On August 18, 2018, Orlena Lynn Boyle (96) entered the joy of her Master. She was not her own; she was bought with a price, and she lived like it.
She served as a single missionary in pre-communist China and then Japan. In 1934, the martyrdom of John and Betty Stam deeply impressed the then-twelve-year-old Orlena and motivated her to follow in their footsteps as a missionary to China. She told of how General Douglas MacArthur signed her papers to allow her to stay in Japan after being driven out of China. In many ways, she was among the last of a particular missionary era. She bore fruit through and for her Savior, and her fruit remains - some of it in my own life, I’m grateful to write.
She was born on January 15, 1922 to Thomas and Marguerite Lynn in Sparta, Illinois. Her dad had been led to a deep commitment to Christ through the ministry of Rev. William Robb, a missionary to China who had temporarily served the church in which he grew up. Later, when Orlena was born, her father named her after Mrs. Orlena Robb, William’s wife.
When she was two years old, she drank a bottle of lye. Doctors told her parents she would not likely live through the night. God showed mercy. Even then, he was preparing her with the grace and guts she would need in years ahead.
She grew up in the shadows of the U.S. Steel Corporation in Gary, Indiana where her father worked. Her family attended the Reformed Presbyterian Church in Chicago, and her life was shaped by family worship, corporate worship, and youth meetings. By God’s grace, she never remembered a day when she didn’t know she was a sinner in need of God’s grace through Jesus Christ whom she embraced by faith.
After graduating from Lew Wallace High School in Gary, she attended Gary Junior College (later Indiana University Northwest) for two years. Because of Geneva College’s rigorous academic standards, it would not accept her Gary Junior College credits, and so she went to Indiana University instead. There, she continued to play clarinet in the marching band and studied accounting, statistics, and mathematics.
She continued to wrestle with a call to missions internally even as she went to work for the Federal Reserve Bank in Chicago as a research statistician. Though she had tentative plans to marry, she sensed that God was calling her to go to China, and she obeyed. It would be the first of several times in life when she tried to say “no” to God, but it never worked, because she was not her own, she was bought with a price.
After World War II, she prepared for the mission field by serving in the Reformed Presbyterian Mission in Sandy Hook, Kentucky, studying Chinese and obtaining a Master’s of Religious Education at Biblical Seminary in New York, and serving as a Chicago City Missionary.
In 1949, she was able to go to China. Though most missionaries were leaving at the time, her accounting skills were deemed mission-critical, and so she was sent. Ministry was intense in South China and Hong Kong for the two years she was there. After disembarking on a trip to Canton, the boat she had ridden was boarded by 300 others for the return trip. River pirates took the boat and sank it killing everyone aboard. Inflation was so bad that one time, she covered an envelope with the highest-denomination stamps possible, but the postage was still inadequate. She gifted me a million-yuan note featuring Chiang Kai Shek that still bookmarks my Greek New Testament as a reminder of the value of one currency that never loses value. The currency of God’s word, of course, has continued to spread through China, yielding remarkable returns in the spiritual marketplace.
Upon being forced from China, God called her to serve in Kobe, Japan, where she operated the Covenanter Book Room for nearly 40 years until her retirement. The Lord granted much fruit through her labor, as you can read below in her lengthier autobiography written in 1984.
After coming back home again to Indiana, she fell in love with Sam Boyle, who had been a fellow missionary in China and Japan years earlier and was a widower in Kansas. They married in 1992 when she was 69 years old. She had always wanted a big family, and in the Lord’s way, he granted her wish. With the two simple words, “I do!” she gained five loving step-children and a host of grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Sam celebrated their anniversary each month with roses, and before Sam went to be with the Lord in 2002, they had long since celebrated their 50th.
She resided at the Reformed Presbyterian Home in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for the last eighteen years of life where she was both blessed by others and was a blessing to others. There, she was also a member of the North Hills Reformed Presbyterian Church.
Her autobiography captures the inner wrestlings of her soul, and her need to be completely submitted to the Lord. For instance, she remembered:
“The Home Missions Board had asked me to go for one year [to Kentucky], but somehow I realized that the Lord was not just calling me to Kentucky but that this had a close relationship to China. Though I had said I would not go, I had no peace. What right did I have to refuse? God created me. Through Christ and his atonement for my sins he had redeemed me. I wasn't my own, I'm not my own today, and none of us are. I realized I could follow no other path but to go.”
