Hans Bouwman, Japan - 7 - Participation in Missionary Work

Participation in Missionary Work

family - linda, marion, carla, monica robert bauwman

Our children - Linda, Marion, Carla, Monica and Robert (Photo 1977)

Reaching out to the Japanese
Seeing the mass of people we were reminded how the Lord Jesus saw them—”And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things” (Mark 6:34). The Lord knew what compassion was. As He beheld the city of Jerusalem, the representation of the nation of Israel, He wept over her—tears as a display of His love for the nation (Luke 19:41). When He wept at Bethany, where Lazarus had died, the Jews said: “Behold how He loved him!” There, tears were shed as a display of love for an individual (John 11:35). May we have compassion and a love for the people as the Lord manifested. Only with a burden laid upon our hearts to see precious souls saved, can the great task be undertaken. What a tremendous privilege to make Christ known to a people living in darkness!
Often a Japanese would approach us with the following words: “Why did you come to Japan? Are you here to bring us a new religion? We have our own religions and we don’t need more.” They indeed have their own religions: Shintoism and Buddhism with all its different sects. But how good to be able to give the answer: “We are here not to bring you a new religion, but to present to you the living Saviour. Our preaching does not concern the proclamation of a religion, but it concerns the preaching of ‘Christ, and Him crucified’ (1 Cor.1:23). Our faith has nothing to do with a religion, but has everything to do with the living Saviour.”

To reach the Japanese with the Gospel it is essential to speak their language. The Japanese language is not built up of the 26 letters of the alphabet. There is a kind of Japanese ‘alphabet’, consisting of 48 phonetic symbols. There are no Roman letters, like our ‘A-B-C’s’, it is more a picture language. These symbols are called kanji and there are at least 50,000 of them. Many of these kanji come from China, but over the centuries they have changed. These kanji have two totally different pronunciations, one called the Chinese and the other the Japanese pronunciation. Both are used in colloquial Japanese, but the Chinese pronunciation occurs mostly in the use of a combination of two symbols.

Most missionaries in the early days followed the course of the Naganuma Japanese Language School. The standard for missionaries was a study of four books, which usually took two years. I gave myself entirely to this task, using about eight hours a day for my studies. No effort is too much for the sake of the Gospel. With God’s help I learned to speak, to read and to write this difficult language. But it was not without strain. I remember that I had times when in my dreams these Japanese symbols came flying to me from all directions.

During the first year of language study I lived in Karuizawa, a summer resort in the mountains of central Japan at a 3,000 feet (1,000 meters) elevation. The little house would serve its purpose as a summer cottage, but not as a residence during the extremely cold winters. Built of very light materials, it was not possible to maintain a stable temperature in the house. The walls were made of thin plywood with an open space between, which contained no insulation. The temperatures easily dropped to minus 25 degrees Celsius, and living there year-round through the winter was not a pleasant experience. Water pipes froze regularly, so that there were times when the bath and toilet could not be used.
The nearest assembly was located at the foot of the mountains, and in order to get there we boarded a train pulled by 4 locomotives which went through a myriad of tunnels. Once I made the same trip on the back seat of a motor scooter belonging to a German missionary over a suicidal gravel road with 189 dangerous curves close to deep ravines—it was not a trip to be repeated!

 

My first practical participation in a Japanese meeting was a short comment about a Bible verse and although I had spent a lot of time preparing my message, I only managed to speak for about five minutes! It would have been easier if the gift of tongues were still available today, but since it is clear from Scriptures that ‘sign gifts’ were only temporary in their purpose

 japan map assemblies

JAPAN
Population 92 Million Area—Same as California or twice the British Isles
CHUBU ETC., SHOW THE MAIN LAND DIVISIONS OF JAPAN.


Tokyo etc., indicate all cities or towns having Assemblies and operation, we had to go through the struggle of mastering one of the most difficult languages in the world. But what a joy to be able to reach the people with the Gospel in their own language!

Since living in the mountains at Karuizawa did not afford much opportunity to practise what we had learned, my friend Johannes and I decided to move to Tokyo for our second year of language study. In those days there were assemblies in Tokyo which conducted nightly meetings in their halls and open-air meetings in front of nearby stations. This gave ample opportunity to get a good start in using our language ability. Living among the Japanese we were fully exposed to both the language and the Japanese culture. We enjoyed our new house very much. When I married in May 1957 my German friend was willing to move out to make this little house available for the newly weds. Gerda and I found happy fellowship in an assembly established a few years earlier by Mr. Adrian Presson, an American missionary who worked in Japan from 1952 till 1985. While he and his wife were on furlough for about 18 months, we found that the time spent with this little assembly at Higashi¬Kitazawa was a profitable preparation for the next step in commencing a pioneering work.

