(Mark 10:28 NIV) Peter said to him, "We have left everything to follow you!" (Mark 10:29 NIV) "I tell you the truth," Jesus replied, "no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel (Mark 10:30 NIV) will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields--and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life.
This message is part of my wife’s and my testimony. Our testimony is about following Jesus. Sometimes it seems like we have been like Peter. Peter said, "We have left everything to follow you!" After Peter made that statement Jesus gave a very interesting promise. "No one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel (Mark 10:30 NIV) will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields--and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life.
Yes, we have left homes, brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers and children and fields. However, God has blessed us with brothers and sisters in Japan. Now we even have land to plant trees and grow vegetables. And yes, we have received persecution, especially from our parents. They did not want us to move to Japan. However, what our testimony is really about is following Jesus.
Soon after my wife and I became Christians we decided to follow Jesus. At that time we had no idea where Jesus would lead us. I became a Christian on April 12, 1981. On that day I prayed that Jesus would change my life. He has!
In the summer of 1985, the Canadian Full Gospel Businessmen`s Fellowship International (FGBMFI) began talking about an airlift to Japan during a summer convention in Edmonton, Alberta. Anyone that felt God was speaking to them to go on an airlift to Japan was asked to come forward for prayer. I stepped forward. After returning home I told my wife I may be going to Japan. She said, “What about me?” I said, “I don’t know!” Nevertheless, in April 1986, my wife and I joined about 25 other Canadians on a FGBMFI airlift to Japan. We arrived at the Narita Airport near Tokyo and went by bus to the Keio Plaza Hotel in Shinjiku I was so surprised to pass tall office buildings and see many people still working even though it was late evening. I was also wondered why we were in Japan.
The next morning I awoke very early. I wondered if I could see Mt. Fuji. I could see it! Then as I looked out over the city of Tokyo I noticed that there were only tall buildings in a few areas. Suddenly the revelation came to me that I was looking out over a city and a country where 99% of the people are not Christians and have no hope of eternal life. I began to weep. It seemed as if Jesus was weeping for the people of Japan through me. Then I noticed my wife was weeping also because she sensed the presence of God was very strong in the room.
After almost one week in Japan our group leader told us two couples would be going to Osaka. I told my wife we would not be going, as we would be needed in Tokyo. Then our leader said the Campbells and Snipes would be going to Osaka! We were soon on a bullet train bound for Osaka where we stayed in the Dai Ichi Hotel. The last church we visited before returning to Canada was the Good Samaritan Church. As we were leaving the Itami Airport for the Narita Airport, Pastor Aoki and his wife Yumiko said to us, “Come visit us again.” We did! We came to Japan again about 9 months later in January of 1987. During our time in Tokyo God called us to be missionaries in Japan. I had not even been a Christian 6 years! However, we had decided to follow Jesus! We were going to move to Japan to become missionaries!
After returning to Canada we told our two sons that we would be going to Japan to be missionaries. Our older son Shane said he was not surprised, but he was not going to Japan! It took us 2・years to prepare for our move to Japan. We had to sell our farm and poultry business. I finally called a travel agent in April of 1989, to make a reservation for a July 30th flight to Japan. However, I did not confirm the reservation as I was not sure if I had chosen the right date or not. The next day our younger son, Jay, walked into the living room of our home with a packed suitcase that I had bought the day before. Jay said, “Everything he needed was in the suitcase.” Then he said, “Dad we are going to Japan. Why do you doubt?” The next day I realized Jay was right and the reservation was soon confirmed! My wife and I gave testimonies at our last church service in Canada before leaving for Japan. Then everyone prayed for us and the following song was sung:
I have decided to follow Jesus;I have decided to follow Jesus;I have decided to follow Jesus;No turning back, no turning back.
Though I may wonder, I still will follow;Though I may wonder, I still will follow;Though I may wonder, I still will follow;No turning back, no turning back.
