International Ministries

In God’s Time!

May 29, 2010 Journal
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 “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”  Ecc. 3:11

24 years ago I came to Japan for the first time as a mission volunteer.  In those first weeks I was invited to Tokyo for a missionary gathering.  On the way home I was suppose to ride with Rev. Karl Karpa on the Bullet train.  Karl was sick that day and at the station his wife, Linda Lee, returned his ticket for a refund.

I was sitting in my assigned seat when a lady came and sat next to me.  “I got the last ticket for this train”, she said in broken English.  I was reading a book, we chatted for a few minutes then I went back to my book.  Pretty soon she interrupted me with some more small talk. At that point I felt the Holy Spirit suggesting I should put my book away. We talked all the way to Osaka where she got off the train.

In the weeks and months that followed Mrs. Kenmochi and I became friends.  She took me sightseeing around the area and introduced me to “Kabuki”, “Bunraku” and the “shamisen”.  I invited her to church.  The problem was she lived almost 2 hours away.  I asked the pastor of the church I attended if there was a Baptist church in Ibaragi where she lived.   “Oh, Jim and Ali Sandholdt (ABC missionaries at that time) are just starting a new church in Ibaragi.”  I introduced Mrs. Kenmochi to Jim and Ali.  Later, after I returned to the US to finish seminary, Mrs. Kenmochi was part of the first baptism in the new Ibargi Preaching Place.

She just happened to get the last ticket for the train (Karl’s returned ticket).  Jim and Ali just happened to start a new church in her community.  Don’t you love the way things just happen? We know God makes everything beautiful in its time.


Why am I telling this story today?  Tomoko and I just got back from Mrs. Kenmochi’s memorial service.  She passed away suddenly last week. It was a lunch and fellowship time for family and friends, with pictures and examples of her hobbies to share.  Her testimony was printed and given to everyone.  It told how she met a youth from America on the bullet train. He invited her to church, and an American missionary baptized her.  Her pastor took some time to share about Mrs. Kenmochi’s faith, her life and her passing, also her favorite Bible verse, Ecclesiastes 3:11.

I give thanks that 24 years ago, I put away my book and took time to make a new friend.

Thank you for your support and prayer.

Grace and Peace,