Then a friend wrote to me that the town of Otawara was without a church. Mr. Kimura wrote to me that the Swedish missionary was so burdened to begin a church in that town that he even sold his own car. His name was Birger Swenson.
I thought, "What shall I do? The Japan Evangelistic Band has supported me for my four years in Bible school. Surely I am obligated to them." The Swedish Mission had not supported me because they did not know whether they would continue on in Japan.
For three days I fasted and prayed. On the second day the missionary wrote to me asking me to come. However, he added, "I cannot promise to support you." I decided to go to work with them to sacrifice with them.
I went to Pastor Sawamura and told him. Then he added, "God's will be done. God and I will wait for you."
This is typical of the Japan Evangelistic Band. For years they have unselfishly trained students from other missions and for other missions.
Missionary Swenson secured an American army surplus house and rebuilt it. In it was our curch. Every month I was paid $15, besides my room and board.
Then we began a one week Crusade in the city. We put up posters and called from house to house distributing tracts. We prayed much for God's blessings. Thirty persons decided for Christ. One was a young bank clerk. Another was a young bamboo artist. The artist had seen the new joy in the bank clerk's life and wanted it too.
The young artist's wife had left him and his two children because of his poverty. He turned to drink. He also had to support his mother and her mother. In great sadness he came to the church meeting. There he found the same joy as the bank clerk. Then his mother and two children came and found Christ.
Then the bank clerk's wife saw the joy in the artist's family. Then she came to the meeting, and she and her young son found Christ. And it all began with the young bank clerk accepting Christ.
Then there was a young mother of two, whose husband had been in the hospital for four years with T.B. She worked hard to nurse him back to health. When he did get well he married a pretty nurse at the hospital, divorced her and took their two children with him. She was despondent.
She took some poison, but vomited it back up. She tried to drown herself in the river, but was rescued. She returned home and closed the window shutters. In the dark she cried and screamed for days. The neighbors called her "the crazy woman in the devl's ghost house."
In the midst of her despair she heard my voice announcing the meeting. She came with her dirty matted hair and her filthy kimono. She looked like a crazy person. When the invitation was given she and five others came forward.
I felt led to put my hand on her forehead and pray, "In the name of Jesus, devil, leave this woman." She fell to the ground exhausted. The audience sensed that something special had taken place. I said, "Your sins are forgiven you." She arose from the ground with a shine on her face and with joy in her heart.
The Christian ladies took her and cleaned her up. They combed out her hair. She began to work for Jesus. She brought six of her cult friends with her. Like Mary Magdelene [sic] the devils had been cast out of her. She loved the Lord very much. She then began to visit the T.B. patients at the hospital. Through her efforts two of them were won to the Lord. Her experience proves that the devil is a hard taskmaster, but that Jesus is the giver of peace, joy and happiness.
That year forty-five were won to the Lord through our street meetings and house to house evangelism. I prayed to God for a regular church building. The American army gave us a surplus building. The ladies of the church straightened out the old nails so that we would be ab le to use them again. The men worked with the concrete. We did all of the rest of the work except for the framing up of the church.
Mrs. Katagiri, who had been delivered from the power of the devil, went from house to house selling small items. She sold soap, paper, hairpins, sewing needles, and other sundries. She put 90% of the profit into our building fund.
Other believers fasted one meal a day and gave the money equivalent for the church. At the dedication the church was filled with guests. How thrilled I was to see the first church erected in that town. It was also my privilege to hold the first Christian wedding to be held in that town. They were a young Japanese couple.
Within a year all of the debts against the church were paid off and the church had become self-suypporting. They were supporting my wife and I. In the meantime I had become married. Bro. Honda was the third party or the go-between in arranging for my marriage. The work of arranging marriages for Christian believers in heathen countries is a very important work of the Christian ministers in Japan.
In the case of Yukiko I had gone to Bible school with her, but I had never dated her. In the case of a total stranger the two meet each other fo the first time in a "seeing" meeting. After the meeting either can refuse to go through with the wedding. It is not too wise to turn down too many offers or the middle man will become discouraged and unhappy. Many of the young people of Japan today choose their own mates, but there are also many "arranged" weddings.
Our missionary had returned to Sweden. I was happy that our own believers were able to erect their own church and support their own pastor. I do not believe that our churches should always be supported from foreign countries and friends. We Japanese must also work and sacrifice to win our own people to the Savior. The God who helps you will also help us in Japan. He is our God too.