The world behind me, the cross before me;The world behind me, the cross before me;The world behind me, the cross before me;No turning back, no turning back.
Though none go with me, still I will follow;Though none go with me, still I will follow;Though none go with me, still I will follow;No turning back, no turning back.
Will you decide now to follow Jesus?Will you decide now to follow Jesus?Will you decide now to follow Jesus?No turning back, no turning back.
That is our story. We have decided to follow Jesus wherever He leads us. There is no turning back!
When we moved to Japan we did not know where we would be missionaries. Before we left people asked us where we would be working in Japan, but we had to reply, “We did not know.” My wife and I and our younger son, Jay, arrived at the Itami Airport in Osaka with six suitcases on July 31, 1989. We were very surprised to be greeted by over 20 members of the Good Samaritan Church! The church had only arranged temporary accommodation for us for one month. Each of us rode to the church in a different car!
After arriving in Japan Pastor Aoki invited us to join him and his wife for a Church Growth International breakfast meeting the following morning in the Royal Hotel in Osaka. Pastor David Yonggi Cho from Korea was speaking at the meeting. We were very happy to attend the meeting as we had read many of his books and were hoping to attend one of his meetings someday. He blessed all the 100 people at the meeting by laying hands on them. Wow! Our first morning in Japan and the pastor of the biggest church in the world laid hands on us! God’s timing is amazing!
The Good Samaritan Church provided us with temporary accommodation for one month. After three days in Japan Pastor Aoki said he was taking us to what Japanese people call a “mansion.” He explained that it was not like a mansion in Canada, but an apartment or condominium. Soon after moving in my wife decided to wash clothes. A little later there was a knock on the door. It was our neighbors on the floor below us. The washing machine flooded our floor and water had leaked through the ceiling of the mansion below us. All we could say was “sumimasen” which means “I am sorry!” It was a hard way to start life in our “mansion.” There were 300 families living in four buildings. The total area the building covered was about the size of our farmyard in Canada! Five FGBMFI airlifts to Japan did not prepare us for the cultural shock of living in Japan!
However, a little after one month in Japan we were asked to be missionaries for the Good Samaritan Church. Our younger son entered the Canadian Academy in Kobe to finish his last two years of high school. The following month our older son joined us. He took a year off his university studies at the University of Alberta to teach English in Japan. We were a family again for about one year. The first year as missionaries in Japan was very difficult for us. The following June we took a summer trip to the USA and Canada. Some church members did not think we would return to Japan after our summer trip. We did!
By January of 1999, we had been missionaries at the Good Samaritan Church for almost 10 years. We had made a comfortable “nest.” However, we would soon be shaken out of the nest! My wife had been praying and fasting early in the New Year. Then on the Wednesday night prayer meeting on Jan. 6th the Holy Spirit spoke to my wife about the water that came from the rock in Exodus. (Exo 17:6 NIV) I will stand there before you by the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it for the people to drink." So Moses did this in the sight of the elders of Israel. A river of life flowed in the desert. There is nothing God cannot do! Then the Holy Spirit put a burden on my wife to pray for Awaji. Next the Holy Spirit said go up and take the land for you can do it. (Num 13:30 NIV) Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, "We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it."
After returning home my wife was so excited she could not sleep. She prayed almost all night. The Holy Spirit showed her many things concerning Awaji. She even saw Awaji Island from the air. She was impressed by the Holy Spirit that we should go to Awaji Island and pray at four points (north, south, east and west) and declare the island for Jesus.
In early February I attended the Japan Pentecostal Convention. I tried unsuccessfully to promote an Israel tour. We had gone to Israel in 1998, but it was not God`s time for another Israel tour. God had different plans for us. (We led tours to Israel in 2006 and 2007.) At the meetings God began to prepare my heart to become a pastor.
