CHRIST IS ALL
Spring 2016 (March, April, May)
Dear Friend in Christ,
When March begins, I am in the southern tip of Japan’s south island of Kyushu in Ibusuki City, Kagoshima Prefecture, having migrated south to Ibusuki back on December 1st. While putting out my prayer sheets from door-to-door, I spotted a church near Kiire train station. On 14 February, I attended it for the first time and came back on 4 more Sundays.
Typically 10 to 12 Japanese attended each Sunday. After each service, 3 or so would leave immediately. The remaining ladies would pray with the pastor’s wife in the sanctuary. Pastor Sata would take the 2 or 3 teenagers to his small study to teach them briefly on their level. Each Sunday I attended, he had me come with him and the teens and talk to them 10 minutes or so. They listened well and greatly blessed me.
On Easter Sunday, we ate lunch together in the church and then had a children’s Easter service at 1 PM. It was a blessing to see 5 children and 3 teens show up for it. We had singing, prayer, and a Bible story. At the end, Pastor Sata allowed me to put out my things with prayers written on them; tissue packs, balloons, plates, glasses and hand towels. All 8 young’uns eagerly took what I offered them, thank God. Pray for them to pray those prayers from their hearts.
Most every day of March, I did outdoor evangelism in the Ibusuki area, vacated my apartment early on Thursday March 31st and rode trains northeast most of the day to Mino Mission’s church in the city of Oogaki in Gifu Prefecture. That night, I attended their 7 PM service. They had me speak briefly of my evangelistic outreach in Ibusuki. Then I enjoyed good fellowship with Pastor Isaac (Japanese) for more than an hour as I rode with him back to the Tomidahama church. His family lives next door to this church. (Mino Mission has 3 churches in that area.)
I lodged in the upstairs prophets’ chamber (built onto this church) until April 20th, preaching and teaching a total of 7 times in 2 of the Mino Mission churches and Missionary Jeff Brigham’s church in Anjo City, about an hour and half away by train. It was a most blessed time. Pastor Isaac has 2 sons. His elder son, Nahum, graduated from elementary school near the end of March. At the graduation ceremony, when each 6th grader walked across the stage and received his or her diploma, he or she made a short statement. Most of those kids proclaimed how great (in the eyes of the “world”) they desired to become. Most all souls present beamed with pride upon hearing those goals. But most faces soured when Nahum proclaimed that he wanted to become a preacher, preach Jesus Christ to many people and win many souls to Jesus. Nahum proclaimed that all on his own, with no urging from his parents. Praise God for what He is doing in that 12-year-old boy’s heart (soon to turn 13). Let’s pray that those fires keep burning even hotter. Truly, the labourers are ever so few in the fields of harvest in Japan.
Shortly after 4 AM on April 20th, I arose, gathered up my few things, quietly vacated that prophets’ chamber, lugged my bags out to the nearby train station and boarded the 5:24 AM train for Nagoya, and rode 5 trains most of the day to get home in mid-afternoon. It was good to see that my house in Matsuida was all safe. It was good to be back home after almost 5 months of being away and traveling much.
The following day, I taught 3 English classes, each in a different location. The following day, 22 April, I opened the rescue mission in Karuizawa. Come Sunday, 24 April, I preached in the church in Minakami and have been preaching in the church in Takasaki and the church in Isezaki since then. It richly blesses me to preach in these churches. Pray that our Lord will make my preaching a rich blessing to the Japanese to whom I preach. Pray for Him to open more doors of opportunity, in accordance to His Divine Will.
“Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp,
bearing his reproach.” Hebrews 13:13
Upon beginning missionary work in Japan in the mid-1970s, the Lord soon led me to do much outdoor evangelism. This has been one of the richest aspects of being a preacher for more than 4 decades. I thank God for it. Such fond memories of holding an umbrella while I preached outdoors as rain or snow fell, sometimes getting wet, sometimes getting cold. Much of the time, I had no building in which to hold a service, no money to buy tracts to distribute. And a lot of days, I preached hungry; no money to buy food. Materially poor and ever so Spiritually Rich, thank God. What blessed memories it all is to me at age 70.