Pioneer Work
Assembly missionaries in Japan have come from several different countries but there has never been any distinction made because of nationality. Among these missionaries, Mr. W.J. Wright has been in many ways a spiritual help to us. With a tremendous zeal for spreading the Gospel, Bobbie—as we used to call him—had a great vision for the Lord’s work in Japan. He always spoke about ‘occupying’ the big cities on the main island Honshu. Before deciding on a place to start a pioneering work it was important to make enquiries about the particular area. I made some trips to different areas, even as far as Kyushu in the south. Some of the missionaries and Japanese Christians have travelled with me from time to time. On one occasion Mr. Wright joined me and gave me valuable advice. His vision has since been realized in a most remarkable way, as brethren, Japanese and foreign, have moved to the main centres all over the island of Honshu, where in due time assemblies have been established. In this chain of assemblies we opened up a new work in the province of Tochigi. After much prayer and orientation we decided to move to the city of Utsunomiva, the capital of the Tochigi Province.
To go ‘house hunting’ was not always an easy job in Japan. It was a sad thing to experience sometimes a refusal because of being a gaijin (foreigner). However, there were also kind people willing to rent their house to us. Our desire was to rent a house in a strategic location close to the main street, suitable for starting a new work. The house itself was a primitive, old dwelling with low ceilings. When I stood on my toes, my head touched the ceiling. I had therefore to be careful not to lift the children above my head.

It was not difficult to furnish our house, since we did not as yet own much. As a wedding present we received from the missionaries a rattan set of three chairs. We added a small matching coffee table. An old wooden crate served as a ‘side¬board’. With a cloth and a few ornaments on top it looked quite attractive. Throughout the years we have learned to be content with whatever house we lived in. The most important thing is to make a house a home where love, happiness and security dwells, and where guests find a warm welcome. The old house had no yard at all and in front was a narrow sand path on a five foot wide muddy creek. This river was used for sewage, so the smell was terrible. Water rats found an easy entrance through the open sewage pipes into our kitchen. Since the river was not fenced off, our landlady warned us to keep an eye on the children when they were outside. The Japanese toilet the obenjo consisted of a hole in the floor and the container underneath the house was emptied once a month. We remember the times when a man, holding a scoop in his hand and two buckets on a crossbeam over his shoulder, did the undesirable job of ‘toilet cleaning’. In later years a truck with a huge vacuum tank was used to suck out the contents. Since the house had only one entrance—the front door—the dirty vacuum hose wound its way through the little entrance hall and the kitchen into the obenjo. Not very hygienic, to say the least!


karuizawa

Living at Karuizawa together with three German missionaries.

Living at Karuizawa together with three German missionaries

The first tropical rain storm of the season changed the baby crib into a mini swimming pool, as water seeped from the ceiling into the crib. Our newborn baby, Marion, was not too appreciative and her cries woke us up. An old house draws insects, especially during the rainy season. The abura-mushi, an ugly kind of cockroach, and the ‘jumping spider’, which can jump about 10 feet, were really awful. These insects eat both food and clothes, and to make matters worse our house was next to a fish shop. We got to know first-hand how fish smells when it is drying in the sun, especially since the boxes of fish were put on the stone partition wall just beneath our living room window, attracting hundreds of flies of all sorts and sizes.
That old house though became a place of much blessing. First we had to get to know the neighbours and since it was the beginning of a pioneering work, there were not yet any Japanese Christians who could give us help in making contact with the people. We had two little children, so we strapped them on our backs in the same way as the Japanese people did, and went out to distribute tracts and invite people from a surrounding area. We also drew the people’s attention with big posters announcing the meetings. We were regularly in the centre of the city, where there was no difficulty in giving out 500 tracts in half an hour.

Every time we stood at this busy intersection, we faced theFutara hill on which a huge Shinto temple was built. We were reminded of the apostle Paul in Athens, when he stood on Mars Hill, opposite the Acropolis, declaring unto the people bound in idolatry ‘the unknown God’, as the Creator of everything.