On February 11, 1999, we went with a team of four couples (Aokis, Ishiis, Robergs and Snipes) to pray for Awaji Island. For us it was the first time to go to Awaji. I remember praying at the north end of Awaji Island under the Akashi Kaikyo Ohashi (Pearl Bridge) that we would possess the land. When we returned home we were wondering what God wanted us to do on Awaji. We did not have to wait long to find out what God had planned for us.
The next morning we attended the Friday morning worship service as usual at the Good Samaritan Church. During the praise time the Holy Spirit began to speak to my wife about Awaji. She left the service and went into another room to pray. When she returned after the service was over she was crying. She told me about the vision she had seen of Awaji Island. Big waves were coming against the island and people were crying out, “Won`t you please come and help us?” After I heard about her vision I was also crying. We both had received a very big burden for Awaji. During lunch we talked with Pastor Aoki and his wife Yumiko about the vision. We all agreed we should go to Awaji Island as soon as possible. Our call was very similar to the call the Apostle Paul received in the book of Acts. (Acts 16:9 NIV) During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, "Come over to Macedonia and help us." (Acts 16:10 NIV) After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.
When God calls you to do something you have to begin walking by faith. The doors do not open up automatically. Two days later we gave notice to the owners of the house that we were living in that we were leaving by the end of March. Later in the month we went to Sumoto to find a place to rent. The owners of the first place we found for rent would not rent to us because we were Christians. They were afraid we would start a church! That was very disappointing. Then I decided we would go and look on our own even though we were advised that was not a good idea. Soon after I decided we could not go on our own, but would have to trust God. February passed and no place was available. We continued to tell people we were moving in March, but we still did not have any place to move to.
On March 5th we received a fax of a house that was for rent. On Monday, March 8th I went with the Pastor Aoki and his wife to Sumoto to see the house. My wife had to stay to teach our English students at the Good Samaritan Church as we had many students. Soon after seeing the house the Aokis and I seemed to sense that this was the place God had provided. Then we were told by the owner`s mother that we could start a church in the house before we even asked! She was a Christian. We agreed to rent the house even though my wife had not seen it. It is very difficult for a woman to agree to live in a house she has never seen! However, I told her it had two things she had prayed for; a horigotatsu (a low, covered table placed over a hole in the floor of a Japanese-style room) and the style of kitchen she had wanted. These days houses with a horigotatsu are rare!
On the same day we found the house my father went to be with Jesus. March 24th we moved into the house. Our first church service at Sumoto Chapel, the church we started, was Easter Sunday, April 4, 1999. It was one year to the day after the Pearl Bridge from Kobe to Awaji had opened. The bridge has made it easy to drive between Sumoto Chapel and the Good Samaritan Church. We followed Jesus to Awaji and He led us to the place He had prepared for us!
Now, many years have passed since we became missionaries in Japan in 1989. What has become of our two sons? Our older son Shane continued to teach English in Japan and was also a golf caddy during the summers before graduating with a B.Sc. in Engineering from the University of Alberta. At the very end of his last summer in Japan he met a young Japanese woman, Hiromi, in Okinawa, Japan. They were married in Japan in November of 1996, at the Good Samaritan Church. They have two children, Jasmine and Brandon. Shane has worked with Japanese companies since 1996, and is currently working for Nidec Corp. near Chicago.
Our younger son Jay graduated from the Canadian Academy in Kobe, spent a year in university in Alberta and then returned to Japan for two years. He taught English and was also a golf caddy. After returning to Canada he worked at a Japanese gift shop in Banff, where he met a young Japanese woman, Kumiko. She was also working at a Japanese gift shop, but not the same one as Jay. They were married in June 1997, in the Good Samaritan Church. Jay was a student at the time in the DeVry Institute of Technology in Calgary, Alberta. After he graduated with a B.Sc. in Computing Science, Jay and Kumiko moved to Houston. Jay is now working for Shell Trading Co. in Houston.
The second part of our testimony about following Jesus tells about how God called us to possess land on Awaji Island for a church and preschool. It is a miraculous story.