It’s been eight and half months since the Durmaz family arrived in Japan. Kyoko and our five children are doing well in spirit, soul, and body—in all things we endeavor to keep covenant with our living God. Thank you for your prayers and financial support.
This ministry update of the Durmaz family contains significant developments since my last post.
The singular preoccupation I’ve undertaken over this time is communing with our heavenly Father, asking Him to lead my family where Christ is working. A significant restraining characteristic of Christ’s earthly ministry, was He doing only what He saw the Father doing and only then, the Son entering therein for Holy Spirit authorized ministry. Carrying the Father-heart of God in the heart of the Son, is the pattern Christ modeled for His disciples before the cross, and is the prime example that must be embraced by His disciples, some 2000 years after the cross.
The Father-heart of God’s desire for fellowship is what brought the created world into existence, evidenced by the Father’s begetting of the eternal Word.1 And, when satanic rebellion to the eternal Word ensued, by His prize creation of man, the pleasure of the Father-heart of God immediately deployed His eternally strategic plan for redemption of that lost fellowship. That is the accomplished work of His Son, whom we call upon as LORD and Savior.
I’m coming to understand that, though my life has been purchased back from eternal perdition, to the degree I understand that I deserve only eternal separation and death, will be the degree to which I will intentionally fellowship with my loving heavenly Father and the eternal Son who loves me and gave Himself for me.
My life does not exist outside of my saving relationship with Jesus Christ. To be outside of Christ, is to walk in eternal darkness, death, and destruction. Hence, my life was on a path to eternal suffering of punishment! How shall I not give over the whole of my being to fellowshipping with Him Who gave me the gift of life—abundant life at that?
Therefore, increasing fellowship with our Father is the unfolding reality and affection by those who know that they’ve been saved from their sin and rebellion against the Holy God. Oh, what a merciful God! This is the seedbed for missions work, because missions begins with the throne of God.
Reforming Christian Missions
Missions begins with the Father-heart of God when He invited the Son: “Ask of Me, and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession” (Ps. 2:8). The Father’s gift to His Son is the nations, and we know that Christ is asking for all the nations, as it is the clear command of His Imperial Edict to disciples all nations in His name.
Fellowship with the Father is the mark of one who is sent in the name of His first-born Son, Jesus. Such fellowship and intimacy is what empowered Christ to enter in where His Father was working.
Such has been my prayer and cry shortly after arriving in Japan. In obedience to His call to be His witnesses in Japan, it was perfectly reasonable for us to come to Kobe, where Kyoko’s mother lives and extended family members in nearby Osaka. We’ve been enjoying the renewed fellowship with Kyoko’s mother, Yasuko san. She is the only Believer among the extended family.
On many a LORD’s Day, we’ve been attending Nishimaiko Baptist Church, where my mother-in-law attends. We’ve also been visiting several other congregations in the area, in order to ascertain the makeup of God’s people in our community and observe what God is doing.
Here is what we find for the most part in the Japanese Christian church: mostly populated by women,2 whose husbands are not saved, and with a top heavy elderly population. However, the men who are present are mostly retired. For you see, they have time to attend Sunday church meetings, now that they no longer have employment-company obligations.
In addition, we met two pastors whose Christian wives do not accompany their husbands to the churches where their husbands are shepherding. We know of three churches where women are pastors. Just two Sundays ago, I was introduced to a woman pastor in a church outside of Hiroshima and was in the presence of another woman pastor, wearing the institutional clerical collar. This is rebellion against God! He makes it so clear, women in position of authority over men is forbidden.3 We are aware of an elder who embraces that God used evolution to create the universe—the reality of this growing error undermines the authority of the book of Genesis, as foundation for the entire Bible.
The pastor at a Baptist Church in which Kyoko’s mother attends, interfered with an English class I was scheduled to present to several members of that congregation. He spoke with the lead person organizing others to attend and reasoned that because I was not a member of their Church, these folks could not attend. That kind of control strikes of a cult-like influence.
Having five children, Kyoko and I decided to participate in their children’s Sunday School program. This is a good way for the children and myself to learn simple Japanese. What we found is what is so often true of Sunday Schools—the Bible is taught as historical stories only. No commands or principles are taught to be obeyed in the child’s life and the real world. (to be drawn from and obeyed in the child’s life and the real world.) This is deception—not disciple making. This is not an example of following Christ when He said to teach them all things He commanded.
There are unbelieving children from homes in which parents are not Christian, but allow their little ones to attend Sunday School. This Sunday School is the first one I observed where an offering bag is passed to each child—yes, unbelieving children are expected to give.
We know of a pastor who travels great distances on train to the Sunday meeting. Passing many, many neighborhoods to arrive at a neighborhood in which the church has no influence or stake. It is wholly impossible to build a Christian community, when the shepherd is unwilling to live among the sheep, saying nothing of the elder requirement that he be given to hospitality.
The counsel we’ve heard by Japanese pastors, missionaries, and former missionaries, is to accept having our domestic needs supplied by civil government programs. The Scriptures teach this denies the power of Christ indwelling the individual to depend on Him alone for those things He commands. Socialism is more advanced here than America.