When we started the first meeting we were very encouraged with the turn-out. The meetings were held in Japanese style without any chairs or benches to sit on, but the zabu ton, little cushions spread out on the Japanese straw mats, served their purpose well. The room was quite well filled and many probably came out of curiosity just to be in a foreigner’s house, but we were thankful for the opportunity to make the Gospel known to these people anyway. There were not many foreigners living in Japan at that time and they were the objects of special curiosity, especially in rural areas. The Japanese gazed at the giants with their white skin, blond hair and blue eyes, to the extent that it even caused accidents. One time, a man riding a bicycle could not take his eyes off our little children, and so bumped into a parked car, fell, and hurt himself. We were so sorry for him!

japanese dress for men

"Japanese-Missionary" in the official Japanese dress for men.

Missionaries’ children have always had a special attraction for the Japanese. Occasionally someone would come up to us and ask for just one blonde hair. We were not too keen on distributing the hairs of our children one by one as a kind of good-will offering! All dolls at that time in Japan had blonde hair and blue eyes and therefore the foreign children were seen as dolls. Because of the attraction to our children it was not difficult to run a good Sunday school. As a result of this work, children of a responsible age have accepted the Lord Jesus as their Saviour. Today they may have families of their own and live in different places all over Japan, but it remains a comfort to know that “the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal,

The Lord knoweth them that are His” (2 Tim.2:19).
It is a great blessing to have a faithful help-meet in the Lord’s work. Gerda has always tried to put priorities right for the sake of the Gospel. In the Lord’s work we have complemented each other. Gerda was able to reach women and children as I could never have done. With many classes in our own house and in other places, she had golden opportunities to tell about the Saviour’s love towards sinners.

In our pioneering work we tried hard to win the confidence of the people. In the beginning we used the evening hours to pay a visit to people, but soon we discovered that this was not suitable. It is not a normal Japanese custom to visit somebody in the evening except by invitation. Life in a Japanese home is so completely different from that in western countries. In Japan the men usually come home late from work and because of the custom to use much time in taking a bath, visits in the evenings were not appropriate.

first baptism in icy water

First baptism in ice-cold water of a mountain river while it was snowing.

 firewood

A little firewood to warm up.

Over many years we have used the Gospel tent. We put up the tent for the first time soon after our move to Utsunomiya and were impressed with the number of people attending. In preaching the Gospel during that tent campaign, God reached out to save and some answered the Gospel call. In later years a tent was not such a suitable method of reaching the people. Japan became a luxurious country and today people prefer to sit in a comfortable chair in an air-conditioned hall.
Another method for the Gospel outreach was by means of a Christian bookstore. We rented a store in the centre of the city and over many years it became a good place to contact people. We remain thankful for the ones who found the Saviour as a result of this work.

When Linda was about four or five years old, she said one night: “I feel so sorry for the Japanese who become Christians”. “Why?” her Mum asked. “Well, you see, when they go to heaven they have to learn Dutch”, so was her reasoning. We don’t think the language in heaven will be Dutch or English, but we all will speak the same heavenly language in thanking the Lord Jesus for all He did for us on Calvary’s cross.

First Fruits
We recall the first series of tent meetings, which resulted in the salvation of two girls 16 and 18 years old, and of Mrs. Kato, a woman 45 years of age. These souls have been faithful in following the Lord. Mrs. Kato went to be with the Lord some years ago, leaving a good testimony, especially among her children and grandchildren.
Japan, as elsewhere, has its share of shy people. One evening a 20-year-old young man came as far as the corner of our street with the intention of attending a Gospel meeting, but didn’t have the courage to come closer to our house and went home again, feeling uneasy about it. A week later he tried again and came as far as our house, but he still didn’t have the courage to knock on the door. Again he returned home. Another time he came as far as our front door, even opening it, but then closed it gently without stepping into the house. However, since this young man was really longing to hear the message from the Bible, he came the fourth time and finally succeeded in crossing the threshold. As one of the first fruits of the work, he got saved and is today a responsible brother in an assembly. God’s Word is true: “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Matt.7:1). This remains true as each servant of the Lord will have experienced this miracle in the lives of many, who walked in the darkness of pagan religions, but who saw the light. It takes a lot for a Japanese to accept Christ as his Saviour, for it means that he steps out of the tradition of a heathen society that is based upon the principles of Buddhism and Shintoism. Some young Christians who were unwilling to continue their participation in the heathen customs and ceremonies were expelled from their families. The house of the missionary is seen as the place of the ‘foreign religion’, and it happened that Japanese who came to hear the Gospel were threatened by people of an extreme Buddhist sect called Soka-Gakkai. Threats that their house would be destroyed by fire, or that one of their children would die in an accident were real.

