From the Northern Asia-Pacific Division
Many of the following stories were originally published in the fourth quarter 2008
Adventist Mission for Youth and Adults.
Before I Knew Him
Changing Lives in Tokyo
Compelled by Christ
Enabling the Disabled
Finding Answers in God
Getting to Know God
Joy Out of Grief
Out of the Ashes
Out of the Cold
A Place to Call Home
Planting Churches in Taiwan
The Power of One
A Reason to Hope
Someone to Believe In
Stepping Into the Sea
VBS Made the Difference
Told to Mission by Bayanjargal Sandagdorj.
I am Bayan, and I live in Mongolia. When I was in high school my dream was to become a doctor, but I was not accepted into the university’s medical program. So I studied nutrition instead. This was a new field of study in Mongolia, and I didn’t realize how important it would be.
I lived with my grandfather while I was studying, but before I finished school my grandfather died. I had depended on him for everything, and suddenly I was on my own. I moved into a dormitory and started looking for a job so I could eat. Fortunately, I had finished my class work and was working on my practicum, so I had time to work to pay my expenses. One day a friend told me about a job as a security guard. The hours I would work gave me time to complete my studies, so I accepted the job. Although I was not a believer at this time, I felt that someone was looking out for me, for this was the perfect job for me.
Then a mix-up in the exam schedule caused me to miss one of my exams, and I couldn’t graduate when I had planned to. I was so disappointed that I almost gave up. But then I learned of a vacancy in the research center at the university. I applied for the job, even though I hadn’t graduated because of the missed examination. To my surprise, I got the job! Once more I was convinced that someone was taking care of me.
The job required that I know English, and my friend Taivna old me about a free English class held at the Adventist church in the city. I enrolled in the class. At that time in my life the church was just a place to learn English, not the house of God.
Later Taivna invited me to a concert at the church, so I went. It was the first time I actually considered this church as God’s house. I enjoyed the concert and was impressed with the people there. Taivna invited me to other programs at the church, and eventually he invited me to a worship service. Some girls sang during the worship, and I liked their lovely voices and smiling aces. Religion didn’t interest me, but the people at this church were so kind and seemed so happy. I was impressed.
Then Taivna invited me to a seminar at the church. I didn’t want to go, but because he insisted, I went. I went to several sessions, and as I listened, I thought about a lot of things the leader said. Taivna had tried to tell me these things too, and slowly they began to make sense. I realized that maybe God was the one who was watching over me. Now I realize that the Holy Spirit was speaking to me that day.
Taivna left Mongolia to study overseas, but I continued to attend the church. Then some members invited me to attend the summer camp meeting, and there I committed my life to Christ. Later I was baptized.
Before he left Mongolia, Taivna had often told me that my profession—nutrition—was really important and was needed in Mongolia. He had told me that the Adventist Church speaks strongly about the importance of healthful living. He encouraged me to help the church develop a nutrition program.
One day after my baptism, a pastor at the mission office invited me to work in the mission’s health department. I didn’t seriously consider the invitation, as I had thought that I would work in a university. But I began to wonder whether God was leading me to this new job. I decided to apply for the mission work, just to see whether this was God’s will. I was accepted for he job. But then I had a dilemma—I was still working at the university. Should I leave the university job to take this new job? I prayed for God to help me decide. Eventually I took the job at the church’s little headquarters.
I’ve been working at the mission for just a short time, but already I know that God had a plan for my life long before I even knew Him. Now I can see God’s plan, and I’m amazed that He cares for me so much!
I’m glad that God led me the way He did. I learned a lot while working at the university. Now I feel more confident about teaching people the principles of healthful living and invite them to the church that I now love, the church that my friend—and my God—introduced me to.
Changing Lives in Tokyo
Pastor Kim Young Hoon and his wife Ahn SunRea are working together to share the love of Jesus in Japan’s largest city, Tokyo. Although she’s kept busy as the mother of two young children, Ahn has been instrumental in bringing new believers to Jesus. In fact, it was her role as a mother that opened the door to reaching a young Japanese mother.
One rainy day Ahn took her young son outside to play after being cooped up for most of the day. In the playground, she met Takako Okubo and her young daughter. The two children started playing together and the two women started talking.
Ahn invited Takako to visit her home. To her surprise Takako did visit. Ahn introduced her to her husband and they invited her to come back for church. Takako did and before long she was studying the Bible with Pastor Kim. Takako was baptized in March of 2006.
Coming from Korea, Pastor Kim and his family have had to adjust to the Japanese language and culture. They left family and friends behind. But one man has made it his special mission to make the Pioneer Missionary Movement pastors feel welcome and help them share the good news of Jesus in his country.
Shigehara Suzuki, a retired Japanese pastor, heard about the young Korean pastors who were coming to help reach his people. He decided he wanted to help them in their work.
As a young man in World War II Japan, Pastor Suzuki trained as a Kamikaze pilot. Although he wasn’t an Adventist, his mother had taught him the value of hard work. One night while the other men were in town, he stayed in the barracks. He noticed that some of the pilots hadn’t polished their shoes and he knew they would get in trouble when inspection time came. That night and other nights he polished the shoes of his fellow pilots. Pastor Suzuki was never sent on one of the suicide missions the Kamikaze were known for.
Years later, Pastor Suzuki met his former commander and learned why he was never sent on a mission. One night when he was polishing shoes, his commander was walking past the barracks. Seeing a light on he looked in the window and saw the young man helping his fellow pilots. From that moment on, whenever Suzuki’s name would come up on the list, his commander would move his name to the bottom of the list.
After the war, Pastor Suzuki’s mother’s prayers were answered and he dedicated his life to the Lord and became an Adventist Minister.
Pastor Suzuki and his wife, Sayoko, have adopted the Pioneer Missionary Movement pastors as their own and pray for them at every opportunity. Every morning they pray together naming each pastor and their family. Using the tools and skills he learned as a publishing director for the Adventist Church, Pastor Suzuki makes prayer cards and other reminders of the pioneer pastors. These reminders can be found throughout their small home.
When they can, Pastor Suzuki and Mrs. Suzuki drive long distances to visit and encourage the pastors. To save money they sleep in the back of their van.
Pastor Suzuki realized the pioneer pastors could do more if they had cars so they could visit people. Pastor Suzuki remembered his son had a car he was trying to sell. He called his son and persuaded him to donate his car to the pastor. As more Korean pastors arrived, Pastor Suzuki and his wife took money from their savings account to buy more cars.
Thanks to the work of the Holy Spirit, the dedication of pioneer pastors and the sacrificial support of people like the Suzukis, lives are being changed. But more needs to be done. Please pray for the Pioneer Missionary pastors and the people of Japan. Thank you for supporting Global Mission and the mission offerings.
By Rick Kajiura, communication director for the Office of Adventist Mission.
I live in the island nation of Taiwan. My family is Buddhist. But my life changed when my mother sent me to study English at the Adventist English Bible Center in our city. She warned me, “Learn only English, and never become a Christian.” She feared that if I became a Christian, I would leave my family.
God’s Love Compels
I became friends with some of the young missionaries who taught English at the center. They were so kind, so caring. I was amazed that people from such different cultures could love me so much. I marveled that these young people—barely older than I was—would leave their homes and come to a country where they didn’t know the language, just to teach me English. Only later did I realize that it was God’s love that compelled them to come.
One girl repeatedly invited me to join a Bible study group, and finally I accepted. The Bible study was in English, so I told myself that I was practicing my English. But before long it was the Bible that drew me to the study group. I studied at the center for two years before I had the courage to visit the church. I believed in God, but I knew that if I became a Christian it would break my mother’s heart. So I hesitated. Finally I committed my life to Jesus and followed Him in baptism. Somehow my mother knew, and she wept that I might leave her. I cried too, but I promised fervently that I would never leave her.
In fact, as I read my Bible and learned more about honoring my parents, I grew closer to my mother. I prayed for her every day. When I went away to college, we talked almost every day.
I was the only Adventist Christian in the Education Department at the college I attended, and I didn’t know anyone at the local Adventist church. So I felt lonely. Then I discovered a Christian student fellowship group on campus. I joined them on Thursday evenings, and one member invited me to join a small group Bible study. They weren’t Adventists, but they strengthened my faith. In turn I introduced them to the Adventist faith and answered their questions. I hope it planted some seeds for Jesus.
Serving the Master
After finishing college I returned home and worked in my home church. The young people who had been there when I joined were gone, as were my missionary friends. Others had come to take their place and teach English. I decided to start a small group meeting in English. I was thrilled that I could strengthen these young people in their faith.
During that year I was invited to join the staff of the Taipei Adventist American School as their Chinese teacher. The school is an elite school that is taught in English on the American education system. Few of the students are Christians, so this truly is a mission school. I love watching students learn about God and share God’s love with one another. They are learning that God is the source of their life, their health, and their faith.
