Street Evangelism Experiences

Discussion in 'Missions / Witnessing / eVangelism' started by John of Japan, Jun 12, 2010.

  1. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    Hi, friends.

    Please share any interesting experiences you've had doing street evangelism.

    This evening (Saturday evening for you foreigners :smilewinkgrin:) three of us were out on the Kaimono Koen ("Shopping Park"), the outdoor mall downtown. I got out over 100 tracts and got to witness for awhile to a lady named Kayo who had experimented with various religions. I prayed for her, and then gave her my business card and invited her to our church.

    The usual collection of drunks and bar girls were out, along with the occasional family coming home from the train station. We gave tracts to a high school baseball team from another town who had just beaten our Asahikawa team. But the most interesting character was a Pakistani, in town for three weeks of training at a Japanese company! He bemoaned the fact that his hotel had the Bible, a Buddhist book and another religious book, but no Koran! (Thank God!)

    This is the first time any of us have ever met a Muslim in our city in the far north of Japan. So we let him have it! He ended up with two tracts and a sermon of about ten minutes from Missionary M. He was good natured about the whole thing, and said about M., "He's a good preacher!" He even seemed interested in the English service at our sister church.

    An interesting fact: according to our Muslim friend, the population of Pakistan is 3% Christian. Compare that to Japan, which is less than 1% Christian!
     
  2. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    Japanese drunks are usually mellow. We rarely get the belligerent kind. Once we passed through a crowd of drunken "salary men," Japanese office workers. Most of them took tracts, and one volunteered happily that he had gone to Sunday School as a child. Then he started singing "Jesus Loves Me" in Japanese in as loud a voice as he could, as he staggered off with the rest of them. [​IMG]
     
  3. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    I remember the first time I ever witnessed in Japan in street evangelism. Dr. N, the senior missionary, positioned me in front of the train station with a bunch of tracts. I had only been in Japanese language school for a few months, so I couldn't say much yet, but I could hand out those tracts and say, "Oyomi kudasai," a polite way to say, "Please read this." I was determined not to be like the rookie who tried to be even more polite but got one vowel wrong: "Oyome ni natte kudasai," which means, "Please become my bride!"

    As I passed out the tracts, a woman approached me and asked for one. She asked what they were about, and so for the first time out on street evangelism I gave the Gospel in Japanese. So then the lady took a NT out of her purse and I immediately knew what was up. You can tell their printed items anywhere in the world--this lady was a JW!

    She proceeded to lecture me that Jesus was not God, as I had said, but only a Man. I said, "No, He's God," but she said, "No, he's not." So we had a little argument until I ran out of Japanese (which happened fairly quickly!) Then all I could say was, "Honto, honto!" or "It's true, it's true!" Seeing I was unconvinced and out of ammo, she left, still a heretic.
     
  4. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    One of my earliest memories of evangelism on the streets of Japan may not sound like a big deal and may not be interesting to you. But it was a watershed event for me! Still about six months into my first year of Japanese language school, I had not yet seen anyone saved through my own ministry in Japan.

    I was on the other side of the train station mentioned in the previous story. There is a large hiroba there, an open space for the rush hour crowds and an occasional activity. While Dr. N. was evangelizing elsewhere I held the fort and passed out tracts, occasionally limping along in a short conversation.

    Along came a boy about 12 who was very interested in the foreigner. In those days we could attract a crowd of kids just by being American! As I gave the boy a tract and we talked, he seemed truly interested in the Gospel. I witnessed to him the best I could, telling him that if he prayed to Jesus it must be from his heart, then prayed with him. The Gospel is so simple, folks, that someone with only a kindergarten knowledge of a language can proclaim it.

    This boy truly seemed to be trusting Jesus, but how could I tell with my limited Japanese? It was then that Dr. N. came back from his own evangelism excursion. I told him what I had been doing, so Dr. N. discussed things with the boy. Yes, the boy told him, he was truly trusting Jesus as his Savior! I have seen many come to Christ since then during these 29 years in Japan, but memories of that first time still move me deeply. What a privilege it is to be used of the Lord in a far-off land!
     
  5. Jim1999

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    This story came from a global street evangelist during the 1940's. He was preaching in Australia, where the Labour Party was in power, and Aussies tend to take their politics seriously.

    He declared, "Down with the labour party! Down with the labour party!" He was not long drawing an angry crowd of men. When they were near enough, he then preached, "Jesus said, come unto Me all ye that labour and I will give you rest......Down with THAT labour party....."

