Japan Mission Trip Update 8.28.2019

Some of you who have been following with me on my journey home may remember the story of how I met the pastor of the Christian Church in Japan.  My wife and I were visiting our son who works in Japan and we decided that we wanted the experience of worshiping with Christians in Japan.  Since our daughter-in-law is Japanese, we asked her where we could find such a church.  She is a Christian but has known Christianity through the Catholic Church, but she had a friend who did attend such a church that we were looking for.  However, her friend had just moved back to the States but she called her anyways.  Her friend called her back in about an hour or two and told her that she had already called the pastor who told her that they would pick us up so that we wouldn’t have trouble finding the church. 

Sure enough, they were waiting for us and took us to the church.  On the way, I remembered that gifting is big in Japan and I had not secured a gift so I silently offered up a prayer – God, HELP!!  Then I remembered that I had an extra copy of my book, The Mystery Of Faith, and decided to give it to the pastor when we arrived.

As soon as we arrived we were escorted to the worship center and was met by the Pastor, who greeted us very graciously.  I then presented him with my gift and wasn’t sure how it was received.  Not being familiar with the customs, I was unprepared for his response.  He got choked up and I thought he was going to cry.  I quickly asked, did I do something wrong?  He replied, NO, NO, you don’t understand.  You see I have been praying for some months that God would send me someone to encourage me, and you are him.  Then I got choked up as well and also felt some relief that I had not offended him.   From that first encounter we have had a growing relationship that has lasted for three years already.  He has made two trips to the USA and met with me on both occasions

He is also translating my book into Japanese and hopes to complete the translation this year.  At one point he had another person helping with the translation and there was a great flood and all of their work was lost in the flood.  On another occasion there was an earthquake that did damage to his home and I don’t know if he was able to get it repaired or not.  The short version is that Satan has been working overtime to stop his work on the translation.  Please pray for him to be encouraged and that Satan’s efforts be turned against him.

Several months ago the pastor shared with me his plan for a Bible Training Conference again this year.  He has had such a conference several times but his concern was that the attendees had been coming to be entertained, rather than be trained.  We discuss his dilemma and he wondered if I would be able to attend this year.  I shared it with our mission pastor at our church and he suggested that we offer to provide the training for the conference this year as a help to focus on the training aspect.  After the pastor prayed about it for several days he agreed and invited our church to be a part of the conference.  I had no trouble getting a team together, in fact it happened immediately.  We even had volunteers beyond our need and had to limit the team to four.  The pastor from Japan made the trip to meet with the team from our church and we saw the Lord hand all along the way.  It has been exciting to see the Lord bring it all together.

Today the mission team met to do the final planning for the Olivet Training Conference in Japan that is scheduled for the first week in October in Osaka, Japan.  We received the final schedule this week and we are making final preparations for the trip.  Everyone is excited and sensing the Lord’s involvement.  I will be speaking twice.  My first session I will be on the Operation Of Faith.  It is so amazing to me that there are so few in the church who knows how faith works and why.  The second session I will be addressing the Trial of Faith.  We need to understand that the trials are not to put us down but to build us up in our faith.  We are anticipating about 50-60 in attendance and the conference will be in three languages (English, Japanese and Chinese).  The reason is that just over half of the attendees will be from China and just under half will be from Japan.  We have an opportunity to touch the church leaders from two great nations who are presently facing great difficulty.  Already they have made request for situations they are facing and are looking to us for Biblical answers. 

When I returned home from the meeting with the mission team, I checked my website and found a comment from  one of the attendees of the Olivet Bible Training Conference that we will be doing next month.  I share his comment that you can rejoice with me.   Dear Pastor Vernon

I am one of the attendees of the Bible Training Conference in Japan. I am very exited to find this place.

I am reading your book The Mystery Of Faith, and it really helps me know more about God and the truths of faith. Praise the Lord and thank you so much!

I don’t know how he found my website but I was really blessed that he would make such an effort to let me know how they were preparing for this time.  It is my prayer that the Lord will be able to use us as His instruments to meet their needs.  I have a saying that I use for such occasions.  “It has God’s fingerprints all over it.” 

May the Lord build you in your adventures of faith.

