Fruit Bearing Fruit
By Dale and Sandra Bishop
Down through the years, it has been our privilege and joy to minister to and with wonderful people. Some have grown and taken up the mantel of service. Pastor H is one such person. He and his wife faithfully serve God in Japan. Pastor and Mrs. H lead one of the churches we started and worked in for many years. The following stories are excerpts from their ongoing pastoral ministry. The discipleship and mentoring of believers is a vital part of their ministerial thrust.
Mr. K, now in his 70s, attended a university begun by Christians. He studied agriculture to become an agent helping farmers produce better crops. Since chapel attendance was required, he also learned the basics about who God is, and what a believer should be like.
After graduation, he married and entered the work force. He testifies, “Because God is such a good God, everywhere we were transferred an evangelical church was in the neighborhood.” That might not sound like a big deal. Almost every small town or community in the United States has at least one, if not several, evangelical churches. In Japan, however, many cities with a population of 15,000-30,000 people have no evangelical church of any kind. Working around rural Hokkaido, Mr. and Mrs. K attended church sporadically over a 50-year period.
When Mrs. K developed cancer, Mr. K took an early retirement to care for her. They moved back to the town where he had attended university. One day, as they walked in their neighborhood, they passed Koinonia Free Will Baptist Church. Mrs. K said she’d like to attend. They were there only a short time before she became unable to attend. The pastor and his wife visited Mr. and Mrs. K frequently and witnessed to them. When Mrs. K’s cancer progressed, the doctor told her husband to make arrangements for her funeral. He was devastated. He couldn’t think, but knew he had to prepare for her funeral. Following Japanese tradition, he took down the phonebook and looked for a Buddhist. He never even thought of the pastor. Why? Because almost all funerals in Japan are conducted by Buddhist priests. After selecting a priest from the phonebook, he planned to call the next day to make arrangements.
Remembering the church’s kindness to them, he thought it only common courtesy to inform the pastor of his decision. He called and talked several minutes with Pastor and Mrs. H, but they could not change his mind. He expressed his appreciation for all they had done for his wife and hung up.
He later recalled, “After hanging up the phone, I heard a voice saying, ‘Is that right? Is it the right thing to do?’” He looked around, but no one was in the room. He realized God was speaking to him. He said, “I don’t know if it was an audible voice, but I am convinced in my heart and mind God spoke to me. I immediately decided to call the pastor.”
That evening, the pastor led both Mr. and Mrs. K to the Lord. Mrs. K passed away a few days later. The funeral was held at Koinonia FWB Church. Before many unsaved family members and friends, Mr. K expressed the peace and joy of knowing they would meet again in Heaven. The pastor mentored him and helped him learn more of what the Bible teaches. He now is a faithful servant, inviting friends and neighbors to come with him to church. He does volunteer work, being God’s hands and feet, helping the elderly and homebound people in the neighborhood.
Miss A and Mr. F
Miss A was one of the first three converts in the Koinonia FWB Church in the late 1980s. She accepted the Lord in her early 20s. When she was baptized, her father responded, “I will never be able to hold my head up again in family gatherings. My daughter has deserted Japanese religions for Christianity, a foreign religion.”
In spite of her father’s feelings, she continued to be faithful. Several times over the years her parents attended special meetings and concerts at the church.
Fast-forward 25 years. Miss A met a single man (Mr. F), and they began to date. There was one drawback. Mr. F wasn’t a believer. She seriously considered marrying him, but became concerned about being unequally yoked. Missionaries, the pastor, and concerned believers prayed fervently about their relationship and marriage.
About that time, realizing how important her faith was to her, Mr. F decided he needed to know what Miss A believed. He studied the Bible with Pastor H every Sunday morning before church (his only day off). Most of the time, he returned home after the study. Occasionally, he stayed for worship with Miss A.
When the studies ended, he said, “Thank you for helping me understand what you believe.” However, he wasn’t ready to commit to Christ, much to Miss A’s chagrin. She struggled with whether to continue with marriage plans. People in the church continued to pray for Mr. F.
Finally, he accepted the Lord, marriage plans were made, and he was baptized a week before they were wed! Her parents, Mr. and Mrs. A, attended the Christian wedding.
Mr. and Mrs. A
Over the years, Mr. and Mrs. A developed health issues. The missionary and the pastor were present for surgeries and home visits. In 2015-16, Mrs. A became extremely ill with cancer. Pastor H and his wife visited frequently, sharing Scripture and praying with them. One day, Mrs. A told the pastor she believed in God. Miss A was at work and didn’t hear this confession. She wasn’t sure her mother really understood what it meant to be a believer.
While the pastor and his wife were on a much-needed weekend vacation, they received a call from Miss A. She was obviously crying. They thought her mother had died, but the call came for another reason altogether. Mrs. A wanted them to come to the house so she could again confess Christ before her daughter and them. They quickly made their way to the home and to Mrs. A’s bedside. Mr. A listened as the pastor went over the plan of salvation with his wife. When they started to pray the sinner’s prayer, he reached over and said, “Me too!” Both accepted Christ and were baptized. Just a short while later, Mrs. A died. Mr. A attends church as often as his health allows with Mr. and Mrs. F (his daughter and her husband).
Mr. and Mrs. M transferred into the church a few years ago. Her mother, Mrs. H, was unsaved. Mrs. M prayed for her mother for many years, to no avail. She finally gave up on her mother ever believing. When Mrs. M’s father died, the funeral was held at Koinonia FWB Church. The message and hope explained during the service was instrumental in Mrs. H turning from Buddhism to faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior. After the services, as she was talking with the pastor, she expressed her desire to believe. Her daughter thought Mrs. H had misunderstood the gospel witness. Mrs. H said she understood well and was sure of her decision to follow Christ. After so many years of rejection and unbelief, Mrs. H’s daughter rejoiced the Lord had answered her prayers.
Mrs. H, in her late 80s, faithfully attends church when her health allows. Her daughter, Mrs. M, says she is grateful for Pastor and Mrs. H and the believers who were so kind and gave such a great testimony to her mother.
We have been greatly blessed to see the fruit of our fruit in the Lord. Pray for these faithful brothers and sisters as they seek to carry out the command of our Lord to make disciples and teach all He has commanded.
About the Writers: Dale and Sandra Bishop have diligently shared the gospel in Japan for over 40 years, serving churches in Ebetsu, Tokyo, and Saitama. Most recently, Dale served as regional director for Asia. Learn more: www.FWBGO.com