When did the workers first arrive in Japan? (not known for certain).
Who were the first brother workers? Sam Lang and Cecil Barrett went there in 1937 and left in Dec., 1940 to go to the Philippines. Sam had been there previously. Three workers among 72 million people.
After World War II: We returned in 1947. General McArthur who was in charge of the Occupation of Japan invited all missionaries to return.
Who were the first sister workers?
When was the first gospel meeting? " In 1948 we held the first true Gospel meetings in Japan, one in Tokyo and the other in Yokohama"
Who was the first to profess? "...after preaching for about six months we were given five souls."
Who was the first native to go in the work? Tatsuo Asaka was one of the first to enter the work, around 1951
When & Where was the first meeting?
When & Where was the first baptism?
When & Where was the first convention?
Where have subsequent conventions been held?
Where is the convention currently held?
Who have the Overseers been?
TTT Editor's Note: Corrections or additions are most welcome; as well as other historical accounts for other countries.
Cecil Barrett - 1951 - Carnteel Convention, Ireland
There is a chapter which I have read, Isaiah 35. I have wondered sometimes if we have ever read that in connection with any one of the Gospels and any one of Paul's Epistles? Have you ever seen the similarity? "The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad. The desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose."
Have you read any one of the four Gospels or any one of the fourteen letters of Paul and found a Similarity in the things, which occurred? Look at the leper Jesus touched, the blind man, Peter's wife's mother, the centurion's servant, the son carried out dead, the little girl dying and dead. Lazarus in his tomb dead, and can you picture what it must have meant when Jesus came on the scene and spoke a few simple words, revealed a great sympathy, understanding and compassion, and healing occurred immediately, life was renewed? Hope was renewed, from despair to joy and gladness, from feeling hopeless and helpless, deep gratitude and thankfulness for one, who came you might say in these cases, at the eleventh hour, when hope had fled, all resources gone, to whom to turn, to whom to cry, to whom to lift up their voices and be heard.
That was the time for their Saviour to come and to help them and to renew life, and in renewing life, new hope and new faith was begotten. Have you ever read Paul's letter and entered into his feelings as he set forth on those journeys that he took? It is so different today to travel. The things he was prepared to face for the sake of souls going down to a lost eternity without hope and without God in this world - can you picture it?
Then you can read this ch. 35 with understanding and you can enter into it too, because the same has been your experience and it has been mine. We were solitary individuals before the Gospel came to us, we were despondent individuals and the Gospel came and what a difference it made. What a transformation took place, and surely we know the singing of the new song and lifting up our hearts in praise and thankfulness to God for interceding on our behalf and sending one to help us, to succour us, and to lead us in the new way. It is because of that, that I would like to tell you that most of my years in the Work have been spent in Japan.
I heard the Gospel in New Zealand from Wilson and Mrs. McClung, and a few years later I sold all that I had and Wilson gave me two weeks to be ready to join him as his companion. For a few years we were in different parts of New Zealand and then the invitation came for any volunteers for Japan. A worker had come to New Zealand to recuperate and he wanted to take back a companion to fill a gap. A volunteer was called for and I volunteered.
We journeyed out together from New Zealand to Japan, and on the journey my companion told me many things I would have to know, and over and over again, after telling me these things, he would say, "Your chief obligation will be to learn the language." [Note: The companion was Sam Lang]
We arrived and went to the little house they had hired, not a very big place, and I began to try to do the things he had encouraged me to do, to learn ways that were absolutely foreign to me, and a language I felt I could never get my tongue around. In 3 years I was able to understand what was spoken, and I was able to speak and be understood. It is not an easy language, there are 56,000 characters that comprise it, and your language contains 26. There were 52 sounds that had to be learned and we found that conditions prevailing in the country were bad, and that such meetings as we here are familiar with, were banned.
The people were persecuted, anything that was Christian. Then as you know, the war- clouds blew up and we were invited to go to the Philippine Islands. We had done nothing as far as seeing one soul saved in Japan until that time, and I do not like to tell you of that. I know you people think, and you are entitled to think that way, you feel that any worker whoever they may be, surely going forth with the blessing of God and the presence of God, should see a little begotten in Christ. It is not always the case.
The lands beyond your shores are so different, and I can forgive anyone for thinking that ways and customs you are so familiar with, the things that comprise home to you, must exist in every land in all different parts of the world. But once you leave these shores you soon find that is not the case, everything is very, very different, and that country as well as many countries in the East, is what you would term a heathen country, that is, although people here have a false understanding of Christianity, yet they believe in and fear to an extent the God we believe in and whom we fear, but not so in those lands beyond the sea. They do not even believe in the God whom we believe in. They deny His existence.