“I realized the Lord was definitely calling me on to China. The war was over, and Miss Adams returned to China. BUT, I had my own plans. Many an hour I spent in prayer and struggle as I made my way through the mud, going from school to school in those Kentucky hills. For the second time, I was wanting to say, ‘No, no, I can't go.’ In his infinite love and patience, though, the Lord clearly taught me that his ways are far above our ways. God has created me and redeemed me and I am not my own, but His. I could not say, ‘no’.”
Finally, on board ship from Hong Kong to Japan, she wrestled still:
“First stop was Manila. After leaving, while having my devotions in my cabin on the ship I realized that the Lord could still keep me in Japan if that was truly His will for me, as the next port of call was Kobe, Japan. Again I had tried to say, ‘no.’ There, in the ship cabin, I knelt in prayer, asking God to forgive me and wholeheartedly committing all to whatever was His will for me. Whether it was to be Japan or the States, it would be completely according to God’s will for me and not my own plan. After all, we are not our own, but are bought with a price. We are His, and what a blessing this is!”
But there was great joy in her submission and service to Jesus as she recounted:
“Before I ever went to China, Orlena Robb, after whom I was named, said to me, ‘Orlena, if you are where the Lord wants you to be, you will be truly happy, but no matter how wonderful the outward circumstances, if it is not the place where the Lord wants you to be, then you will never be really happy.’ How true!”
The Lord used her in my life when she retired and began to attend the Lafayette, Indiana Reformed Presbyterian Church in 1991. I was in early high school. Each week, she would join us at my grandparent’s home for lunch after church. She regaled us with her missionary stories, and clearly impressed upon the minds of me and my siblings that we are not our own, but that we have been bought with a price. Therefore, we have no choice but to glorify God with our bodies. Her influence in our lives also resulted in the naming of my youngest sister: Orlena.
One summer in my college years, I lived with Sam and Orlena. I knew them well by this time, and had great admiration for them. But the thing I learned most vividly when I lived with these great, sacrificial missionaries was that they were still sinners. I saw them sin. I heard them lament, and I heard them repent. I witnessed their struggle for sanctification, which wasn’t always a straight line on the fast-forward setting. They needed grace. I saw them seek God’s face personally in personal and family devotions and in corporate worship. I learned that the greatest of servants still need grace daily.
In that summer and beyond, however, I also heard in quiet ways, how, as missionaries, they had appropriately exposed and appropriately covered the sins of others on the field. There has never been a golden age of missions without sin and corruption. Though I’m sure they didn’t always exercise it perfectly, they had a sense of justice and mercy to responsibly handle sin and error within the teams on which they worked. I’m forever grateful for their example. But Christians serve that way too, because we are not our own, we are bought with a price.
I last saw her at this year’s commencement of the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary, and it was a privilege to sing praise with her there. It’s a greater blessing to know that she is praising the Lord before the throne today with saints who know Jesus through her ministry from China, Japan, America, and beyond. And, someday, we will sing his praise together again because we are not our own, but we’ve been bought with a price.
Below is a vivid autobiographical account written in 1984, when she was 62 years old and still in Japan. It captures the flavor of her life as one blood-bought by the Lord.
Here is Orlena, in her own words:
“Let them give glory unto the Lord, and declare his praise in the islands.” Isaiah 42:12
To begin with, I was born January 15, 1922, in Sparta, Illinois, on a farm. My parents were Thomas J. Lynn and Marguerite McMurtry. Her brother, Zenas McMurtry, lived for many years in Morning Sun, Iowa. My parents were both from farm families and from childhood lived just the second farm down the road from one another, went to Old Bethel Reformed Presbyterian Church and were together in the same one-room country school and in the same high school. I grew up in a Covenanter home where family worship, church, and prayer meeting were important. At the time my parents were in the young people’s group at Old Bethel, before they were married, the Rev. William Robb, home from China, was stated supply. He was used of God in having considerable spiritual influence on my father. Hence, later when my parents were married and then I was born, had I been a boy I probably would have been named William, but since I was a girl they instead named me ‘Orlena’, after Mr. Robb’s wife. Little did anyone dream then that in the years to come the Lord would lead me to China and then to Japan and that in both places I would be working together on the field with the Robb’s daughter, Mrs. Grace Robb Boyle.