Brother Vernon

Update 8.4.19

As you may already be aware, a team of 4 from our church are making a mission trip to Japan the first week in October. There are about 50 expected to attend a Bible Training Conference which we will participate in as conference speakers. The theme of the conference is Walking by Faith and we were planning on presenting each participant with a copy of my book, The Mystery of Faith in their own language. There are two major problems at this point and both of them could affect whether or not we can provide the written materials to the attendees. The first is the problem of printing as China has shut down all printing presses to printing anything pertaining to the gospel and is under tight scrutiny. We have an alternate plan that we hope to use that will make it much safer for all of the attendees. The second is the completion of the Japanese translation which is currently underway and is over half completed. Please pray that this work will be completed on time.

A second piece of news is that pastor T was here in the area and met with the team and a lot of the planning for the trip was made. Both the team and Pastor T got many of the answers that were needed and all saw a great spirit of cooperation and fellowship and we all came away with the deep sense that God’s fingerprints were all over this project. This will be our church’s first mission project in Japan and much ground work has been necessary to lay a good foundation. There is the hope that this can be just the beginning of other efforts in Japan and beyond. More on this as it develops.

Our Sunday School class has taken on the task of assisting in the printing of the book, The Mystery of Faith in the Japanese language. We have not reached our goal but have reached 1/4th of it. I am always amazed as to how God works. All of the translators have come forth on their own to volunteer to do the translations and now we see the Lord providing for other facets of the work. I call it the fingerprints of God and I see Him doing what I could never do. Sometimes I marvel out loud, “God, you are good.”

The persecution in China has intensified considerably and since May all Christian churches that have not come under the control of the government are illegal and severe consequences will follow those who are caught operating as an illegal church. Numbers of pastors and church leaders have been imprisoned and their churches disbanded. It has caused much confusion within the underground church and a number of individuals have been forced to sign a paper denouncing their profession of faith and pledging full allegiance to the authority of the government. Further, all printing that has anything to do with the gospel is now strictly forbidden. I would ask you to pray for the government leaders to see that the Christian people are not a threat to their secular position but are an asset to the whole nation and will enrich their lives and secure their nationality. Also, that they too, will discover Christ and claim His new life.

The Russian translation is at a halt for now since my translator has gone on to be with the Lord. I am asking the Lord how to proceed as I do not have a translator to complete this work. As far as the Spanish translation, it is finishing up on chapter 4 and we are ready to begin chapter 5. The work there is going slow as my translator has her mother living with her and that requires many of the hours in a day to care for her. Still she is slowly moving ahead on the Spanish translation.

Update 1/14/2019

The year end holidays are now past and we are turning our focus to the coming events. This Friday (the 18th) I will be visiting one of the men’s Bible studies in our church to do a report on our China mission trip. It will be a 30 to 45 minute power point presentation and I am excited to share it.

Then on the 20th of this month I will be meeting with my host from my trip to China, here in Keller, Texas. We will be considering another possible trip to China this year. With the crackdown on religion there we will need your prayers once again. We want to find the will of the Lord most of all and pray for us to be sensitive to Him. We will also be considering how the Lord would like for us to proceed on how to best use my book that has been translated into Chinese. There are two specific needs: the first is to make the best use in China. The second is that I find the right publisher here in the US to get it in print here and to make it available to the many Chinese that are living here. I have talked with a couple publishers but as of right now I do not have specific leading. On Wednesday, the 23rd of January, Forest will be making his report to our church in the 7:00 PM service.

I am happy to report that the Russian translation is nearing the completion of Chapter 5 and will begin chapter 6 in the very near future. I have also heard from the translator of the Japanese copy and he has been undergoing a major spiritual attack. His assistant has dropped out after a flood destroyed all of their work that they had done together. He is back to chapter 5 which is where he was before the flood. Since then he has been trying to meet the additional load from his church, and the mission activities he has been involved in. Added to that, there has been false teacher come in and created a lot of disturbances in many churches. They need your prayers. Finally, we come to the Spanish translation and it is not moving well either. A live in mother-in-law and health issues have become overwhelming. Satan is at work, trying to stop this effort.

As a member of the missions committee, I am currently working on a possible mission trip to Japan this year. It is in the very early stages so I don’t have any thing specifically to report except that is is under consideration and the initial contact has been made with my contact in Japan. Once again we are looking for God’s will and following His leading.

I just joined LinkedIn (prounced Linked In) on January 1 and yesterday I recieved my first comment from someone I did not know. He and I have a common contact and he read one of my articles. He was the 9th person to read one of my four entries.

This year promises to be even more active than last year and prayerfully the Lord will find us faithful in His service.

One Year Summary

As of January 1, 2019 I will have posting on this blog for one year. During that time I have posted 153 different post and have had 1710 different contacts to this website from 29 different countries During that time there have been 69 contacts that have responded in writing from countries as far away as Japan and China.