They serve gods of their own making and follow ways of their own making and God is not in it whatsoever. They make gods of clay, of stone and metals with their own hands and they set them up and begin a form of worship to them, and they consider the benefits that come into their lives, the blessings they know as the result of good harvests and so on, are due to their faithfully worshipping that god they have set up, that is made by their own hands. Also, in that country the Emperor was the center of their affections, their loyalty, and their realty. He exercised tremendous power over those 80,000,000 people. I have never seen a man any more reverenced than the Emperor of Japan was before the war.
The war came and we were invited to the Philippines, [about Christmas, 1940] and for six months we co-operated with the workers that were there. There were only four, and they had gone to the Philippines in 1936, and during 1937 they began to preach the Gospel. We were invited there half-way through 1941 and we helped them and saw a nice few souls gathered in and they are going on today. We preached for about six months with them and we were glad to feel that the Lord had not left us, as we had felt when we saw nothing gathered in Japan, the land we had gone to labor in. [NOTE: The four workers were Leo Stancliff, Willie Jamieson, Herman Beaber and Ernest Stanley, along with Cecil Barrett]
Then we were interned, [at Santo Tomas in the Philippines] and for 3 years those others and myself, and about 2,000 others were without any contact with the outside world at all. Willie Jamieson was with us, and he was a great help and comfort to us, being an elder brother and one who had experience in different lands and especially in China, which he pioneered He preached the Gospel there for about 14 years. Every day he would gather us together and have a half an hour's talk with us, striving to encourage us to lift our minds above our present surroundings and conditions, and always finishing with the words "We are not going to stay here and we are not going to die here."
We felt quite the contrary, that we would stay there, and it would be that there we would die, because our captors gradually took away, little by little, the food we so badly needed. Well, one evening after 3 years had elapsed, to make the story short, Willie got us together and said "Today a verse has been going through my mind, "Be still and know that I am God".
On the next morning without warning and without preparation we were rescued from that camp, not one soul was lost, though we were all practically dead. To all intents and purposes we were dead, so sick and ill, as I have never seen people in my life. We had not any flesh on our bones, we had no strength in our bodies, and I am sure those men who came in to get us out did not realize the situation nor what they were called upon to undertake to get us out. But they did, and not one was lost, neither were any of them lost. One of the troops broke a finger, and that was the only casualty suffered. They came by parachute and took us out in amphibious tanks.
But it is of since the War I would like to speak. That means a whole lot more to me. I know the things we endured, the things we faced and suffered, were perhaps needful in one way. I believe that those events and those circumstances have a certain amount of benefit upon the saints in different parts of the world. You know Paul wrote twice in the second epistle to the Corinthians mentioning his sufferings, not to arouse pity in those people, but to help them to know that others suffered too.
Others endured hardships, others endured persecutions and many other things, and he tells us that things he suffered bodily and the things he suffered inwardly all had the result that he came to know God better and God came to know Paul better. And all the things whatever you are called upon to face and to endure, it is to enable God to know you better, and for you to know your God better.
That is what God did with the children of Israel when He led them through the wilderness for 40 years. Can you picture the God whom we love and name as the God of Heaven, doing such a thing? It was not because He hated them and had no regard for them, but He said it was to know them and the purpose of their hearts, whether they would keep His commandments or not. That is what it was for, and that is why He took them through those tests. I believe that tests are good if we take them in the right spirit and see that the soul is proved by them, our spirits and lives enriched and our understanding of God and His interest in us deepened. The body might rebel and shrink from these things, but if it enables us to understand more fully the God whom we have begun to serve and to love and live for, it is going to have a lasting benefit upon us.
Returning to New Zealand to recuperate, after a little while there we received an invitation from General McArthur who was in charge of the Occupation of Japan. All missionaries were invited to return, if they were willing, to begin to labor again amongst those people in the interests of their souls. That was our opportunity and we took it, and a man whom we found friendly for 20 years in Japan opened his home that we might find a lodging place on our return. He did not profess, but had been very kind to us and very helpful in many ways over the years. He opened his home to us and we returned in 1947, and then later in the year, towards the end of the year, two portable halls came over, and two young men from Canada came to our help.
In 1948 we held the first true Gospel meetings in Japan, one in Tokyo and the other in Yokohama. It will surprise you to know we have never had any trouble until this day to fill those little halls. We go round visiting and inviting the people to come, and it is surprising to me to see the conditions prevailing there now in comparison with before the war.