We have been counseled by one Japanese pastor, and several Japanese Christians, including a Japanese wife married to an American who are former missionaries to Japan and are now teaching English in the government schools, to receive “free” money from the city government because we have five children. We actually qualify for somewhere between $500 – $600 a month, because we have five children. We would be receiving that cash every month! Does this qualify as “truth stranger than fiction”? Parents being paid by civil authority to rear children? Similar to what I’ve personally experienced of dialogue among Christians in America—believing this is God’s provision for them, because it is “free” money. Yet, the downward spiral of Japan’s economy continues to make the headlines and Bloomberg.
Praise our Lord that these people confess a saving faith in Jesus Christ. They are on their way to heaven, just as you and I, if our faith is in Christ alone. They are sincere believers in Christ and want to please Him, but have not been shown how to please Him in all things. Although, in several of these instances, I’ve taken opportunity to reason biblically with Christians who embrace socialistic welfare as a means of God’s provision. There’s never a biblical basis for such, but pragmatic justifications, which candidly, is a form of idolatry. The LORD is our Shepherd, we shall not want.
At the same time, our day-to-day lives ought to be marked by the reality that heaven is not the goal of the new birth. Christ Himself declared the new birth is the entry point to living in the Kingdom of God (John 3:5). The fact that salvation does not immediately reward the Believer with heaven; but that he remains on this earth to die to self and live for Christ, is both an internal and external reality. Christ’s spiritual kingdom is within His disciples and yet is not limited to the inward life alone, for that would deny that the Word of God and Christianity are causative to produce change to one’s environment.4
Thus far, the vast majority of people we’ve met who profess Christ, make no Biblical connection that their receiving of public welfare has any bearing on the downward economic spiral of Japan. This and other stories to be told, have made it evident of the tremendous need and opportunity to displace such Christ-denying power of the modern gospel of personal salvation, with the historic gospel of Christ that salvation touches man personally and governmentally. God’s comprehensive truth for all of life is that He governs men and women from within by His Spirit, with external expressions of redeeming all things, and bringing all things under Christ through the church.5
In the midst of all this, God has shown us favor with individuals in these congregations, whereby we share a meal together on the Lord’s Day, getting to know one another and looking for opportunities where Kyoko and I can be an instrument of service and exhortation. In numerous cases, we are eating with a Christian wife, whose husband is not saved. Hardly any husband is saved around here if he is a working man and has children at home.
I contrast this with what I read in the book of Acts of entire households repenting and placing saving faith in Jesus Christ. Not here though. The heads of household are by-passed for the wife and young children. The men that are present in church meetings, I will engage and fellowship around the things of our LORD Christ. Most of these men do not have have the word of God coming out of their mouth. When I show them a passage of Scripture that would further strengthen their family and that of the church—they laugh. Is that the laugh of a conscience which is NOT void of offense before God?
Such a church climate has motivated me to no end, to boldly evangelize as we go throughout a given day. I have a short list of people who are hearing from Kyoko and me that the One true God is the Sovereign Creator. Before the cross of Christ will make sense to the eastern mind, they must come to an understanding that God is the Creator, not one of the 8000 gods in Japan.
In light of the bleak condition of the church in our area specifically, and what we know of Japan in general, I’ve been in earnest prayer about planting a local Christian church for our community. That’s why I’ve been fervent to evangelize unbelievers. It’s either that, or the Father opens our spiritual eyes to see where He is working, and enter therein. This has been the substance of much of my prayers for six months.
For a Christian father, I trust you can appreciate my motivation for a holy and vibrant expression of Christ’s body, when one considers my five young children who need to be brought up in a Christian church where Jesus Christ is the sole functioning head.
Praise the LORD, after six months of petitioning our Father, He has made His will known—come together with one other Christian family, the Eric Swanson family in Itoshima, to fellowship and grow together as a church—to build Christian community and economy.
This clarity came after a week-long trip to the southern Island of Kyushu, visiting the Eric Swanson family, brother to Kevin Swanson, an author and church pastor in Colorado and host of internet radio program, Generations With Vision.
During our visit with the Swanson’s we learned of how bleak the present witness of churches are in Itoshima. In answer to my query of religious demographic Eric replied: “….there is only one “kingdumb hole” (JW”s) and one Babylonian “Roman Catholic” church in Itoshima City (others in Nishi Ward, directly east of Itoshima). There are 4 protestant churches that I know about in Itoshima, with others close by: One “Free Evangelical”, and 3 “Baptist”. Two of them have women assistant pastors, unless things have changed since we visited. Both churches we visited had around 10 in attendance (mostly elderly men and women, typical of the ‘pattern’). May God have mercy upon us here and grant us revival. Could it be that the fields are ripening?”
Consequently, the Swanson family has been struggling to participate in a biblically sound Christian church for many years. That is the legacy of modern evangelicalism. However, the Swanson’s placed the idea to us that perhaps we ought to move down to Itoshima. Eric runs what appears to be a well reputed English Language School with his wife Satoko and their two sons, Joshua and Jeremy. The entrepreneurial Christian Swanson family is attractive to my family.