    I can't remember his name just now, but I shall always remember his stories about street preaching.

    During Bible College days in Toronto, is was mandatory for all students to engage in street preaching and the distribution of tracts. It was a very interesting and enlightening experience.

    In Quebec, in the fifties, we were thrown into jail for preaching the gospel and distributing tracts in the streets. In those days, the Roman priests controlled everything in the country. It is not so to-day. The churches were responsible for the registration of births, weddings and funerals in Quebec and we were paid a monthly fee for such registrations.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  6. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    Great story, Jim. Thanks! :thumbsup:
     
  7. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    My first "official" sermon in Japanese was on May 9, 1982, after one year and three days in Japan. I preached (read) the sermon my unsaved Japanese teacher had corrected for me on the Gospel as taught in 1 Corinthians 15, and two junior high boys trusted Christ as Savior. However, my first unofficial sermon was some time before that.

    As usual, I was out on street evangelism with Dr. N., and we came to a certain neighborhood in the city of Tokorozawa ("Place of the Marsh") in Saitama Prefecture. In those days you could gather a crowd of kids just by being a foreigner, and this neighborhood was no exception. Nowadays, though, due to a number of societal factors (an aging society, a very low birthrate, the increase of cram-scam schools, a fear of crime against kids, etc.), few kids play outside. But I digress.

    As we stood in a vacant lot, a crowd of kids immediately gathered around us, saying the usual things: "Gaijin, gaijin!" ("foreigner," literally "outsider"); "Are you Americans?" "Harro!" "You're tall." In street evangelism, Dr. N. often used a large chart originally put together by missionaries to China. It portrays Heaven and Hell, people with a burden of sin and others who had gone through a door in the cross to have their sins forgiven, others trying to build a bridge of good works across the abyss, and several Bible verses. On the other side was a depiction of Christ on the cross.

    At that point in the proceedings, Dr. N. shoved the chart into my hands, turned to the kids and said, "This man will now tell you the meaning of the chart." And with that he walked off! There I was on the other side of the world, in the middle of a crowd of Japanese kids eagerly awaiting my explanation of that fascinating chart. When in doubt, a Baptist preacher should just start talking, so I began preaching to the kids in my beginning Japanese what I had heard Dr. N. say so often. I then prayed for the kids and asked whoever wanted to trust in Christ to raise their hands. Praise the Lord, a number of them did!

    After about ten minutes Dr. N. came back and quizzed the kids about what they had heard. I said eagerly, "Did they understand, did they?" He said that yes, they did. Praise the Lord. There is no greater joy on earth or in Heaven.
     
  8. John of Japan

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    We moved to Yokohama after I graduated from two years of language school. There I continued passing out tracts in front of the train station, which is the center of society in the Kanto Plain and most of Japan. Every ten or fifteen minutes a train would come in and hundreds of people would pour out. Most would take tracts and occasionally someone would try out their English, but it was hard to get anyone to stop and hear the Gospel.

    The 20 million Japanese of the Kanto Plain are completely wrapped up in work, school, and getting from point A to point B. They are a very materialistic people and care not much for spiritual things. So you have to keep positive and lean on the Lord to do evangelism there.

    Shortly after moving to Yokohama, I remember stopping at a tiny flower shop one time after an hour or more of evangelism. I witnessed to the lady who ran the shop, after which it seemed to be a good idea to buy a bunch of flowers for my wife, so I grabbed one that looked pretty and went to pay for it. Apparantly there were still some things I didn't know about buying flowers in Japan, since the lady looked shocked and said, "That arrangement is designed for putting on Buddhist graves!" I have no idea why I did it, but I said, "Poof! Now it's for Christians," paid for the flowers and went home! I've never done that since, but for the one time it seemed to work! Super missionary!
     
  9. Jim1999

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    John, I have often wondered if the Japanese people ever raised the issue of the "Americans" dropping the bombs on Hiroshama and Nagasaki (spelling is prolly off)? Also, do they share any opinion on General Douglas MacArthur?

    Cheers, and I enjoy the missionary stories,

    Jim
     
  10. John of Japan

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    First of all, not bad on the spelling. You only missed one letter in Hiroshima (i instead of a). That's better than the radio preacher I heard while travelling in N. Georgia who said, "Hell is like when they dropped them atomic bombs on Nagasaki and Himajima!"

