I was tremendously encouraged in 2014 when I saw a first-hand demonstration of what had happened after Naha Baptist Church (NBC) in Okinawa began to use creation evangelism teaching. Eleven years before, I had visited the church as part of an extensive Japanese tour. I had been invited back in my role with Creation Ministries International (CMI) to teach them further about creation.
NBC is the lead church of the Okinawa Baptist Convention (OBC) of 40 churches. Today it has about 300 attending Sunday morning services, with a good proportion of men and young people.
About 70 people attended the five sessions, including teaching on the Genesis foundations for the gospel, evidence for Noah’s flood, origin of races, and dinosaurs and the Bible. Tōru Yasui, of Bible and Creation, Japan¹, translated all my talks and also presented one of the seminar sessions to the high school youth of the church.
Many people expressed a heartfelt appreciation for the teaching. At the end, a lady took my hand. With a beaming smile and in faltering English, she said it had given her a completely new way of thinking. It reminded me of the time in my own life when I realised I could actually believe what the Bible said about the creation, the fall, and the flood; it was almost like being born again—again.
During my first visit to this church the senior pastor and others realised the importance of creation evangelism in reaching Japanese people with the gospel. (One of the leadership team back then had repented in front of others of his unbelief of that portion of the Bible.)
They have since conscientiously applied and developed what I taught and NBC has grown significantly. I remember senior pastor Rev. Mamoru Kuniyoshi being excited at the time, but to see the application since is incredibly encouraging. The senior pastor is part of a small fellowship of Japanese pastors who promote creation evangelism in Japan. One member from a Presbyterian background on Honshu visited us in Brisbane on two occasions to follow-up on ideas for creation evangelism and started a new church, by conversions, in one of Japan’s Shinto strongholds, using creation evangelism principles.
A church culture of creation evangelism
Although other factors have no doubt been important in contributing to NBC’s growth, congregations which doubt the truth and authority of the Word of God are much more likely to be hobbled from the start. Creation apologetics has become part of NBC’s culture. During the all-age Sunday School, before the main worship service, the adult class (about 100 people) was addressed by a lady who had been to the Grand Canyon recently. She explained, using her own photos in a slide presentation, how the Grand Canyon was a monument to the biblical flood of Noah.
A member of the church, a medical doctor, has translated Stones and Bones, Dr Carl Wieland’s booklet-sized introduction to the creation/evolution controversy, into Japanese.²
There is good cooperation among churches in Okinawa. The Okinawa Baptist Convention is the largest Christian group on the island, so it is quite influential. Other churches have become interested in what NBC and the other churches of the OBC are doing with creation evangelism. NBC had organized a Monday morning creation seminar with Tōru Yasui especially for pastors of other churches.
I also had opportunity to teach at a small church near Narita airport on my layover between Okinawa and returning to Australia. The pastor and his wife started this church in their home a few years ago and they have now acquired the property next door to accommodate the growing congregation. On a Monday afternoon about 25 parents and children crowded in, eagerly taking notes. Again, this pastor is growing a church using creation evangelism.
God taught from the beginning as Creator of all
All this is happening in a country where we often hear that people are unreceptive to the gospel. However, when the Bible is taught from the beginning to establish God as the Creator of all, people are receptive. How can people understand their need for forgiveness, and a Saviour, if they have no concept that God created them, so they are accountable to him? Who will judge them for their sin if there is no Creator-God to whom they will be held accountable? How can they trust the Bible on salvation if they can’t trust its history in Genesis, so foundational to the gospel, of how sin and death entered the world?
An American missionary in Okinawa attended the Saturday sessions of the seminar at NBC. He appreciated the biblical creation message being delivered. He shared how he uses Firm Foundations: Creation to Christ / 確 かな土台：創造からキリストまで (New Tribes Mission) in church planting and evangelism, and that it is effective.
We need to stand firm on the authority of God’s Word from the beginning, and thus continue to be effective in sharing the gospel with those who are perishing. Belief in a Creator God is vital to mission. Without such a Creator, there is simply no need for a Saviour.
Edited version of original article published by Creation Ministries International. Used with permission.
- Bible and Creation, Japan is associated with the Dōmei denomination. They offer seminars, sell books, and DVDs educating people about the Biblical creation standpoint. http://b-c.jp/
- Four books from CMI are now available in Japanese:
Stones and Bones: カール・ウィーランド, 創造の確 かな証拠
Creation Answers Book: デイビット・キャッチプール, ジョナサン・サルファティ, カール・ウィーランド, 聖 書に書かれた『創造』の疑問に答えるー 創造論、進 化論、創世記に関する60以上の解説 ー Editor:ドン・バッテン
Refuting Evolution: ジョナサン・サルファティ, 進化 論は科学か？～最新の科学で進化論を検証する～
Starlight, Time and the New Physics: ジョン・ハート ネット, 光年の謎と新宇宙論
Photo by Gary Bauman