During our return trip home to Kobe, Kyoko and I found ourselves in wholehearted harmonious agreement that the Swansons and the Durmazes working together can accomplish more for the kingdom of God in Japan, than we can independent of each other.
Again, I praise the LORD, that this is the conclusion after six months of seeking the Father earnestly concerning entering into a work of Jesus Christ. Our two families will work together in establishing the distinctly New Testament pattern of church meeting in homes (Rom. 16:5; I Cor. 1:11; 16:15, 19; Col. 4:15; Phil. 1:2; Acts 2:2, 46; 5:42) while at the very same time, embracing everyday life as God’s “program” for obedience in Christ. Both families are praising our Father for His goodness to us all.
As you can imagine, we are excited, and yet humbled about this direction for my family, having moved to Japan on January 31st, with the guarantee of nothing waiting for us when we arrived. No house, no church, and no economic provision—only the satisfaction of knowing that we must obey our Father by moving to Japan and being witnesses of Christ in the context of family life.
We have just completed the transporting our home furnishings to Itoshima. There is an unfolding story here of our new home, of our Father’s wonderful provision for my family—an even greater blessing than the house we’ve occupied the first 8 months. Details will come in a future Ministry Report.
It is my hope that you find this report of our family-integrated ministry, pleasing to your heart and mind. You have taken a risk with us by your support in finance and prayer. You took a risk in my word alone that what we are embarking on, is a work of and for Christ and His kingdom. I love you for that trust you placed in us and ask that our Father blesses you specifically in that regard.
After 26 years operating my own service company in Portland, Oregon, I am an entrepreneur at heart, when it comes to providing for my family. Owning a business has taught me numerous things, including how to solve problems in the marketplace as a disciple of Jesus Christ, according to the fixed standard of Scripture. Thought the marketplace rejects such God-glorifying economic and relational solutions, it led to my crying out to my heavenly Father and He answered with sending us to Japan.
Therefore, while I seek the LORD and develop new entrepreneurial endeavors with my family, it is God’s providence that I use my native English skill to teach Japanese students.
Eric Swanson has most generously given me his Saturday students, which will bring in approximately $1000 a month. He is also giving me tremendous assistance in launching an English school in our home. I have my first three students—a mother with a six month old baby, and two men who love to delve into the “meat” of discussing economics, law, politics, and culture. That should be another $100 a month. Yet even these small beginnings are nothing less than a loving heavenly Father’s care and superintendence over His creation. Seeking first His kingdom, brings in our food and shelter. We are experiencing His daily provision by simple obedience to His will and command.
It will take time to garner enough students to support my family life and ministry. Eric believes it can take perhaps 3-4 years to establish an economically viable student-base. That is where God raises up friends to co-laborers with us. The Paul the Apostle, was also a tent-maker who had friends and churches which partnered with him.
Reforming Christian Missions Support
Have you ever noticed that the word missionary is never used in the Scripture? Such people were called apostles and evangelists. That is what is true of those Christians who depart their homeland in the name of proclaiming repentance from sin and turning to faith in the LORD Jesus Christ. The work of discipling foreign nations, preaching the gospel and planting local churches, is apostolic and evangelistic work. The word apostle, simply means “one sent.” That is our position in the universal church—ones sent out by the Holy Spirit after extended communications before the throne of God.
Our sending to Japan did not have the validation of working with an established missions organization. You don’t read of such mild-mannered institutional and centralized expressions of missions work in the New Testament. If the turning of cities upside down (right side up) is the result of transformative power of the gospel of the kingdom of God, then it is my deeply held conviction that that same power must be resident in those who proclaim Christ now.
If intimate fellowship with our heavenly Father is the basis for entering into a work of Christ in fulfilling the Great Commission, preceding that then, that same fellowship is responsible for sending my family into such a work. The Father does the sending to make His Son known in Japan and every nation.
Therefore, after six weeks of heart-rendering prayer in 2011, I received the utmost clarity to “go….,” and the sending by the Holy Spirit. That is what we read in Acts, of the Holy Spirit sending out after a season of ministering to the LORD in secret prayer (Acts 13:2). This bespeaks of that fellowship with our heavenly Father with which I opened this Blog Post.
Being sent by the Father bespeaks of the very ministry of Christ. He was sent by the Father for His mission to proclaim good news6—ought not we walk in like manner? I believe radical faith and obedience to the Father’s will, is what is required to see radical transformation of the Japanese people. A reformation of all things with the imprint of Christ—by those who have been imprinted upon by Christ. Such reformation of the individual Christian is know to divide families and disturb churches.
