"Has God Forgotten Japan?", Chapter Four, "Bible School Days," and Chapter Five, "Suffering War Years," by Koji Honda


"Has God Forgotten Japan?" by Evangelist Koji Honda

CHAPTER FOUR--"Bible School Days"

From Tokyo the Lord led me to enter the Japan Evangelistic Band Bible School in Kobe. The principal of the school was Goro Sawamura, well-klnown author, evangelist, and spiritual leader of Japan. Through his teaching and the teaching of others I learned many things and grew spiritually. It was here that the foundation of my future ministry was being laid.

However, I was a light-hearted student, who freely criticized my fellow students. The principal rebuked me for this. I was a weak, impatient Christian, who was conscious of a lacking in my own life. I shed many tears over my weak spiritual condition.

It was a time of spiritual conflict. I was given charge of a small preaching place, but I was at a loss as to how to best feed and lead those under my care. I wanted to be a spiritual evangelist with Holy Ghost power, but I didn't know how to be such an effective worker.

On top of my spiritual struggles I became sick. I had the beginning stages of T.B. In prayer the Lord gave me healing assurance from Isaiah 53:5, "...And with his stripes we are healed." The Lord told me to praise Him in spite of any outward circumstances. I got out of my bed and gave thanks to the Lord for healing me. I went to the principal and to my friends and told them that the Lord had healed me. When I returned to my room I was no longer sick. The Lord had not forgotten me.

Still the enemy was at work. A friend of mind said to me, "Undoubtedly God is going to use you as an evangelist, but you have a dirty heart, haven't you?" These words came to me with a cutting force and I was speechless. It was true that I spoke flippantly and that I had been guilty of criticizing others. The Lord dealt with me about my carnal condition, from Galatians 5:19, "Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness.." I sought the Lord with tears.

I climbed the mountain behind the school and prayed all day. I was seeking purity of heart. The next day Oe senei ("teacher") challenged me about entering into the rest of the Lord. After the class I went to my room to fast and to pray. In prayer, there suddenly appeared before me a vision of the Lord upojn the cross. Then the form of the Lord disappeared and there was my dirty self crucified upon the cross. I said, "I too have died on the cross with Christ." This was a Galatians 2:20 experience.

This all took place in such a short space of time. I can never forget this time of great blessing. After that I went to the auditorium and prayed some more. The Holy Spirit spoke to my heart that Isaiah 6:6-7 was taking place in my life--"Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged." As D. L. Moody I received an experience of the infilling of the Holy Spirit. This was the time of my full surrender to God.

My heart was overflowing with joy. Tears were flowing down my face in thanks to God for this wonderful blessing. From that time as I did hospital visitation sinners were saved and sick persons were healed as I laid my hands on them to pray for them. At this time I told the Lord, "I will follow Thee anywhere."

Surely the Lord was guiding my life. I received an urgent letter from home. My mother had been hospitalized and I, as the oldest son, was the target of criticism because I was unable to give any financial aid. I went to the mountain and fasted and prayed. Upon my return to my room I found a five yen (then $2.50) note on my desk. I didn't know the donor. Bro. Sawamura also gave me one hundred copies of his booklet, "The Guide to Christianity," which I sold every day. All of this money I sent to help my parents. I prayed for the healing of my mother and the Lord gave me Psalm 106: 44-45, "Nevertheless he regarded their affliction, when he heard their cry." One week later I received a letter stating that my mother was well again. The Lord had not forgotten my prayer.

CHAPTER FIVE--"Suffering War Years"

I began my evangelistic work during the shameful war between Japan and China. I loved China and the Chinese people and did not like this war. Upon graduation I went to do evangelism at the Japan Evangelistic Band Evangelistic Center. This is the center that Paget Wilkes made famous by his writings. R.A. Torrey said of this place that it was one of the greatest places for evangelism in all of Asia.

It was at this time that the soldiers were marching thru the streets of Kobe celebrating the victories in China. My position was becoming acute sinc I had worked with English and Canadian missionaries. I was taunted with the words, "Since you're a believer in Jesus, are you still a Japanese?"