Today the attitude is more tolerant, but the very fact of being a Christian is contrary to Japanese customs. The real problem lies most of all in the ritual of ancestor worship. It is a manifestation of Satan’s power to keep people in the bondage of darkness! Every day one of the family has to take care of the offerings to the spirits of the ancestors. On the idolatrous god-shelf a cup of rice, a cup of water and a mikan, a Japanese mandarin orange are set out as daily offerings. Next, while sitting on the tatami (the Japanese straw mats) and facing the god-shelf, the act of worship is performed with bowed head and prayer to the ancestors. This ritual is kept in every home, and only when the head of the family becomes a Christian, will the Shinto god-shelf and the Buddhist altar be removed from the house. A Christian wife, son or daughter, however, could never do this. When these expensive structures are abandoned by a Christian man or a widow, it could happen that the idols will be burnt in a bonfire by the Christians who gather for the occasion, singing hymns of victory of their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

A Christian living with an unsaved husband or unsaved parents is always subjected to a life full of trials and temptations. Every Christian will be faced with overcoming difficulties at school or at work because of the overpowering atmosphere of the heathen society around them. The result could easily mean being ostracized or even persecuted. But how wonderful that these Christians know to stand in the power of the risen Lord!
The preaching of the Gospel in a heathen nation is more a matter of explaining the Gospel than of preaching it. People don’t have a concept of the one, true, and living God, or of the meaning of sin, so in the preaching there is a primary need to emphasize the existence of God as the one and only holy and righteous God. Once having explained the meaning of the Gospel, I spoke about the words of the Lord Jesus: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:24). That was the moment a young man of 16 got saved also as one of the first fruits in our pioneering work. It is encouraging to observe their dedication to the Lord, and some of these men, who were saved in their younger years are now pillars in the assembly.

fishmonger

Our next door neighbour, a fishmonger at Utsunomiya.

Other Cities Reached
Our responsibility in the Lord’s work was not limited to one place only. Many years ago, Dr. Tsukiyama, an eye doctor in Tokyo, conducted occasional Gospel meetings in the house of a Christian woman who lived less than 10 miles (15 kin) from our house. This lady got saved in Tokyo just after the Second World War, but had moved back to her native place. Old brother Tsukiyama came to visit us and pleaded for our help. Soon a regular Gospel meeting was started at Kanuma and we recall the happy times of fellowship in the house of Mrs. Okamoto. These meetings bore fruit, and as a result, an assembly was established in 1972.

There was another place about 30 miles (45 kin) from Utsunomiya to which our attention was drawn. We knew that a
Christian lady was living there. Some years previously, Miss Yajima had been saved in Tokyo after having attended Gospel
meetings in the little assembly at Higashi-Kitazawa. What a joyit must have been for the believers there to see this precious soul saved! Not so long after her conversion she returned to her native place, Shimodate. Yajima San was an outstanding Christian, witnessing of her Saviour. In doing so, she came into contact with a lady 55 years old, who showed a keen interest in the Gospel. Miss Yajima told her about a missionary who lived not too far away, and one afternoon both came to visit us. After Gerda served them Japanese green tea, the purpose of their visit was relayed. “Would you be willing to come to my town and tell us from that book, that Yajima San spoke to me about? Please use my house for this purpose and I will invite other people as well.” Because of the bumpy gravel roads it took almost an hour and a half to cover the short distance. When we entered the house of Mrs Ichimura we found the room filled with people. This scene reminded me of the apostle Peter being in the house of Cornelius, where he found hearts prepared to listen to the Word of God. “Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God” (Acts 1O:33b).
The responsibility for the regular Gospel meetings at Shimodate was shared with a few brethren from assemblies in Tokyo, and as co-workers we have witnessed a work of God develop. What a joy it was when first of all Mrs. Ichimura professed to be saved! She had known a lot of hardship in her life, especially after she lost her husband when she was 29 years old and was left with two little, children. She had searched for the truth, to have peace, and had tried hard to find satisfaction in the different heathen religions. She had spent a lot of money in pursuit of happiness, but she never found it. In a last desperate effort she became involved in the Tenrikyo, a Buddhist sect, but during this time she met Miss Yajima. What a change occurred after she was saved. Her thriving testimony was clear evidence of it. She was a witness of the love of God to all her relatives, friends and neighbours, and as a result we experienced a time of great blessing as seeking souls attended the Gospel meetings and many accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour. Among them her daughter, daughter-in-law, older sister, a niece and other relatives, along with some neighbours; all women. Then we started to pray especially for the salvation of men, but we had to wait a few years to see the first man saved, later followed by others. What happy times of baptisms and of wonderful fellowship around the Word of God and what a joy when the opportune time came to see an assembly established!

breaking of bread

After a breaking of bread meeting.

