Hidden Fruit Discovered
Suddenly I found it!
I had been searching on the internet at great length but in vain for even the slightest information about the church and the pastor. No luck.
A retired Japanese pastor had asked me four weeks ago where my father had done his missionary work. When I mentioned my hometown Shibata City, he said, “I know someone there! He studied theology at our seminary for four years, but he decided to start an independent congregation instead of being assigned to an existing congregation.” Could this church planter be a member of my childhood church home in Shibata?
Search as I might for his name or any reference to his church, all was in vain—until I noticed, on google maps street view, a little white cross on top of the house next to the incorrect old address I had from my parents. Then, I noticed a weathered signboard on the other side of the building. Finally I noticed a “Welcome” sign at the front door. Could this be a building used for a church by the pastor in question? After an extended internet search I finally found an indirect link between this address and the name of the church and pastor. I finally found it!
With high hopes of further discoveries, I made immediate travel plans, packed my bags, and took off the next day by train across the island. At the appointed Sunday hour of worship, the pastor in question appeared, led the worship service, then invited me, the one foreigner, to introduce myself. What a surprise for all of us to realize how God brought about Gospel fruit after all these years. He had been baptized at our home church in Shibata in 1975 just before my parents returned to the States. Later, he studied one year at a bible college before auditing four years of seminary classes. Then, after leading services during a one-year vacancy at the Shibata church, he decided to plant a new congregation right beside his ancestral home in Shibata. He has served there faithfully for twenty-four years, independently, not associated with any other church body, nor with any email or internet skills. In my conversations with him after the service, I promised to help him and the church come out of hiding in this digital age so that others would not have as much difficulty as I did in finding the church.