April 10, 2021

A Continuing Legacy in Japan

After nearly six decades of service, Reverend Hidehiro Ouchi retired from the positions of Japan District Superintendent and pastor of the Kawasaki church. In acknowledgement of his years of faithfulness, the Kawasaki congregation had a retirement celebration for Reverend Ouchi following the Easter Sunday service on April 4, 2021.

Forty-one people attended the service in person, and another twelve joined from other countries via an online platform. The countries represented in addition to Japan were Nigeria, South Korea, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

For the Easter message, Reverend Ouchi preached his last sermon as pastor of the Kawasaki church—a position he has held for fifty-eight years. He took his text from Luke 24:1-8, and throughout the message, shared experiences from his life. He closed by saying, “I am thankful God has been my Shepherd for sixty-five years.”

The sermon was followed by congregational singing, and then three new converts came forward to be water baptized. Reverend Ouchi had the honor of baptizing them, and then they were each presented with a certificate and bouquet of flowers.  

The retirement celebration followed. Reverend Ouchi was acknowledged for his many years of service. He became the Kawasaki pastor on October 14, 1962, and the Japan District Superintendent on May 5, 1968. His wife, Sumie, was also acknowledged for her faithfulness—the two married in December of 1962.

Upon hearing of Reverend Ouchi’s retirement, many people sent letters, including several district superintendents and the children of Arthur and Miriam Allen, the first Apostolic Faith missionaries to Japan. While most of the letters were shared privately, those from Superintendent General Darrel Lee and Director of East Asia Work Bill McKibben were read to the congregation.

Reverend Ouchi then gave a heartfelt greeting and shared his favorite memories of the Allens, who were instrumental in his own conversion and in the founding of our work in Japan. He also spoke of the start of the Kawasaki church. He said that in the beginning, many people who lived near the church were only interested in the English lessons given by the missionaries, but God used their interest for eternal purposes. Many people came to know Jesus through that outreach and were saved. Even today, there are several older saints in the congregation who were converted in those days and remain faithful.

Mrs. Ouchi also spoke, giving a warm greeting and expressing gratitude for God’s love and leading over such a long period of time. Following this, the Ouchis were presented with a bouquet of flowers and a special gift of a wooden shield engraved with Scripture.

The Kawasaki Board of Directors now assumes oversight of the work in Japan. They are thankful for the young people who are accepting the challenge of continuing the Ouchi’s faithful example in sharing the Good News of the Latter Rain Gospel.

The Apostolic Faith Work in Japan

The Japan work had its start in 1950 when a group of harbor workers from the Portland congregation met the first Japanese merchant ship to arrive on the West Coast after World War II. They invited everyone aboard to a church service, and fifty-two men responded. The work continued from there with hundreds of Japanese crewmen attending services at the Portland headquarters church over the next few years.

A burden for the spiritual welfare of the Japanese visitors and their families began to lay heavy on the hearts of some of the Portland workers, so in 1952, an exploratory trip was made to Japan to investigate the possibility of establishing a branch church there.

After the trip, it was determined that the interest shown by the Japanese people warranted a resident missionary. In February of 1953, the Reverend Arthur Allen and his wife, Miriam, along with their two children, left their home in Portland and moved to Tokyo. Soon after their arrival, they began studying Japanese, giving English lessons, and sharing the Gospel message.

The missionaries were invited to hold church services in quarters provided for ship crews by the Japanese government. The facility was also used for other activities, so sometimes they gathered beneath the stars for their time of fellowship and worship. When a rented hall became available in Kawasaki, they moved the services there, and also held cottage meetings. God blessed with the salvation of souls, and numbers were added to the group until about forty were gathering weekly.

As the congregation grew and interest mounted, it seemed impossible to rent a suitable place of worship, so it was decided that the best thing to do was to build a church. Land was purchased in the city of Ota, about six miles from Kawasaki. On that plot, in a fine residential district, Japanese craftsmen built a beautiful church with offices and an attached parsonage. It was dedicated in 1954 as the first Apostolic Faith Church in Japan.

In 1955, a printing press was purchased in Japan, and the Ota congregation took over responsibility for producing a Japanese edition of the Apostolic Faith paper. Formerly, the Portland headquarters had been printing and distributing this paper to over five thousand households in Japan.