I give my Lord God the Glory for keeping me faithful thru many “lean” years on this mission field of Japan, and I heartily thank Him for doing so. I don’t ever want to quit on my Precious Lord Jesus, for any cause or reason. With passing time, Jesus in His Divine Faithfulness has steadily increased His Rewards to me. Presently, I am experiencing His Abundant and Exceedingly Rich Rewards to me for not giving up. Toward the end of my 4 month stay in Ibusuki, my Lord clearly led me to purchase a small 2-story building in that city, right adjacent to Nigatsuden (Ni gatsu den) train station, a small (quiet), unmanned station. The Lord clearly guided me to that building with a “For Sale” sign, and the realtor’s name and phone number on the sign.
As a burning desire to use it for God’s Glory welled up within my soul, I knelt on the property and prayed, “Not my will but Thine be done, my Lord”. I begged God to save me from buying it simply because it was my own self’s desire only (and not God’s Divine Will). In all my 42 years in Japan, I have never before bought lands or buildings in Japan. I was most cautious and hesitant to take this Big Step, with real estate being most expensive in Japan. I thank God for assuring me that this is His Will.
God has not led me to move there from Matsuida, but to go south to the milder climate of Ibusuki in winters and lodge in that building to hold church services and teach English conversation. I am already praying to The Lord Of The Harvest to send other labourers into the harvest there (in accordance to His Divine Will). I pray that He will lead Japanese and foreign Christians to come there to do evangelistic work when I am not present there. You please pray for this as God leads you.
The building is a most sturdy concrete and steel building to (hopefully) withstand the strong typhoons that come thru there in summer and autumn. It is highly visible to many eyes, being adjacent to the station platform where people wait for trains. This is one of the most glorious aspects of it.
I did not yet have use of this building during this stay. But I would stand on the opposite side of the RR tracks and the one platform and preach in the afternoon as Ibusuki High School students waited up to 20 minutes on the platform for the next train. That high school is about a 7-minute walk away. I estimated that about 70 of its students daily commute by train. From about 3 PM till about 7 PM, they filter into this station to catch the next train (trains running in each direction every 40 to 50 minutes).
I can stand (just 4 yards from the station platform) on the property of this building God is gifting to me and preach and sing for more than 3 hours each school day afternoon and about 70 young souls will each be present for 20 minutes or so to hear it. I can be inside this building, open the window adjacent to the platform less than 4 yards away, stand inside that room singing and preaching, and those eternal souls on the platform will hear it. I want to put up a big sign welcoming them to quietly enter and leave at their discretion as I do that. I will pray for our Lord to draw them in. They will be more inclined to come inside during inclement weather to wait till their train comes. Signs out front will announce Sunday church services and English classes for them, Lord willing.
The elementary school is even closer than the high school, about a 4 to 5 minute walk. I want to pass out notices at that school’s gate, inviting those little souls to come to kids’ services.
Apart from the windows and doors, the outside walls of both stories are flat smooth concrete, ideal for painting powerful prayers onto them. Three of the 4 walls are highly visible. People, on the trains who do not alight at Nigatsuden, have a good view of the wall adjacent to the platform from inside the stopped train. People who come into and go out of the station have a good view of 2 additional walls. May the Lord guide me perfectly to fill those walls with powerful prayers that will constantly be in the faces of all souls who pass by, every day and night (till the end of time, Lord willing), even when I am far away.
That is a “senior” high school that I spoke of, grades 10 thru 12. Each year, a new class of 10th graders arrives. Students who commute by train will tread into and out of Nigatsuden Station for the next 3 years (typically). Those are most formative years of their lives. Few or none will attend church (or a “Bible teaching session” in any setting). But as they daily wait for their train, they cannot keep my preaching and singing out of their ears (tho many will try to do so with earphones). They cannot completely divert their eyes from those powerful prayers on those walls. I plead with you to intercede with me for the eternal salvation of many of their precious lost souls.
I wrote several of you personally, asking you to pray for clear guidance as I considered buying this building. Thank you for praying. When I later wrote to tell you of my decision to buy, some of you immediately replied that you want to donate toward the purchase of this “evangelistic station”. Some of you spoke of spreading this word to other Christians who care for the salvation of heathen idol worshippers in darkness in foreign lands. I thank God for laying that on your heart. I thank you for your generosity and willingness to help. May our Lord richly bless you and repay you many fold. God bless you for being an important part of this missionary work.
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Thank you for caring. Thank you for praying. Thank you for giving. You encourage me ever so greatly. I pray for God to richly bless you.
Christ’s servant in Japan,