A Day Of Harvest In Japan
By Edwin L. Kilbourne
Editor’s note: This amazing story precedes the great "Day of Harvest" in Korea, of which Dr. Duewel writes in his article.
"Money, all of it, if you want to live!" the intruder hissed.
Rudely awakened by a rough hand on her shoulder, the little woman looked into the murky darkness. Above her the man clutched a dagger, ready to strike.
The Japanese pastor’s wife had gone to sleep with a heavy heart. But now, even with danger glinting from that cold knife blade, she breathed deeply and relaxed; finally, the answer to her prayers.
The story? Rev. Juji Nakada, general superintendent of the OMS churches in Japan, had notified all these 250 churches that on a specified day every church member was to personally win at least one soul to Christ.
A great volume of prayer, of course, went up for this Day of Harvest. Christians, stirred and eagerly expectant, rallied to their assignment. And on the big day, believers all across Japan gathered in their churches to report souls born again as a result of their witness.
But things had not gone so well for the pastor’s wife. Kept at home by her family, she’d prayed God would send those to her door to whom she could witness. Several came: the vegetable man, the fish monger, and a fruit vender. To each she faithfully related the Calvary story. But not one yielded to her offer of the One who could bring peace and joy to his heart. And as the Christians excitedly reported their victories, she felt ashamed. She, the pastor’s wife, had failed in the precious ministry of the day. By evening despondency engulfed her. In tears, she crawled between the quilts on the tatami floor and fell asleep.
And then, shortly before midnight, the day not yet ended, the thief and his dagger crept through the paper doors. Looking into his face, the elated victim completely disarmed the intruder. "Oh, we are just a poor Christian family. We have little money and you are welcome to it. But listen! I have a wonderful story to tell you."
Made brave by the Holy Spirit, she told the redemption plan. Meanwhile, aroused by the voices, her husband silently prayed as his wife did the preaching for a change.
In a very short time tears shone on the cheeks of the thief. The pastor husband joined "the meeting" and together they prayed the robber into the Kingdom. Then with true Asian hospitality they got up, served their new brother green tea, and unrolled a bed on the floor for him to spend the night.
Next morning at breakfast the guest revealed his identity – a notorious criminal wanted by the police. Rejoicing in the new peace and joy within, he announced his intention to turn himself in.
And so the little lady had, after all, won her soul to the Lord on Harvest Day, in clear answer to her anguished prayer.
Statistics tabulated on that Day of Harvest show that more than 5,000 Japanese sought Jesus as their Savior.
In the summer of 1973 while in Korea, I told my son, Elmer, this story. He, in turn, repeated it to Korean church leaders. "Why not in Korea?" he asked.
They discussed it together and prayed. Discussion led to decision and prayer to planning. Mobilizing over 500 churches with an approximate 200,000 Christians was no small undertaking. But with God all things are possible. So under His guidance they planned that from January 1, 1974 every church would pray for a great Day of Harvest on Good Friday, about three months later.
More specifically, each Christian was to choose five unsaved relatives or friends and focus prayer on them. That meant one million persons became personal prayer targets. Along with the prayers, a committee combining Korean church leadership and Western missionaries prepared special literature….
As the Day of Witness approached, anticipation mounted. On Good Friday the Christians went out, each visiting the five persons for whom he had prayed for over three months. What happened? According to figures published by the Korea Evangelical church: in 1974 more than 10,000 decisions. The next year, about 20,000. And in 1976, more than 35,000 Koreans joined the family of God. Actually, who can know the results, for in 1976 alone, two million tracts went into hands of unbelievers.
What a great tree can result from a tiny mustard seed. The prayers of a Japanese lady brought a thief into her house at midnight, the thief accepted Christ; and the inspiration of this wondrous happening stirred a whole church in Korea. When the little lady from Japan meets the host of Koreans in heaven who are there because she won her one on the Day of Harvest, imagine the joy that will melt their hearts together.
Today the tree flourishes in other nations as well. OMS churches in several Latin countries now observe a Day of Witness and other national groups of Christians contemplate adaptations to their circumstances and opportunities. It’s a bit like the boy’s bread and fish. The commonplace becomes miracle material when handed over to the Master.
– Reprinted from OMS Outreach magazine of September 1976.