It is my personal belief, that churches functioning in unrepentant sin will be met with persecution and captivity. The history of Old Israel is exactly that reality. God’s people, unwilling to repent for it’s idolatry and wicked ways, are given over to other nations as thorns in it’s side to humble God’s people. Such persecution by “religious” people and unbelievers has taken place in my own business of 26 years, is taking place in my home state of Oregon, where a bakery was forced to shut down because their Christian conscience would not permit them to sell a cake for a lesbian couple’s wedding:
Nevertheless, in a time of judgment (which the American church surely is in), I moved my family forward to Japan in simple obedience to His will and command—birthed in the closet of secret prayer. If I cannot have faith in God Who is All-present, All-powerful, and All-knowing, then there is no hope to lead and provide for my family in uncertain economic and geo-political upheaval, in service for the King of all earthly rulers—let alone offer hope to the unreached people group of Japanese.7
As Paul stated concerning his faith-walk in Christ, he would not dare speak of those things which Christ had not already been working in him first (Romans 15:18). In other words, we Christians, and certainly Christian men, have credibility and authority to the degree that we are walking in the change that we are advocating of others. Major paradigm here.
In the paradigmatic book, House Church: simple, strategic, scriptural, co-author and editor Steve Atkerson, argues: “we find nothing whatsoever in the New Testament of salaried church positions…the minute a salary or wage is paid, the principle of voluntary giving of service to the body is violated, the principle of clergy-less Christianity is violated, the priesthood of all believers is violated, etc. The number one stench in the institutional church is money, plain and simple. It is an abomination, a disgrace not only to God, but to the human race. And once we open the door with a hireling clergy, we are finished.” “…having a church budget and bank account is just something else for the carnal coral to quibble over.”
So, what we find in Scripture of Christian missions support is relation-based giving among God’s people under the New Covenant of the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, the most prolific missionary for Christ’s church, Paul the apostle, asks the recruiting question, “Does a solider go to war at His own expense?” No. He does not. The reality of tangible, substantive support for those engaged on the front lines speaks of the relationship base that Christ’s community is to be known for. The voluminous author of the New Testament uses the analogy of a military combatant engaging in conflict to depict the reality of missions work.
Paul further conveys biblical missions support with the military motif, when he tells Timothy who is engaged in apostolic (missionary) work, “….endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please Him who enlisted him as a soldier” (2 Timothy 2:3-4).
Having been a soldier in the U.S. Army for 12 years, I am sympathetic to the truth that Paul is conveying, that could be taken for granted by those who have not served in the military.
Soldiers endure hardship. Why? Because they are no longer entangled with civilian affairs. Soldiers are preoccupied with the interest of their commander—take territory away from the enemy and free the prisoners. In time, so much territory and prisoners are reclaimed that the enemy losses are evident to all.
In order for soldiers to be preoccupied with the interests of his commanding officer, the soldier must be supplied with at least the very basics of combat support: food, water, ammunition, communications, weaponry, medical, and transport. When soldiers are on the front lines of war, as Paul speaks of, they are not involving themselves in civilian entanglements. They are however, committing the whole of their being to fight the enemy and advance the agenda of their commander.
This is a clear biblical reality of the Durmaz family mission to Japan. By His releasing grace, we’ve left all entanglements of modern American living and have given ourselves over to enduring the hardship of freeing individual Japanese souls from the prison of death and hell, and all jurisdictional territory in the name of the Captain of the LORD of Hosts. Assuming you have some knowledge of the destruction of this civilization,8 would not a strategic beachhead for the kingdom of God in Itoshima, be worthy of your continuing relational and financial support?
Again from Steve Atkerson, in House Church, “Individual believers have the privilege and responsibility of giving generously toward the support of missionaries and evangelists. In so doing, the giver is co-laboring along with the Christian worker. Without such full time workers, the advance of God’s kingdom could be hampered. Pray for such ministers. Find creative ways to encourage them in their labor of love. Purpose to give sacrificially and consistently toward their support.”
In a recent interview by Ligonier Ministries of American-Koren missionary Michael Oh, the question was asked; “What can American and other Western Christians do to encourage the advancement of the gospel in Japan?”
“Financially support mission work in Japan and missionaries to Japan. Japan is the largest unreached nation on earth. There is unique spiritual need. It is also the most expensive nation on earth. That means that Satan has a unique economic hedge against missionary work where it is needed most.”9
As much as what Steve Atkerson and Micheal Oh petition is true, it is my earnest confession that at the very same time, every need of our family-integrated ministry will ultimately be met through prayer. They have been thus far, which materialized through a combination of my own labors and giving and that of yours—thank you for that initial support! Therefore, as there is some level of Christian relationship between us, it is good to report to you of how God is using my family and where we see Christ working for our cooperation. Please contact me if you are interested in learning about specific time, talent, or treasure needs and desires we have as we wage this war to Free the Japanese from Satanic bondage and redeem all things in the name of Jesus Christ.
I may share our family missionary vision with others and even make known to them the specific tasks which the Lord has laid on my heart to do, but I will not raise support through prodding or manipulating our brothers and sisters in Christ. Rather, I will report to you of our Father’s continual leading and unfolding of His kingdom through my family in Japan. If this ministry is of the Lord, then He will be our Patron. If He is with us, He will direct His people to give and we will prosper. If He is not with us, we will not and should not succeed.
Declaring the Gospel of the Kingdom of Christ
One plants, another waters, but God gives the increase.
With all the above being said, the following is a detailed report of what contact and interaction our family has been engaged in for the last seven months, that couples my earnest prayers for a genuine work of Christ in our current location.