One little first grade student came to me with a Bible and offered it to me. He said, “This is a very good book, and I want you to read it.” A sixth grade boy asked me why everyone in this school talked about God. He was a Buddhist and didn’t want to hear about God so much. I explained that I once had been a Buddhist, but now Jesus is the center of my life, and I can’t stop talking about Him. I told him I was praying for him, and he accepted that. Then one day he came to me and asked me to pray with him about a problem he had.
Changes at Home
My family was shocked when they first learned that I had become a Christian. But as they have seen how God has blessed me and strengthened me, they have accepted my faith. When I visit home, my father takes me to church. And when my grandparents were sick, my mother asked me to pray for them. I know she believes, but it is hard for her to leave the family traditions.
I’m so glad that God used student missionaries to call me to Christ. I’m amazed and grateful that no matter who we are or where we live, we are one big family in Jesus. Your mission offerings bind us to one another, for those funds help support the language school that has led many people to Jesus. Thank you for sharing God’s love through your offerings.
Erica Chen, a teacher at Taipei Adventist American School.
Life in Taiwan
Taiwan is a small but highly industrialized island nation off the eastern coast of mainland China. The official language is Mandarin Chinese.Buddhism is the largest religious faith. Much of the culture is still directed by traditional values derived from Confucianism, with emphasis on principles of good conduct, practical wisdom, and respect to ancestors and especially to parents. But the Taiwanese people find it challenging to relate these traditional values to their modern secular lives.While the tribal peoples living in the mountains of Taiwan have accepted Christianity, the Christian faith has struggled to gain a foothold among the ethnic Chinese in Taiwan, where only one in 25,000 ethnic Chinese in Taiwan is a Seventh-day Adventist Christian.
Enabling the Disabled
A woman in a wheelchair dreamed of sharing Christ's love with disabled people in her community. She worked hard to establish a training center but found herself immobilized in a hospital. Her non-Adventist friends carried out her project under the umbrella of the Women Ministries Department of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Sainbileg's body may be weak, but when it comes to reaching the unreached, she doesn't understand the word "limitations." Here is her story in here own words.
My name is Sainbileg and I'm 46 years old. I graduated from the Mongolian Medical University as a doctor. My husband graduated from military school and he held a good job with the army. The first eight years of our life together were blissful with the birth of two daughters. But as time went on, my husband became very possessive and jealous. His attitude and character changed until he started physically abusing me.
Secretly, I planned to divorce him and began the legal process. When I appeared before the judge, I told him frankly, “If you ignore or turn down my request for divorce this time, you will soon find one person dead, one person in prison and two girls without any parents." The judge granted my request. Taking my daughters with me, I moved to Selenge province (500 miles from Ulaan Baatar, the capital) to work. Because of limited finances, we lived in very cramped conditions with another family in a small room.
Things improved when I got a job as a local district doctor. One day, while talking to the hospital medical director, I fell down in his office. I was sent for medical tests after which they told me that I needed to have brain surgery. Instead of helping me, the surgery made me mute and paralyzed on my right side. Unable to function, I sold my apartment to pay for my operation, sent my girls to live with relatives, and moved to Darkhan province to live with my brother.
After I came to Darkhan city (the second largest city in Mongolia), I saw on TV an advertisement for some evangelistic meetings held by Adventists. I decided to attend these meetings where I met the church pastor, Enkhbaatar, who not only listened to my story with interest but helped me whenever I needed assistance. He assigned a young girl, Otgooloi, to teach me how to write with my left hand. One day she encouraged me by saying, “Sister, don't be disappointed; remember you have a bright future."
A New Life
With Bible studies, I was born again in 2004 and life took on a new meaning for me. I discovered that a training center for the disabled in Ulaan Baatar (UB, the capital city) could help me in my rehabilitation. I went there and acquired some skills in computer keyboarding, baking, and sewing, and learned how to live more healthily.
I Prayed Every Day for God to Use Me
The few months spent in UB helped to lift my spirits and I felt motivated to share this same kind of healing experience with other disabled people like myself. It would be selfish of me to just benefit without sharing. I began writing a project paper to minister to women like me. The church pastor was very encouraging when I showed him my plan, so I started praying every day for God to use me. I had no idea where nor how to start and what really could be done to help the disabled. Again and again I revised what I had written, but nothing was moving; the idea just looked good on paper.
In August 2006, the Women Ministries Department of Mongolia Mission Field organized a women’s retreat. Against great odds, with the help of some friends, I made it to the campsite in a wheel chair. The retreat theme, "Touch a Heart; Tell the World" spoke to me. I heard God’s voice telling me to share my project with the speakers, Drs. Chek Yat and Sally Lam-Phoon. We set up an appointment to meet together with the Mongolia Mission Field women's ministries director, Cleidi Kuhn, the following weekend in UB. I was sure that my prayers were being answered. At the meeting they decided to fully support this project as a women's ministries project in Mongolia.
My idea was to bring a group of disabled people to the training center in UB, but because of the distance, it was too costly. I shared the project idea with my friend in Selenge Khotol, the government hospital director. Between us, we got more people (nurses, doctors, hairdressers) involved. The hospital director, Mr Byambanyam, offered us two rooms in the hospital for our use. (Photo, right to left: Cleidi Kuhn, Sainbileg, Mr. Byambanyam, and Purev, translator and assistant to Mrs. Kuhn.)
In January 2007, Cleidi Kuhn and Purev were invited to attend our opening ceremony to inaugurate the “Mini Disabled Center” to help about 40 families in our town. I believe that if we submit all to God, He will provide abundantly so long as we believe in His might and His power.
Article courtesy of Sally Lam-Phoon, Director
Children's, Family, and Women Ministries
Northern Asia-Pacific Division of Seventh-day Adventists
Telling the World about Jesus' love through personal outreach
Sainbileg's ministry has provided many disabled women with livelihood skills such as making bags and purses, cross-stitching, and working on computers.
When Sainbileg was recently hospitalized, a non-Adventist friend who is a nurse ran the center on her behalf. The group showed interest in the Adventist truth and even organized a visit to a nearby church. At present, they already consider themselves Seventh-day Adventists! A church leader has been sent to work with them and initiate Bible studies.
Tell the World is a bold challenge accepted by the Seventh-day Adventist Church to help provide a way for every person in the world to know Jesus. To learn more, click here.
I am Bo Gao from China. God has led in my life even before I knew Him. And today I want to thank Him. My family was not Christian, but my aunt, who is a Seventh-day Adventist, often told me about her God. She told me that there is power in praying to God. So when I was ready to go to college, I decided to put her God to the test. I didn’t know where I wanted to go to college, so I prayed that God would show me which university to attend. Then I took the entrance exam for a prestigious school, but when the results were posted, I hadn’t passed. I decided that my aunt’s God wasn’t who she claimed He was, and that prayer
Then my aunt invited me to go to church with her. I didn’t want to go, but I had nothing else to do. So I went. I thought maybe I would learn why God hadn’t answered my prayer about college. I had never attended a Christian church before, but during that worship service I felt drawn to God. I began trusting Him, although I still didn’t know why He hadn’t answered my prayer about college.
Then I received a letter inviting me to enroll in a different university. Happy and relieved, I enrolled to study economics. Then I discovered that God had answered my prayer; I just didn’t realize it. The school I had hoped to attend held classes on Sabbaths, but the school that accepted me holds no classes or exams on Sabbath. I started attending church and learned a lot about God. Although I was busy in school, I took time to read the Bible and pray. Three years into my studies I committed my life to Jesus through baptism.
But I quickly learned that Satan is a master at discouraging new believers. When the company that my parents worked for closed, both of them lost their jobs. They lived off their meager savings, but there was no money to pay my final year of tuition. By his time my mother was a believer, though my father wasn’t. We prayed together that God would supply our needs, and God provided work for my father. It’s hard work, and it doesn’t pay well, but he is thankful that he can work.
God at Work
I graduated with a degree in economics, but I needed a graduate degree to find meaningful work. A friend suggested that I study in Japan. I could work and study, and that way help my parents too. I prayed about it, but I knew it could be difficult to get a Chinese passport. I took the necessary paperwork to the Chinese authorities, but they made it clear that they wanted bribe money to process my papers. I didn’t want to pay a bribe and decided to trust God, for if He wanted me to go to Japan, nothing would stand in the way.
After praying, I returned to the office that issues passports early one day. This time different workers were there, and in 10 minutes my papers had been processed. I had a passport! I thanked God all the way to the Japanese embassy, where I applied for the student visa. I had no doubt that I would get it, because God was working!
But even with the passport and the visa, I couldn’t travel to Japan without money for my fare. So I prayed. My grandmother had been trying to sell her house for some time, and just when I needed the money to go to Japan, her house sold, providing money to travel to Japan.
When I arrived, I found a job cleaning dormitories in exchange for my room, and another job to pay for my food and help with my tuition. Then I searched for a nearby Adventist church.