While I was only a baby, my dad's father died at Morning Sun, Iowa, where he had gone to work on another farm, leaving the home place for my parents to live there. Dad’s step-mother, Mrs. Eliza Lynn, continued living on in Morning Sun. The home farm was sold after my grandfather's death, to divide the proceeds among the seven sons. Then, our family moved to Gary, Indiana, where two of my dad's brothers were already living. My father worked in the U.S. Steel Corporation, which was still a new company then. In fact, the city itself, built on the sand dunes with the steel corporation as the main purpose, was less than twenty years old when we arrived there. All of my grade school and high school education was in Gary, and also my first two years of college were at Gary College, which later became Indiana University extension. For a few weeks each summer I went back to my mother's home place, where her mother and younger brother were living. My grandmother McMurtry, the only grandparent I knew, was a godly woman, and I only wish I could live up to a portion of the example she set before me.
When on the farm in the summer, I rode my pony, Blackie, down to the woods and all around the farm, and the other farms in the community. While I went to Sparta each summer to Uncle Earl's, my sister's country visits were to Uncle Zenas’ at Morning Sun. My only sister, Ruth, is four and a half years younger than I. She like to cook and sew, whereas I enjoyed getting out on my bicycle, playing tennis, swimming and later golf, as we lived just across the street from the city golf course, where one could play all day for fifty cents.
I graduated from Lew Wallace High School in Gary in 1939, had two years at Gary College, where I had a scholarship, and then on to Indiana University where I graduated with a degree in mathematics in 1943. I had always liked math, and from about third grade I thought I wanted to be a math teacher. Then, through taking the maximum math courses and the education courses and requirements for a high school math teachers license, which I obtained, from my junior year at Indiana University I also became interested in statistics, and during my senior year became an assistant in the statistics department, teaching statistics lab classes. Throughout the years, I had also a keen interest in China. One reason was that I was named for a missionary to China. Another was that our close family friends in Gary were the Walter Dodds family, who had been to China. However, when I graduated from college the war was on, China was closed, and I accepted a position in the field of statistics. I worked in Chicago for the Federal Reserve Bank, doing research. My boss there was Mr. Walter Hoadley, a Christian. He later became vice president of the Bank of America, main office, San Francisco. He and his wife call me from Tokyo each year when they come to Japan on business and every year they send a contribution to the Covenanter Book Store.
Though I had grown up in Gary, Indiana, our family had always gone to Chicago to church because we had no Reformed Presbyterian church in Gary. We always went for Sabbath School and the morning worship service, and then stayed on to wait for the young people's meeting and evening service. We regularly drove to Chicago on Wednesday for the prayer meeting, too.
While working in the Research Department at the Federal Reserve, I was asked by the Home Missions Board to go to Kentucky. Synod and our national conferences were then held at Winona Lake, Indiana, and our family went every year. Hence, I knew most of the ministers throughout our church, and a number of them knew of my interest in China. At the time I was asked to go to Kentucky, it was Miss Adams, Miss Huston and Miss McCracken, returned missionaries from China, who were there. They were teaching Bible in all the public schools throughout Elliott County. When first requested to go, I gave a negative answer. I had tentative wedding plans for the following summer. The Home Missions Board had asked me to go for one year, but somehow I realized that the Lord was not just calling me to Kentucky but that this had a close relationship to China. Though I had said I would not go, I had no peace. What right did I have to refuse? God created me. Through Christ and his atonement for my sins he had redeemed me. I wasn't my own, I'm not my own today, and none of us are. I realized I could follow no other path but to go. I went to Sandy Hook, Kentucky, to join the work there.
The four of us taught 92 one-hour Bible classes each week. There was no paved road to our house, and we did not even have our own well, but had to walk uphill to a neighbor house to draw water from their well. After a rain the mud was really sticky. I, being the youngest of our four in Kentucky, did the water hauling, not only for our drinking water and daily use, but each Saturday morning for our laundry, too, and then we used that water for scrubbing our floors. Except for the one school in Sandy Hook, which went from first grade through high school, the other schools were all one or two-room schools scattered throughout the county. From Monday through Friday, we would be at the first school of the day in time for the first class and end with the last class at the last school. Miss Adams went to the ones in the most distant places and stayed in homes during the week. We had an old Ford we used for going to the other places, dropping one person off at a school, walking on to certain schools, and then meeting later. Saturday mornings we did our laundry and cleaning and shopping for the week, and then prepared our printed lessons and mimeographed them for use for the classes for the following week. On Sabbath, we had Sabbath Schools, held in school houses at three widely separated centers.