    If you ever visit Hiroshima and the shrine there you'll hear lots about the A-bomb! But the only time I've ever had a discussion about it with a Japanese was with a Soka Gakkai adherent. That's a radical Buddhist cult, very rightist, and they really don't like Americans.

    I was going door to door one day when at one door I was told a solid, "No, we're Soka Gakkai." For once I pushed back and said, "You guys never talk to us. Come on, let's talk about religion." So against his better judgment he let me in, and we sat on the floor at his little table and talked, while he chain smoked and we drank green tea.

    He started out with, "Christians are bad because they dropped the A-bomb." I said, "Really? I didn't know that!" Shocked, he said, "But America is a Christian country, right?" This gave me the chance to tell him the difference between cultural Christianity and true faith from the heart. Chances are he had never thought about that, since Soka Gakkai is all about outward works--saying the "Namu Amida Butsu" chant over and over again. (We once lived next to a Soka Gakkai who chanted about 11:00 at night. Terrible!) When I left at least he was friendly, though still unsaved.

    As for MacArthur, everyone I've talked to here has great respect for him. He gave them freedom! The constitution he wrote still stands, although there is a movement that occasionally surfaces to revise it. MacArthur gave the Japanese democracy, a fair judicial system, freedom of religion and other freedoms. The only place he failed is that he was unable to replace the Mombusho, the branch of government that controls education.

    Glad you like my stories. God bless.

    John
     
  11. John of Japan

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    I myself have been "evangelized" a number of times in Japan by other groups doing "street evangelism": the Kohfuku no Kagaku ("science of happiness") cult, the Mormons, etc. But two times stand out in my memory. Here's the first.

    I was once in downtown Tokyo at the Shinjuku train station, the busiest in the world, for some reason I don't remember. Outside the station a young lady walked up to me doing what one American cult calls "flirty fishing," trying to use her femininity to attract me.

    When I asked what her game was she said, "You can speak in tongues if you want to." I asked her how and she said, just say "Lord Jesus Christ" over and over again real fast, and then you'll start to talk in tongues and feel so great!"

    I said, "Is that in the Bible?" She replied, "Oh, yes," so I took out my New Testament and said, "Please show me!" Well, that floored her. She hadn't expected to have to open a Bible that day. But she was game. She looked here and there until she found a verse on the Holy Spirit in Ephesians. I said, "Ephesians doesn't mention tongues," and that finished her off. Embarrassed, she left and looked for more amenable fish to reel in.

    During the conversation it came out that she was from a Pentecostal based cult of works called Iesu no Mitama Kyoukai, or "The Spirit of Jesus Church." How sad that such cults don't fix their eyes and hearts on Jesus, the Savior of the world, but look for side trails to satisfy their desires and feed their spiritual pride.
     
    #11 John of Japan, Jun 19, 2010
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  12. Jim1999

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    In the 50's and even into the 60's it was possible to "street preach" in Toronto. It didn't take long to draw a small crowd that would stop offand listen. We always had a couple to sing, another couple to pass out simple tracts and talk with people in the crowd. Then one would preach a brief sermon, a talk, if you will.

    I can't recall anyone coming to Christ, but at least we raised the name of Jesus in a positive way. We did direct a few to local evangelical churches.

    In latter years, we needed a clean-up crew to pick up the discarded tracts on the pavement. We moved our preaching to the many small parks in Toronto.

    If we accomplished anything at all in those years, we at least learned about personal evangelism, and this would be helpful on the mission field or in our own pastorates.

    It is sad that the cults have taken over this ministry. I don't know if we have become too educated to do this anymore, or we have submitted to the humility of street preaching, but we just don't see it anymore.

    Maybe we don't appreciate that we often never see the results of our actions. We just have to believe that God's word will not return unto Him void, and that His word and Spirit work beyond our eyes.

    Cheers, and never give up hope, mate,

    Jim
     
  13. John of Japan

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    Only eternity will tell what has been accomplished through various kinds of street evangelism. Oftentimes we never know, but at least we are planting the seed of the precious Gospel of Jesus Christ! :jesus:
     
  14. John of Japan

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    Another time I was "evangelized" by a cult was in the Shibuya ward of Tokyo, outside another huge train station, one of the busiest in the world. Again I was down in Tokyo on business and again I was approached by a Japanese. This time a man wearing a very strange hat shaped like the head of an elephant came up to me and offered me a leaflet, inviting me to a meeting in a hall not far from there. The hat was complete with a little trunk coming out towards anyone who he approached. It was designed to show the Hindu roots of this syncretistic cult, which also claims Buddhist, Shinto and Christian roots.

