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On call in mission: keeping Christ's promise involves an open door policy.

It was going to be one of my early nights to bed. However, as Grandma Mahaffey used to say, "My teeth were in a cup, my eyes on the table ... " but my ears were not yet in the drawer. As I started up the stairs, I heard a hesitant knock. When I opened the door, Kazuichi Yamano entered our lives.

Leaving Beth to watch her movie, Yamano and I went to the kitchen where his story unfolded. Sensing he had reached the end of the line, I understood his despair. He had nothing left, not even enough to try to hide or cover up any of his story.

Yamano-san had given up on God when his mother suddenly died at 38 years of age despite his desperate prayers. He had gladly gone to church with her every Sunday, taking more than an hour to reach the little house church near Hiroshima. He had gone to work in far away Nagoya when he was 15, and supported the family for the next three years until the loss of his mother. Overwhelmed by grief and anger, he drowned his feelings in alcohol for a couple years. Then, with the help of good people who came into his life, he turned around, determined to make a go of it on his own.

For eight years or so, Yamano did well, winning the respect of the owner of the transportation company where he worked. His boss thought so highly of him, he introduced Yamano to a major rightist organization with offices all over Japan. Yamano thought he had found his niche where he could make his mark.

After 12 years, on his way up the ladder of loyalty to the militant political operation, he began to have second thoughts. He was under the pressure of a possible promotion from the office in Kagoshima, South Kyushu, to the head office in Tokyo. One night, when he was extremely tired, he had a dream in which his mother was calling him either to get away or to come away.

So that was what Yamano did. He got up, wrote out his resignation and walked away from the whole operation with only what he had on his back and in his handcase. For three days, he wandered from bridges, to railway platforms, to docksides; but he never had enough courage to end it all as he intended. Drifting up the country, and walking the back streets of Kokura, he came along our street. He caught sight of the dimly lit Kokura Korean Church sign and read the words in Japanese and Korean: "Come unto me, all you who are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." As late as it was, Yamano knocked on our door.

That night over a year ago, we fed the desperately hungry man as best we could. We shared his burdens as he unloaded them, assured him of the Friend's promise he had read on the sign, and bedded him down for the night. In the morning, refreshed by what he said was a wonderful rest, that 42-year-old child of God was ready to move on. We encouraged him to act on his spirit of hope and connect with his roots, renewing his walk with God which he had previously enjoyed with his mother.

Almost 12 hours after he had come, Yamano-san left our place in good spirits. He headed back to his home town to visit his mother's grave and, then, to get on with his life. Jesus was alive to him again, a friend in all his need.

He called us a couple of weeks later, full of thanks. He assured us of his peace of heart and of healthy work found. Later in the month, he visited again -- a new man now, settling into a steady job in another city.

That we were here to open the door to Yamano-san and to have one of our investments of time, heart and resources repaid in this way fills us with joy.

Jack McIntosh is a missionary of The Presbyterian Church in Canada working with the Korean Christian Church in Japan.
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Author:McIntosh, Jack
Publication:Presbyterian Record
Date:Jan 1, 1998
Words:691
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