and invitations to an evangelistic service. I do it because I know that among them, there are children who are suffering as much as Yoneko, Eiko, and Kenji were suffering. But more than that, I know that just about every one of those children are lost in their sins and therefore are headed for an eternal Hell of suffering that is far worse than anything they will experience in this life.
Think seriously on how intensely Eiko suffered all her life, till she ended it at the age of 22. Think on how terribly Kenji suffered from the time his sister killed herself till God led him into that Shalom coffee shop. Think how miserable Yoneko must have been when as a high school senior; she stepped in front of that train. Those were terrible sufferings and torments they endured in this life. But that cannot begin to compare to the eternal torments of Hell. And ALL of the lost people around me, whether on the brink of suicide or enjoying the many pleasures of this life, will soon enter the eternal torments of Hell if they do not get saved while here on earth.
You, my fellow Christian, might be spending all your time and money on every selfish pleasure you can possibly obtain. But by the grace of God, I’ll do different. By the grace of God, I want to be like perfect and upright Job. I don’t want to ever be quiet about the marvelous Help Christ has for sin-wrecked lives on the brink of perishing forever. I am so thankful to God for the eternal life He has given me. How I want to tell everyone in the world, that it is available to them also. “NEITHER WAS I QUIET!”
“Lord Jesus, please make my heart like Thine. Please help me to care about lost souls suffering in the misery of sin and headed for eternal destruction in Hell. I mean help me to REALLY care, Lord. Help me to be my brother’s keeper. Please give me a great burden for lost souls that will result in me spending my life’s energies in proclaiming Christ to the lost souls around me. Help me to daily hold forth the Words of Life. Please help me to be like perfect and upright Job and not be quiet. I pray this for all other Christians also. Amen”
Some of you Christians tend to think like this. “Oh, if only I were on a heathen, foreign mission field like Brother Richard, where all the people worship idols made by hand and are cloaked in that thick, satanic darkness. Then I would certainly stand before them night and day, proclaiming the Light of the World to them. But here at home…” Don’t you dare think like that. There are lots of lost souls around you, and some of them are suffering just as intensely as Yoneko, Eiko, and Kenji were suffering. And all the lost souls around you, no matter how “happy” they are in this life, are headed for a Hell of never-ending torments in the lake of fire. They are YOUR mission field, your responsibility. As long as there is one lost soul within your hearing, within your reach, you are on a mission field. So work your field! Be like Job! “Neither was I quiet.”
Much loneliness is a common trait in any soldier’s life. It is common to me, a soldier of the cross, as I regularly preach long hours in public, receiving mostly scorn and little or no praise, while few or none of the hearers welcome my Bible preaching. Previously I mentioned Japanese people locking their house doors when they heard me preaching outside. Not all of them do that, but it is common as I preach on residential streets. When I am near their door (on the outside), I sometimes hear them approach the door from inside the house as quietly as possible. If there is translucent glass in the door, I can usually see the person’s shape through it, as they reach for the lock and turn it as slowly as possible, hoping I won’t hear it. But I usually do hear that audible click. “You are not welcome in here,” is the clear message it always sends to me. And it cannot help but make one feel lonely.
That feeling is usually most acute when I am preaching in the darkness of the evening hours. The Japanese in their brightly lit houses around me are eating, drinking, and making merry with family and friends while the T.V. is blaring and other such uproars are going on. My family and friends are on the opposite side of the world. And I am outside on that dark street, often cold, sometimes hungry, as supper will be very late for me (nonexistent on some nights). I am there for one reason and one reason only, to tell them how to escape Hell and go to Heaven. And all too often, I will hear the click of that door lock which tells me, “Such speech as that is not allowed in this house.” Sure it makes me feel lonely. But not forever.
That’s because when that final click sounds on the lock to those pearly gates, I will then be at HOME. I’ll be on the inside of God’s Splendid Heaven, my only True Home. That fine Home will all be so brightly lighted by my Saviour’s Most Glorious Presence. And I will forever be a part of the most wonderful rejoicing ever known. Then, the situation will be the exact opposite of what I am now experiencing. Then, all Christ rejecters will be locked out on the outside, in the outer darkness of Hell, to be there forever. What an awful fate! I sure do wish they would all get saved now. If you are a Christ rejecter, I sure do wish you would get saved now. Please repent of your sins and receive Christ now, while it is the day of salvation. I beg you, don’t put it off any longer.
How I rejoice in the reality of my eternal Home in God’s Heaven. How quickly approacheth the time when I will enter into it where my award awaits me for what I have done with my short life on this earth. Meanwhile, as long as I am a pilgrim and stranger in this ol’ sin-sick world, I want to invite all the people I can, to come to The Saviour of the world to receive Christ’s eternal life so they can join me in Heaven. “Neither was I quiet.”
I want to be like perfect and upright Job. I want you to be like Job too. God desires that we all be like Job. May He help us to do so.
“Heavenly Father, I thank Thee for the desire that Thou hast stirred up within me to be like Job in this matter of not being quiet. Please continue to help me in this matter. Please fan the fames of the fire of this desire to not be quiet about Thee. Please make them even hotter. Make my desire stronger to tell everyone I can, the things they need to know about their Creator. Give me all the courage needed to do that.
“Break my heart all to pieces over the terrible misery that so many sin-sick souls are suffering in this present life. Break my heart even more over the fact that all lost people are headed for never-ending torments in the fires of Hell. Help me to truly care about their souls. Save me from living for my own selfish pleasure. Help me to be like the Good Shepherd and go seek these lost sheep. Guide me, showing me whom I should speak to. Show me where I should preach out in public. Give me the exact words to say. Teach me the best ways to proclaim Thy Word so that it that will glorify Thee the most and will also help the most troubled souls. Help me to do Thy perfect will in this matter and glorify Thee greatly in what I do regarding it.
“How I desire to be like Job and not be quite about Thee. So please empower me to be like him, for Thy Honour and Thy Glory. I pray these things for all other Christians also. Amen.”
(This is the end of Chapter Five of the book, “SAFETY, REST, AND QUIET.”)