1970 – First Japanese Sermon without a Manuscript

Although I went to Japan with the intention of teaching at Seinan Gakuin University, I had been a preacher/pastor for many years and wanted to continue preaching some as well. We arrived in Japan on September 1, 1966, and I preached in English at a Japanese church on September 11. It was my first time to preach with an interpreter.

Over the next year and a half, I preached just a few more times with an interpreter. My first sermon in Japanese was on January 21, 1968. (The next time I preached, though, it was with an interpreter again.) During the next two and a half years, I preached a number of times in Japanese, but always with manuscripts that I had written in English and had translated.

It was with both joy and trepidation, then, that I preached in Japanese for the first time without a manuscript on October 25, 1970. That was at Hirao Baptist Church, the church we had been members of since the fall of 1968, and where I had preached several times with a manuscript. Two weeks later I preached the same sermon, with some additions handwritten in, at Nagazumi, the mission church sponsored by Hirao.

Since I usually had not preached in English with a manuscript, I still remember how it was a very gratifying experience to be able finally to preach without mainly reading a carefully prepared and rehearsed manuscript. As one of my missionary colleagues said, correctly I think, the quality of the Japanese used was most probably not as good, but the effectiveness of the communication was likely better.

Here is a picture of the first page of the notes I used for that first Japanese sermon, preached twice, without a manuscript. (Earlier this year I posted notes, here, from Arthur Gish’s book The New Left and Christian Radicalism, which I read in 1972; when I came across these notes just a few weeks ago, I was surprised to see that I was talking about radical Christianity before I read Gish’s book.)

Radical Christianity.1970