I searched the Internet and found a Chinese-speaking Adventist group in Tokyo. From my first visit I felt at home. These believers are my family, and we have a strong bond. I treasure them, and I know that God is with us when we worship together.
Now I face another decision. I am praying about changing my major to theology. I’ve learned that God is perfectly able to care for me and lead me wherever He wants me. What a loving God we serve!
Japan is a postmodern culture with deep roots in Shintoism, Taoism, and Confucianism. Ancestor worship (or at least respect for ancestors) is a priority among the Japanese people.The Adventist Church in Japan has just over 15,000 worshippers among a population of almost 128 million people, or one Adventist for every 8,460 people.
Getting to Know God
Ariuntuya laughed at her older sister. “You are going to a Christian meeting?” she asked accusingly. “You used to mock people who didn’t recite traditional prayers!” Ariuntuya’s sister, Moogli, ignored her younger sister’s taunts.
Ariuntuya’s family lives in Mongolia. A school friend had invited Moogli to attend an Adventist worship service held in a rented hall, and Moogli went. She liked the program and invited her sister to go with her. Ariuntuya went, and she had to admit that she liked it. But she preferred to sleep late than attend a religious program.
Moogli continued attending the meetings, when some evangelists came to the city several months later, Moogli again invited Ariuntuya to attend. Ariuntuya went, and this time she went. Ariuntuya enjoyed the music and felt the love of the church members.
Slowly Ariuntuya realized that church was more than a social club; it was about having a personal relationship with God. Ariuntuya began to consider how God would fit into her life.
When the family moved to the capital city, the sisters found an Adventist church to attend. Ariuntuya’s mother had never approved of the girls attending a Christian church. But when the young Adventist pastor hired Mother to care for his children, she began attending church with her daughters. Ariuntuya had never really thought about praying for her mother, so she was surprised at her mother’s change of attitude.
“I realize now that God has been working in my life,” Ariuntuya admits. “I realize that He works in other people’s lives, even when we see no outward sign of it. I am learning to give God first place in my life. Now I pray for my parents to become Christians, and I invite others to consider giving their lives to God too. I’m glad that my sister kept inviting me, even when I made fun of her and refused to go.”
The Adventist Church in Mongolia is young, and members rely on the world church to help them grow. Your mission offerings to this front-line mission field are making a huge difference in the lives of people like Ariuntuya and her family.
Ariuntuya (left) is a teenager living in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.
Joy Out of Grief
Doogii wept and prayed in the temple in Ulaanbaatar, the capital city of Mongolia. Her husband had died, and for 18 days she prayed to the idols so that his next life would be better and that her grief would subside.
But she returned home to learn that her eldest son had died. She returned to the temple and grieved and prayed for a month. This time she bought a small idol so she could pray for protection for her remaining children.
Her grief and depression were almost unbearable. One day a friend visited and saw how depressed Doogii was. "Why are you still grieving?" the friend asked. "There is a God who loves you."
Doogii's friend invited her to attend church with her the following Sunday, where the people prayed for Doogii. Doogii was impressed that these people really cared for her, and she continued to attend the church. In time she accepted Jesus as her Savior and joined the church. Once again she was happy and at peace.
She met a cattle farmer who lived in the countryside, and the two married and eventually moved to the nearby small town.
One day Doogii met a young woman who invited her to attend a small group meeting. Doogii went and enjoyed the deep Bible study with these people. Her husband went to the small group meetings with her. The couple then attended evangelistic meetings, and Doogii realized she had known so little about God before. Following the meetings she joined the Adventist church by profession of faith. Her husband is studying the Bible with the Global Mission pioneer who leads their small congregation.
"I'm happier now than I've ever been in my life," Doogii says. "I know that Jesus loves me and accepts me as His daughter." Doogii shares her faith with others and invites them to visit the small congregation of 30 or 40 members that meets in an apartment. "We're growing, and soon we'll have to find a larger place to meet," she adds, smiling.
Doogii's joy will be full when her husband and children commit their lives to God, but she knows that God is leading, and she can rest in Him.
Your mission offerings support the growing work in Mongolia. Thank you for your support.
Dolgorsuren Ulzii-Orshih shares her faith in Hotol, Mongolia.
It was after midnight when I stepped off the train in Tokyo. I had stayed too long at a friend’s party and had caught the last train home. Not until I exited the train and my eyes adjusted to the darkness did I realize that I had gotten off the train at the wrong station. There would be no more trains until morning.
Fear fluttered in my belly. I called my husband, but he reminded me that he didn’t know the area either, for we had just moved there.
“Don’t worry. I’ll find a way home,” I replied with more bravado than I felt. Then I called the taxi dispatcher.
“I’m sorry, ma’am,” the dispatcher said. “We don’t have any cars in your area.” The phone clicked, and the line went dead. I stood alone on the street corner, unsure what to do next. I felt helpless.
Pray. The thought was so real it was almost audible. Ask God to help you. I hadn’t thought about God for years, but I was desperate. “God,” I stammered, “I don’t know where I am. It’s late, it’s cold, and it’s dangerous here. Please send a taxi to take me home.” Feeling better, I started walking toward where I hoped my home was located.
Suddenly I saw headlights to my right. I watched as the lights drew closer. It was a taxi! Hope leaped in my heart. But as the taxi drew closer, I saw customers in the back seat. Disappointment flooded over me. Then the taxi driver stopped nearby, and the riders got out and walked into an all-night convenience store.
I watched amazed, then turned toward the driver and asked, “Could I hire your taxi?” He nodded, and I got in and gave him my address. As the driver made his way toward my home, I said aloud, “I prayed for a taxi, and you came!” Noting his curious look, I realized that my comment made no sense to this man who probably thought I was drunk. But my heart overflowed with the joyful wonder of knowing that God had heard and answered my prayer.
Who Are You, God?
After that night I wanted to know more about God. I visited several churches near my home, but something was missing, something I had experienced during my childhood in the mountains of Taiwan.
A few months later I returned to my childhood home in Taiwan to find rest and peace from the stresses of work and life. There, on Saturday morning, I heard singing. I stopped to listen and realized it was a hymn, a faintly familiar hymn. Quickly I dressed and followed the music to the little Seventh-day Adventist church not far from where I was staying. I stepped inside and joined the worshippers. The members welcomed me, and the pastor’s message strengthened me.
After the service, I told the pastor that I was living in Tokyo and asked if he knew of a church there that I could attend. “My cousin has just gone there to pastor a Chinese-speaking congregation!” he said. He took my telephone number and promised me that his cousin would contact me when I returned home.
The day after I arrived back in Tokyo, the telephone rang. It was the Adventist pastor whose cousin I had met in Taiwan. I was thrilled that he had called so soon! I invited him and his wife to visit me in my home, and we began studying the Bible together. Because we are from the same place, we quickly formed a special friendship.
I began attending the small Adventist worship service each week. In time I fully surrendered my life to Jesus, and recently I was baptized.
My husband isn’t a Christian, but he doesn’t mind that I go to church. He even lets me share my faith with him. And when he asks questions about God, I become excited, especially because I can answer his questions from the Bible.
From hopelessness to hope, from helplessness to a powerful Savior, from sin to forgiveness and a better way of life—my life has changed so much. I am so thankful God didn’t allow me to remain lost in the city or in my sin.
Our little Chinese-speaking church in Tokyo is reaching out to other Chinese-speaking people living around us. Part of this quarter’s Thirteenth Sabbath Offering will strengthen this congregation and build it into a strong and evangelistic church, a lighthouse in the heart of the city. Thank you for helping us reach others for Christ.
Life in Japan
Tokyo, the capital of Japan, is the most populated metropolitan area in the world, with more than 35 million people.The Japanese people are not deeply religious, and only about 4 percent of the people in Japan are Christians. The most common Japanese religions are Shinto and Buddhism. Shinto focuses on worship of nature, ancestors, and sacred spirits or gods that represent the parts of the natural world.Only one person in every 8,460 in Japan is an Adventist. Pray that God will open the hearts of people to follow Jesus.
Out of the Ashes
A bright flash of light exploded on the horizon, and a powerful wind threw the girl over a high wall.
The bright August sun beat down as 17-year-old Hisako hurried toward the government building in Hiroshima, Japan, where she was assigned to work. She tilted her umbrella to shield her eyes from the sun.
Everyone, even children, were assigned to help tear down buildings and create fire lanes to protect the city from destruction should it be attacked again. As Hisako turned a corner, air-raid sirens began to scream. The sirens sounded nearly every day over Hiroshima, but above the shrill whine Hisako could hear the drone of airplane engines. She looked up. Suddenly a bright light exploded in the sky over the city. Hisako heard no sound, just the silent explosion of light.
Suddenly Hisako felt a rush of hot wind. The force threw her over a six-foot high [two- meter high] high wall. Stunned, she tried to see what had happened, where she was. But as she opened her eyes, she could not see. The light has blinded me! she thought. She sunk back to the ground.