Tomonori is essentially the first Japanese Christian friend established soon upon arrival. The first Sunday we attended Nishimaiko Baptist Church, where we were welcomed and introduced, he rushed up to me through a crowd of people and his first words were, “I like America!” I replied, “Well, I like Japan. Let’s be friends.” Tomonori is a third-year student at Kobe International University, where he is studying for his degree in economics. That first Sunday we ate lunch together, and as we began the slow process of getting to know one another, I started to introduce him to the biblical basis for Christian economics. Tomonori has been a believer for only two years, but he’s never been told there is such a thing as biblical economics. The under-shepherd of his soul has no understanding of this. When his pastor asked me for an example of Biblical economics, I offered him the first chapter of the first book of the Bible, verse 26.
Tomonori has taken quite the liking to our family. He’s great with our children and we have him over often for food and Christian fellowship. His parents are not believers and in fact, his parents are separated over financial problems. Tomonori lives at his grandmothers’ home. Here is a college age student that needs discipling and we’ve adopted him as uncle Tomonori now.
Here is Japan’s future in the realm of business and economics. We’ve introduced the idea that Jesus Christ has something in His commands concerning economy that pleases Him. Currently he is learning humanistic principles of economics, and his local church has not the word of the LORD on this matter.
Bekah is the first American we met in Japan. She is teaching English in a public elementary school. We had her over for dinner and learned that she was raised in a Christian home, including a few years of homeschooling. However, she is not currently pursuing a faith walk in Christ. Her parents divorced a number of years ago and as is often the case with children from a broken home, they rebel against God.
We learned that her Christian father lives in Singapore. Bekah shared with her father about my family and so there’s been some email communications between us. He says he’s been praying for Christians to come into his daughter’s life and was encouraged to learn about my family interaction with Bekah. I’ve been communicating with Bekah’s father of the father-heart of God and how God pursues his wavering and lost sheep—to the point of going out to the highways and byways and compelling those lost sheep to come in to the safety of the Shepherd. He doesn’t believe God “forces” Himself on His children and so neither will he with his daughter. When I asked him for a biblical basis for his reasoning, he could not give me one. And so, here is where the breakdown takes place in any Christian home—a denial and departure to build our families on the authority of Scripture alone (Matt. 4:4; II Tim. 3:16: Col. 2:3,4,8; Eph. 6:1-2). It’s a failure to keep covenant with our God and with our children.
I’m hoping to have one last time with Bekah before our move to Itoshima.
Here is another young man, who confesses Christ. A very talented 20-year old on the piano, as he’s lived more years outside of Japan than inside, due to music schools he’s attended in England and Germany. Hence, he possesses excellent English ability.
Kenji attends Tamon Evangelical Church, pastored by Jun Kikkawa, who is listed below. Kenji helps lead the youth programs which are evangelistic in nature. The youth are unsaved Jr. High school students.
We’ve had Kenji over to our home several times for meals and spiritual encouragement. After spending time with Kenji, it is Kyoko’s and my conclusion that this man is likely not born again, though actively assisting pastor Kikkawa with youth and piano playing. Kenji has no desire to read his Bible. He does not pray and recently took a job at a Pachinko parlor, which is Japan’s most popular gambling center.
I gave him a powerfully written gospel letter by Eric Swanson, which he committed to read, and then we would discuss it. Thus far, he’s not responded to my follow-up with him.
The nature of male-to-male relations in Japan is such that men’s hearts are not won by their fathers. And, in this case, not won by a spiritual father in the pastor. Men do not communicate on a substantive level here—the heart level. That is an indictment if this is true among followers of Christ.
Keigo & Manika Takemoto
This couple is an unsaved household in our immediate neighborhood. We’ve had them in our home twice for meals, and several more times with just the wife and their one-year old son. We are sharing with them that the true God is the Sovereign Creator—a truth they’ve never heard in their life. They tell us they are atheists, but we know their minds are darkened by the god of this world. In the Father’s sovereign power, Manika is very attracted to our family, since we have five young children. She asks Kyoko about child training problems, and her son, Sona, often acts up and plays the manipulation game. Just last night they were here for dinner and I took them to the wisdom of Solomon concerning child training. After several passages I simply stated that the God whom you don’t believe exists, has superior answers to your child training problems. We have at least the mother’s attention on this point. Manika has pretty good English ability.
Kazu is my barber shop guy. A neat fellow who has been taking English classes for 10 years, so he really enjoys it when I show up for my monthly haircut. I gave him a Creation Science DVD to watch at home. The next month he said to me in his chair, “I don’t believe it.” Then almost in the next breath, “I’m confused.”
The next month, we came down for my hair cut as a family and brought lunch for him to have extended time to discuss the Creator, the demands of His Holy law, the consequence for rebellion, and the hope to escape such judgment through faith in Jesus Christ. Kazu has many objections and it does not help that his understanding of Christianity is Roman Catholicism.
