As I Saw and Heard It: "Present at the Creation" by Evangelist Kenny Joseph
It was the "Macarthur missionaries" who kept asking me to write an eyewitness account of sixty years of post?war missions in Japan. I fought this for over five years saying, "Don't ask me; ask the ones who made his?rosy to write the history."
But they said, "One by one we've got to get them before they retire." Like the big rush of MacArthur missionaries who came over in 1947-51......out of the 5000, only 20 remain.
Yet I kept saying, "Let George do it," until I talked to a "long-term" missionary. When I asked him what he knew about the Japan revival in 1955, he said, "Oh, you mean Toyama?"
I said, 'No, that was an afterglow, an "ab?erration." Often when God builds a church, satan puts up a tent next door.
He seemed surprised to hear that there was a genuine revival. That pushed me over the cliff and I said, "OK, I'll write a brief summary of "what my eyes have seen and my ears have heard and my hands have felt."
So I made a list of 30 nation-wide inter-denominational ministries that I saw begin post-war. Each denomination or mission group writes their own histories with names, places and dates of interest only to them and their group. I decided to begin writ-ing a broad range, wide-brush picture that does not pose to be an objective, historical, detached story, but a partly personal, admit-tedly prejudiced look from the only vantage point I know: my own. This is how I saw and heard it.
Part One?Post?war Ministry Waves Before and during World War II, the big noise was, 'Missionary, go home! You embarrass us as we bring "peace and co?prosperity to Asia under Hakko Ichiyu (all Asia under our big Shinto roofl)" So all but 10 missionaries left Japan. Germans and Italians could stay under house arrest. Finally what began at Pearl Harbor ended in Hiroshima. Then, beginning in 1945, the expelled missionaries came trickling back. And the ever?changing ministry waves began flowing over post?war Japan.
The first wave after the war screamed, "Bring enough food for 5 years!"
The next wave called out "Buy land. Buy land!" Some land was 3 yen (1 cent) a tsubo (36 square feet). Some was 60 (20 cents). A high price was Y3,000 ($9) a tsubo. "Buy land even if you haven't got a church." Mainline churches listened, and others, especially the Southern Baptists, did too. But most evangelicals hesitated. After all, a missionary could live on $125 a month. "Who needs land? And anyhow, Jesus is coming back in 1952!" CIM (China Inland Mission) said, "Just rent. We lost our shirts in Red China!"
The "comity" (let's work this out to?gether) wave rolled in when China fell to Communism and kicked 2,000 mission?aries out. Many came to Japan with the word, "Let's not just buy land?let's also divide the country into comity plans so missionaries don't overlap as they did in China." So the Lutheran Brethren took Akita, CBFMS (Conservative Baptist Foreign Mission Society) took Sendai, CIM took Hokkaido, and so on.
The next big wave was, "Forget buy?ing land. Win souls on the street. Mass evangelism. Evangelize or fossilize!" The big YFC (Youth for Christ) World Congress, the PTL (Pocket Testament League) OMS (Oriental Missionary Society) soul?winning crusades and campaigns garnered 33,000 decisions.
Now the shibboleth was, "Follow?up, Follow?up! Don't run around burn?ing the land up, but follow?up." The Navigators came along with follow?up offices at YFC, then PBA. Word of Life Press' Every Home Crusade, Emmaus, the Conservative Baptists, and others launched free Bible correspondence courses.
The next big wave was the "indigenous principle" screaming, 'Train the Japa?nese to do the job. Mr. Missionary, don't become a pastor. You just train the Japanese as they did in Korea with the Nevius method and the Three?Self pro?gram: "Self?supporting, Self?propagating and Self?teaching."
Then came the revival wave. God did send a genuine, sovereign revival to Ja?pan, mostly to and through the mission?aries. Revival teams traveled the country holding mini?revival prayer meetings. It started to spill over to the Japanese. Some received. Some resisted. When one group tried to "bottle it and sell it with their label," the gentle Holy Spirit flew away.
Next was the "Toyama" phenomenon, which, in the words of one missionary to his colleagues was, "You've sown much and reaped little; now watch us. We'll sow little and reap much," as they and 20 others left their mission organiza?tions and went to Toyama City. There was a genuine move of God there, but with zealous, inept leadership, it with?ered. Most went back discouraged to their home countries. Two stayed.
The next wave was "Preserve and train the fruit." Little Bible schools and Bible camps sprouted up all over. Some exploded. Many expanded and some later amalgamated.
The following wave was "church plant-ing": If you weren't a "church planting" missionary, you were zilch. So "para-missions" specializing in needed evange-listic ministries leaned over backwards, stretched and did mental gymnastics to make their ill-prepared missionaries "plant churches" or die trying. Some prevailed. Many quit.
Now "short?termers" was the answer to "so few recruits for lifetime career missionaries." It became the next wave. Many came and left. Japanese pastors wailed, "We finally get to know the mis?sionary and he leaves." But some good men and women of this group remained to carry on.
The newest yet oldest wave was, "Teach English. Teach English. They won't come to hear the gospel any more, but they'll come for English and you can give them the gospel." So off flew "Cap-tain English" to the rescue. Despite the potential pitfalls, thousands heard the gospel in this way. (Renowned Japanese evangelist Koji Honda came for cookies, tea and English-in that order! -and found Christ!)
"Muddle through somehow," "S.O.S. (Same Old Stuff)," was the answer to "What's new in missions?"
The "Christian Wedding" wave gains strength and visibility. Some feel it is a Christian "racket" to make money, while others see it as an avenue for "pre-evangelism." With 80 to 100 unsaved in attendance each time (who have never been to church before coming to a Christian wedding chapel), tens of thou-sands each year hear a minimum gospel presentation during the wedding ceremony. Bibles and tracts are given away to the bridal couple and other guests. The entire message and ceremony is videotaped and is replayed to hundreds of friends for years to come.1988
Another new wave is the "tent-making" entrepreneur evangelist (an entrepre-neur being one who assumes the risk and management of a work; enterpriser, undertaker). These self-supporting, pay-your-own-way-business-for-Jesus maverick missionaries ("a recalcitrant individual who bolts his group and initi-ates an independent course-after Mr. S.A. Maverick, a Texas cattle owner who did not brand his calves!") have valiant hopes. But after a 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. work and commute, dinner, TV and sleep beckon. Still, there's Sunday! And they reach some people the preachers can't.
Through it all for the past 60 years, long?term missionaries have seen these and other waves come and go. We admit that the Holy Spirit has used many methods and men and avenues in Japan. Each has left an impact ?some more than others. Only eternity will reveal the final results. God never orders a great seed sowing unless he plans a great harvest!
Next issue: "Part Two-The Genesis of Post-war Christian Ministries"