    Strangely enough, I immediately guessed what group he was with--the dreaded Aum Shinrikyo cult. This was after the "Sarin Subway Incident," so I must admit it took real courage for this man to be doing "evangelism" for his cult. I took his leaflet, then tried to give him a Gospel tract, but he immediately turned his back on me, and the conversation was over.

    You may be familiar with the "Sarin Subway Incident," a terrorist gas attack on the Tokyo subways by the AUM cult on March 20, 1995. Fifteen were killed, fifty injured and thousands more affected. The next day after that attack I was down in Tokyo teaching at a Bible institute, returning through the main Yokohama train station where that very day was a second scare with some unidentified gas being released in the station, though not while I was there. Truly God protects His servants!

    Even before them I had a roundabout contact with this cult and their terrorism. Before the sarin gas attack, they kidnapped and killed the family of a young lawyer who was active against them, including the couple and their tiny little boy. The young lawyer actually lived close to our house in Yokohama in an area I regularly evangelized. One day after the kidnapping I was evangelizing the area and came upon an apartment with two policemen standing in front of it. I knew immediately it must be the home of that young lawyer. Both policemen were friendly and took tracts. No doubt God brought good out of the wicked deeds of that terrible cult, as He is always able to do.
     
  15. John of Japan

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    This story is still ongoing. In fact I once again talked to U. San about his unique problem this very day on the way to prayer meeting. But I'm getting ahead of myself. It all started on the street....

    Missionary D. and I were walking down both sides of the Kaimono Koen, the "Shopping Park" outdoor mall where we do evangelism in the summer. I noticed that D. had stopped and was talking to some men on a bench, so I stopped and continued passing out tracts where I was.

    Eventually D. called me over, and informed me that he was having a hard time understanding this man. I glanced over at a middle aged Japanese man, prematurely gray but with a lively look and a hint of dangerous humor in his eyes. I soon learned D.'s problem. U. San has the purest Hokkaido dialect I've ever heard, mixed in with his macho male talk (almost a separate dialect of its own in Japanese!).

    D. had given U. San a New Testament, and the man responded with joy. "I have a Bible, too, the same kind as this one, and I've been reading it!" Sure enough, U. was seeking God. His life was in a shambles: he had the deadly hepatitis C virus and had to close the family business, of which he was the third generation owner. Furthermore his wife had divorced him when she learned that he was having an affair.

    In the midst of his trouble he remembered his experience at a Catholic kindergarten and thought, "I wonder if God can help me." On his own, he bought a Bible at a secular book store and began to read it, not understanding what he was reading.

    U. came from a very troubled background. His father was a Kempeitai (secret police) agent during WW2, and incredibly cruel and strict. U. never received any sign of love from his father, only commands and rebukes. But at least the family was rich, and as a young man U. was able to drive fast cars and meet fast women. He thought he was happy.

    To Be Continued....:type:
     
  16. John of Japan

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    Shortly after we met him, U. San went into the hospital to begin chemotherapy for his hepatitis. Missionary D. and I visited him there, and he was very glad to see us. Later D. and I talked it over and decided that we would recommend that U. San go to the church I pastor instead of D's church, since D. had trouble understanding his dialect, and U. San's apartment was a little closer to our side of town.

    After U. got out of the hospital I set up a time with him for a Bible study once a week. Praise the Lord, he was quite open to the Lord, and was reading his Bible every day, seeking how to lean on Jesus in the midst of his heart ache. He especially loved the book of Acts, and read it over and over. I began picking him up for church every Sunday.

    I learned more about U. San and his past, including the fact that he had been a real "tough guy" in high school, getting into fights often, putting sugar in the gas tank of his teacher's scooter, hanging around with the bosozoku motorcycle gangs and having the son of a yakuza gangster as a close friend!

    I also learned that he had been in prison three times when a young man. His crimes included two drug busts and one weapons charge. He had been both a drug pusher and an addict, but his time in prison had helped him kick the habit for good. Oh yes, the weapons charge? It seems that he had converted a "model gun" (actually made of steel, and very close to the real thing) into a real gun, a real "no-no" in Japan! I learned one more thing: in those young days, U. San had been a yakuza himself, the equivalent of the Mafia in Western culture!