Sure enough, within a few weeks at my arrival in Kentucky, I realized the Lord was definitely calling me on to China. The war was over, and Miss Adams returned to China. BUT, I had my own plans. Many an hour I spent in prayer and struggle as I made my way through the mud, going from school to school in those Kentucky hills. For the second time, I was wanting to say, “No, no, I can't go.” In his infinite love and patience, though, the Lord clearly taught me that his ways are far above our ways. God has created me and redeemed me and I am not my own, but His. I could not say, “no”. I was appointed by the Board of Foreign Missions to go to China. The language school in China was not yet opened following the war, and food was still very scarce. Hence, I was to study Chinese in the States. While doing so, in New York, I also attended Biblical Seminary for two years and received my master's degree in religious education, 1946-48. There were eight of us scheduled to sail for China in September 1948. Our goods had been shipped to the west coast, including whatever we had been advised to take for ahead in China. Then, on arrival on the west coast, the news was that the dock workers had gone on strike and our ship could not sail. The strike did not end until December, and by that time, Communists armies were sweeping across China. Some of the northern cities had already fallen. Only Miss Huston sailed when the strike was ended, and all other passages for our group were cancelled because of the Communist situation. Then, in February a letter came from South China asking me to come. I immediately called to find out when the next ship would leave, said I could make that sailing, and left for China late February 1949, arriving there in March. I had never been abroad and knew no other person on the ship, but was never alone for the Lord's presence was very precious to me all the way. On the journey, I made some dear friends among the Chinese Christians on board.
When the former treasurer of the Mission had left for the States in September, it was expected that our group of eight would arrive shortly. With the strike and then the cancellation of passages, Mr. Boyle was left as the only man on the field and had to do the treasurer's work as well as having the tremendous task of preparing the churches for what they would be facing as the communists took over. He was kept busy traveling from Canton to Tak Hing and Lo Ting and other places. With war conditions, they felt it not right to ask a family to come. Because of my math background, it was decided I was the logical one to go to China at that time. Thus, I greatly rejoiced in getting to go.
Grace and Sam Boyle and Miss Huston met me in Hong Kong. After time for shopping for supplies in Hong Kong, we later took a night boat for Canton. Oh the joy of seeing my first glimpse of China at dawn from the boat. In Hong Kong, on the boat ride, and on arrival in Canton, I had new experiences which made a great impression on me. I was no longer in a basically Christian country, and standards were far different. One longed desperately to see changes in their lives. But, you know, to whatever the Lord calls us, he strengthens us for it and he is always right there with us. It is his work and his doing, really, and we are just the vessels used. Actually, we ourselves aren't at all important, but what a blessing to be wherever he wants us to be. Before I ever went to China, Orlena Robb, after whom I was named, said to me, “Orlena, if you are where the Lord wants you to be, you will be truly happy, but no matter how wonderful the outward circumstances, if it is not the place where the Lord wants you to be, then you will never be really happy.” How true!
Things were very unsettled in South China when I arrived. The boat on which I arrived in Canton was sunk on its return trip to Hong Kong and many lives lost. When I went up the West River with Miss Stewart on an overnight boat trip to Tak Hing, we had to jump down into the hold below the deck where there were no windows or light of any kind and we couldn't even stand up. There we had to remain for a long time in a crouched position in the dark hold until we passed the danger zone where there had been firing on the boats and a few persons killed just before that. While visiting our orphanage at Tak Hing a baby girl had been left on the ground outside the orphanage entrance. I was the first to feed her, and she was given my Chinese name. From Tak Hing, I was to go into the country with Miss Adams, but because of the imminent communist takeover there it was deemed too dangerous for me to go. In Canton, on my way to the Chinese language school each morning I passed many, many people lying on the sidewalks who had come out from communist areas of China and were waiting for passage to Hong Kong. Canton was under martial law at night with barbed wire barricades throughout the city at night and frequent checkpoints. The ferry boat, which we had to take to get from where we lived to the main part of Canton, would not go at night. Even in broad daylight the ferry boat had been boarded while the young missionary living next door to us was on it. They shot and killed the man sitting next to her and she had to continue next to the dead man for a couple of hours until they were rescued by the customs boat. The language school I was attending moved to Hong Kong, but I remained in Canton. The American Consul repeatedly warned us to leave, but we stayed on. The doctor in our area went to Hong Kong. Grace Boyle’s baby was due, and so we finally departed for Hong Kong. Gladys (Chris) Boyle was born the day of arrival in Hong Kong. My time in China was not for many years, but only four and a half months.