Included on this site are the 153 blog entries divided by month and topics; a new section that is titled Activity and is under construction; Articles that I have published in the past; A Q&A where you can pose a question about the Bible or its doctrine (teaching) and other appropriate topics; and a section titled The Mystery of Faith that is on my book and how to order it. Coming later this year will be a section on some select messages that I have preached and have been recorded.

Events of the past year have been teaching weekly in the Senior Adult Sunday School; a speaker on the Annual Senior Adult Bible Conference, hosted by our church; the translation and printing of my book in Chinese; and a 10 day mission trip to China which included worshiping with our Christian family in China. This year (2019) I am projecting two mission trips, one trip back to China and a second trip to Japan, which will hopefully begin a new work in Japan.

The status of the translations of my book, The Mystery of Faith, is as follows: The Chinese translation has been completed and printed and is being used as a training manual for new pastors in China. The Russian translation is nearing completion of chapter 5. The Japanese translation is also in chapter 5. The Spanish translation is moving slower due to family needs but is in chapter 3. I am currently searching for a publisher to print each of these translations so that they are available to people everywhere. More on that as it develops.

I am so amazed at what the Lord has done with this simple step of obedience. This is a brief report of the past year and some projections for the coming year. Watch for the LinkedIn page that is coming soon. If you subscribe to it you will receive a notice each time I make a post and it will also be linked to this site as well.

Summer Time

Summer is a busy time for many people.  My daughter was on a mission trip to Greece and we spent 4 days in Oklahoma with the grand kids.  Then were off to Colorado for  10 days for our family reunion as well as my sister’s golden anniversary..  As soon as we got back on Saturday, we had our grand daughter and 4 of her friends here for 4 days.  I just had eyelid surgery yesterday and am making that adjustment.  Coming up on June 1st is our grand daughter’s graduation and on June 10-14 is the Southern Baptist Convention in Dallas.  It will be good to review with other co-laborers their work with the Lord.

Coming up in August is the Senior Adult Bible Conference.  This year it will begin on Sunday afternoon, August 5 and continue through the 8th.  There will be two speakers each morning, one at 10 AM and one at 11 AM.  I will be speaking on the 8th at the 10 AM slot.

It appears that the China mission trip for Oct-Nov is still moving forward in the planning, but cautiously as there are still some obstacles to overcome.  Please be one of our prayer partners that will under gird this effort.

The translations continue to move forward slowly but continuously.  Every time I hear of progress, I praise the Lord.  This is a work that He initiated and I am just an observer.  I am excited to see how He intends to use this work.

I am praying for each of you as you discover to amazing plan that God has for each of you.  I am seeing the Lord use you in some really amazing ways.  May the Lord Bless you in every way as you serve Him.

 

The Great Commission

The Christian community understands that the Great Commission refers to the charge of Jesus to evangelize the world.  The main Scripture that is associated with this commission is Matthew 28:18-20 And Jesus came to them and spake unto them, saying, All authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: 20 teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.  It was also recorded in Mark 16:15, Luke 24:47, Acts 1:8, and referred to in several other scriptures.

A commission comes with certain implications.  First, it is a command and not a request.  It is not based on whether or not you feel like it or if it fits into your schedule.  It is your schedule.  Your life is to include this task as a main theme.  It is of prime importance and not to be regulated into a lesser importance.  People’s eternities are at stake and our love for our Lord as well as our love for others are our motivators.

Second, we are to go into all the world with the gospel message.  God’s message is for everyone and everyone is important to Him.  The Bible declares that it is not God’s will that any perish, but that all come to repentance.  (2 Peter 3:9)  There is no specific plan as to priority of order of importance but ‘as you go’ or maybe ‘where ever you go’ or everywhere you go is the order of the day.  Further, it is an all inclusive plan to include all places.  From the early church it was Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the uttermost parts of the earth.  Your Jerusalem is where you begin and includes that environment.  Your Judea is the region just beyond your Jerusalem.  Your Samaria goes beyond your Judea to include the more difficult places for you to include your prejudices, or your enemies, or some other barrier you will need to cross such as distance or finances.  Your uttermost part of the earth extends to include all peoples in all places and all circumstances.