    After some months of Bible study, the great day came! I once again taught U. San the Gospel and asked if he wanted to receive Christ. He said yes, and we prayed together! God forgave a very experienced sinner of all his sins, and received an ex-con former drug addict into the family of God!

    To be continued.... :type:
     
    #16 John of Japan, Jun 24, 2010
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  17. Servent

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    John, I love reading your stories, I also love street evaneglism. Myself our pastor and his uncle go to the streets of Houston ever Wednesday night, I get to preach, then we pass out sandwiches and pray with people, last night I had a young man come and thank me for what we are doing he said that he had asked Christ into his life about 6 months ago and off drugs for the same amount of time, He had found a job and gone through the probation period and put on full time yesterday. ( Please pray that he stays strong his name is Ken.)
    I remember the first person I ever witnessed to that came to Christ, I was on a trip in up state New York doing VBS, One afternoon I had just left the church when I saw women sitting in the front Yard we began to talk and before I knew it she was asking Christ into her life. that night she went to a womens bible study my wife was teaching, she was in church the next sunday and know heads there prison ministry.
     
    #17 Servent, Jun 24, 2010
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  18. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    Praise the Lord, Servent! It's great to read about His work.
     
  19. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    After trusting Christ as Savior, U. San was not quite ready for baptism. As with so many Japanese, he wanted to study Christianity and the Bible first to make sure he knew what he was getting into. Thus I continued the weekly Bible studies with him. I always enjoyed stopping by a nearby snack shop for a "cinnamon coffee" afterwards, and of course gave those folks tracts and invited them to church. The Japanese are so good at business, they always recognized me and knew what I wanted.

    We had not even finished the followup booklet we were studying when U. San decided he wanted to make that huge step and get baptized. To the Japanese you are not a real Christian until you make that open statement of faith. Many times a person will get saved here and tell their loved ones they have believed in Jesus, only to hear a "That's nice." But when they are baptized their loved ones may ostracize them or, if they are young, even kick them out of the house, as happened to a pastor friend of mine. Mr. U. had his own fears of this type of persecution which I did not yet know about. I was soon to learn.

    I baptized U. San in March of last year, and it was a victorious time! We took lots of photos, and even a video. U. San continued to come to church and even started coming to prayer meeting. However, his chemo would sometimes put him right down so that he couldn't even answer the door when I went to pick him up. But we could see him grow in grace in a wonderful way!

    Mr. U. told me more than once, with an amazed tone of voice, "I sure have changed!" One day after church while we were fellowshipping Mrs. W. laid into U. for his sloppy living habits, and told him in no uncertain words that he needed to change his life. Mr. U., this tough guy and ex-con, just sat there and took it! Later in the car he told me, "I sure have changed. The old me would never have let her get away with that!"

    There came the day when U. San shared with me one more huge secret. On the way home from church he admitted to me that he was not just a former yakuza gangster, after reaching his 50s he had rejoined, and was currently an active yakuza member! Not only that, when we met him on the street that day he had been recruiting for the yakuza, trying to get disaffected young men into the gang! Not only that, he was a yakuza officer, with five young men under him!

    Good grief! I had a Japanese gangster coming to my church, riding in my car, coming to my home for fellowship times! Now what was I to do?

    To be continued....
     
  20. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    One day last year, Missionary D. and I were once again out on the street witnessing for Christ when lo and behold, there was U. sitting with some friends on a bench. I greeted him and was introduced to a handsome man in his 50's with a mustache, named Furuta.

    U. then began witnessing to Furuta about Christ! I joined in, and we had the man in a crossfire. However, he responded to our talk about Heaven and Hell with a jab at U. San: "This guy will go straight to Hell when he dies!" U. responded with, "Nope, I've trusted Christ as Savior so I'm saved and will go to Heaven." Since the conversation lagged after that I greeted them again and went on my way.

    I later learned that Furuta is the yakuza oyakata (a 2nd tier "boss") who was over U. in the gang! According to U. he is a friend all the way from childhood days, but a very bad man. There is only one yakuza on the island higher than Furuta. He and this gang operate in Hokkaido in the areas of: insurance fraud, con games, drug pushing, prostitution, porno, protection rackets, etc., etc. But ever since I met Furuta I've been praying for him to trust Christ as Savior.

    What a great potential there is for God to work through U. San among the criminals in this city! So I've begun teaching soul-winning on Wednesday nights, praying for U. to catch fire.

    To Be Continued....
     

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