I tell you the truth. Japan is open and hungry for the message of Jesus and the cross! Denise, my wife and I carried the cross on the Japanese mainland in 1992 and had a wonderful response then with many coming to Jesus. But now in 2003, over 10 years later the response was much, much greater.
Picture this : Naha, Okinawa . I am standing with the cross on my shoulder on the sidewalk of the crowded main shopping street. Denise is with me, Junko our interpreter also, along with Pastor Dave and about 15 of his church family. We are giving out gospel material in Japanese and also our Jesus stickers in English. I am explaining to six young men about who Jesus is and how He can be their Savior. Now they are ready to pray and receive Jesus. I look up and see people lined up in groups waiting to come to the cross and hear about Jesus and pray! This on the main shopping street in Okinawa! Jesus did it! Forget all that you ever heard about how hard it is to see people saved in Japan. This is the ‘New Japan’! Now for the rest of the story!
Thank God for Unanswered Prayer
What we sometimes ask for
“No, I have a better plan”
Denise and I flew into the airport in Okinawa. Junko Winningham our wonderful interpreter met us. We then went to hire our vehicle. Okinawa is about 70 miles long and we needed a car to carry our gospel materials and supplies. We didn’t know anyone there. At the rental car office, they said, “Let us see your International Drivers License.” Denise and I looked at each other and realized we had forgotten to get them for this year. They would not let us rent the vehicle – No way! Japan keeps the law precisely in every way. We sat down in shock to consider what to do. Now Denise and I are two of the most traveled persons in the world and knew we needed to carry the AAA International License.
We decided to go to a hotel and consider our options and pray. As we waited for a taxi, I will never forget Denise saying “Well, the devil is not going to stop this witness, we will just carry the cross everyday here in Naha.” At the hotel at midnight I called Dotti in our office and asked her if there was any way to get the license. She said she had gotten my message, checked thoroughly and that “No, it’s not possible to process and get to you during your time there.” Denise was asleep and I lay praying, “Lord show me what is happening.” He spoke so clearly , “I have a plan but I must get you stopped from renting your own car in order to show you what I have already worked out!”
I tell you it was not five minutes till the phone rang and it was Dotti . “Arthur, I just listened to the phone messages and there is a call from Okinawa! A man who says he is a missionary named Dave. He said he saw on the Internet that you were coming to Okinawa. He lives there and said should you need ‘anything’ ‘please’ call him! Here is his phone number!” An awesome peace filled me and Jesus told me to go to sleep, everything is worked out. I slept.
The next morning I phoned Dave Lukasiak at 8 a.m. When I told him who I was he said, “How can I help you? I have canceled all programs at the church for two weeks and am ready to serve you!” I In a few hours he and his wife, Katsue were at the hotel to pick us up and drive us to the north of the island and to a hotel they had arranged for us. For the entire time we were in Okinawa they cared for us and loved us in the most practical and helpful ways. They taught us much about how to minister to others. They and their church are the most loving and caring people.
Truly a ray of light and a true reflection of Jesus. No religion there. Just Jesus! Wow!
A few short stories:
A car stopped in the street and a lady got out leaving her car in the traffic. She came to the cross and as we began to witness, she reached her hand to her neck and said ‘I have problems up to here’ and then she began to cry and huge tears rolled down her cheeks. Junko was interpreting and then she said to me. “Hurry up, she has to get to work!” The lady came to Jesus and then came to church. In church she cried the entire meeting. She was weeping and smiling.
A man was working beside the road in the bushes. We spoke to him and asked him what he knew about Jesus. He said he had never heard of such a person. He lived up in the mountains alone except for 15 dogs and had never even made a phone call. He was a real remote mountain man. We told him of Jesus and he wanted Jesus in his life. “Now I have a friend,” he said. Dave told me he will go visit the man.
Denise and I arrived at the van after walking with several others with the cross along the highway in the 96 degree heat. Pastor Dave and Katsue are standing beside the van with cups of ice-cold water for each of us. I sat down in the front seat to rest and Dave took off my hat and put a wet cloth that he’s just taken off a pack of ice and puts the “oshi bori” (the Japanese word) on my head. I cry out, “I think I’ve died and gone to heaven!” Never have I experienced such in all my years on the road with the cross. I am now spoiled! It took me 34 years to find this!
We arrive in Naha, the capital of Okinawa and we have a large team of witnesses with us of all ages. We move slowly through the main street giving out gospel material.
People are friendly and welcoming and many have seen us on the island TV and largest newspaper. They want photos with the ‘Cross’ and me! Glory. People are even waiting in line to get to the cross. This is in modern Japan. Most of them were young, from about 17 to 25 years old. I will never forget the beauty of this as long as I live. It takes time because many know little to nothing about Jesus. I must tell the story from the Bible and show how they can know Jesus and receive new life in Him. After praying with a group, some of the local followers of Jesus would do the follow up and I would began with a new group. This went on and on!
As we witnessed along the main street we came to an enclosed mall lined with shops. It was huge and ‘air conditioned’ ha! I said, “Lets go through the mall!” We carried the cross and witnessed and shared all through that huge mall. No problem. Talk about freedom! Denise and I carried the cross through the malls in Japan in 1992. Try that in an American mall! You know what would happen. Not here in this wonderful nation of Japan.
I will never forget talking to one man. I explained the glorious news of Jesus to him. After we prayed together he was so excited and asked, “Now is my name in that Book in Heaven?” “Yes,” I declared and he was so happy.
We preached in the New Beginnings Church two Sundays. This is the most wonderful and powerful church. They have bi-lingual meetings with singing and preaching in both English and Japanese. Pastors Dave and Katsue Lukasiak stand at the front singing the most beautiful songs as the band and congregation join in.
The worship is so powerful and touching, most people are weeping and smiling in the manifested Presence of Jesus. Everyone at church greets each other with a big hug. This is in Japan where such is unheard of. After the meeting everyone goes upstairs to eat and fellowship in the love of Jesus. This is a mission of faith and trust completely in Jesus. Should you want to contact Pastors Dave and Katsue just let me know and I will pass on the message. They would love to hear from you.
I could go on and on telling stories in Okinawa. But I just want to say that God worked out everything and brought us into contact with people that are truly following Him and want to reach out to others. Pray for these brothers and sisters in Jesus as they reach out to Okinawa, Japan and the world.
Junko Winningham, the pastor of a Japanese speaking church in the Los Angeles, California area was with us on this trip. Junko is a wonderful friend and great, great interpreter. We came to call her the ‘bionic woman’. Oh, can she ever walk! She walked every step of the way with us on this island.
Oh, God bless our dear friends on Okinawa. Lord bless our church the ‘New Beginnings Church’, Dave and Katsue and their family and all the dear people at the church. This church is a real true reflection of what Jesus had in mind when He started the church. It is a wonder in modern times.
Pilgrim followers of Jesus,
Arthur and Denise Blessitt