I studied at ACU for three years between 1993 and 1995. So I was an old student. There was another old student a former missionary who was also studying there. He asked me, “How long do you plan to be here?” I thought it was very interesting because many Japanese Christians ask the same question to American missionaries when they come to Japan. These questions were asked for different reasons but in a sense for the same reason. The American missionary was concerned because he had seen many native preachers who come from different nations to study the Bible but end up living in America rather than going back to work on the field where they came from and where they need to be. Japanese Christians ask the question because we have seen missionaries leave too soon before the work is accomplished. So from both ends we are concerned about the unfinished work and we want to complete the work of the Lord.
Please do not misunderstand. We are thankful for what the missionaries have done. They gave their lives so that we can have life in Christ. They shared what they had. Some older Japanese Christians expressed the sentiment that when the missionaries left, they felt like abandoned orphans. They knew missionaries had to return for legitimate reasons but many had to leave before the work was accomplished. They left before the Christians and churches were well rooted and established.
There was a Christian boom and American boom after the war. The missionaries were able to baptize thousands of Japanese and start many congregations. Most of the congregations that exist today were started then. Many of these congregations are dying now without ever learning to grow. Back then there was no missions department in any of our colleges in America. But now there are, and you have studied and learned so much since then. You have applied what you learned about establishing congregations here and elsewhere successfully. We would like to leam what you have learned and how you are doing it. I believe Paul as a missionary kept on growing and what he learned he shared with his co-workers and with churches he established. He wrote letters when he could not go personally and sent Timothy and Titus to complete the tasks that were not quite completed yet. We would like for missionaries to stay longer or long enough to establish churches. Time is not the real issue.
We would like you to stay long enough for us to say: how much longer do you plan to be here or let’s go somewhere else now. Even if you cannot come, would you help train the new generation of leaders and teachers for Japanese churches and for Ibaraki Christian University and Japan School of Evangelism. Let’s do it because we do not know how long we have before the Lord returns.
There was an American missionary in Japan who got on a crowed train in Tokyo. His stop came but it was so crowded that he could not move, so he shouted “Koroshite kudasai” instead of “Oroshite kudasai.” What is the difference? “Koroshite” means “Please kill me.” I am glad to report that no one killed him. They made enough room for him to get off. So it worked either way. There is an application for our mission work.
This missionary hit the very important point of the mission work. The only way we will succeed in the mission of God is by dying to ourselves. We will not succeed by giving up and getting off of the mission. We will accomplish this mission by giving ourselves to God by dying to self. I thought I was going to die when I started to work as a minister in Tokyo. The work seemed overwhelming. I believe the Lord is saying to me, “Thinking you might die is not enough and that you have not died yet, means you need to.”
Please pray that God will purge, break, and mold us Japanese Christians so that we can be useful to God. Please send true kamikaze missionaries with banzai message because these are the only ones God can use. True kamikaze missionaries are guided, directed, and empowered by God’s wind to accomplish his mission. Let’s finish the work here together and let’s go home.
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