In Kawasaki, cottage meetings continued with a small group worshiping together twice a month. Since their arrival, the missionaries had desired to establish a permanent place of worship in this part of Tokyo, and often looked for land. However, the price was always too high. Then in 1962, God provided the necessary means for the purchase of land, and the United States Army donated a surplus barracks. The building was dismantled and then reconstructed on the church site by Reverend Allen and members of the congregation. On October 14, 1962, Hidehiro Ouchi became the pastor of the new church, and it was dedicated a month later on November 18, 1962.

In 1968, Apostolic Faith General Overseer Loyce Carver visited Japan. On May 5, he ordained Reverend Ouchi as the Japan District Superintendent, and the Kawasaki church became the Japan headquarters. Later, the Ota church was sold, and a portion of the funds was used to build a new church on the Kawasaki site. It was dedicated on October 24, 1971, and still serves as the Japan headquarters today.

Hidehiro and Sumie Ouchi

God has been so gracious to me. When I was in college studying to be an attorney, a friend invited me to go with him to the Apostolic Faith Church in Ota, Tokyo, to learn English. Missionaries Arthur and Miriam Allen had come from the United States with their children to start the church. Brother Allen conducted the services and Sister Allen taught English conversation classes. I went to both, not knowing anything about my heart’s condition and not having any purpose for my life.
Soon, I found that there were more important things in life than learning English, like the salvation of my soul and having peace with God. As I listened to the preaching, I realized that I was a sinner. One sermon in particular spoke to my heart. Brother Allen said that a young man was questioned about what he planned to do with his life. He answered that he would get an education. Then he was asked, “What then?” He said he would get established in business. “What then?” He would marry. “What then?” When the conversation came to the end of the young man’s life, he was asked again, “What then?” Through the sermon, I realized that one day I would stand before God in judgment and would have nothing to show for my life if I did not serve Him.  
When I was twenty years old, I went to the summer camp meeting. There, I repented of my sins, and God forgave me and changed my heart, giving me peace and joy within. He also gave me a purpose in life, and I left off pursuing a career as an attorney.
A few years later, God sanctified me, and then in 1962, when I was twenty-six years old, He baptized me with the Holy Ghost. In October of that same year, I was sent to pastor the new church in Kawasaki, and a few months later, Sumie and I were married. The Lord has helped us for many years now, and has been so good and merciful. I hope to follow Him all the days of my life. — Hidehiro Ouchi
When I was sixteen years old, I saw a crowd gathered in front of the Kamata railway station in Tokyo. It was a street meeting being held by people from the Apostolic Faith Church. At the close, they invited everyone to their church for an evangelistic service, and I followed them.
After that first invitation, I began attending the Sunday services when I had no work, which was twice a month. I learned that God created Heaven, the earth, and even me. I also learned that I was a sinner in need of a Savior.
When I had been going to church for about three months, I heard a minister preach from John 3:16 on the love of God. He said God sent His Son to die for my sins. I believed on Jesus and prayed, repenting of my sins, and God forgave me and saved me. I was so happy and thankful that all my sins were forgotten!
In the church services, I was taught to put the Lord first in my life. As I attempted to do this through prayer and consecration, God gave me the Scripture, “Ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy” (Leviticus 11:45). This gave me confidence to receive sanctification, and whenever I doubted later, the Lord reminded me of this verse.
About a year after I received salvation, I was by a riverbank and felt called to make deeper consecrations. The Lord spoke to my heart, “Take up your cross and follow Me.” I wondered how I could ever work for the Lord, but I yielded to His call.
When I was nearly nineteen, I felt led by the Lord to marry Hidehiro. After I made the decision to marry, my circumstances at home changed greatly because my family was opposed to the marriage. I prayed to the Lord, weeping, and He assured me that His ways were not my ways, and He would bless me if I followed Him. Now, my husband and I have been married for fifty-eight years, and the Lord has truly blessed our lives.
There have been times of trial and sickness, but the Lord has been our Shepherd and Healer. When I was forty-five, I needed surgery for a hemorrhage. As I was wheeled into the operating room, these words came to mind: “As I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee,” and, “I have made, and I will bear: even I will carry, and will deliver you.” After leaving the hospital, I searched the Bible for these verses, but could not find them. Then one day, my husband preached from both of them, Joshua 1:5 and Isaiah 46:4. The Lord is so good, and His promises are true! — Sumie Ouchi
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