Hisako had no idea how long she lay there before she could make out a little light. She crawled toward that light, under the wooden wall over which she had been thrown, and into the street. As her eyes adjusted, she could not believe the devastation that she saw. Where minutes before tall buildings had crowded to the streets, now there was nothing but rubble.
In the distance she heard someone shout, a baby cry, and a child scream, “Mommy, help me!”
Hisako stumbled toward home. How will I find home in this rubble? she wondered. She managed to make it to her neighborhood, then down her street, and finally she stood in front of the remains of her family’s home. She found her mother, wounded, standing numbly in front of the house. Her father was trying to rescue a neighbor from the rubble.
Fire broke out in the few buildings still standing. Fires burned in the rubble. The entire city was a smoldering pile of rubble.
Behind her parents’ home stood a park filled with Japanese cherry trees. In the spring they blossomed like pink clouds. Hisako and her parents ran to the shelter of the trees to escape the fires and the heat. People were pouring out of burning buildings, even the hospital, to escape the heat and flames. Many people were seriously burned. Their skin was blistered and peeling.
Exhausted, Hisako and her parents collapsed under a cherry tree, unable to go any farther. Hisako may have dozed off, for she was suddenly awakened by moisture on her skin. She opened her eyes and saw rain falling, black, oily rain mixed with ashes. She could barely breathe.Am I going to die after all? she wondered.
Hisako’s family was not Christian, and she had no spiritual strength to hold on to. With nowhere to turn, and no hope in her god, she lay down, preparing to die.
A voice awoke her. Doctors were working their way through the crowd, caring for the injured. Maybe I will survive after all, she dared to hope. Though her eyes were almost swollen shut and she could barely see, she took stock of her wounds. Her hands, arms, and face were badly burned. But where her clothes protected her skin, her burns were not as serious.
When a doctor examined Hisako, he offered no treatment, but simply noted her condition and went on. Even in her numbed state, Hisako knew they thought she would die, and they had to save their meager supplies for those who had a chance of survival.
But Hisako’s father was not ready to give up. He begged someone to help his daughter, and at last he was told to take her to the government hospital. The doctors there had no medicine, but they washed her wounds and applied a simple antiseptic. Back home her father applied a homemade herbal medicine to her worst burns. The medicine seemed to work, but he did not have enough to treat her whole body.
A few days later additional medical stations opened. Doctors treated her burns by removing a thin layer of skin from the burned areas. It was incredibly painful, but the treatment would save her life. Hisako pulled on her braids to help her endure the pain. A few days later when she pulled on her hair during a treatment, her hair fell out.
Every day Hisako saw more bodies dumped onto a pile for burial or burning. People are dying everywhere, she thought. Why am I still alive?
Some 250,000 people died as a result of the bomb that struck Hiroshima on August 7, 1945.Hisako could not talk about what she had experienced that day and the weeks that followed. She could not bear to attend the ceremonies held in honor of the dead, to see the candles set afloat on the rivers that run through the city. She could not escape the gnawing questions, Why did they die and I survive the hell we all experienced?
Hisako’s family moved to the countryside. Hisako loved the peace and beauty of the country, and there she eventually recovered her health. She met a young man, and they were married. Joy filled her heart when she gave birth to a healthy baby.
One day a former schoolmate came to visit. Hisako had not seen the girl since the bombing, and she hardly recognized her former classmate. “What has happened to you?” Hisako asked. “You are so different!”
“I have become a Christian,” her friend said. “Jesus has changed my life.” Her friend invited Hisako to attend some religious meetings with her, and Hisako agreed.
Missionaries had returned to Japan following the war, and churches were reopening. The pastor invited the visitors to attend worship services on Sabbath morning, and Hisako went. There she met warm, caring Christians who loved her into the church. Before long Hisako decided to become a Christian.
Respect for her parents compelled her to ask their permission to become a Christian. Her family, while not deeply religious, considered themselves Buddhists. But her father did not object to her decision. “Buddhism speaks of mercy,” he said. “But Christians show love.”
Hisako’s husband did not like the idea of her becoming a Christian, but in time he softened, and even allowed her to take their children to church with her. “I am still praying that my husband will give his life to Christ,” Hisako said gently.
Hisako shared her faith with her parents, but they resisted her efforts to convert them. Then her mother became ill. Hisako ministered to her and encouraged her to trust in God. Ten years later her mother confessed her faith in the Lord Jesus. She was too weak to be baptized, but her faith grew stronger as her body grew weaker.
Hisako enjoys inviting friends to her home for Bible studies, and there she shares her faith. “Out of the ashes of a city and thousands of destroyed lives, God saved me,” she said. “Then He called me to follow Him and has used me to lead others to Christ. He has preserved me all these years. How can I praise Him enough for His wonderful love?”
Hisako Sakomoto is active in her church in Hiroshima, Japan.
Told to Mission by Tsolmontuya Nergui.
I am Tsoogi. I’m an Adventist student from a small town in Mongolia. When I came to the capital city of Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar, to study at the university, I didn’t want to live in a dormitory where the influence of nonbelievers is strong. So I looked for a room to rent, but I discovered that even small rooms were very expensive. I wasn’t sure what to do.
I told the church pastor that I was looking for a cheap place to live while studying. He offered to let me use a little shed near the church until I found something else. He warned me that it would be very cold when winter set in, but he said I could stay here for free. I accepted his offer and hoped I could find something better before the bitterly cold Mongolian winter arrived.
Then I met two other Adventist girls from my town who were looking for a place to stay, and I invited them to live with me in the little mud-brick shed. At first we were fine. We had light and a small stove we could use to heat our room and cook our food. And best of all, it was free.
But when the cold winter set in, we spent lots of money buying wood or coal to heat the room. We would build a fire each evening, but it would burn out before morning, and we’d wake up freezing. Temperatures in Mongolia can fall to -40 degrees! We slept in our heavy clothes, but it was still hard to get up when it was so cold.
By being careful with our allowance, we could afford to buy wood or coal for heat. The church members often brought us a little food or some wood or coal. How grateful we were for that! And we were glad to be together, sharing what little we had. But we prayed for a warmer place to live!
Praying for Something Better
Then someone suggested that we write a letter to the evangelist who had baptized us. Perhaps he would help us. We wrote to him, telling him of our situation. And one day a church leader came to our door. He found us wearing our coats and wrapped in our blankets. He brought us some food and good news. The evangelist would help us pay the rent on a small apartment.
We started looking for a room large enough for the three of us, but the ones we found were too expensive or not convenient to our universities. The evangelist suggested that we look for an apartment instead of just a single room. We were thrilled!
We found a two-room apartment close to our schools. It was big and it was furnished. It seemed like heaven, and with the help of the evangelist, we could pay the rent. Joyfully we moved in at Christmastime.
At last we were warm again! We could sleep in our pajamas, not in our coats! Best of all, we could stay together and share our faith and pray with one another without fear of being harassed by unbelieving roommates or landlords.
God has answered our prayers in so many ways. Through the difficult months we were totally dependent on God for our needs, and our faith grew stronger. Then He blessed us with a nice place to live while we prepared to serve Him.
My parents were not believers, but when they saw how God blessed us and how the church members helped us, they no longer complained that worshipping God is a waste of time. Others in our town heard how God answered our prayers, and now they are willing to hear more about God too.
For many university students the biggest problem is finding a place to live while they study. Rooms or apartments are expensive, and for Christians it is difficult to live in the university dormitories with so many people who would destroy our faith.
That’s why I’m so happy to learn that our church is planning to build a dormitory for young Adventists who come to the city to study. The dormitory will give us a place to live and fellowship together while we study. The church will offer seminars to help us grow stronger in our faith as we train for God’s service. Thank you for helping the youth of Mongolia by giving to the Thirteenth Sabbath Offering this quarter.
Tsolmontuya Nergui continues her studies in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.
The church in Mongolia is young. The first Adventists were baptized just over 15 years ago. They are served by six pastors and some 40 volunteer missionaries. They worship in homes and rented halls as well as in a few dedicated church buildings.
Told to Mission by Shin Dongsoo and Kim Kyungok.
It’s dinnertime in the home of Shin and Kim in South Korea. Some 30 children gather around the table. The children, who range in age from 5 to 20, make room for a few elderly people who are joining them for dinner. They bow their heads as Shin asks God’s blessing on their simple meal. Two of the children around the table were born to the couple, and seven others have been adopted. The rest are children from the neighborhood who come to this couple’s home for a good meal and help with their homework.
After dinner Father Shin listens to reports of the school day and helps some of the children prepare for an exam they will have the next day. Mother Kim listens as the older children coach the younger ones in their language skills. Teams of children take turns washing dishes and cleaning the kitchen, their work punctuated with laughter.
