"He who doesn't learn from history repeats the same mistakes again. "
"The only thing we learn from history is ... we learn nothingfrom history. "
The Power of leadership
In 1945 the Japanese Emperor got on the radio and declared surrender. I have one of the only copies of his surrender manifesto signed by all the cabinet ministers. His hanko is as big as your fist. After this, he made the famous ningen sengen, or proclamation that he was not god. How did this come about?
To prepare to meet conquering General MacArthur, he first met with a friend, Merrill Vories-Hitotsu Yanagi, a missionary who had married a member of the Imperial family. He asked Mr. Vories to meet him at three p.m. as he walked in his garden. Among other things, he asked Vories, "What do Westerners think God is?"
Vories' answer was: "Genesis
1: 1, 'In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.'''
The Emperor sheepishly answered, "I didn't do that!" So his ningen sengen meant he was not that
Divinity! So humble.
Of the three members of the Axis of Evil of that time, Hitler committed suicide, Mussolini
was hanged upside down, but the American State Department persuaded General MacArthur to preserve the Emperor as a "symbol" to keep the country &om rioting.
In 2001 I wrote "Ten things that President Bush should do in Iraq" and the first was "keep the Conquering General Tommy Frank as a strong man to run the occupation just like MacArthur did." He didn't, and you see where we are now.
Japan, like Iraq, only respects one thing: power.
The Power of Partnering
Though the door to Japan was "off the hinges," from 1947-52 only missionaries who could be sponsored by pre-war missions could come. And so TEAM, OMS, the Southern Baptists, etc., were flooded with missionaries who begged to be sponsored by them. So came "90-day wonders," "revolving door missionaries" musical groups and Gospel Teams, etc. But one by one they hit the wall of the language and either picked themselves up and limped home, or stayed and studied it. Of the 37 YFC (Youth For Christ) missionaries who came, I was the only one forced by TEAM to go to Karuizawa and get out of the distractions of Tokyo and learn Japanese.
At language school we were all proud of our alma maters. Quickly, the Bob Jones boys were dubbed the "evangelists" and the Prairie boys were dubbed the "Bible study teachers." Actually, these are the left and right hands to the Body
of Christ. The Wheaton boys were the intellectuals, very welcome to Japan.
After spending three hours in language study each morning with a teacher who came to our home from 9:00 to 12:00, we had a lunch break and then went from 1 :00 to 3:00 with a harder teacher. After that, from 3:30 to 6:30 we had another teacher to study for the next day's lesson, which made it all an 11 hour study day! Total immersion, anyone?
The last teacher kept coughing Japan Harvest into her foroshiki and developed tuberculosis shortly thereafter. On her deathbed, she called in her preacher husband and two daughters saying, "See, the room is full of angels ... yes, I'm going with them!" And she did. Those two girls are married to preachers.
We were also proud to invite the presidents of our schools, and I attended the Moody Bible Institute alumni meetings since I attended there in my home city of Chicago. Then Bob Jones Sr. came, and after the Bob Jones alumni meeting, he began evangelistic meetings. Since Lila graduated from Prairie, I came in on her coattails.
We men soon found out that we were outnumbered by the girls. At least eight to one. And the married ladies in Karuizawa felt divinely inspired to be matchmakers, so 16 of us bachelors joined in the "Bachelor 'til the Rapture" proclamation. But one by one we fell.
There was a tennis court in front of the Union Church and one summer a beautiful girl was playing tennis with an average-looking boy. When we heard it was the Emperor's son, we all went to the fence to watch. Next to me was Ruth. And sure enough, some began planning our wedding!
The Power of the Gospel
This was the golden day of mass evangelism. We have to give the liberals credit here. The propaganda chief of Japan's Eighth Army in Manchuria was Muto Tomio. When he came back to Japan, Kagawa Toyohiko led him to Christ and he became the editor of the Kirisuto Shimbun. He promoted Kagawa's" 1 00,000 Souls for the Kingdom" movement. He was also the PR chief with the Larry LaCour Musical Evangelistic Team featuring trombones, trumpets, accordions and even the harp.
I got an accordion, and after ten months of language school,
I took off on my seven-month evangelistic trip. I had read about a young American traveling around Japan and living in Japanese homes as a journalist, and I said that I could do that. So I bought an Austin pickup truck made in England and put a beautiful sign on the back with three crosses. The wording was, "Jesus is the way, the truth and the life."
