- Parent Category: History
- Category: Personal Stories
- Published on Saturday, 01 July 2006 11:46
Elton and Ruth Fairfield
I am a Christian.
I didn't buy that status, nor did I work for it. I was not born into it, even though both my parents are devoted Christians.
I am a Christian because there was a moment in my life when I accepted the fact that the death of Jesus Christ was for my sins.
Had I committed murder? No. Had I robbed a bank? No. Was I a big sinner? Maybe you wouldn't think so, but compared to God, Who is holy, I was an infinitely horrible sinner. I was a sinner in need of someone to save me from my sins.
I am the eldest of four, and as our parents raised us in a little town on scenic Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada, they endeavored to teach us the Bible. We memorized it, quoted it, and even sang it! From my childhood I heard the stories about Jesus and how He is the Son of God. I was fascinated by His power over nature and His love for people who were sick. Jesus even raised people from the dead! I was convinced that He is God.
Even though I learned so much Scripture, I still wasn't a Christian. I had never accepted the fact that I was a sinner, and that Christ had died for my sins.
This all changed on March 15th, 1979. All that week I had been listening to a man speak about what Christ had done for all those who trust in Him. I can't honestly say I understood everything he was talking about, but one thing began to bother me: I was a sinner. I knew I was not good enough for God.
I struggled with this problem. Really struggled. How could I be acceptable to a very holy God?
Quite simply, I realized that I couldn't do anything. Jesus had done it all. He was the One Who could make me right with God. He had suffered and died for my sins. He was the Substitute that God punished instead of me. At that moment, I became a Christian. I was saved from my sins because God says 'he that believes on the Son, has everlasting life.'
It was that simple. By putting my trust in Jesus Christ to take away all my sins, I was made acceptable to God. How do I know? Because God says so in His Word.
"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved" (Acts 16:31).
This simple step of faith in accepting the Word of God as being true has literally shaped the direction of my life. I am a fair bit older now than my young age of eight. In fact, I am happily married and we have two young sons of our own. I no longer live in beautiful British Columbia, either. Why not? Well, that is a story all in itself. But before I tell it, I'll let my wife Ruth relate to you how she became a Christian.
I was born and brought up in a Christian home in Northern Ireland. When I was almost nine, my family emigrated to Vancouver, BC. Both in Ireland and in Vancouver, my parents faithfully took me and my two brothers to Gospel meetings. When there was a special series, we were there every night!
It was the number one desire in my parents' hearts to see us become Christians. Despite that, I had to come to a personal realization of my need as a sinner. This was something my parents could teach me, but not something they could learn for me.
When I was ten years old, I was awakened at a series of Gospel meetings that my father and the late Mr. Alex Wilson had in Victoria Drive Gospel Hall, Vancouver. I had never before realized that I was the sinner that needed forgiveness. Subsequently, I found peace while reading my bible alone, through the words of Romans 5:6. It dawned on me that I was the ungodly for whom Christ had died.
"For when we were yet without strength, in due time, Christ died for the ungodly" (Romans 5:6).
The words of Acts 16:31 "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved" were true in my experience.
Perhaps you, the reader, have never realized that you are a sinner that must meet God some day. There is a scripture that says "Prepare to meet thy God". This is a clear warning. But whether you prepare to meet Him or not, one thing is clear. He is prepared to meet you.
The Bible says in John 3:36 - "He that believes on the Son, has everlasting life; he that believes not the Son, shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him."
Perhaps your question ought not to be, “What should I do with Jesus?” but rather “What will Jesus do with me?”
I now live in Tokyo, Japan. Why? Perhaps a little history will help give an answer.
My paternal grandfather became a Christian in the 1920s after hearing a Gospel preacher for the first time. He immediately took his school chum to hear the Gospel. This chum also trusted the Lord Jesus, and in the 1930s they both went as missionaries to Venezuela. With such a heritage, I was continually taught by my parents that serving the Lord Jesus was a high honour. So, when I was saved at age eight, it was my immediate desire to be a missionary. Desire, however, is not enough. I knew that there must be a call from God.
I was baptized (yes, fully immersed in tank of water!) at the age of 15, and the following year was received into the assembly that meets at the Lathom Road Gospel Hall, Port Alberni, BC. It was there that I learned what it was to worship and pray publicly. There was even opportunity to preach the Gospel. As my own father used to say, "Get up on your feet and make all your mistakes while you are young!"