At 8:00 the neighbor children leave for their own homes, homes often plagued with poverty and instability. For these children, Kim and Shin’s home offers a safe haven and the only stability they know.
Kim and Shin never set out to minister in this way to a troubled neighborhood. Shin grew up attending the Adventist church in a small village in South Korea. As a teen he became the children’s Sabbath School leader and eventually the youth leader. When Shin met Kim, he introduced her to the Adventist church. She was baptized just before their marriage and quickly became involved in children’s ministries.
The couple and their two daughters moved to southern South Korea and found that the Adventist church had no pastor and no children’s ministries program. The couple offered to start a program. Soon neighborhood children began to come to Sabbath School, and the group quickly grew.
Kim and Shin realized that many of the children who came to Sabbath School were hungry. The couple asked the church to help feed the children, but the new pastor regretfully told them that the church didn’t have the money. So Shin and Kim moved Sabbath School to their nearby apartment so they could feed the children before they taught them.
The children told their friends, and the Sabbath School group grew until the small apartment was bursting with children. Neighbors complained about the loud singing on Sabbath mornings. The couple had to find another solution. They found an old building for sale near the church that they thought they could remodel for a youth center. But their plans were frustrated when leaders felt that the youth program was not a viable long-term project. So Shin sold his electronic repair shop and used the money to buy the building for the youth center. With money saved for their children’s education, they remodeled it. At last they had room for the youth ministry God had given them.
Learning to Serve Others
On Sabbath Shin and Kim and some of their nine children lead a youth ministry for about 60 youth. They focus on teaching youth what God can do in their lives and how they can serve others.
The couple pairs each young person with an elderly person, usually one who has no young family members living nearby. These elderly people become the youths’ adopted grandparents. The children visit their “grandparents” after church, and on holidays they take them baskets of food and gifts that they have prepared.
Many of the youth have caught the mission spirit that Shin and Kim have. Some travel around South Korea holding evangelistic meetings or visiting churches that don’t have an active youth ministry. So far the group has conducted 20 evangelistic series.
Shin and Kim are proud of their kids—the young people they serve in their home and their church. To date more than 100 youth have been baptized.
A Growing Ministry
As the youth center grew, the couple sold their apartment and bought a big house in order to have space to expand their feeding program to more neighborhood children. They have invested all their resources into the youth they serve, and they have experienced miracles in answer to prayers. The conference now supports the ministry in tangible ways. “In addition,” says Kim, “when we run low on food, we pray. We know that God will answer with a bag of rice or some vegetables. And God has never let us go hungry.”
Shin and Kim enjoy the faith ministry they find themselves leading, for they take seriously Christ’s words: “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these” (Mark 10:14, NIV).
Your mission offerings help make possible special ministries to young and old alike around the world.
South Korea has a larger percentage of Christians than any other country in northern Asia. Even so, there are more Buddhists than Christians in the country. Almost 200,000 Adventists live in South Korea. That’s one person out of every 255. However, millions of Koreans still don’t know who Jesus is. The Adventist Church in South Korea operates Sahmyook University, one of the nation’s largest universities, dozens of elementary and secondary schools, and a well-known English language institute that has introduced Jesus to thousands of students.
Planting Churches in Taiwan
“Attention! Attention!” the voice crackled over the community loud speaker in Chwin Ruh. “The youth are invited to come to the community center tonight for a special program.”
Chwin Ruh is a village in the mountains of southern Taiwan. For many years this village had a branch Sabbath School, but without a pastor or lay leader the fledgling congregation dwindled until no one was left. Last year Global Mission pioneer Shing Hui Chen and his family moved to Chwin Ruh to restart this congregation.
Chen began knocking on doors and sharing his faith. Most of the people who live in Chwin Ruh are older. Young people have left the area in search of greater opportunities in the city. The elderly don’t have the kind of medical care they need, so Chen spends time caring for and ministering to them. As people saw Chen’s compassion for people, some started attending his weekly worship services in the chapel he’s rented.
The small congregation grew to 15. But Chen wasn’t satisfied. So earlier this year he invited 200 Adventist youth to Chwin Ruh to hold a weekend community outreach program.
The youth used the village’s public address system to invite people to come to the weekend program. More than 40 villagers attended the meetings on Friday evening and Sabbath morning. On Saturday night the youth organized a social time. Then on Sunday morning the Adventist youth cleaned the streets of the town. As a result of their efforts, people in the town realized how much Adventists care for them. Now more people attend Chen’s weekly services.
Papaya Farmer to Church Planter
When asked to be a Global Mission pioneer in Sai Jia four years ago Wen Ming Huang never dreamed that he could become a pastor with his own church. At the time he was a mango and papaya orchard farmer and an elder in a nearby village church. He felt he didn’t have the education or the experience to lead his own church.
When Huang first arrived in the mountain village of Sai Jia he found only one older couple in the church. Work in this area of Taiwan is difficult because religious lines are clearly drawn. People don’t easily change from their family’s ancestral religion. Huang started by visiting people throughout the village. He told people that he was going to have worship in his home, and slowly a few people started to come.
A year later he held evangelistic meetings, and more than 10 people were baptized. New members joined almost every month. Now there are 45 members in this church.
The Enormous Challenge
Most of the 5,200 Adventists who live in Taiwan come from the aboriginal tribes who live in the hill country. The majority of the population is Han Chinese, who live on the plains and in the large cities such as Taipei. Only one in every 25,000 of this majority group on Taiwan is a Seventh-day Adventist.
To help meet the enormous challenge of reaching every person in Taiwan with the gospel message, the Adventist Church in Northern Asia started the Pioneer Mission Movement five years ago. More than 30 missionary families volunteered to move from another country within Northern Asia to Taiwan and spend the next six years planting churches in Taiwan as Global Mission pioneers. Usually Global Mission pioneers are lay members who work within their culture and language group. However Pioneer Mission Movement pastors generally come from countries such as Korea where the Adventist Church is well established, to countries such as Taiwan, where there is a great need for pastoral leadership. Pastors go through extensive training in their home country before moving to a community where there are virtually no Adventist members.
For more than 50 years the Adventist Church in Taiwan has struggled to grow. The Pioneer Mission Movement program however has helped revitalize many struggling Adventist churches and plant new ones. Over the past three years pioneer pastors have planted or revitalized more than 28 churches in Taiwan. For instance, Pioneer pastor Chae KwangByung baptized 12 people in just his first year reaching the Miaoli community in Northwestern Taiwan.
In the urban center of Thaichung, the local Adventist church has opened a community center to give young students a place to go after school and to provide programs for senior citizens in their local community. Four days a week church members provide after-school programs for children whose parents are working or cannot be home to care for them. The church workers provide a hot meal, help students with homework, and care about their general well-being. An added benefit to the program is that people in the local community, who have shunned the church in the past, are now taking part in the program and have come to understand who Adventists are and what they believe.
In another city, Pioneer Mission Movement Pastor Jong Kab Lim and his wife are reaching out into community in their own way. Pastor Lim was trained as a physical therapist before becoming a pastor. As part of their outreach ministry Mrs. Lim offers cooking and health classes, and Pastor Lim provides massage therapy. They've opened an upper room as a meeting place where they can teach classes as well as conduct Bible studies.
From the hill country to the urban centers in Taiwan, pioneers and missionary movement pastors are working together to share Christ Jesus’ love. Please pray for these frontline workers. And thank you for your ongoing support of mission.
Population: 22 million
Adventist Membership: 5,270
Major Languages: Mandarin Chinese and Taiwanese
Ethnic groups: 97% Han Chinese: 70% Hoklo, 14% Hakka, 13% Mainlander; 2% Aboriginal Taiwanese
Religion: Buddhist and Taoist 93%, Christian 4.5%, other 2.5%
Learn more about Global Mission.
The Power of One
Does the name Teruhiko Okohira ring a bell? Yes, it’s a Japanese name. Okohira was born into a wealthy, influential family in Satsuma at the southern tip of the Kyushu Island, known for its Samurais and sweet potatoes.
Okohira was born ambitious, just like his father. He had this fiery zeal to be successful in life and to increase his parent’s wealth by many times over. Not only did he want to be successful in Japan, but also around the world. He had an uncommon vision for doing business in the global setting before many in Japan thought of it.
Had Teruhiko Okohira been born few decades later, you and I might now be driving an Okohira or downloading videos onto a Teruhiko hard drive. He was that kind of a man—full of energy and great dreams. And it was his dream that led him to enter a business college, not in Tokyo, but in the United States at the age of 18 in 1883.
However, it was there that he began hanging out with a wrong crowd—the type that his father disapproved of—Christians. When Okohira senior learned of his son’s conversion to Christianity, he cut off all financial support for his son, forcing him to find whatever job he could just to survive. So, on account of his Christian convictions, Okohira spent the next nine years in this foreign land, uncertain of his future.