I gave him Eric Swanson’s gospel letter and a copy of the gospel of John in Japanese. I pleaded with Kazu that we are offering him life, not external religious trappings and the vain pursuit of money, which he observes such opulence in Roman Catholicism. Although he continued in his objection of abuses he sees in man’s religion, I endeavored to bring him back to the condition of his soul for breaking God’s law. After questioning him concerning God’s Ten Commandments, he admitted that he has stolen, that he’s lied, that he’s lusted after women.
Kazu did not come to repentance for his sin that day, but his objections were quieting down and he was listening more intently. He said he would read the gospel according to John.
Hiroki & Takako Koriyama
Hiroki is a lively man. The day I met him, I was riding my bicycle to the train station, though I was still in my neighborhood. Hiroki lives a three minute walk from our home. He recognized me because he received a flyer from us about teaching English classes in our home and heard from others that we don’t place our children in government schools, but give them a Christian education at home. As I passed him by, he said, “Hello” in English. So I stopped to meet him. Hiroki said to me, “You have freedom. I want freedom.” “Great,” I said. “Jesus Christ is the source of my freedom.” Hiroki was referring to the fact that we are home educating our children. That is the freedom he observes I have. Since that first introduction, we’ve had Hiroki’s family of four over for dinner. We learned that his mother and grandmother profess faith in Jesus Christ, but he does not. I gave him Eric Swanson’s law & gospel letter. He said he will read it and we will discuss it’s contents.
Midori & Hisao Yoshida
Midori is one of those many wives whose husband is not a believer. We know her from attending Nishimaiko Baptist Church. Since I never see her husband Hisao, we invited them over for lunch to get to know him. Shortly after small talk, I had Midori give her testimony of how she came to faith in Jesus Christ. Her husband is not concerned about his wife’s spiritual life, so I wanted Hisao to hear his wife’s testimony. After giving her testimony of faith in Christ, I questioned her husband about what he heard. He wasn’t moved by what she shared.
I began to speak with Hisao about the Creator God. I questioned him about whether he believes in the Creator God. He does not. I asked how he knows there is no Creator God. Well, that is what he was taught in high school in textbooks. I then placed my Bible on the meal table and asked him whether he ought to trust textbooks which were written by men, or the eternal word of God written by the Creator God? I spent some time reasoning with him about the wonders of creation vs. the theory of Darwinian evolution. Eventually I led him down a path of reasoning that in this world there is good and evil. Where did the evil come from? He couldn’t answer. I gave him an assignment, until I see him next time, to read the first three chapters of Genesis from his wife’s’ Bible and tell me from where good and evil originates
Takeshige san (Bill Nye the Science Guy)
This elderly but equally lively gentleman lives in our neighborhood. He operates a non-profit organization to advance environmental science and energy conservation—a global warming advocate. We attended a series of classes, he and his associates were presenting. We learned some good skills about using a Kenaf and alternative sources of energy. However, his underlying philosophical worldvew is off. His view of man and the world, is that man is slowly destroying the planet. He’s bought into the myth that CO2 emissions are responsible for the shrinking polar cap—thank you Al Gore.
I have given him the Creation Science DVD, which he watched and he’s recently emailed me that he is interested in discussing environmental science with us. So here again, is the gospel staring pointblank at Asian folks, “In the beginning, God created…..”
Pastor Kikkawa & wife
Jun Kikkawa is pastoring Tamon Evangelical Church, which is a close bicycle distance from us. We know him because the house we are renting he has had access to for several years as a host home for a Christian Korean vocal group, when they come to tour Japan. Mr. Kikkawa has been most friendly and generous with his time to help us settle into our new life here. He’s been a great resource for information, gained us access into a public school to observe English instruction, and gave me access to his arsenal of tools to make repairs on this rental house.
Mr. Kikkawa is great with our children; he often does illusionary tricks to entertain our children. If you remember earlier, I mentioned Kenji Miura who serves the church with piano playing and working with unsaved youth who show up on Sunday afternoon for activities. Kyoko and I have a pretty good sense that Kikkawa sensei is not aware of Kenji’s spiritual condition, after questioning Kenji about his relationship with Kikkawa sensei. We’ve not found that Christian men here have substantive relations among themselves. It’s pretty indicative of Japan’s culture. It’s a culture that is non-confrontational—almost extreme politeness. However, that is not the attitude of a follower of Christ, according to scripture.
It was not too long after our move into our current rental house, that we shared a dinner meal with the Kikkawa’s. I peppered both him and his wife with questions to gain a sense of spiritual climate in the community and specifically, how are the men here. At some point, he became aware, by my line of questioning, that he was engaged in conversion that is nonexistent between Christian men: straight forward biblical thinking and reasoning. I asked him if men talk openly about the things of Christ and His kingdom, to which he replied they do not. This is the legacy of the teacher-pupil relationship. In Japan students come to class and listen without question to what they hear and repeat the process week after week, ad infinitum.
As is true for most people, we are a product of our culture, sadly — unless one constantly reforms himself without waiting for others, according to the standard of scripture. The pastors here are deceived that change among the people comes from the weekly sermon, if transformation is even within the scope of their pastoral ministry. There is no intimate discipleship and getting into each other’s lives. But hey, there is precious little of that kind of Christian community in America either, at least what I know of in my experience in Oregon. There is a truth in missions work that whatever the quality of Christianity in America is, the quality of it will be lower in the foreign mission field. My observations over these eight and half months confirm that axiom.
