Japanese flock thrilled by two recent baptisms
ST. LOUIS—Baptisms in the Japanese International Harvest Church here have generated excitement for the potential of the work of God in a faith community that is being faithful to present the Gospel in its sphere of influence while being nurtured by Missouri Baptists.
“God is at work among the people groups that are coming to Missouri when we do evangelism and plant churches in their heart language,” said Ben Hess, Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) church planting specialist, who rejoiced with Pastor Yoshi Ubukata in seeing two baptisms recently.
The St. Louis Metro Baptist Association and the MBC have partnered to provide resources for reaching the Japanese community in St. Louis with the good news of Jesus. Many of the churches of the association made Ubukata and the Japanese work the focus of their Vacation Bible School (VBS) Mission Offering in 2007, resulting in over $5,000 for the work.
Ubukata baptized two new believers Sept. 28. Tim Cowin, pastor of Rock Hill Baptist Church, led his church in celebrating the baptisms with the Japanese church. Rock Hill allows the Japanese church to meet in its building, and Cowin is mentoring Ubukata as well.
The first to be baptized was a 40-year-old medical doctor, Masuhiro, who graduated from Tokyo University. The second was his 7-year-old daughter, Minori. She had accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior last year; Masuhiro said he was saved just last month.
Masuhiro prayed to receive Christ with Ubukata in early September. He is in America to further his medical studies at Washington University. He was introduced to the pastor by Pam Gunthrap at Washington University and has been attending the Japanese church for several months. Through Gunthrap’s faithful witnessing and his presence at several church events, Masuhiro sought to know more about Jesus. After church services the first Sunday of September, it appeared as if the conviction of the Holy Spirit drew him into saving faith.
Masuhiro will be returning to Japan in late December and to his work as a medical doctor, having learned from his medical research at Washington University how to be a better doctor.
Ubukata is asking for prayers for both of these newly baptized believers as they learn to walk with Jesus. He is especially concerned as Masuhiro returns to Japan. He is introducing Masuhiro to a doctor friend who just happens to be visiting St. Louis from Tokyo this month. The hope is that this man will help the new convert connect with other believers when he returns to Japan.
Ubukata came to St. Louis to start the Japanese church in February 2007. He brought his daughter to understand her need for Jesus last year, but being a Japanese missionary in Missouri has not been easy for the Ubukata family. They had to return to Japan last year for new visas to America. His mother became terminally ill, which meant the family returned to Tokyo this summer where his wife and children stayed with his ill mother while Ubukata returned to St. Louis. Ubukata then returned to Tokyo when his mother died. After the funeral, he returned with his family back to St. Louis, leaving his father in Tokyo. And now Yoshi’s wife, Hyeyeon, is expecting their third child in April; they are in need of health insurance.
“I believe God has been at work bringing the right people and resources to St. Louis just at the right time to begin working among the Japanese people that God is bringing to St. Louis,” Hess said. “All over the State of Missouri, God is bringing people from all over the world to give Missouri Baptists the opportunity to join Him in sharing the Good News of Jesus with these unreached people groups.”