CATCH THE VISION Golden Week Provides Golden Opportunity?
by Darwin Stoesz
I greeted my 74-year-old language teacher, Mr. Tsune (not his real name). We asked each other the standard question aſter a break: “What did you do during Golden Week?” (Golden Week is a collection of four Japanese holidays around the first week of May.) His answer surprised me. He said, “Everywhere is crowded during the holidays, so I stayed home.” He then said, “I figured out why Christianity is so unpopular with the Japanese people.” He said that Christi- anity has two main principles. He then wrote the Japanese character for “grace” and “love” on the paper. He explained to me that since Buddhism has both grace and love, there was no reason for a Japanese person to become a Christian. Tey could get both grace and love from their own religion. I asked him if he was a sinner. He said, “Of course I
am a sinner, but I have never committed a crime.” I then explained that small sins and big sins were all still sins — things that separated him from God. I asked him how as a Buddhist could one could take care
of that sin problem? He said, “I don’t know, but I am a good person.” I then shared the bridge illustration on a piece of paper and shared the gospel simply on a piece of paper. I explained how “good works” such as “going to church” and “helping people” were all good things; but how does one know if he has done enough good works? I asked him if he had confidence that he had done enough good works to get to
heaven. He said, “No, I do not have that kind of confidence.” I found John 3:16 on my iPhone, and we read it in Jap-
anese together. I explained how God loves us and sent His Son. I explained about eternal life and how we had a choice to spend eternal life with God or separated from God. I asked him where he wanted to spend eternal life. He said, “In heaven.” I said “How do you know how to get to heaven?” He had
no answer. I then drew the cross and shared how Jesus paid the penalty of our sins and how we need to believe in what Christ did on the cross. I shared how we can get forgiveness of our sins by what Jesus did on the cross. For a long time he looked at the paper displaying the cross
and how his sins could be forgiven. He then sighed, looked at my Japanese textbook and said, “We should study Japanese.” I had an opportunity to share the gospel in Japanese!
My Japanese wasn’t perfect by any standard, but God used this opportunity to allow me to share the gospel with my Japanese teacher.
Darwin Stoesz has lived in Japan for 10 years with his wife Karen and their two daughters. Darwin is the business / housing manager for SEND Japan. Teir home church is Cornerstone Bible Church of Mountain Lake, Minn.
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