My wife, Denise and I spent about three months carrying the cross in Japan. We rented a car at Narita Airport near Tokyo. An estate car or as some would call it a station wagon. It was our home on the road. We would often put down the back seat and lay out our blankets and make it our bed for the night. The hotels were so expensive and this was a way to cut costs.
I would carry the cross and Denise would drive up the road in about three or four miles in front of me. She would find a place to park and wait for me. She kept our food, water and supplies in the car.
Several times we got very 'lost' from each other. The highway would split in different directions and there was no place for her to stop and wait. Often she had to drive for miles to turn around. I would have gone one way and she another. All the road signs were in Japanese and often it was even more confusing as Highway 1 would be Highway 1a or 1b or 1c etc. All we could do when we got lost was she would drive back to the last place where we had parked and I would turn back and carry the cross to the last place we had stopped! Some days we went backward as much as we went forward.
Mt. Fuji, standing in its majestic beauty is the symbol of Japan. It rises from the
sea in a cone shape to a towering 12,388 feet. It took me three days climbing up
a winding road, a distance of about 32 miles, with a highway up to the fifth stage
to a height of about 7500 feet. Denise joined me on foot to do the major climb to
the top. Our cross walk in Japan would not be complete without this. God had
specifically told me to carry the cross up Mt. Fuji. Denise carried the backpack,
I carried the cross up, up, up. The air was getting gradually thinner with less
oxygen the higher we got. Mt. Fuji is a dormant volcano with the ground being
covered in volcanic boulders and fine ash. The climb gets progressively tougher.
There were few Japanese going up but there were two platoons of U.S. Marines
from the bases in Japan making the climb. They were climbing a bit faster than
us so we had a great witness to them as they would pass. These young men
were so kind and often help me up and over a tough place. Denise and I had a
plate of rice and curry at a rest camp about half way up. Then we made our final
struggle to the summit. Oh, I tell you it was tough. My poor cross was crashing
against the huge rocks. We climbed up past snow and the air grew colder,
dense clouds swept by us but on this day none engulfed us, nor did it rain.
On the final ascent, in the toughest area, a group of six Marines were resting
where we stopped. They volunteered to help me get the cross to the top. They
said, "All the way with the cross, we'll raise it up at the top like the flag on
Iwo Jima!" They carried the cross with three or four at a time holding it. It
exhausted us all but finally we made it. The cross of Jesus was uplifted atop
Mt. Fuji! Hallelujah. All these young men gathered around the crater and we posed for photos and had a prayer together. One Marine gave his life to Jesus on the climb up. Another Marine gave his life to Jesus on the way down. Truly this was a tough but glorious walk with the cross. Getting down was difficult also because of the weight of the cross pushing. The ash was slippery and it was difficult to stand. A group of Marines also helped us get the cross down.
Just after nightfall, Denise and I fell into each other arms in joy, tiredness and thanksgiving. A great miracle of healing took place on the mountains...Denise. She has suffered a lot of illness in her life and she was even sick the day before we climbed the mountain. There was just no way she could have made it, but she said in Jesus name, "I'm going to climb that mountain". The Lord had promised to meet us there in glory. He did, Denise was completely healed and sickness has left her. All glory to God.
We were about to begin the morning walk after sleeping in the car. A little man came up and was watching us. He could speak English and I explained to him about Jesus dying on the cross for him. He said, "Oh yes, my sister is a Christian, they go Amen, Amen!" We had a long talk. He said, "Maybe before I die I believe in Jesus". He took Denise to his flower stand nearby to meet his wife and they gave her beautiful flowers.
We were led into the Japanese home of a family in Tokyo. Taking
our shoes off at the door we entered a home of love and of Jesus.
Denise had always dreamed of staying in a real Japanese home.
This was it. Our room had a straw floor with sliding doors on two
sides both opening into a garden. We put out bed mats at night.
We were treated as family with food and hospitality for two weeks
as we carried the cross in a big circle around and through Tokyo.
From my diary:
All day we saw people pray to receive Jesus, Japanese, and even
some Russians. Some Japanese young people joined us to
witness and interpret. We preached, gave out gospel material
and shared in central Tokyo. We had interpreters with us all the
time in the Tokyo area. We saw many Japanese pray and welcome Jesus to be their Savior and Lord.
One young lady I witnessed to today said, "I was interested in Jesus and went to church but there someone stole my purse. I never went back! I explained that not all people in church are true followers of Jesus. Surely it was not Jesus that stole your purse! She prayed and invited Jesus into her heart.
One businessman was playing golf on a huge Japanese driving range. He saw the cross, Denise and I and he asked her what I was doing. She explained the good news of Jesus and he received Christ as Savior.
We did several outreaches with a well-known Japanese evangelist named Arthur Holland. He is really a fire for Jesus! We also did outreach with a youth evangelistic group called YWAM in the Tokyo area. They were wonderful young people.
We carried the cross through Kyoto and later Yamaguchi, two cities where St. Francis Xavier first preached the gospel in 1551-52.
In Yamaguchi there is a big cross in his memory and a lovely Catholic Church on a hill. Here some of the first Japanese heard of Jesus and were baptized.