It has been a remarkable guidance of the Lord that the three established assemblies were able to build their own halls. We realize that it is not the physical building itself which is important. It revolves around the contents of the assembly, as Christians coming together in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ. But in having their own premises to use, the Gospel was allowed a free course in the different areas.

Leprosy Camp
I shall never forget my visit to a leper camp in the north of Japan. The assembly in Aomori held regular Gospel meetings there, and quite a number of lepers were saved. I was invited to preach the Gospel to the lepers, and as we entered the building by way of the backdoor we found ourselves right on the platform. The lepers came through the front door into the hail, sitting on Japanese straw mats. The platform was fenced off, so that it was not possible to step down into the hail to be with the lepers. Leprosy is a terrible disease which destroys the flesh and nerves, especially of hands, feet, nose, mouth and ears. There were about 60 lepers together in the hail, of which about 40 professed to be saved. The meeting started with singing and when these people sang with great conviction the hymn “I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold” in Japanese, I could not hold back my tears. These people were the outcasts of Japanese society, but what a joy and happiness they expressed because of knowing the Lord as Saviour! I had to ask myself: Can I sing the words of this beautiful hymn without any reservation in my heart? Is it not true that we sing the words of a hymn so easily, but often don’t extend its meaning to our lives or express its reality? What a meeting we had with these dear Christians in the leprosy camp where the Lord continued to do a mighty work in saving more souls! Nowadays in Japan leprosy is rare but, of those affected by it in past years, there will be a number in heaven. They have trusted in the work of redemption accomplished on Calvary’s cross.

The Next Move
Having toiled in the Tochigi province for almost 14 years, we felt the Lord’s guidance to undertake a move to a new place west of Tokyo. Our move brought us closer to the school, so our children could commute from home rather than stay at boarding school. It still took them one hour to travel by train, but we were so happy that our family was together again. Till then they had been five-day boarders at the ‘Christian Academy in Japan’ (CAJ), an American school for missionaries’ children. Our help was needed in a newly established assembly. However, we still felt it necessary to provide ongoing help to the places where we had worked before, and this created quite a busy schedule of meetings. But the time came when we could leave these assemblies alone, believing His promise: “being confident of this very thing, that he which has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil.1:6). In happy fellowship with Christians at Kawagoe we have seen His blessed hand upon the efforts to win precious souls for Christ. The assembly was built up, and with the special efforts of the Christians an apartment in a good location was obtained, which was renovated into a nice hall. In the exvansion of the work the Japanese Christians have been a good example in their dedication to the Lord and in their faithfulness towards the assembly.

yajima san

Yajima San a faithful sister at Shimodate

The Gospel Work in Korea
On occasion, I have had the privilege to preach the Gospel in the neighbouring country of South Korea where I was able to witness amazing results. In smaller towns just one poster to announce the meetings was sufficient to fill the hall to capacity. In rural areas the halls could not hold the crowd of people, and many were obliged to stand outside near open doors and windows, attentively listening to the Gospel message. I visited halls built in open fields, and wondered where the people would come from in such deserted places. There were only a few visible hamlets of 10 or 20 houses each, yet I was surprised to see people come from all directions, some of whom had walked for one or two hours. There was a hunger for God’s Word and what an encouragement it was to see God’s hand in saving precious souls! To my amazement there were not a few who accepted the Lord Jesus as Saviour.
One day, while I was in Korea, an American missionary took me for a ride until at length we came to a river where we parked the car. As we walked along the bank we saw children playing in the shallow river and I thought it would make a delightful picture, so I climbed up on the river bank to get a better shot. Suddenly the ground under my feet gave way and I plummeted down into a hole more than waist deep. I was in a very embarrassing and awkward situation, because I had fallen into a hole of human waste! When Korean toilets are emptied, the waste is simply poured into holes along the river or on open ground. What a sight! A missionary from Japan fallen into a deep cess-pool! I held my camera up, not for my friend to take a picture of me, but to spare it. In this situation the one thing that mattered was to get out of the hole as quickly as possible. Fortunately I got help and I went straight to the river to clean myself. Later I took a more thorough bath to get rid of the terrible smell. My clothes and shoes had to be thrown out, because the smell would remain, especially in leather shoes. It was poor comfort when I heard that other missionaries living in Korea had similar experiences.
Upon my return to Japan, at the first Monthly Missionary Prayer Meeting in Tokyo. I gave a report about the Lord’s work in Korea. A missionary commented that in Japan a full year’s effort is needed to see one soul saved. This was of course exaggerated, but it was a fact that progress in the Lord’s work in Japan was much slower. There is a great difference between the Lord’s work in Japan and in Korea, and it hinges upon the characteristics of the people. The Koreans are more emotional and therefore easier to reach, but on the other hand there seems to be a lack of stability. In this respect the Japanese are different, for even though the overall growth of the missionary work in Japan is much slower, the long-term results are that the assemblies are more stable.

