09Sep

Starting the Fellowship in Japan

On June 6, 1985 I left Seattle on Thai Airlines, Flight 741 bound for Tokyo, Japan where I was to meet my friend, Paul Crawford, and spend a week pioneering a new work of FGBMFI in that nation.   I had no doubt that Japan was a difficult place for Christianity.  The leaders of the Fellowship in Seattle, men whom I respected had shown little interest in my decision to start the Fellowship in Japan, even my wife, Barbara, told me she felt I was missing God.

Paul and I spent two days in Tokyo and Yokohama meeting Christian business men and pastors. Each of these men warned us of the difficulties that awaited us in attracting Japanese business men to a Christian event.  One Japanese man, Yasio Asurna, told us that the Japanese are very religious, but they see little difference between Buddhism, Shintoism or Christianity.  He said that the Japanese think all religions will lead a person to heaven!  After Two days in Tokyo and Yokohama we took a bullet train south to Kyoto where we met with Noel Morris, a lay missionary from New Zealand. Noel who had been baptized in the Holy Spirit during a Full Gospel Business men’s meeting in New Zealand, had been in Japan for nearly ten years.  Noel had a heart for the Fellowship, and helped us set up several meetings in Japanese Christian Churches. Noel also briefed Paul and I on his experience (ministering) in Japan. He gave us the following report; Japanese pastors are very suspicious of Para-Christian groups like FGBMFI; Japanese men have little free time, they are busy, busy, busy and would be hard to attract to our meetings: Japanese men work as a team, and no one would want to take the responsibility to lead the Fellowship, as it might fail and they would lose face; Less than one percent of Japanese are Christians, and few are strong, bold, mature Christians.

I began to think that maybe Barbara and the Seattle FGBMFI leaders were right – maybe I hadn’t heard God! Maybe I had mussed it!

On Tuesday evening, our fifth day in Japan, Noel Morris invited a small group of Christian leaders and their families to the Osaka Christian Center, a small building owned by a nondenominational Christian group, to hear Paul and me present the FGBMFI vision.  Paul opened the meeting by speaking briefly about the Fellowship.  The Japanese listened very courteously and then it was my turn to speak.  I gave my testimony, told how I accepted Jesus as my savior in a Jacuzzi tub, how I was baptized in the Holy Spirit in my living room, and how God had healed me in an FGBMFI meeting.  As I finished my testimony I also told how God had healed others as I had prayed for them, hoping the testimonies it would release the people’s faith.  Then I told the people if anyone had pain or sickness in their body to come forward and God would heal them. There was “Silence”, no one moved…

I kept talking, trying to encourage the people to come forward for prayer.  Finally a Japanese man who had stomach pain came forward.  I prayed, and the pain left him.  Then a pastor’s wife came forward with lower back pain, and as I prayed the pain left her lower back as well.  Then I saw something out of the corner of my eye that made me want to close my eyes; I didn’t  want to look in that direction  because every time I did, I felt faith draining out of my eyes!  Coming toward me was an elderly, gray haired Japanese woman using an old knurled walking stick for support.  She would take a step and drag her right leg forward, and then she would take another step and drag her right leg forward.  The devil was saying “now it’s all over”, you were making progress with these people, but now they‘ll leave here tonight defeated, and you will have to start all over again.”

Well, there was nothing I could do but pray for the lady, I had been boldly proclaiming that God would heal anyone who would take a step of faith and come forward, but for a brief moment I had let the devil intimidate me. When she reached me I asked her to set down in a chair. I could plainly see that her right leg was about 1 ½ inches shorter than the left.  I held the lady’s legs in my hands and I commanded the right leg to lengthen in Jesus Name. As I prayed the woman’s leg lengthened… She got up, jumped up and down, and lifted her right leg up and down shouting “Mae wa dekimasen deshita…  Iyasare mashita.   Naori mashita.  dekinakattanoni dekimasu..!” My interpreter stopped interpreting for a minute and began talking to the woman in Japanese. Finally he turned to me and said “she’s saying “I couldn’t do this before… I ‘am Healed, I ‘am Healed, I couldn’t do this before…!  Suddenly the people were excited; the woman’s Pastor called a special Healing meeting in his church the following evening.  Suddenly these businessmen from America were in demand.  We had passed the test…, and from then on the Japanese began to accept the Fellowship.  A year or so later we established our first FGBMFI Chapter in Osaka.

EXERCISING YOUR FAITH FOR HEALING

Before we discuss what faith is, let me share a caveat to the story concerning the healing of older lady with the walking stick.  About nine months after the older lady was healed, I was back in Japan and was speaking in her church.  The older lady whose leg had been healed in the Osaka Christian Center was present.  That lady told me that even though the pain left when I prayed for her and she could walk correctly, when the doctor x-rayed her  leg they found that the bone in the right leg was still decidedly smaller in diameter that the left leg.  But she was not discouraged, and she kept giving thanks to God for her healing.   And by the time I I was visiting with her in her church (nine months later) she told me that both bones were now the same diameter. The moral of the story! Keep the switch of faith on.

WHAT IS FAITH?

“…If you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17:20).

FAITH PLEASES GOD

 

“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).

The Creators Handbook (the Bible) states that we cannot please God without faith, therefore if we want God’s blessing on our lives, we need to understand what the “God kind of faith” is, and set about to develop it, and release it in our lives.