Kikkawa sensei is sad to see us move to Kyushu, which is a good six hour drive south from our current location. Kyoko and I will be having the Kikkawa’s over for a meal before we move on September 15th. Along with expressing our gratitude for all his tremendous help to my family, I am planning to share with him what I know of his right hand man Kenji. I’m praying that God is giving us leverage with this pastor as we discuss the reality of discipling men in the church.
Yukie is a single Christian woman in her late 20’s. She was here in our area for a short time before she moved to Tokyo because she could not find work in the Kobe area. She’s kept in touch with Kyoko since her move. This girl is not being discipled. She is lonely. Her family lives in the northern Island of Hokkaido. She was in our home for one meal before moving and I could see that she was responsive to dialogue with an open Bible. We are keeping her in our prayers and would like to send her materials to encourage her in her faith walk with Christ.
Madam Leah is from Seattle, Washington. She is one of a number of Americans here teaching English. We met her when visiting a Presbyterian fellowship. We hit it off quite well and learned that she comes from a home of eight home schooled children. Leah tells us that she has a Christian Japanese boyfriend and they intend to marry. Leah has recently shared her innermost feelings and thoughts:10Mr. Durmaz, This year I have gone through a lot spiritually, I don’t really see any fruit in my life which makes me discouraged, and sometimes I wonder if I’m not really a Christian, not really born again–just trudging along alone in the path my parents taught me. But meeting you and your family was very thought-provoking for me. You have such passion for the Lord’s work–it made me a bit jealous to see someone with such strong faith! Thank you for your heart-felt email. Sobbing is indeed what I have been doing a lot these days when I think of my faith. Thanks for the links to Paul Washer sermons [on The Impossibility of the Christian Life] —I just finished watching the first one, and it was like water for my soul–there is a lot I repent of concerning my struggle as I looked to all kinds of things–books, other denominations, fellowship, good works, etc. to fill me instead of looking to Jesus. In many ways I was a Pharisee. I look good on paper but in my heart I had no peace. I will cling to and honor Jesus as the only one who can be my peace with God and grow me to be like him. Through my struggles people around me–my boyfriend, his pastor, my mom, your family–have been encouraging me to just rely on God and not on my own thinking or righteousness and to remember the woman who ran to grab onto Jesus’s robe. I see they were right and am thanking God for putting such godly people into my life. I have to thank Him for you also. I can feel that He loves me very much and desires me to turn to Him. I know this is a process for my lifetime but it is great to get teaching and encouragement from people like you who have been on that path longer than I have. Anyway, I wish all the best for your and your family. Maybe someday I can make it down to Kyushu and visit with you all! I hope you will update your website and keep us posted about what God is doing through you in Kyushu. Blessings, ~Leah
When I received this email from Leah, it touch my heart. So often, we don’t know the impact we are having until you receive some feedback like this. God is so good, that even when I do not have command of the Japanese language, He brings us many Japanese who have some level of English ability and Americans.
Hiromi & husband
This is a precious mother attending Tamon Evangelical Church, pastored by Kikkawa sensei. Her husband is a believer and they have a three year old daughter. Hiromi purchased our children’s ABC Bible Songs CD. Then she confided some personal testimony to Kyoko by email. This young mother has a brain tumor and has been in chemotherpy treatment once a month. As is so typical of many a Japanese family, the husband works very long hours. Many leave the home before the family eats breakfast and won’t return home until well after the dinner hour. Consequently, Hiromi is like so many women here, they are lonely, craving adult conversation when their children are very young. She came over to our house a week ago without announcement and stayed the entire afternoon.
Hiromi shared her testimony of trusting in Christ through this adversity of cancer.
I spoke with her husband one recent Sunday after the church meeting at Tamon Evangelical Church. Though the church provides lunch after the meeting and we always stay because that is the practice of the early church, as recorded in Acts 2:42 and Acts 20, not to mention the Lord’s Supper, which is a full meal, not a thimble of juice and a broken cracker. But Hiromi’s husband said he could not stay; that he has work to get done back at his house. I appealed to him to take a day of rest and engage in Christian fellowship. He just laughed.
Hiromi is sharing her heart with us and so we are responding. Like so many moms, whether believer or unbeliever, they have questions pertaining to child training. That is such a wonderful opportunity to get into the scriptures and establish the authority of God’s word for cultivating a distinctly Christian home. Kyoko’s ordered Ted Tripp’s insightful book, Shepherding the Heart of Your Child. Praise the LORD is it available in Japanese!
Jonathan & Michiru
Jonathan is a native Philippino. These folks are Jehovah’s Witnesses. The JW’s are here in droves. We’ve been approach by many at our front door. I didn’t tell them we are Christians, only that we are interested in discussing the Bible. However, the ones coming to our home did not speak English. I requested they find an English speaker and that was Jonathan and his Japanese wife, Michiru. My entire family met them at a local McDonald’s and sat there for three hours about their understanding of God and the Bible. That was an apologetic training for my children. Before meeting them, we reacquainted ourselves with the biblical doctrine of the divinity of Christ.