The third implication is that we are to go in His power and not our own.  It is so often said that I cannot afford to go on missions.  God will finance His missions.  I am not saying that it is a free ride and you have no responsibility in this.  What I am saying is that all resources belong to God, they are not ours.  The first place to go is to the Lord in prayer and seek His power to deal with this situation.  Don’t attempt to do it on your own for you are commissioned to look to Him for the resources to go and the power to do His will.  If you can accomplish the task without His power then it will frustrate the grace of God and you will get the glory.  God has commissioned us to the ministry of reconciliation for more purposes than you can guess.  It is partly for the ministry to others, but just as importantly, for us to grow in our own faith and love.  The struggle to reject our own efforts as the solution and to tap in to God’s power is equally important for us as it is to them.

The final implication that I will address is our witness.  The apostles said that they were witnesses to what they had seen and heard.  If you testify to that which you did not have first hand knowledge, then you become a false witness.  Instead of revealing the God of glory, you now obscure the view and work against the Lord.  You cannot give what you do not possess.  You have to be real and cannot go beyond your own personal revelation.  It is important to remember that you are in partnership with the Lord in this work and as you are being transformed into His image, He then uses you as His illustration of the message.  It is His work and you are a part of that plan.  The success of the word is not on you, but on Him.  You are a witness of that success.

Baby Steps 5

I was sharing the story of our experience with the pastor in Japan with our educational pastor and how gifting had opened up such a rich experience, when he suddenly said, You need to be teaching your book to our people, and then added this fall.  It was so sudden and unexpected yet somehow I knew that this also was from the Lord so I agreed and the time was set.

I had no basis on what to expect or how many would attend.  As the class began there were about 15 that showed up that first night and it grew several more during the classes on the book. Interest was high and several were asking questions and adding their insights.  One night after class there were a couple or three standing around and visiting when a lady spoke up and said, I think the Lord is asking me to translate your book into Spanish.  I was both stunned and surprised as I knew very little about her.  We began discussing the idea and I left her with the request that she pray about it and then we would talk some more.

Come to find out, she was quite sincere and told me what she did for her job was working with translations into Spanish.  She was a member of our church and her family was also members.  I was still a little shocked by this recent turn of events but I did sense the Lord’s fingerprints all over this so I suggested that she move along and send me chapter one when she finished it.  She then told me that because of a sick mother and other commitments that it would be a few months before she could begin but that she would proceed.

Since then she has finished the first chapter and sent it to me.  Then I didn’t hear from her for several months.  I didn’t have her phone number but I did have her email so I dropped here a note and said that I had been praying for her but did not get an answer.  A few more months went by and one day I met her and her husband in the hall at church.  She then shared that she had been going through an extreme situation with her mother as well as several other matters.  She assured me that it was coming to an end and that she fully intended to continue.  I ran into her a few weeks later and she said she had been working on it and now has chapter two almost completed and that she would send it to me shortly.  She also reported to me that she is dealing with other situations that is causing her a lot of delay but that she could use the prayers to help here through this current time.  Please lift her up to the Lord in your prayers as well.

 

Baby Steps 4

The third translator came quite surprisingly.  A man I have been working with for over a quarter century, was having a struggle in knowing how the Lord wanted to use him.  He had studied Russian for several years and had made a couple trips to Russia.  He even had worked as a translator in the Russian language but because of a limitation he had, he had never been able to really find the work he fit into.  He was constantly second guessing God’s plan for him and as a result, was never able to settle on any one thing that God had made certain.

Knowing his background as well as his heart, I found myself giving him the same advice over and over again. Somehow he thought that he might miss something so he tried to add credence to everything that came along.  The result was that nothing was ever truly settled.  It is just as the Bible says,  Jas 1:8 A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.

As I listened to him I found a common denominator which was that every conversation revolved around what he could do.  I then attempted to turn his attention  from himself to others.  It was not what he could do for God but how he could enrich the lives of others.  I also advised him that he needs to begin doing what was in his heart to do.  The thing he identified that was the greatest joy to do was Russian translation.  So then  I suggested to him that he simply begin to translate something for the practice to sharpen his skills again.  Lacking confidence, he wanted or needed something more specific so I suggested that he try my book, thinking that it would at least give him a start.  It seemed to be a mountain to him so I suggested that he begin with only one chapter.

Now he is growing more and more rapidly and moving at a faster pace continually.  He talks less of himself and more about others.  He has stated that the more he has translated, the easier it has become.  It is much easier to carry on a conversation with him now and his understanding grows every day.  One of the most outstanding  things that I see in him is his dedication to be precise and accurate in his work.  He is now finishing the third chapter and has every intention of finishing the book.  He has said several times that upon the completion of his work that it then needs to be examined by others for a more perfect translation.