Where we could not find an open door, every door seems to be open, and when I go round visiting, everyone wants to give me a cup of tea. We invite them to the meetings and they are glad to come. Their country has been defeated, the Emperor has renounced his place amongst them, and they feel everything has been taken from them. That is the condition we found on our return, people drifting, without hope, with nothing to be a stabilizing influence on their lives, with no honor, and nothing they could hope in, trust in and look to with confidence
You cannot picture it, because you have not passed through it, that attitude of the people as we went amongst them with the Gospel. As the result of our preaching, my Japanese companion and myself, and we have enjoyed being together, praying together - after preaching for about six months we were given five souls. The first fruits of the Gospel in Japan were five, from all who have come. That was the first church, and one of those was a widow woman who had lost her husband in the Pacific War. She came up to us one day and said "It would be nice if we could have a fellowship meeting together." I said, "We are hoping that something of the kind will come about." I said, "Where do you suggest?" She said, "Well, will you use my home? I know it is not what you are used to in your country." I said, 'That makes no difference, we will be glad to use your home and for the others and us to meet there with you." The first little meeting there I will never forget, and the others that followed it. We squatted on the floor, we do not have chairs and tables and pictures and so on, it is very, very simple, and we squatted on the floor, but thought it would be good, seeing most of their lives are spent on the floor, if to give their testimony, they stood up. They prayed kneeling, but we thought it good for them to stand up and give their testimony, and so they did.
We taught them to sing, and the hymns we sang there were some of those we had been familiar with in the Gospel meetings We left the meeting open for prayer; they had never done such things in their life, and did not know what to pray for and to whom to pray. We had to show them, and be very patient with them and lead them. And then they came to the place where they gave their testimony.
They did not know how to speak, but they wanted to. Something happened - I never saw a Japanese do in all my years in Japan, that they would be ashamed to do, but it was all those folks could do - they shed tears. They felt so unworthy, but so grateful in spite of that feeling that the Lord had been able to touch their hearts and lives, in fact we saw even before they met, the great changes that took place. We had never attacked anything they were doing, but just preached the simple, plain Gospel story of Jesus and we saw evidence of the power of the Lord in their hearts and lives, and Him working in them and they knew that, and when it came to that little fellowship meeting they were overwhelmed that it was their privilege to give thanks and praise to His name
They just could not, and we had to blend our tears with theirs, because I had returned to tell my brethren that we had not gathered in one soul in Christ in the years we had spent there before the war, and now we had seen five given us with every evidence of having received the Lord, and we were grateful, and we shed tears with them. That woman reminds us of Lydia, who heard Paul and his companion, and she was so grateful for what she had received, opened home. Do you think I am wrong in saying that was the first home of the Phillipian Church, that was where it began, in Lydia's home? The little girl with divination and the jailor met there afterwards, and there with those three, Paul and his companion had the same experience as my companion and I had with those God had given us in Japan, of seeing evidence of God being able to turn people from the power of darkness to light and from worshipping idols to serve the true and the living God.
That is what we saw, just what Paul saw. Later more were added, and it has continued to be so. We have only two open homes so far amongst those 83,000,000 people, one in Tokyo and one in Joyahame 20 miles apart, and there are meetings in them both. One woman came to those meetings with a little baby boy on her back (that is how the children are carried in Japan), she just slipped in and slipped out again, did not want to be spoken to, but she came again and again, night after night, with the little boy on her back. That went on for a long time, and she stood up one night and said "I want to make my choice for Christ."
She invited us to her home, and told us a little of her story and experience. You remember I said these people do not believe in the God we believe in, they have no knowledge of Him, and do not have the Bible in their homes. After we speak to them from it they ask us to buy them a Bible, they begin to read it, and it is all so real to them and so new and so wonderful. This woman told us "The night I came into the meeting I had decided to commit suicide, to take my little boy's life as well. I was determined to do it, but as I passed by I heard the singing and I slipped in." She never again had that thought in her mind. You could see the change going on, from utter despair and hopelessness, gradually you could see the transformation taking place and giving evidence of it in her face
That is a common thing amongst those people. When circumstances arise they find they have no power against, nor see any way would take my life." There she was. She had an emptiness that nothing would fill. She tried the world and all its ways, and it did not satisfy her I can tell from all that I have seen, and I have been in many different lands and seen things that are a power in the lives of people, grinding and robbing them, and do not have any doubt in your mind, friend, the world is the most terrible thing I know, and the most soul-killing
That woman tried the world, and the world in Japan is different to the world in Ireland. Then she has been dissatisfied and she thought an occupation would help her. That is honorable, we all need an occupation come to age, and so she had an occupation, but there was still that something, and because this did not bring satisfaction she decided to take her life and the life of her little boy, and then that night passing the meeting place she slipped in, and it was God guiding her I am sure. We can speak to you of one soul saved in those circumstances from destruction.