Understand ... there were no computers, e-mail, telephones, faxes or copying machines, and only manual typewriters with carbon paper. So I sent out reply postcards to all the pastors along the way from Shizuoka to Kyushu, traveling with TakamiShunsuke,mylanguage teacher and interpreter. After breakfast every morning we studied for 3 hours until lunch. Here was where the Missionary Language Handbook started.
Later in the day, we had evangelistic meetings. After each meeting we would give an invitation
to accept Christ. Children on the right, adults on the left, come forward and kneel on the ground. Then after dealing with them and leading them in the sinner's prayer we sold New Testaments for \100.
I often asked the people what songs they wanted me to play on the accordion and the songs were usually in the minor key! Their favorite? Kojo no Suki (a sorrowful story of a poor girl). Then "Oh Susannah," "Old Black Joe," and "Beautiful Dreamer." I put gospel songs in between.
I printed a songsheet with the most popular gospel songs and printed on the back "Seven things God wants you to know." In America it was "Four things God wants you to know," but before those four things you had to have these three: 1) There is only one unique God revealed in 2) one unique Bible telling of 3) the only unique Savior, and then the 4 things. Without that background you were batting the air.
Where was JEMA in all of this? That came later. The liberals were in charge, and they had orientation for newcomers given by Kagawa and William Woodard. At one seminar he presented a Shinto priest to talk about their religion whose god was nameless. No holy book. When he got through I asked a question: "What would you tell me if I was dying on the road after a car accident? The ambulanoe driver and doctor came and said I had 5 minutes to live. What would you tell me to do to make sure I went to heaven?" He hemmed and hawed and concluded that was a Western question that they never ask or answer!
The Power of Print
The liberals were also in charge of the Japan Christian Quarterly. To counter that, there was the Japan Bible Christian Council G.B.C.C.), along with their magazine, The Bible Times, led by John M. L. Young and Phil Foxwell. (Phil, by the way, at 93 years of age still does Gospel Magic!)
Finally, the evangelicals started the Evangelical Missionary Association ofJapan (EMAJ). It started out as a mimeographed paper edited by a Free Methodist missionary.
It became the mouthpiece of the evangelicals, who were somewhere between the JBCC and the liberals. The EMAJ was exactly what the words say: evangelical missionaries, not mission associations. There were big yearly conferences in Karuizawa where the walls were lined with missionary projects. Here is where the evangelicals started flexing their muscles. The liberals could have their Japan Christian Q!tarterly and we could have a big Japan harvest.
The liberals at the Japan Bible Society G.B.S.) printed a colloquial Bible taking out desu and putting in de aro, making it "believe on Jesus and you may be saved" (de aro) instead of "you will be saved." After we collected 440 different mis-
Fall 2007 takes in that colloquial version and showed them to the boss, Miyakodo, he said, "I am the proud owner of a Cadillac. You've got a Ford, but I'll keep driving my Cadillac." I met millionaire Mr. Walter Knott of Knott's Berry Farm and Mr. Lockman and persuaded them to help on doing the Japanese Amplified New Testament. I told them that I was just an evangelist, but I would introduce them to Word of Life Press, and that started the process for a new evangelical translation.
The liberals had a yearly missionary directory complete with obituaries. So, slowly but surely the EMAJ started printing their own directory, which eventually put the liberal's directory out of business.
The Power of Music
In a recent Japan Harvest column it was revealed that there are 80 Christian music groups. There were none in 1951. All we needed to do was stand up at a street meeting and preach, and a crowd would come. We passed out tracts and it was as if we passed out gold coins. Now 8 out of 10 people will reject a tract, so we put them in their bike baskets and they take them home.
Today when I preach it is likely to be to 20 people, but with contemporary musical groups like Marre Ishii's, you might get 1200 out because of the music. And thank God, he knows how to preach during a concert and give an invitation as well as sing. Music draws today's youth, especially. This is true with Sal at Ochanomizu and Shibuya's Harvest, etc. I ask all concerts to put a free copy of Book of Hope (Fax: 5978-4017) and a free copy of Power for Living (Fax: 0492-96-5019) on each chair.
Yes, the Youth For Christ motto is still the same: "Geared to the times, but anchored to the Rock."
Kenny and Lila Joseph arnwered MacArthur's call to come to Japan and met in the mountain town of Karuizawa, northwest of Tokyo. They were married there more than fifty years ago and have four boys who still work in some connection to the land of their birth. During the past 5 decades they have seen adults by the tern of thousands make public deeisiorn to receive Christ and have helped build 41 churches after holding soul-winning campaigns with them. They still live in Japan and minister through RE.A.P Mission, sharing the good news of Jesus Christ.