But 1892 represented a real turning point in his life. While working at a hotel in California, Okohira accepted the Seventh-day Adventist faith. When he became an Adventist, everything seemed to come alive again. In the teachings of Adventism, Okohira found a new purpose and meaning. So the same year, he made yet another momentous, life-transforming decision in his life. He quit his job and enrolled at Healdsburg College (which would later become Pacific Union College)—to work in meaningful service for God.
To many of his 250 or so peers at Healdsburg, Okohira was an oddball—he was older (27), stuck out big-time as probably the college’s only Asian, and spoke with a thick Japanese accent. Yet everyone could see that he had an uncommon fire in his belly. During the first two years he was at Healdsburg, Okohira traveled to San Francisco on weekends to teach English and Bible to the Japanese community, which resulted in the establishment of the Golden Gate Japanese-English School in San Francisco.
But Okohira’s growing passion lay elsewhere. In 1894, he asked to speak for a Friday night vespers program towards the end of the school year. In his less-than-perfect yet impassioned message, Okohira appealed to the student body for a volunteer to accompany him in returning to Japan to share the gospel message in his homeland where there were no Adventists.
None of the students responded to Okohira’s appeal. But someone else did: William C. Grainger, president of Healdsburg College since 1886. Grainger had been Healdsburg’s second faculty member, having arrived just three months after the founding of the college on April 11, 1882—125 years ago, and now the second president of the college.
According to Pacific Union College historian Walter Utt, he was a Lincolnesque figure who was more of a big brother to the students than an authority figure. Students hung out in his home regularly, showing up unannounced for food and friendly conversation. Utt calls his presidency “days of glory.”
President Grainger responded to Okohira’s appeal two years later, the two sailed to Japan as the first Adventist missionaries to the Land of the Rising Sun. They first started with an English Bible school in the heart of Tokyo, which led to the opening of the first Adventist church in Japan. Today, there are 15,000 Adventists in Japan in 120 churches.
Through Okohira and Grainer’s work in Tokyo, a young soldier named Hide Kuniya became an Adventist and joined the work of the church. In May of 1904, two Koreans in Japan—waiting for their ship to Hawaii in a few days’ time—meet Kuniya and both become Adventists. One went on to Hawaii, but the other returned to Korea.
On the ferry back to Korea, the man, Mr. Sohn, met an educated gentleman named Mr. Lim, who became an Adventist by the end of the voyage. Lim established the first Adventist church in Korea and his ministry resulted in a Mr. Kim becoming an Adventist. Kim shared Adventism with another Kim, who introduced Adventism to a Mr. Bon, who became an evangelist and went around Korea preaching the Sabbath and second coming of Jesus-including to a Mrs. Lee, who passed on Adventism to her three children—the eldest among them, my mom. So here I stand today because of the uncommon passion and service of Okohira and Grainger.
Julius Nam, Ph.D., is associate professor of religion at Loma Linda University School of Religion. He specializes in Adventist history and theology. He has taught religion at Pacific Union College and served as pastor in Korea and in the U.S. He has also edited The Compass, a monthly magazine for Adventist young adults. He writes and speaks frequently on issues that impact Adventist youth and young adults.
Excerpted from Julius Nam’s commencement addressed delivered at Pacific Union College, June 2007, and originally printed in the fall 2007 Viewpoint.
We didn’t know what to do. Our printing business was failing, my husband was depressed, and then I became sick. What more could happen to a young family?
I am Su Un. We live in Taiwan, a small island nation off the coast of China. We weren’t Christians, and I had no idea what it meant to be a Christian. But when an Adventist church asked us to print its materials, we came to know that they are Christians. We had so many problems. The business was failing, my husband was still depressed, and I wasn’t feeling well.
I went to the doctor and discovered that I had leukemia, a kind of cancer. The stress was almost too much for me. Our three children were under 12 years old. Then I learned that a bone marrow transplant might cure me. But the cost was staggering. We sold our business to pay the medical bills and moved to a small town outside the city. There my mother looked after the children and me while my husband set up a smaller printing company.
We had no religious faith, no God to run to for comfort, and we all struggled to find something normal in our lives. I grew stronger, and soon I could care for my children. Then I went to work in the printing company.
One day a friend invited me to play ping-pong in the recreation hall of the Adventist church. Because we were printing materials for the church, I knew where it was, and I knew a few of the people who worship there. So I went.
I met the pastor and his wife and some of the other members of the church. When the members learned of our troubles, they helped us. I realized that Christians are good, loving people who really cared about us. The pastor’s wife taught our children piano, and her family helped us in so many ways. My husband often visited the pastor just to talk. Soon he began to feel better. Then the pastor offered to study the Bible with us.
We began attending Sabbath services, during which we learned so much about God. We realized that the Christians’ God is the true and living God, and we gave our lives to Him and were baptized in 2005.
My eldest son was living with my mother-in-law at this time, but when he came to live with us, he asked to be baptized as well. Our youngest child was too young to be baptized with us. But when the pastor announced another baptism, my son, then 9 years old, told the pastor, “Don’t say that I’m too young. If you refuse to baptize me now, I may never ask to be baptized again.” The pastor agreed, and the family was united in faith.
We were learning to give our troubles to God when my husband was killed in an automobile accident. I was devastated, but the pastor reminded me that I will see my husband again when Jesus comes. The church members’ support has encouraged us so much. I am learning to cling to Christ and trust Him to take care of me.
My children are 17, 13, and 10, and it’s expensive to keep them in school. But God is providing for us.
The church members have showed us what Jesus is like, and I’m excited about what God is doing in my life. I love this church and want to bring lots of people to the church, but in Taiwan it’s very difficult to interest people in God and in church, for most people worship their own gods and don’t want to change their religion.
Small but Growing
Three years ago, when our pastor came here, there were no Adventists and no church. The pastor and his wife visited people’s homes and offered to teach people piano and Korean. Eventually the people who came to learn Korean or piano also asked to learn about God. The work is very difficult in Taiwan, but the Lord is blessing. Today our little congregation has 20 members, and 25 come to worship every week.
I thank God for the pastor and my fellow believers who have led me to Jesus and strengthened me. And I thank you, too, for it was your Thirteenth Sabbath Offering three years ago that made it possible to send our pastor to start this little congregation. Because of you I have found hope in Jesus. Without your offerings, we would be lost. Without your generous gifts, my husband would have died without hope of eternity. From my heart I thank you for your mission offerings. You helped change our lives forever.
Among the ethnic Chinese living in Taiwan, only one in every 25,000 is a Seventh-day Adventist. It is difficult to reach the Chinese in this industrialized country where most people mix ancient traditional religions with modern secularism.
Sana picked herself up off the floor. She felt dizzy, and her head throbbed where her husband had beaten her. The television, which he had used to muffle her screams while he hit her, still blared. He was gone now, getting drunk somewhere.
How could her life have gone so wrong? she wondered. She was a medical doctor who had been happy to live in the Mongolian countryside, where her husband worked. Their two daughters had been born there, and she felt content.
But when her husband started drinking, life took on a darker side. He became jealous of her every move and often refused to allow her to leave the house, even to work. Then came the argument and the beating. She had to get away or he would kill her. She filed for divorce and fled to another region where she found work as a district doctor. Her meager salary barely fed them, and constant headaches plagued her.
Devastation and Hope
Then one day while working, Sana had a stroke. She woke up in a hospital, paralyzed on her right side and unable to talk. Relatives took her daughters while she tried to regain her strength.
One day she heard of evangelistic meetings being held in town. She asked the pastor to visit her. She still found it difficult to talk and struggled to tell him her story. The pastor prayed for her and asked other church members to visit her. One teenage girl who visited her massaged her weak left hand and urged her not to despair. “You have a bright future,” she told Sana. In time Sana found Jesus as her Savior through the love of faithful church members.
Sana had been using a wheelchair, but with the help and encouragement of fellow church members, she learned to walk with a cane. Then she heard of a rehabilitation program in the capital city and went there to receive therapy to strengthen her weakened muscles and learn new skills. For the first time in years Sana felt genuinely happy, for she had hope.
Sana wanted to teach others the principles of healthful living that she was learning. She shared her ideas with her pastor and prayed about her dream. She felt sure that God was leading her to a new ministry, a ministry to give hope to people with disabilities. Her pastor and several church workers encouraged her to pursue her dream. They offered ideas and hope.
In 2007 Sana returned to her village to open a rehabilitation center. She advertised on local television, and calls from potential clients began coming in. The director of the local hospital where she had once worked offered her four rooms in which to hold her clinic. Sana rejoiced to see God’s hand at work.
Sana uses simple methods such as massage and exercise to help those with disabilities regain their strength. She teaches clients how to massage their weak muscles and gives them exercises to further strengthen them. She urges them to laugh heartily to strengthen their lungs and suggests that they stand before a mirror and make faces to strengthen muscles damaged by stroke.
But just as important, she teaches them to deal with the depression that comes with disabilities. She even teaches clients how to play games on a donated computer, knowing that they are using muscles that need strengthening.