Another woman who came to those meetings caused me to know that her manner of life was not what it ought to be. We know we meet all kinds of people in the world, that is what makes up the world, but she continued to come, and gradually we could see a change coming over her, all her boldness became subdued, and she was just like any other soul, knowing the dealings of their Maker with their heart. The breaking and the humbling were going on, and finally she too made her choice. She has never told us her history, but it is best forgotten I know, but you remember the woman who was brought to Jesus by her accusers, I know sufficient of the Japanese people to know that must have been her state, and what did Jesus say?
It is something I am very grateful for, that we have a Gospel of forgiveness. He forgave her with that one condition "Go and sin no more." That woman came to me in tears just before I left Japan, and she said "Am I too old to go in the work?" She is so grateful for the power that is able to keep her. Her friends scoffed and laughed and mocked at her, and said she would soon be back amongst them. When she made her choice they said it would last a little while, and now the testimony of those people who knew her so well of her is "We do not know you any more." The change is so great and the reality is so great that they see it. A man who opened his home to us has been fighting the Truth for 20 years. He is a proud man, a self-made man, and one who will not be taught by a man younger than himself. There is something in the Oriental that they respect grey hairs. That man has been fighting, he came to Gospel meetings and said it was too simple, there was no depth to it at all.
We said it was the Gospel of Jesus and we could not alter it even if it was simple. The widow who opened her home was his daughter and he was very angry that we put the meeting in her home and not in his, though we told him that she had been willing to submit could not see it then, but I had a letter from my companion a few weeks ago and he told me that a few weeks ago this man had made his choice after fighting for 20 years. He is a man we have to be very grateful for in Japan, who has helped us in many ways. He knows now what it is to receive the Lord. He said that all he had was theory in his head and he tried to hold onto it. He will be a very useful man I know. The last years of his life will be the best.
We have had two baptisms there, and it has been a very wonderful milestone in their lives, from which they seem to have made wonderful strides, and the Truth seems to have been brought home more firmly in their lives and it has become a greater power since they took that step. One who was to be baptized came to me and said "How long will you keep us in the water?" I said "You do not need to worry, we will look after you." I felt tempted to say, "Until you are dead," but he would never have understood. You know that ceremony signifies both to the Lord and to ourselves, and also to the world, that we now desire to be in deed and in truth dead to all that we formerly were. They have come to realize that, and their friends testify of them "We do not understand, we do not realize how it could be that through preaching such a transformation and change could come".
There is a death to all that was known formerly, and now they are rising and walking in all that Paul speaks of in his Epistles and all this has come about as a result of them hearing the voice of Jesus in the Gospel, and we are glad and we are thankful. As I said, our open homes are only two, but our Wednesday night Bible study is in the various homes of each saint as far as we can do so, and so far we have used nine homes to gather for our Bible study.
We find it has had a very wonderful effect upon the family of those professing in those homes, it has brought the Truth into the home and they have seen it, our manner of life, our fellowship, and the evidence of power in those members in their homes who have professed the fellowship they are called into. The things that are found in the Scripture that are a comfort and a help and a strength to them which they never knew before, and it has been a means of reaching some in those homes who are now professing. They have come and listened and made their choice. These are some of the things I rejoice in as the result of our return to Japan. I say in all humility, that the Lord did not allow all our sacrifice to go to the ground. He knew, and saw, all we went through, but even after we had suffered and in our experience had much against us, we now have much with us. We hope to be able to come again amongst you, or some other representative and tell you of the extension of God's Kingdom in Japan to greater, richer and fuller results.
NOTE: After his release..."It was February 23 of this year when we were rescued from that camp... Los Baños (1945)."Cecil Barrett returned to New Zealand to recuperate and then continued as a missionary in the Far East. Cecil was born in New Zealand in 1902, went into the ministry in 1934 and continued in that work until his death in Japan on November 6, 1968 at age 66.
Japan is a little larger than New Zealand.
Read more about Cecil Barrett's Internment told while Cecil Barrett was at a special meeting on August 12, 1945 at New Market, New Zealand.
After being in Japan for three years..."About Christmas in 1940, we were invited to go to the Philippines, another Oriental country. One outstanding event which I will never forget on our departure from Japan is that the people who had come to our meetings and had become acquainted with us came to say "farewell" to us at the train--which I will never forget, "We are sorry you are going." So evidently there was something beginning in their lives and it can only be with regret that they are left in that condition. We went away to the Philippines, having been invited there by Willie Jamieson (who has charge of the work there) and also by Jack Carroll of America. Those two invited us to come and have a change and see if the war clouds would not disperse. Well, we know they did not. But in the Philippines--what a change and contrast from Japan!"
TTT Editor's Note: The above information has been compiled by the TTT Editor from various sources. Corrections or additions are most welcome; as well as other historical accounts for this country Email TTT