I later moved to Vancouver, British Columbia, to complete my first university degree. It was in Vancouver that I met Ruth, who was home from Northern Ireland on holiday. But before I go too far, it would be good to have Ruth fill in a few details.
The school chum of Elton's grandfather was my own paternal grandfather! As I mentioned, I, too, was taught from an early age that serving the Lord was the highest priority any person could have. After being saved at age 10, I was later baptized and received into the assembly at Woodland Drive, Vancouver. While I was interested in the mission field, I only wished to be an observer -- the trials seemed too great!
I went to live with my grandmother in Northern Ireland in 1986, and it was when I was home for a visit to Vancouver that I met Elton. He asked me out for lunch and told me his desire to serve the Lord as a missionary. I politely suggested that he find someone else as a wife. As is evident, he didn't heed my advice! But I'll let him continue the story.
Right from the beginning, we knew the Lord had reserved us for each other. We just didn't understand why we did not agree on going to the mission field, but were willing to leave the matter with God. After being married in 1991, we moved to London, Ontario to pursue further education. It was there that our lives were radically interrupted. Ruth became very ill, and six months later we were back in Vancouver. I resigned from my studies and took up a job delivering mail for Canada Post.
These were dark days, and Ruth was sick for almost five years. During this time, my continual prayer was "are we called?" and Ruth told me later that she was telling God that she would be willing to be a missionary if He restored her health. The answer to these prayers was definite. When Tom Bentley, a missionary visiting from Malaysia, was ministering on Sunday, April 9th, 1995, it was the words of Isaiah 42:6 "I the Lord have called thee in righteousness" that confirmed the call for me. In fact, I never listened to the rest of the message, but sat very still, letting the call of God sink into my soul.
What I didn't know, was that Ruth was being spoken to from the Word of God too. Amazingly, in the same message, in the latter half of the same verse, she received assurance of the Lord's guidance: "And will hold thine hand, and will keep thee". She was confident that the Lord would "keep" her on the mission field.
In 1996, we moved to London, Ontario to prove God's sufficiency as I studied for my PhD in Economics. In 1998, following the birth of our first son, we received an email from Dr. A.J. Higgins, current editor of Truth and Tidings Magazine. He had just visited Japan, and was burdened that we consider the country as our field of service. This suggestion stirred us deeply because he did not know that we had been praying specifically about Japan. (Our prayers were the result of hearing veteran missionary Jim Currie give a report about Japan at a Vancouver Easter Conference in 1996.)
You can imagine our shock when brother Currie himself approached us a short time after Dr. Higgins. In particular, he was burdened about us helping in the Evangelical Publishers, in which he, along with others, had laboured for many years. He had no idea that brother Higgins had contacted us previously, nor did he know we were exercised about Japan for the past two years. Ruth was convinced we should go, but I was very reluctant.
I had several reasons why I could not go, and the primary one was that the Japanese language is far too difficult! However, as we laid the matter before the Lord, He graciously gave His command again. Early on February 18, 1999, the words of Exodus 4:12 became real. In response to the reluctance of Moses, the Lord said "Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth and teach thee what thou shalt say."
It was that simple. God had spoken to our souls, and we had no choice but to obey.
It was our burden that I finish my doctorate before we left. During that waiting time of over two years, the Lord gave us tremendous blessings. Another son was born to us, and when we preached the Gospel, people trusted the Lord Jesus as their own personal Saviour. More opportunities to minister the Word of God opened up throughout Ontario, and it was with joy that we observed the Lord blessing His Word. But, the Lord was sending us from these fruitful fields for His own purposes.
With the commendation of the assembly at Highbury Ave, London, Ontario, and five other assemblies in Ontario and BC, we bade farewell to those we had come to know and love. It was on December 6th, 2001, that we arrived in the Land of the Rising Sun. Tokyo, Japan is now our home.
We are here in Japan with the sole purpose of pleasing God, and telling others how they might be saved from their sin. Many Japanese ask me why I left Canada to come to Japan. My answer is often the same. “In Canada many people know about Jesus. In Japan few people know about Jesus. I came to Japan to tell people about Jesus.'
We do not know what the future contains, but the Lord who has sustained us in the past in remarkable ways, has not changed. We can honestly say that there is no greater joy than being in the center of God's will. It starts with a simple choice to obey God and His Word.
Obedience. Your life depends on it.
Obedience. Your eternity depends on it.
"What shall the end be of them that obey not the Gospel of God?" (1 Peter 4:17).
"What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" (Mark 8:36).