Since that first meeting, we’ve studied further the biblical and historical development of the doctrine of the Trinity. It’s been an in-depth study of the early church Fathers, leading up to the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D. This study has been phenomenal for our understanding of the eternally existing Triune Godhead.
They gave me a copy of their New World Translation and I am becoming well versed in using their bible to show its numerous contradictions. This is to place a seed of doubt concerning the credibility of what they hold as the only truth in the earth.
I’ve also been getting reacquainted just how deceptive and brainwashing the Watchtower Society is. My next meeting with Jonathan is tomorrow. Victoria and Joy will accompany me for this real-world opportunity to give a defense for the LORD Jesus Christ, as Creator and God over all things to the church.
Katsutoshi is suffering from a mental problem in which he sees a doctor and takes drugs to cope with it. He says he finds it difficult to communicate with people and work with people. He likes to be by himself for the most part, as communication and interacation with others makes him tired.
Katsutoshi seems to fall into a category that the government declares are about 1.5 million men who suffer from this form of depression.
I began to reason with him about where does energy come from. He’s not convinced of Creation science. So Kyoko and I spent time reasoning as to the source of energy in the universe. I questioned him about the sun. Is not the sun a gigantic ball of energy? Well, where did such energy come from? He doesn’t know. So then we opened to the first chapter of Genesis and read where the sun came from. Since God is the Creator of the sun, then He is the source of the sun’s energy. So we start at the beginning of all of life and energy to walk down a path of reasoning as to why he has little energy to life life.
I have invited Katsutoshi to visit us in Itoshima, which he is very happy to do.
There are other relational contacts beside those mentioned here, and all of them were borne out of everyday life and living—no programs, no orchestrated events, just walking in the Holy Spirit’s leading to live and enjoy life on Christ’s terms alone.
Advancing the Front Line
First Kingdom mission of the Durmaz Family Ministry, of identifying a Christian church—Accomplished!
In specific answer to our prayers since upon arriving in Japan concerning where my family would enter into a work of Christ in our locality, we are to plant a Christian church. It is the firm conviction of my wife and myself and that of Eric Swanson and his wife, that our two families embark on a distinct work of Christ for the city of Itoshima, Japan. That our two Christian families coming together under our head, the LORD Jesus Christ, constitutes a new work of the Holy Spirit in planting a distinctly biblical, and constantly reforming and transforming NT church for this population center of 104,080 people and growing.
Therefore, Sunday, September 22nd, will be the first church meeting of Itoshima Grace. Both families are rejoicing over such clear direction and provision from our benevolent heavenly Father.
I intend to follow up this Blog Post with a brief postal letter to you. In that memo, I will provide two addresses for you to chose from, in the event the reading of this family ministry report is favorable in your sight and the Holy Spirit leads you to support the war effort in Japan for the Divine Savior King.
Oh, by the way, any time you are interested in being on the ground with the Durmaz and the Swanson families—come for a visit. Our homes are open to you. Experience first-hand what we are doing to save Japanese from the eternal destruction of their sin as well as temporal destruction of their families and community life. You may want to consider Itoshima, Japan, as a mission field worthy of your labors, so please contact us with these desires. It is going to require many God-fearing men and women to take this first city in Japan, household by household for Christ alone.
And, it won’t disappoint to know that some of the most beautiful and best beaches are right here in Itoshima! We are situated in the midst of beautiful terrain with the ocean behind us and just a few minutes from us and farmland and mountains in front of us. Very pleasing to behold daily. Our Father is so good! I could not have arranged such a wonderful plan myself.
Again, please contact me if you are interested in learning about specific time, talent, or treasure needs and desires we have as we wage this war to Free the Japanese from Satanic bondage and redeem all things in the name of Jesus Christ.
In Service for the King,
Durmaz Family Embassy
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- Proverbs 8:24-25 [↩]
- Praise the LORD for so many Christian women in the church. Their ministry is crucial to the health of the church. God used many women throughout scripture, and especially in the NT to as co-laborers in Christian ministry & missions, and discipling the younger women. Though such discipleship is not taking place that we’ve seen. A Titus 2 woman is a rare jewel, indeed. [↩]
- I Cor. 14:34; I Tim. 2:11-12; Gen. 3:16; Eph. 5:22-24, 33; Col. 3:18; I Pet. 3:1, 4; Titus 2: 4, 5 [↩]
- Proverbs 4:23 [↩]
- Ephesians 1:22-23 [↩]
- John 8:16, 29, 42; John 16;32 [↩]
- An unreached or least-reach people is a people group among which there is no indigenous community of believing Christians with adequate numbers and resources to evangelize this people group. The criteria used is less than 2% Evangelical Christian and less than 5% Christian Adherents. [↩]
- For a thorough treatment of the spiritual an moral bondage of Japan, visit: http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/josephkimx/2013/08/12/why-japan/ [↩]
- http://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/engaging-japan-gospel/ [↩]
- used with permission [↩]