Last month we invited NZ Baptist readers to share their testimonies. The following is from Alex Scott, who attends Palmerston North Central Baptist.
In 1969, with my wife Kathy and two small daughters Joy and Adele, I found myself on a small logging ship sailing to Japan at the same time as men were landing on the moon.
In many wonderful ways God led, tested us, yet proved himself faithful.
Kathy and my call to serve in Japan went back 10 years and from the same date, July 4.
Our church, which was Apostolic, had no missionaries there, so we were it. We were reminded of Genesis 24:48, “I, being in the way the Lord led me,” where Abraham’s servant needed direction to find the right wife for Isaac.
Things happen when we are in God’s will.
I had only attended a language school a few times and wondered what on earth we could do, knowing little Japanese, in a seemingly self-sufficient, populous nation.
After class one day I was running to catch an Osaka loop-line train to meet a bus connection for Hirakata. On the other side of the street was an elderly lady struggling with heavy bags, and going the other way to the hospital.
I felt prompted to cross over and ask if she needed help. In much of Asia relatives take meals etc. to a hospital, as this lady was doing for her daughter.
She was grateful but of course I missed my connections. As I waited for another bus I saw an old man in the last patch of sunlight, leaning on a post. He beckoned me over and asked the time. (I knew that much Japanese!) He then wanted to know if I was a Christian, explaining that he was from the heart hospital on the hill and didn’t have long to live. Would I give him an English Bible? He could read, though not speak, English.
Of course I sent him one, marking suitable passages and writing key verses from a Japanese Bible also.
He sent back a beautiful card in Japanese (that I couldn’t read) and our non-Christian hosts were amazed. “How did you meet him and understand?”
I did nothing, except respond to the Holy Spirit, for God had arranged everything.
Shortly afterwards we met a lovely 18-year-old girl at a bread shop. Again we were asked if we were Christians. She invited us to her church (AOG), which involved following her (without getting lost) with many changes of train to a welcoming group where we understood little but experienced a wonderful warmth of fellowship that went beyond language.
Again, back home: “How did you meet her? She only sells bread, and knows no English, and you don’t speak Japanese.”
Early on in Japan we went, dictionaries in hand, to the Tsukaguchi Baptist Church, and I was invited to give some interpreted messages there. Two young men wanted to come to my English Bible classes for extra study.
I said, “Fine, but if your church has activities at the same time put those first, and also ask your pastor if he minds.” We had no intention to “sheep steal,” so all went well.
One of those young men, gentle and wise, was a lawyer and uncomfortable with things asked of him by his company. He felt called to train as a pastor. That financially challenging choice alienated him from his entire family, who were non-Christians. We were asked to pray for them and, over the years, most of them became believers. Kobayashi Sensei himself is now a loved pastor of a strongly evangelical church in Yamaguchi ken. At Easter seven years ago Kathy and I visited there, and were greatly blessed. Praise the Lord.