In Hong Kong I continued attending the Chinese language school. I also continued serving as Mission treasurer. Not only was I treasurer for the Mission, but also for the orphanage at Tak Hing and Reformation Translation Fellowship and various other parts of our work, and co-treasurer for the language school, having seven accounts in the bank, only one of which was mine. While living in Canton the treasurer’s work was complicated because of the rapid change in value of currency. Imagine a Hong Kong dollar being worth 300 Chinese yuan, and then three months later it required millions of Chinese yuan to buy the same Hong Kong dollar. At the post office I once bought the highest denomination stamps they had, but even when I covered the envelope it wasn’t enough to send the letter. Salaries of Chinese pastors and workers were measured not in money but in weight of rice, and had to be paid promptly on the set date, paying the amount for the cost of that much rice at that very time. Even within a day values changed. In Hong Kong the difficulty was a different one. We could not just transfer money to China directly through a bank or post office, but had to do it through some tea shop or rice shop or such. Ones handling the transfer of these funds were subject to imprisonment, so it was very difficult, and much prayer was needed for God’s guidance and help in getting the funds to China.
Some of our South China missionaries had returned to the States, and the summer of 1950 the Boyles, Misses Huston and Adams went to Japan, leaving only Miss Stewart and myself in Hong Kong. Finally, the time came when our Chinese members could no longer come to Hong Kong for meetings, and we could no longer get funds to them from Hong Kong, and so the decision was made for us to depart, too. Travel was by ship and there were waiting lists for passages to the States. Our turn came, and our passage was booked. Before our sailing date, a cable came from the Board of Foreign Missions advising that I join the group in Japan. Already, I had letters from Japan inviting me to do so, and letters from my family and a former Chinese missionary assuming that I would be going to Japan when leaving Hong Kong. I had learned to read and write 3000 Chinese characters. Imagine the hours spent in the study of the Chinese language. Was it not a waste to leave that and go to Japan where I would need to learn the Japanese language? I had never considered going to Japan, and knew very little about it.
I suggested that Miss Stewart go ahead on the ship and I would remain in Hong Kong and pray about this. There were border skirmishes now and then and we did not know whether the communists would take over Hong Kong also, or not. Passage on ships was extremely difficult to obtain, and if we canceled this it was uncertain when we could get another sailing. Miss Stewart felt the responsibility not to leave me there alone under the circumstances. Hence, we boarded the ship to go to the States. Because there were so many refugees in Hong Kong at the time, we gave all we could, taking along only what we needed for the trip.
First stop was Manila. After leaving, while having my devotions in my cabin on the ship I realized that the Lord could still keep me in Japan if that was truly His will for me, as the next port of call was Kobe, Japan. Again I had tried to say, “no.” There, in the ship cabin, I knelt in prayer, asking God to forgive me and wholeheartedly committing all to whatever was His will for me. Whether it was to be Japan or the States, it would be completely according to God’s will for me and not my own plan. After all, we are not our own, but are bought with a price. We are His, and what a blessing this is!
Our ship arrived in Kobe on February 1, 1951, and I came ashore with only a pass for while the ship was in Japan. The Boyles, Miss Huston and Miss Adams were already in Kobe. Within the first day ashore, I knew the Lord wanted me to stay in Jaran. To do so, a SCAP permit was needed. Some missionaries from China had gone to the States to wait for weeks or sometimes months until getting their SCAP permit for entry to Japan. A phone call to Tokyo then took several hours to get through. We got through in 15 minutes. We called a missionary friend whose telephone had been out of order for several days, and ours was the first call to come through. When the phone rang, he was just starting out the door of his home, on his way to a place very near General MacArthur's headquarters. He applied for my SCAP permit, I took a night train to Tokyo, he met me at the Tokyo Station and took me directly to MacArthur's headquarters, where, within ten minutes I received my SCAP permit, enabling me to live in Japan. From the first day, the Lord gave me a desire to learn the language and I was eagerly listening to the strange sounds around me. On arrival back in Kobe, I started to Japanese language school from the next day. I had arrived with only two suitcases and a portable typewriter.
Language school classes were in the mornings, and my afternoons were spent going around to real estate offices looking for a place for the bookstore. Educational standards in Japan are high, we did not know then how long we would be allowed to remain in Japan or if it would go communist, too, and we did not know the Japanese language. Hence, through a bookstore we could get the Bibles and Christian books into the hands of the people. They could be read by more than one person, and even if we had to leave Japan the Bibles and books would remain and the witness would continue on.