Sometimes all of us needs a helping hand to lift us to a higher level of living.

to be continued . . .

Baby Steps 3

A second bond came from a pastor in Japan that I met on a trip to visit my son who was living and working in Japan.  My wife and I were visiting our son, Daniel, in Japan.  While we were there we determined that we wanted to visit a Christian church to have the experience and to aid us in our understanding of their culture.

We asked our daughter-in-law if she knew where on was and she put us in contact with a church.  The church then sent a car to pick us up as we didn’t know our way around the area.  We were so appreciative and wanted to thank them in the right way.  I knew that gifting was a big thing in Japan but we were on our way already so there wasn’t time to buy something.  Then I remembered that I had a copy of my book with me and determined to give that as a gift for their care for us.

Upon arrival, we were directed into the church and introduced to the pastor.  I then presented the pastor with my gift, not knowing if I was doing it right.  He hesitated for a moment and then he got misty and I thought he was going to cry.  I asked, did I do something wrong?  He replied, No you don’t understand.  You see, I have been praying that the Lord would send me someone to encourage me and you are him.  Then I felt like crying.  Our bond was immediate as we both felt that this was a divine appointment.  I am not sure what he told the congregation but after the service we were surrounded by everyone and they all wanted to talk with us.  At one point I was talking to four people at the same time, trying to answer their questions and my wife was trying to talk to two more.  All the while the others were crowding around to listen.  This went on for the better part of an hour so we didn’t get any time to speak with the pastor.  He then requested for us to join him for lunch the next day.

Darla, wasn’t feeling well the next day so I went on alone.  I was met with the pastor, his wife, his daughter and son-in-law at a fine restaurant and enjoyed a great meal.  He shared that he had read my entire book and was so impressed that he asked permission to use it in his work and of course I agreed.  He then told me of a member of his church that was impressed by our visit that she had determined to read my book as well.  The pastor challenged her with the question, you don’t speak English nor do you read English, so how do you intend to do that.  She replied that she had considered it and had decided that she would get an English/Japanese dictionary and read it that way. (Note, so far she has read three chapters.)  My immediate thought was, Lord give us this kind of dedication.

Our bond was instantaneous and has continued to this day.  He became my second translator though I wasn’t  even looking for another translator.  He now calls me his mentor though I learn from him continually.  His heart is so big that it includes all of Japan and China.  He has made at least 9 trips to China to train the young pastors there. Because of his schedule, the translation has been going slow but recently the Lord sent him an assistant so the work will gather momentum.  His goal is for all of Japan to read the book and to put their trust in the Lord.

to be continued . . .

Baby Steps 1

With the translations all moving ahead, I am beginning to make plans for their publication.  I am currently assembling a list of publishers to check out to find the next step in the Lord’s plan.  I do not see clearly as to the timing or the means of this effort so the first step is through prayer.  My prayer is that the Lord will make me sensitive enough to detect His leading.  It is not my job to gather the resources or to make the decisions, for this is His work.  My most important job is in prayer.  My tendency is to try to do His job while ignoring my job.  I think there are a lot of people with that mentality.   We waste resources, motion, time and opportunity in attempting to control the situation, rather than follow the Lord through it.

I did not start this project but it was given me by the Lord.  I do not know what the Lord will do with it or even if I would ever complete it, but look at what the Lord has done, so far.  First, I was asked to do a job that I had no inkling that I could do and that was to write the book.  I stumbled along for years starting and then stopping.  I knew that I had been given insights into faith because of the many experiences that He had led me through but I did not feel qualified.  Then He gave me I  1Co 1:27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;  Neither my skills or abilities qualified me but my Lord chose me because it would be easier for others to see Him, because no one would even think that it was from me.  Then I remembered that even the apostles were uneducated men but were qualified by the Lord.

Then came the finishing of the book.  It was clear that I needed help and it came from the most surprising source.  My number three son, Daniel, who has a masters degree in English and is a College professor who teaches English as a second language, stepped forward and offered to polish it for me.  He didn’t want any credit for its content and refused any recognition.  He only wanted to help me, knowing my limitations.  He was of tremendous help in moving me through its completion.

By this time in my life I was beginning my retirement so I had the time.  Also, I had just discovered that I had stage 4 cancer in my neck and the back of my tongue.  That urgency was also a help in keeping me on track. Later, the Lord healed me completely from the cancer and the book was finished and published.  That alone was amazing but there is still more.

to be continued . . .