Sana does not focus solely on the physical. She encourages her clients to trust in God and offers them books and pamphlets to learn more about God. And she invites them to worship with the little Adventist congregation in town. The church meets in an apartment and is up a flight of stairs, so church members help those who cannot climb the steps. So far, almost 20 people have come to the church through Sana’s ministry. Some are clients, and others are their relatives who have seen how much their loved ones have benefited from Sana’s ministry.
The small apartment that holds the church in Sana’s village is packed now, and they need to find a larger place to meet. But Sana keeps bringing people who have seen the difference her love and her faith have made in their lives.
Sana does not charge for the work she does. She lives on her small government pension. Her assistant, a nurse, also volunteers her time and her skills to help at the rehabilitation center.
When Sana first suffered her stroke, she felt bitter and hopeless. But now she realizes that God is using her disabilities to bring glory to His name.
Your mission offerings provide the means to help grow the church in Mongolia. Thank you.
Life in Mongolia
Mongolia is a landlocked nation squeezed between China and Russia. About 40 percent of the country’s population of 2.5 million live in the capital city, Ulaanbaatar, the coldest capital city in the world with an average temperature of 1° Celsius, or 34° Fahrenheit.In 1992 the first recent convert was baptized into the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Today, 16 years later, the church in Mongolia numbers more than 1,200 members in 23 churches and companies. Most Adventists in Mongolia are under 35 years old.
I am Tina and I live in Taiwan. My family is not Christian. In fact,my father followed a religion that seeks harmony and order in the environment. He urged the family to worship stone statues he had placed throughout our home, but my mother and brother and I didn’t care for this religion. I was sure there must be something more worthy of our worship than stones.
One of my high school teachers was a Christian and often referred to the Bible in his lectures. I wanted to know more about what Christians believe, so I asked him about his faith. He said that he was searching for a church that teaches the Bible plainly, and when he found such a church, he would tell me. Some weeks later he told me that he had found the church he was looking for and invited me to attend.
I visited the church—the Seventh-day Adventist church—and liked it. I started attending regularly. I told my mother that I was visiting a Christian church, but she didn’t worry about me. She thought it was a passing phase. But when she learned that I had joined the church, she was angry and refused to give me money for school expenses.
True Church Family
I was still in high school, and I needed financial help. So I prayed that God would provide for me, and He did in so many ways. Church members would give me a little money or some food, and sometimes my aunt gave me money. And even though my brother was not a Christian, he defended me to my parents. He often told them that while some of my friends had made bad decisions about smoking and drugs, I was a good student and didn’t do those things.
My father became ill, and my parents went to another city to seek medical treatments. I had just started college when a crazy man moved into our apartment house. He began harassing me, scolding and screaming at me. His verbal attacks unnerved me, and I looked for another place to live.
I needed a job to pay my school fees, but it was hard to find work that didn’t require working on Sabbath. After months of looking, I finally found a job in a beauty shop. But when I learned that I would have to tell people’s fortune using tarot cards, my heart sank. Again I prayed for another job, one that would let me to keep the Sabbath and didn’t compromise my faith in other ways.
My pastor’s wife told me about a job opening in the church-owned bakery. The pay was low, but I had Sabbaths off. I took the job. Then a woman working in the bakery told me about an apartment I could rent. It was dirty and needed remodeling, but the owner was planning to remodel it. I hadn’t found anything else I could afford, so I kept looking. When the woman with the apartment called to say the apartment was ready, I went to see it. It was beautiful! I was afraid to ask how much the rent was, for I could afford only $75 a month, and I knew her apartment should rent for twice that much. When the owner said $75, I knew this was an answer to my prayers. I took the apartment.
I told my mother how I had prayed for a safe and clean apartment and how God had led me to this apartment, which rented for exactly what I could afford. I hoped Mother would realize that God had answered my prayers, but she didn’t say anything.
When the church bakery closed, God provided me with another job working with our church’s after-school care program. It was a good job for me while I finished my studies.
As I look back on the past few years of my life, I’m so thankful for God’s leading—for my teacher who cared enough to show me Jesus through his life and his words, for my brother who defended me to my parents, for jobs when I needed them the most. But I’m especially grateful that when I couldn’t worship on Sabbath because I was forced to work, God never left me. Instead He led me to work where I can share His love with young children and worship Him on Sabbath.
Recently I began working with Hope TV to produce Chinese-language youth programs. This quarter part of the Thirteenth Sabbath Offering will help strengthen this ministry so that the Chinese-speaking people throughout Asia can hear the Adventist message in their own language.
Tina Lee lives in Taichung, Taiwan.
Taiwan is a small, highly industrialized island nation off the eastern coast of mainland China. The official language is Mandarin Chinese.While many among the tribal peoples living in the mountains of Taiwan have accepted Christianity, the Christian faith has struggled to gain a foothold among the ethnic Chinese in Taiwan, where only one in 25,000 is a Seventh-day Adventist Christian.
My name is Hyun Jung. I am a medical student in South Korea. Studying in a Korean university can be a huge test of faith—one I wasn’t really ready for. I had finished high school in an Adventist school where we had no Sabbath problems. So when I started my studies in a state university, I faced a new set of challenges.
Classes and exams are scheduled Monday through Saturday in the state universities. When I missed a class on Sabbath, I not only missed important material, but points were deducted from my grade. And if I missed even one important exam that was given on Sabbath, I had to repeat the entire year of coursework, not just the class in which I had missed the exam.
This difficult situation really challenged my faith! How could I keep the Sabbath and become the doctor that I believed God was calling me to be? My parents supported my desire to study medicine and encouraged me to believe that God would make a way. But sometimes I felt that God had put me into an impossible situation, and I couldn’t see how He would work things out. However, as I studied and prayed, I began to see that God was making a way for me. Bit by bit my faith grew stronger.
Learning From Others
Having come from an Adventist secondary school, I had enjoyed fellowship with other Adventist Christians every day. Suddenly I as in a situation with no fellow believers. I learned that only 15 Adventists were studying medicine in all of South Korea’s medical schools. We contacted one another and began meeting once a month to forge friendships and strengthen one another.
We began doing volunteer work together. We’ve helped doctors with medical screenings and taught classes in healthful living. During our school breaks we’ve gone on medical mission trips to the Philippines, Mongolia, and Bangladesh. These trips give us time to strengthen our faith and talk about the challenges we face in our separate schools. Knowing we aren’t alone in our struggles gives us strength to keep the Sabbath and complete our training. I know this fellowship has strengthened my faith.
We understand what is at stake if we miss an exam on the Sabbath, so we listen to others’ problems with an open heart. We pray for one another every day, for we all know of someone who has given up their dream to become a doctor because of Sabbath problems in school.
Let me add that some professors understand the importance of our faith and have made private arrangements to let students take the exam after Sabbath. But this isn’t common in this country where the competition for an education is stiff.
Changing the System
Hearing the experiences of others has helped me know what steps to take to complete my education. I wrote letters to the school I attend and to the government, explaining my faith and the problems created when I must choose between my education and my faith.
At first the replies I received from government officials said, in essence, that I must be crazy. But I kept writing letters, and I refused to take any exams on Sabbath. I asked my professors to help me. At first, they refused and suggested I study something else. I persisted, both in my Sabbathkeeping and my determination to become a doctor. Finally, one professor agreed to give me one exam on a different day. Bit by bit, other professors also agreed to let me take exams on days other than Sabbath. Later I learned that my professors had met to discuss my situation and had decided that I was serious about my faith.
Then I received more good news. I learned that a government official had written to the administrators of my school asking them to accommodate my faith. My persistence was paying off! I was so happy. Since then I’ve been able to continue my studies and reschedule exams so I’m not penalized for my faith.
I feel that God asked me to enter medical school in faith and follow the path He had laid out for me. Like the Israelites, I had to step into the Red Sea, not knowing exactly what would happen, but knowing that God would somehow open a way for me to move forward. As I took those first fearful steps into the sea, God did indeed open the way.
Life in South Korea
South Korea is located on a mountainous peninsula east of China. The people speak Korean. The country has a larger percentage of Christians than any other country in northern Asia. Even so, there are more Buddhists than Christians in South Korea. While almost 200,000 people (one in every 255) in South Korea are Seventh-day Adventist Christians, millions of Koreans don’t know who Jesus is. Adventists face Sabbath conflicts in many areas of life, but especially in education and in compulsory military service. The Adventist Church in South Korea operates one of the nation’s largest universities, dozens of elementary and secondary schools, and a well-known English language institute that has introduced Jesus to thousands of students.
I grew up in an Adventist family who regularly attended church. But sometimes we went without Father, who had to work on Sabbath in order to keep his job and provide for the family. I remember saying to my mother one day, “Daddy won’t go to heaven, because he can’t keep the Sabbath, will he?”