river baptism

A baptism in a river

speaking at a baptism

Speaking at a baptism

The Dutch Community in Japan
While living in Japan as a missionary from Holland, opportunities also arose to be of help to the Dutch community as well. The Dutch Embassy requested my help to officiate at a remembrance ceremony on the fourth of May. On this day the war dead are remembered in the Netherlands and in places
overseas. In Holland, at eight o’clock in the evening two minutes of silence are observed and trains, buses and other traffic will come to a complete stand-still. A remembrance ceremony is also held at the cemetery of Allied forces, a little distance outside of Yokohama. Since at that time I was the only non-Catholic missionary from Holland, I could not refuse the invitation. It gave me an opportunity to point to the responsibility of each living soul. For the dead, we cannot change the eternal state, but here on earth choices must be made—eternal bliss or eternal condemnation. “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life; and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him” (John 3:36).
As the ‘chaplain’ of the Dutch Embassy I had the privilege of meeting ministers of the government and members of the Royal family. At a reception for the present queen, Beatrix, I was impressed by the intelligent questions she asked about our work as missionaries in Japan.

Sayonara—Farewell
In following the Lord’s guidance to give help to assemblies in Holland, a final effort in a series of Gospel meetings in Japan was crowned with the salvation of a number of souls. Seeing the blessing, it became even more difficult to leave. Very surprisingly we received an invitation from the Mayor to attend a ‘Sayonara reception’ in the City Hall. Since Gerda held a number of classes weekly for ladies and children, the Mayor wanted to honour her, and at this reception he thanked Gerda for the positive influence she had on the Japanese community.
It is with great gratitude we remember the testimonies of many dear Japanese Christians who have passed on to be with the Lord, and also of the many who are still there today continuing in a steadfast walk before the Lord. When we arrived in Japan in 1955 there were only 16 assemblies, but in 1986 we counted 120 assemblies, spread out all over the isles of this beautiful country. Before the First World War a few missionaries worked under the most difficult circumstances of a Shinto governmental system. After Japan’s defeat in 1945 the door was wide open for missionaries to enter because of a new law which guaranteed freedom of religion. The post-war missionaries, commended from assemblies of seven different countries, have toiled with tears to lay the foundation of the assembly work in different parts of Japan. We are very grateful to have had a part in that great work of the Lord. “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him” (Psalm 126:5-6).
Japanese brethren have taken up the torch, and today we give credit to many faithful Japanese Christians who have a burning desire to make Christ known to their own people. The missionaries in Japan took to heart the charge given to Timothy by the great apostle: “And the things thou hast heard from me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also” (2 Tim.2:2). Missionaries who went to Japan as pioneers, together with so many faithful Japanese Christians were, and are, ‘the men of God’, in bringing the light of the Gospel to a nation in need of the saving power of our Lord Jesus Christ!

kanuma

House meeting at Kanuma

utsunomiya

Sunday school class at Utsunomiya
utsonomiya

The Sunday school treat at Utsunomiya

During our life as missionaries in Japan we lived in eleven different houses, some very primitive, which served to remind us that we are ‘strangers and pilgrims’ in this world. Together we have served the best of Masters and have lacked for nothing in our lives as He faithfully supplied all our need. With the assurance and evidence of the Lord’s hand upon us, we ended more than 30 years of service for the Lord in the ‘land of the rising sun’. Eternity alone will manifest the real impact of all our efforts, done in weakness, but in fulfilment of the task laid upon us. What a manifestation of His abundant grace!