There was no car road where we lived in China and we had no car in Hong Kong, so I had not driven for a couple of years. When I went to apply for a driver's license, my interpreter at the police station was Mr. Masunaga. After various tests, I had to return again to the police station. This time Mr. Masunaga, who had received a tract from me, asked many questions about Christianity, and, from the following Sabbath, came to our services at the Boyle home. They had found housing in Kobe in November, and had started services right away with the aid of a neighbor who understood English as interpreter. Within three months, when I came, about fifty were attending the meetings. Mr. Boyle invited a young man working at the tax office to come. I met a student on the train who came the next week. These three were there one Sabbath and all understood English, so I asked them to come an hour earlier the following week, and begin the English Bible classes. These three were the first to receive baptism. Mr. Masunaga is now a pastor of our Higashi Suma Church. The young lady, Miss Hirakawa, became our first employee in the Covenanter Book Room, and the young man from the tax office later became a deacon.
A suitable place was found for the book store, I moved into the building within one year of my arrival in Japan, and on March 10th, 1952, the Covenanter Book Room was opened for the sale of Bibles and books and with a free lending library and reading room. Now we have completed 32 years in the book store. We give thanks for the Bibles and Christian books which have been distributed through this channel during those years. Our sales this past year were $113,000 (US dollars), or 26,690,660 yen. At present there is one full-time employee, Miss Yoshiko Kojima, and Mrs. Yamashita works on a part-time basis. The book store property was purchased entirely from contributions. It is the property of the Board of Foreign Missions of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of N.A. The name now used in English, though the Japanese name remains the same, is Covenanter Book Store, as we now no longer have the reading room, or lending library. Through the years, the space for the bookstore has been enlarged and the stock has been steadily increased. The Covenanter Book Store is under a Board of Directors, consisting of three missionaries and three members of our church in Japan. At present, Mr. Shinoda, and elder at the Keiyaku Church, is chairman. Other members are Mr. Funahashi, elder at Higashi Suma, Mrs. Nitta, deacon, Bill Sterrett, Charlie Leach and myself. Mrs. Rhoda Faris is our American Representative and makes all the payments to publishers in the U.S.A. Similarly, the Rev. Hugh Blair, as our representative, makes payments to publishers of Great Britain on our behalf. Both have served faithfully and efficiently for some years.
Deliveries of books are made each week. On Wednesdays Mrs.Yamashita takes books to the west and on Thursdays I go to the east. We also sell books at the Bible schools and seminaries. On Thursdays, I sell books at the Reformed Seminary during their lunch hour. There is also the Lutheran Seminary, Lutheran Bible School, a Baptist Bible School, Japan Evangelistic Band Bible School and a Bible Institute under a Norwegian mission. We sell books to students of two seminaries in the Osaka area. I take books to special meetings such as the semi-annual women's luncheon at the Oriental Hotel, the Reformed Church Synod, Keswick conference, etc. Books are regularly sent in answer to mail orders.
Sometimes we have ones who have never been to a church coming to buy Bibles. Often there is opportunity to talk with non-Christians who come into the store. Where possible, we introduce them to one of our own churches, but if they live farther away, then to one in their area. Mr. Hashimoto, a teacher, often comes to the Covenanter Book Store. We introduced him to our Mukonoso center where the Spears are. He has become a member there and has brought a number of young people to the Bible classes. A girl recently came to Kobe one day especially to come to the book store to express her thanks for our introducing her to a church in her town. She is reading the Bible she bought here, praying every day, going to church regularly, and has become a believer. We sometimes give Gospel portions or Christian books to ones who come. A priority is taking time to talk with the ones who come, as needed. Often it is much easier for them to come to a place like a Christian book store than to go to a church. Later they often become interested in church. In Japan, many Christians have first been influenced through Christian books.
We get many requests and questions -- about housing, doctors, procedures on importing, where to buy various things and how to get various places. I still remember the time some years ago when a young man bought a Bible here and then later complained that the copy he had received was faulty because there weren't nearly as many pages in the New Testament as in the Old Testament. He went to church with me from that following week. When he was in the hospital later with tuberculosis, I went to call on him as I could. Later he, too, became a believer knowing the Lord Jesus Christ as his Saviour. It is for the sake of such as these that we are here. And also to strengthen the Christians in their understanding of the Word of God, and to help pastors, seminary students, Sabbath School teachers and others to be better prepared for teaching God's word to others.
The percentage of Christians in Japan is not even one per cent. This is a modern, industrial country, but their need of Jesus Christ is great. I have always been very grateful that the Lord brought me to Japan as his servant. It is the Lord's work and my prayer is that I might be a fit vessel for his use. The greatest joy of all is seeing the working of the Holy Spirit in lives as ones are brought to faith in Christ.