"Has God Forgotten Japan?"

by Koji Honda

CHAPTER SIX--"A Church is Born"

Upon my return to Kobe I had to move in with my wife's parents because my Mikage church had burned. Everyone in their house was half-crazy because of the bombings. I set about to rebuild our living quarters at the Mikage church. I gathered up bits of wood that remained about the burned-out building. I was also able to pick up some scraps of sheet metal. With a rusty saw, a hammer, and a few nails I made a small makeshift house, into which we moved. When we blew out the candles at night the mosquitos began supper, so that we couldn't comfortably sleep.

Later I moved with my family into a third floor room of a school. After that I rented part of the Mikage Methodist Church auditorium, since it wasn't being used for church services. Being unable to reuild our church in Mikage we moved to Amagaski, a large industrial city, near Osaka.

In order to support my family I became a shoemaker. I rented a room in my younger sister's home and began business. I didn't know anything about the work, but I went to an experienced shoemaker and took a hurried-up five day course from him. Still there were many things that I did not know, but as I worked I prayed and the Lord helped me. As a result I had plenty of business and I prospered.

Because of the scarcity of food my oldest boy, Kenichi, grew weak and sick, and died. He died of the measles. The previous bombings had weakened his body too. Durin a bombing in Mikage my wife carried sick Kenichi to the river to escape the heat of the flames. In doing so her own hair was burned. There was great sorrow in my heart, but the Book of Job comforted my heart.

I was still repairing shoes, but I didn't feel that the Lord wanted me forever in this work. In the fall of the year some other working pastors, who felt the same way, gathered for a prayer meeting. In prayer, the Lord said to me, "You too must quit your work and go out to evangelize." I answered, "Lord, I will. Howevr, when?" The Lord replied, " Now."

I quit my shoe repairing business and along with some other pastors I erected a tent on the site where the red brick J.E.B. Evangelistic hall had stood. It had been destroyed during the war. We began our tent evangelism on Dec. 1, 1946. The hopeless people dragged by the tent, with their faces puffed, as a result of malnutrition. Their clothes were dirty and faded. There was no soap and very little food. The people were hesitant to enter the small door of the tent.p>However, God had not forgotten His children in Japan. The following year the Christians of America sent us a quonset hut which we erected in place of the tent. With tears in my eyes I gave thanks to the Lord for this gift. It now became easier to get strangers to enter for evangelistic services.

Three years later the Lord led me to begin the Kobe Central Church. Altogether there were about a dozen members to begin this church. Altho it took some years to pay for it we built it in 1950 at a cost of $3,650. It was built and paid for by Japanese believers. In the middle of the chuch dedication, powerful destructive "Typhoon Jane" hit Kobe. Except for a few leaks, the church stood firm!

Just two years ago we added a $4,550 addition so that there would be more room for our church activities and so that the pastor and the church workers would have a place to live.

The Japanese Christians know what it is to sacrifice to bring the Gospel to their own people. My own church members have sacrificed to build our church and its new addition. They have sacrificed in order to help me be free to devote much of my time to winning lost souls in the city-wide crusades. Remember! These crusades are not a denominational effort! They are not for my church! They are for the glory of God and the salvation of lost souls. They are to help your churches become stronger. This is part of the sacrifice my members are making.

When we built our church our believers sold their extra blankets. Those who had two suits sold one of them. One young believer sold his new shoes and gave the proceeds to the church. Another young girl, whose father died, gave almost $300 of her legacy for the church.

Another poor grandmother had been saving money for her funeral. She gave the $30 for the church and decided she would trust the Lord to keep her in health. Eight years later she is still alive and healthy. Her daughter has since been saved. God honors those who honor him!

Thus we were able to build a church accommodating three hundred. God has not forgotten the sacrifices of his people. One of my chief members is a commercial artist. He says, "God blesses me and I give. I give and God blesses me. I don't know which comes first but I believe it is probably the blessing of God."


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