Apparently my innocent childish remark deeply impressed my parents, and shortly afterward we left the city and moved to the countryside where life was simpler and Father could keep the Sabbath. But he soon discovered that Sabbath problems aren’t limited to the cities. He couldn’t find work in the country either. He helped people build houses, but this work was sporadic. Our family’s financial situation became serious before Father finally found work that allowed Sabbaths off.
New Sabbath Problems
Then it was my turn to face Sabbath problems. Schools in Taiwan held classes six days a week. In the lower grades we could skip Sabbath activities, but in junior high school more serious Sabbathkeeping problems arose. Teachers often gave tests on Sabbath, and the all-important year-end tests were almost always scheduled on Sabbaths. To prepare for these yearly exams teachers held special cram sessions—on Sabbaths. Not taking part in these cram sessions would certainly mean lower scores on exams.
In the ninth grade my teachers planned a mock test—a practice test—to determine how we would score on the actual test. But the mock test was on Sabbath. I asked the teacher to allow me to take it on another day, but she couldn’t understand why I couldn’t take this exam with my classmates. “Why can’t you take this test on Saturday?” she asked. “You can worship God all your life, but this test could give you a better future.”
When I tried to explain that I was following God’s commands, she said angrily, “Do as you wish; it’s your choice.” I didn’t take the test.
Giving In to Pressure
Sometimes I made mistakes, even when I wanted to follow Jesus’ example. When the final exams in the ninth grade were scheduled for Sabbath, I gave in and took them. But I knew I had let Jesus down and decided never to give in to such pressure again.
In high school I faced the same problems, but the heat was turned up during my last year of high school. One of my semester tests fell on Sabbath. It could have been scheduled for another day, but my teacher told me that if I did not take that test, I would not graduate. I told my teachers that I would not take the test; I would be in church.
“Are you willing to sacrifice all you’ve done for the past 12 years for this one test?” the teacher asked.
“Yes,” I said. “God will take care of me.” Afterward I thought about what was at stake. I had taken the other final exams and had done well. Everything rested on this last exam. If I didn’t take it, I would have to take summer school and retake the exam.
Then the teacher called me. She told me that she had called the instructor for the test I would have missed on Sabbath and explained my situation. The teacher agreed to let me take the test another day. I know that God worked this out for me, because I didn’t even ask! I passed all my exams and graduated with my class.
The next hurdle was college entrance exams, which are held on Sabbath. I decided not to take the exams.
Finding My Place
I decided to study health evangelism. I studied with a couple in a nearby city and later took short courses in Australia and China. Then I learned that Taiwan Adventist College offered a health evangelism course, exactly what I needed. I applied to study, even though I had no idea where the money would come from to pay my tuition. People assured me that if I really wanted to study, God would make a way. And God has provided in many ways.
I know now that when we honor God and remain faithful to Him, He will honor us. Many people see us as strange or superstitious or fanatical, but what matters is what God sees, not what people see.
More people need to hear the message we love. And one way they can hear is through Hope TV’s new television broadcasts in Mandarin Chinese. Part of our Thirteenth Sabbath Offering will help make these broadcasts possible.
Naomi Wang is a student at Taiwan Adventist College.
I live in Japan, and the only religion my family professed was hard work. My parents encouraged my brothers and me to study harder, work harder. We attended public school, where the competition to be the first in the class starts early. This competition sometimes spills over outside of class, and some students started bullying us. When my parents learned about the bullying, they decided to send us to another school where the competition wasn’t so strong. They searched for a long time before they found the Adventist school, which didn’t permit such strong competition.
But the school had no room in my grade for another student. My younger brother enrolled, but I had to stay in the public school for two more years before the Adventist school had an opening in my grade.
My brother really liked this school. Often he talked about what he was learning, especially in his Bible class. I had never heard Bible stories before, and I listened with interest as he shared them with us. My parents liked the way the teachers encouraged children without making them compete with one another, and they liked what my brother was learning about God. Before long they began attending the Adventist church next door to the school. I liked it, for I made great friends there.
A boy told me about the Vacation Bible School (VBS) program that the church sponsored during summer vacation. It sounded like fun to me, so I asked my parents to let me go.
I enjoyed VBS a lot, and I admired the staff that could make it so much fun for the children. I told some of the leaders that I wished to learn to teach VBS and lead songs and tell stories. They invited me to work with them. I enjoyed spending time with these people as I learned to lead. The young people in the church invited me to join other activities too, such as learning sign language and conducting puppet ministries. I was happy that they included me, even though I was not a member of their church. I had a great time learning leadership skills.
My family also was becoming involved in activities of the church. We enjoyed the company of the church members, and as we studied the Bible lessons we found that the church’s teachings agreed with everything we could find in the Bible. We genuinely enjoyed attending worship services together.
Teen Trials and Triumphs
Sometimes I got into squabbles with other boys at school. In time I realized that my own selfishness was contributing to these misunderstandings. I liked my school and my teachers and even the other boys. I asked God to take away my selfishness, and little by little I became more cooperative.
I continued to pursue my goal of learning to be a youth leader, and I discovered that I enjoy singing. Now I sing whenever I have the opportunity. My friends taught me to play the guitar, which made singing even more enjoyable. I realized that whenever we young people got together, we’d sing. It was great!
The next year when VBS came around, I was asked to lead the singing and play the guitar. I can see how God is working in the lives of children who are just as I was a few years ago. And it’s a joy to see our VBS program growing as well. When I first attended, we had just 20 children; last year 150 children took part. Now my younger brothers are helping out with VBS. I enjoy seeing them use their talents to honor God.
My life has changed so much because of VBS, where I made new Christian friends. But even more important, that’s where I met Jesus and asked Him to be my personal Savior. I realize that I cannot do anything without God’s help. I know that with God living in me, I can do anything He asks me to do. He has said that He will never leave me or forsake me, and I pray that I will always depend on Him for everything I need. I feel privileged to be able to make a difference in the world.
Your Sabbath School mission offerings help make it possible for churches in Japan and around the world to sponsor programs such as VBS, where kids such as I can learn that God loves them. Thank you!
Tokyo, the capital of Japan, is the most populous metropolitan area in the world, with more than 35 million people. The Japanese people are not deeply religious; just 4 percent of the people in Japan are Christians. The most common religions in Japan are Shintoism and Buddhism, but the most widely held ethical standard is hard work for the betterment of the community. Only one person in every 8,460 in Japan is an Adventist. Pray that God will open the hearts of people to follow Jesus.
Brand New at 95!
By Kikue Takagi
During the eight years following my husband's death, my life was lonely. I lived by myself, my relatives lived far away, and my friends had died. Then suddenly, with a knock on my door, everything began to change.
Last year two Seventh-day Adventist Christians, Mr. Yoshida and Mr. Nakam, visited me. They talked and prayed with me and invited me to visit their church.
For years I had worshipped my ancestors, but I was looking for something to make life more meaningful. I wanted to visit the Adventist church, but I wondered if the members would accept me. "Of course, they'll accept you!" the men said. "They will love you as their mother and sister."
"Then let's go!" I said.
Now 96, Mrs. Takagi is very active, sharing the love of Jesus and enjoying many hobbies. Here she is playing a musical instrument called a taisho koto.
When I went to the meeting, I hesitated at the door. Then a young woman took my hand and greeted me. Pastor Lee Sung Hoo gave me a warm welcome as well. All my doubts fled and I felt at home. I felt the love immediately!
I couldn't stop smiling
I had found just what I needed. I felt like a child discovering something new. At 95 years of age, I was baptized.
Until I gave my heart to God, I hated my husband for being unfaithful while he was alive. Now I am filled with happiness, supported by God's word and the love and prayers of my church family.
The only regret I have is that I didn't meet Jesus sooner. If I had known about this church, I would have known this happiness long ago. Now that I know Jesus, I want to spend the rest of my days with Him and die trusting Him. My greatest delight is to go to church each Sabbath.
The pastor who warmly welcomed Kikue Takagi at the Amami Seventh-day Adventist Church is Pastor Lee Sung Hoo. When Pastor Lee left his home in Korea five years ago to serve as a Pioneer Mission Movement pastor in Japan, the Amami church had about 10 members. Under his servant leadership, membership has grown to more than 30 with many more people preparing for baptism. This is phenomenal growth for an Adventist church in Japan! Your support of Global Mission helps fund pioneers such as Pastor Lee.
Mrs. Kikue Takagi was baptized last year at the age of 95. Now 96, she is actively involved in sharing the love of Jesus with her community.
The congregation of Amami Oshima meets in a crowded rented room. The Thirteenth Sabbath Offering for first quarter 2012 will help them have a church home of their own. Mrs. Takagi says, "My sole wish in life is that the new church will be built before I die."
Photo: The congregation of the Amami Oshima Seventh-day Adventist Church in Japan. Pastor Lee is on the far left in the back row and Mrs. Takagi is third from the right in the second row.