In 1951 a 23-year old Chicago native named Kenny Joseph traveled to Tokyo, Japan after hearing a call by General Douglas MacArthur for missionaries to assist with a spiritual rebirth of the Japanese people. Three years later Lila Finsaas followed a similar path and after meeting in Japan, the two were married. 54 years 113 years of collective service later, the two were honored on Sunday, May 31, 2009, at a birthday party in Tokyo which also served as a book release party for a new book on their lives and work in Japan.
The celebration began with dinner and video greetings from recording artists Bill Gaither and Andrae Crouch as well as an impromptu song composed by Crouch for the occasion, aptly titled "Missionaries." One son, Bobb Joseph also sent a greeting while another, Mark, unveiled the cover of the book, "God`s Ambassadors in Japan: The Kenny & Lila Joseph Story."
Written by veteran missionary biographer and ANS founder, Dan Wooding, the book follows the duo’s extraordinary journeys from the North Dakota prairie and the South side of Chicago to life on the bustling streets of one of the world’s largest cities, Tokyo, with their four sons who were all born there.
Wooding flew into Tokyo for the event and with the help of a translator, regaled the audience with stories of his work on the book:
"I`ve written about gangsters, missionaries and rock stars," cracked Wooding, whose 42 books have included ones on missionary Brother Andrew and Rick Wakeman of the rock band Yes, "but this is the most interesting one I`ve done yet, and is a story that is part missionary, part rock star.
Wooding was joined in Tokyo by American producer Dave Ball who is producing a documentary based on the book and interviewed both Kenny & Lila and a number of their friends and colleagues.
The party also celebrated the release of a book written by Lila, "From The Prairie To The World," a biography of her Aunt Alma Aarhus’ work as a foreign missionary in the mid-1900`s.
"It was great to see so many of our friends and colleagues," noted Lila Joseph. "It was an evening to remember."
"I`ve followed Dan Wooding for many years and am a great fan of his work. To be the subject of one of his books was a great honor," said Kenny Joseph.
"God`s Ambassadors in Japan" endorsers include famed researcher George Gallup, columnist Ann Coulter, Star Wars/Raiders of the Lost Ark producer Howard Kazanjian, longtime Billy Graham soloist George Beverly Shea and Andrae Crouch.
"This book will inspire you to take a missions trip," wrote Kazanjian. "America has blessed the world in so many ways, but none greater than the men and women it has sent around the world…whose mission has been to liberate those living in darkness,” added Coulter. "The seeds planted by the Joseph`s could yield much fruit in the years to come,” noted Gallup.
"It was a great time to honor them for their lives and their work," said Mark Joseph who organized the party and commissioned the book. “We hope this will be the beginning of another chapter in the book of their lives.”
Kenny has preached in many cities and areas in Japan including Shizuoka, Kyoto, Chiba, Mishima, Guma, Mihama, Osaka and many more!!
"God`s Ambassadors in Japan" and "From The Prairie To The World," released by Ripe Publishing, will be available at Amazon.com at a later date and this will be announced on ANS.