FAITH IS INFORMATION WE RECEIVE FROM GOD

“Faith is a noun; it is information. It is something you have… you get a set of instructions or information from God which becomes your faith. Believe is a verb; it is something you do…your acting is your believing.”  Believing is an action you take as a result of the faith you have in your heart. “You do not believe in the Biblical sense without acting on your faith.”

When you meditate upon (think upon and confess) a promise that God has given you in the Creator’s Handbook, or a word spoken into your heart by the Spirit of God, it plants a seed of hope in your heart and that seed begins to grow. When the Word of God is fully established in your heart it becomes your faith. Your faith, the information you received from God and stored in your heart is your faith. It tells you in advance what the will of God is concerning a matter. God’s Word is His will.

In the twenty-first century we usually get our information from God in two basic ways: (1) we get it from the Scriptures (2) and God may speak a “Rhema word” directly to our spirit.

Everything in this world was created by faith.  “By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were made of things which do not appear.”  Genesis 1:1 says God created…”  How did He create? The bible says “He created them by the word of God; He created them by the word of faith. He said,” Let there be…” and there was!  God had faith in His own words.

We read in the scriptures that Jesus also had faith in His words.  How did Jesus exercise His faith? He spoke it. (see the following example)

JESUS TAUGHT US TO SPEAK OUR FAITH

One day Jesus and his men were walking from the town of Bethany on their way to the city of Jerusalem when He became hungry. In the distance Jesus saw a fig tree, and He approached the tree to see if perhaps He might find some figs on it. Finding no fruit He said to the barren fig tree, “let no one eat fruit from you ever again!” (Mark 11:14).  The next morning as He and His men were passing by the same fig tree, Peter noticed that it had dried up from its roots. Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree which you cursed has withered away” (Mark 11:21).

Jesus used this incident to teach his men concerning faith, and said to them, “Have faith in God.” One modern translation says “Have the faith of God.” Jesus had demonstrated the “God kind of faith” when He cursed the fig tree. Then Jesus went on to explain the “God kind of faith”: “For assuredly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and cast into the sea’, and does not doubt in his heart, (his spirit), but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. Therefore I say to you, ‘Whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them and you will have them'” (Mark 11:23 – 24). These two verses define the Law of Faith, and in the above incident with the fig tree Jesus, gave us a practical demonstration concerning the exercise of the Law of Faith. First, our faith must be in our hearts and in our mouths to get results; second, our faith must be in God, based on God’s promises (remember – “faith is information we get from God to act on”); thirdly, Jesus’ words those things means that the “Law of Faith” will produce whatever things that God has promised us in his word; fourthly, you can either say your faith or pray your faith.

On another occasion Jesus spoke the same principle to his men using slightly different words: “… for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17:20). Think about that!  Jesus said If you develop the “God kind of faith” in your spirit concerning healing, “…nothing will be impossible to you.”

EVERY CHRISTIAN HAS THE “GOD KIND OF FAITH”

When you were born again the Spirit of God moved into your spirit. Speaking to the believers in Rome, Paul said, “…God has dealt to each one a measure of faith”(Romans 12:3).  Paul was talking about a measure of the “faith of God” that was given to you when you were born again. God starts every believer off with the same amount of faith; it is yours to be used and developed in your daily life. The measure or the amount of faith that God gave to you when you were born again can be increased – it can grow (2Thessalonians 1:3).  However, you are the one who increases it – not God. You can increase your faith by:

(1) Meditating upon (thinking upon and confessing) the Word of God, and

(2) Exercising you faith, by putting it to work in your daily life and business affairs. In this month’s “War story for the Joshua Generation” I exercised my faith by praying for the woman whose right leg was atrophied.  I did so even though my head was telling me it wouldn’t work.  My head was telling me that if I prayed for this seemingly hopeless case, that I would be embarrassed, that I would look stupid!

Most Christians have a measure of faith, but they are not using the faith they have, because they don’t know how to release their faith.

YOU CANNOT SAY JUST ANYTHING TO YOUR MOUNTAIN

Faith comes by hearing, but faith is released by speaking.

FAITH MUST BE IN THE HEART AND IN THE MOUTH

Paul expresses the “law of faith” in another way in Romans 10:6-8 “But the righteousness of faith speaks in this way…  But what does it say? The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach):” Notice that Paul calls the Word of God “the word of faith” (Romans 10:8). The “God kind of faith” is developed in our spirit by meditating upon (thinking upon and confessing) the word of faith. But the “God kind of faith” is released from our spirit by speaking it from our mouth.

In the next verse Paul, talking about the born again experience continues: “That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:9 & 10).

Notice that a person must confess that he has salvation, before he actually receives it. This is the touchstone of the “Law of Faith,” and it applies to everything that we receive from God.  We must confess that we have it before we receive it. We must believe that we have received it, and confess that we have it before it actually manifests in the physical world (Mark 11:23 & Mark 11:24).

The English word salvation used in the above verse is the translation of the Greek word Solteria (Strong’s #4991), and it means deliverance, preservation, soundness, prosperity, happiness, rescue, and general well-being. The word is used both in the material, temporal sense and in the spiritual, eternal sense.

Therefore Romans 10:9&10 could just as well have been written, “That if you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in your heart that He has healed you, you shall be healed for with the heart one believes unto healing and with the mouth confession is made unto healing.”

Bob Bignold
National President
Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship in America