Breakthrough in Hokota

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By Kevin G. Verett, Short-term Participant with One Mission Society

Distributing soup to Japanese affected by the earthquake and tsunami March 11, 2011

On March 11, 2011, when I heard that a massive earthquake had struck near Japan, I turned on the news for more details. As I watched the horrible video of the powerful tsunami wave of water destroying everything in its path, I began to cry out to God for mercy and grace for the people of Japan and elsewhere that could be affected by the tsunami.  My heart ached for the Japanese people. These thoughts were on my mind when I received an email on March 17 that indicated that One Mission Society (OMS) would be organizing work teams through Men for Missions (MFM) to go to Japan to help with clean-up, rebuilding and whatever else needed to be accomplished. I immediately knew in my heart that I should plan to go, so I quickly responded that I was willing to go on the trip planned for June 10-25, 2011.

Steve and Dixie King, who are fulltime OMS missionaries in Tokyo, Japan, were the team leaders for the trip. They had made several trips to the most devastated areas to help deliver relief supplies soon after the earthquake. They had worked with the leadership of the Japan Holiness Church (JHC) to select churches for the work teams to work with. Our team trip was the first trip of this effort, and they had planned for us to work with the church in Hokota, which is located about 85 miles northeast of Tokyo. This area was not devastated like the areas affected by the tsunami, but there was a significant need to help repair damage to peoples homes. Late that afternoon, we went to visit several potential projects for us to work on. It immediately became obvious that there was much more work to be done than our team of three people could accomplish in two weeks. Therefore, Steve began to prioritize the work to what we could accomplish with the resources we had.

Most of our time for the two-week trip was spent making repairs to the home of one member of the Hokota church. This man was the only Christian in his family of his wife, daughter and mother who all lived in the house. Each day, as we worked, our relationship grew with the man and his mother who were there each day. They insisted that we take time for morning and afternoon tea breaks where they lavished upon us various forms of tea, snacks and wonderful cantaloupes and watermelons. The man spoke English and served as our interpreter for the rest of the family.

The pastor's wife prays for healing

On Monday of the second week, the pastor of the Hokota church and his wife came with Dixie to check on us. At one point, I noticed they were all sitting around the kitchen table sharing tea and talking. Later, they told me that the pastor’s wife was moved to ask if she could pray for the elderly mother who was experiencing chronic pain from a leg she had broken a few years before. The woman agreed, and her pain was lessened after the prayer. The next day, her son was relating to us how much his mother appreciated the pastor’s wife praying for her and how happy she was to have less pain. Immediately, I felt faith rise up in me to pray for God to complete the healing that had begun the day before. I asked if I could pray for her. As soon as her son interpreted my question, she turned her chair toward me. I asked if I could lay my hands upon the source of the pain, and she directed my hands to the place. I then called out to God for her to be healed completely. When I finished praying for her, I asked her to stand up and move her legs around. As she moved her legs, she began to smile, and I raised my hands and shouted hallelujah, and she did likewise. Her son then told her that no false god of Buddhism could do what had just happened to her, but that it was done only by Jesus Christ. We finished up our work, and as we left, she was out in the yard dancing around and still trying out her pain-free leg.

When Steve and I arrived back at the Hokota church building, there was a women’s Bible study in progress, and we were asked to join them for tea. Dixie already knew about the woman being healed, so she asked us to tell them the story. They all became excited, and I encouraged them to step out in faith, believing that God wanted to do such miracles every day to bring people into His kingdom. That night, we all prayed that God would complete the work by bringing the woman to faith in Jesus as her Savior.

The next day, we went back to work, and the pastor’s wife and Dixie came by to check on us again. However, I suspected that they were there for another higher purpose. It was not long before they were all gathered around the table talking again. We broke for lunch about the time they came out of the house, and the pastor’s wife told me the woman had just professed faith in Jesus and that she planned to come to church with her son on Sunday! We had a great time of celebrating the new birth of this woman.

The next day was our last work day in Hokota, so Steve and I went back to finish up our work and to pack up our tools and supplies. When we were ready to leave, the woman invited us into her kitchen for one last time of tea together. However, we could not find her son, so we did not have anyone to interpret for us. As we finished tea, we gave her some gifts from America and motioned that we wanted to pray over her. As we stood up, she grabbed our hands and held them close to her chest, and she began to pray passionately. Even though we could not understand her words, I knew in my heart that she was praying to the one true God.  She then let me give her a full embracing hug, and as I did she buried her head in my chest, and she cried. After a long embrace, we indicated that it was time to leave, even though we did not want to. And it was obvious that she did not want us to leave.

A tsunami warning stone in Japan

That night, we shared all of this with the pastor’s family over a meal. It was then that I began to understand how significant the previous days’ events had been. The Lord had used the faith of the pastor’s wife to make a significant breakthrough in the cultural roadblocks to the Gospel in Japan. I sincerely believe that the Lord has started a major movement among the people of Hokota that will bring many Japanese people to salvation. But we would not have been witnesses to this move of God if we had not been willing to go and do what we could with our hands to show how great is the love of our Father that the Japanese people should be called His children. Our simple act of doing whatever our hands found to do resulted in doors being opened for the pastor’s wife to pray for the woman. We simply believed that God had the power to do what He had promised when He told us to pray, “Your kingdom come and your will be done here on earth as it is in heaven.” That kingdom is a kingdom of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. We witnessed the Holy Spirit bringing His righteousness, peace and joy to this woman.

Will you now allow these stories of the work of God to stir you to go where He sends you and believe that He will do even greater works than these?