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Alabama pastor encourages Japanese, Korean believerscomment (0)

December 9, 2010

By John Evans

I really think American Christians can learn something from Japanese Christians,” said Roger Willmore, pastor of Deerfoot Baptist Church, Trussville.

Willmore described some of the virtues he saw among believers in Japan: their respect for the things of God, their dedication to studying the Bible, their reverence in worship and their singing.

“Sometimes we have to coach [people in American churches] to sing, but you don’t have to do that in Japan,” he said. “If you could hear them sing, your heart would dance.”

Willmore recently returned from a trip to Japan and South Korea, where Nov. 8–18, he preached at several churches and a Bible convention, encouraging believers who amazed him with their devotion to God. After landing in Osaka, Japan, he flew to Seoul, South Korea, where he visited five churches and preached at one, Sanjunghyun Presbyterian Church. As Willmore learned about Korean churches, one of their practices shocked him with its dedication.

“Just about any church you go into, they will tell you that hundreds — if not thousands — of people in that church are on their knees Monday through Friday praying for an hour and a half or two hours before they go to work,” he said. “Just imagine what would happen if we had thousands of churches across the United States with people meeting every morning on their faces before God in prayer like that. It would revolutionize the church and the country.”

Willmore hopes American Christians will be challenged to seek the Lord more fervently in prayer by taking note of the dedication of Korean Christians. “There’s enough prayer power in (South) Korea to rattle the whole world,” he said.

After leaving South Korea, Willmore returned to Osaka, where he had been invited to preach at Grace Mission for The Bible Convention, a follow-up event to the Oct. 22–24 Franklin Graham festival in the city. Willmore preached a series of sermons from 1 John focused mainly on showing new believers the basics of the Christian life and the assurance of salvation.

“I was trying to give messages that would help new Christians understand their faith, such as what it means to be a Christian and how to know you’re a Christian,” he explained.

Willmore, who had previously been to Japan in 2008, said the response from the more than 1,000 attendees — a good crowd in a nation where only 1 percent of the population is believed to follow Christ — was enthusiastic, with sales of the sermons on CD reaching record levels.

He was impressed with the amount of reverence the Japanese Christians showed for God’s Word and their dedication to studying it. They asked him to send his sermons in advance so they could translate them and prepare in-depth study guides.

“They don’t want to just hear you say what’s [in the Bible]; they want to see it, read it and get to know it,” Willmore said. “That’s how they approach their Bible study.”

He said some Japanese read their Bibles cover to cover six or seven times a year, and he believes their dedication to knowing the Scriptures flows from a desire to know Christ. “They know the way you get to know Christ is by knowing what the Bible says about Him so they live in it,” Willmore said. “It’s not just to get head knowledge; it’s so they can know Him personally.”

Willmore also traveled to speak to a smaller gathering of the convention in Hiroshima. The city was obliterated during World War II by an atomic bomb the United States dropped Aug. 6, 1945. An estimated 70,000 people were killed initially, and perhaps 130,000 more died over the years because of the effects of radiation. Willmore visited the memorial and museum dedicated to the blast, an experience he described as emotional and sobering.

“People were vaporized,” Willmore said. “Whole generations were wiped out.” Despite the city’s history, he didn’t detect even a hint of animosity from any of its residents, especially not the believers at the convention. Willmore recalled an elderly Christian man, who was probably alive during World War II, grinning “from ear to ear,” shaking his hand and thanking him for coming to teach God’s Word.

“One of the most memorable blessings I will take away from going to Hiroshima was how warmly and graciously I as a person was received and how the preaching of the gospel was received,” Willmore said. Throughout his time in Japan, Willmore said, he was treated exceptionally well, “more like part of the family than a visitor.”

Willmore expressed a great love for the Japanese people, whom he described as people of integrity and respect. He hopes to return to their country in the future and continue ministering among them. “God has placed Japan on my heart.”

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