From here I went to the Mikage part of Kobe to become pastor of a church. It was while I was here that the war against America and England began. The missionaries gradually returned to their homelands. The church began to be oppressed by the government. During my time at Bible school I had worked at this church as a helper. Now as their new pastor I was busy inviting strangers to come to worship with us in our tiny rented house. We had twenty-five active members. However, on Christmas eighty-five people crowded into a small room for the service.

On the following year on April 22nd I married Miss Shizu Morita. She was three years younger than I and was a gift from the Lord for which I gave thanks to Him. In June of the next year my first child, a girl, was born. (I now have six children).

One morning as my wife was working in the kitchen she heard the kitchen door slide open and a familiar foice say, "Good day, is Mr. Honda home?" She answered, "Yes." Upon coming out to see who was there she saw two detectives who had visited our home before. "We want Mr. Honda to come to the police station with us," they said. I was on the second floor reading my Bible and praying. When my wife came to tell me, I exclaimed, "So it has finally happened."

They escorted me to the police station. For ten days I went there for questioning. The two of them went thru my school notebooks and asked me many questions. "In your notebook it is written that Christ is a King. When he comes again will the Japanese Christians neglect the Emperor?", one of them inquired. I answered, "Christ's kingdom and the kingdom of the Emperor are two different kingdoms." As they mentioned the holy name of the Emperor they stood at attention for this was the proper position of respect when the name of the "living god" was spoken.

"What is your attitude toward the Shinto shrines?", they asked me. I said, "I believe that they are idolatrous. Idols are wrong." With a glaring look one of them said, "Your thought toward the nation is not proper."

Every day they repeated many troublesome questions, such as, "When Jesus comes to judge the earth, will He also judge the Emperor?" To answer this type of a question was my biggest problem. At that time the Emperor was considered a living god and the nation was forced to worship him. Any disrespect toward him was felt to be traitorous. Along with my other answers I told them that their attempt to get me to insult the Emperor was unconstitutional.

On the Emperor's birthday my wife and I went up to a small mountain to pray. My wife was expecting and it was very difficult for her to climb the hill, but we needed help from the Lord. As I was praying John 12:24 came to my heart. "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a grain of wheat fall into the earth and die, it abideth by itself alone; but if it die, it beareth much fruit."

"Well, it looks as if the Lord wants me to die for Him," I told my wife. At that time a great victorious peace filled my heart. In two days I returned to the police station prepared for martyrdom. I was prepared to give straightforward answers to any of their most embarrassing questions. I told them that I was even prepared for death. They were surprised that I was able to answer them without the previous fear that had been in my heart. I was twenty-nine at the time.

A year later about one hundred Holiness Church pastors were imprisoned. At the height of the war the pastors were pressured to join voluntary work camps. I, along with fifteen other ministers and believers, went to Kyushu to work in the coal mines.

Every day they gave us sweet bean cakes in our lunches and a bamboo water flask to take to work with us. We worked along with many American prisoners of war. We were forbidden to talk to them, but one day I quietly asked a young soldier if he were a Christian. When he saw that it was safe to reply he spoke, "Yes. My mother is a Christian, and so am I. We are Free Methodists." Many of the prisoners were beaten by the unsaved soldiers. Truly war makes slaves out of the people of the world.

After two months I was free to return to Kobe where I worked for awhile in the airplane parts factory. Since most of the young men had gone to war the factories were mostly manned by women and old men. I began worship services at the factory, but, because of the war feelings against Christianity, practically the only adults and children who came were from Christian families. It was implied in every way that the Japanese Churches were traitorous in order that the work might be stopped.

In Osaka one military police captain came to a pastor and gruffly said, "You will have to put up a god-shelf in your church and worship before the holy white paper from the National Shinto Shrine of Ise." He was to be answered later. That night the pastor got some other preachers together for a prayer meeting and sought God's help. The next morning the ungodly military police captain suddenly took sick and died. Surely God undertook for His own glory.

There was very little food to be had. My wife was unable to nurse our baby. I also was weak in my body. I quit the factory job, but was fearful of being "chosen" to work again in a labor camp. Later I received my draft notice, which was always sent to the draftee on red paper. Two weeks later I reported to the large naval base of Yokosuka. From there I was sent to the province of Aomori in northern Japan. I was there until the end of the war. On Aug. 23, 1945, I was discharged.


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