Japanese Women Accept Christ Before Festival of Hope in Sapporo, Japan

By   •   May 9, 2014

Woman listening
A woman listens as the Rev. Akira Sato shares the Gospel at Friday's ladies luncheon in Sapporo, Japan.

A ladies luncheon originally planned for 300 women drew more than 860 people to a Sapporo, Japan, hotel Friday. Some attendees left with a new understanding of Jesus Christ just hours before the Hokkaido Festival of Hope kickoff a short drive away.

Chiharu Kitamura was one woman forever impacted by the event. Kitamura said she felt God tugging at her heart as the Rev. Akira Sato explained the Gospel. Kitamura sometimes attends church with her children, but no one in her family is Christian. She was happy to understand more about Jesus and said she wants to follow Him.

Rev. Sato
The Rev. Akira Sato told how he was impacted by the Tohoku earthquake of 2011 and how it ultimately strengthened his faith.

Since 1969, ladies luncheons across Japan have shared the hope of Christ with women like Kitamura through music, a message and fellowship. Many times, if husbands don’t attend church, their wives don’t, either, so the luncheons reach some women who might not be exposed to the Gospel otherwise.

The Rev. Sato knows firsthand how powerful the Gospel can be. He brought several women to tears as he shared his own journey of faith.

In 2011, when Tohoku, Japan, was hit with an earthquake, it sparked a meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, and the area around Sato’s church was evacuated. Sato knew some people who died, and his congregation was dispersed.

Sato began to wonder why God let that happen, but saw his congregation’s faith become stronger through their struggles. Many members still can’t return to their homes, but met as a church for the first time again last month.

That’s the kind of story of survival and perseverance that moves the Japanese audience. And the kind of story that brings some closer to Christ.

woman crying
Some women were moved to tears as they heard about God’s love for them.

Singer Mihoko Yasuda took a moment Friday to share how she accepted Christ at 13. Before then, she found it hard to love her classmates, but realized that “Jesus loves me” and saw her capacity to love increase. She later saw how her violent late husband changed as Christ transformed his life. She hopes other women experience the same transformation.

“I pray they meet Jesus,” she said earnestly, looking around the full dining room.

Osaka pastor Sumako Furubayashi, who helped organize the luncheon, has also been praying as BGEA events bring the Gospel to Japan.

In 2006, Franklin Graham preached in Okinawa, the southernmost part of Japan; this year, he’s in Sapporo, the northernmost part.

“From the bottom to the top,” she said. “It’s answered prayer.”

Watch the Hokkaido Festival of Hope May 9-11 by visiting http://BillyGraham.org/Japan. The event will be streamed each night at 9 p.m. ET.

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  1. jacob mathew says:

    Salvation has come to japan finally after thosands of years.i am glad that japanese people are accepting jesus in dorves and healings are happening in japan.lord help progress of gospel in japan.

  2. LaVerne Garrett says:

    My heart is extremely happy to learn of this work and wonderful results in Sapporo Japan. In 1970 I visited Sapporo along with 40 members of my church in Texas. We ministered with 2 or 3 different churches there. I met a young career woman on a street corner, It truly was a Divine Appointment. Her name was Micheko Kawahara. She went through quite a struggle before she came to believe in Jesus and follow him in believer’s baptism TWO years later. I have not heard from her since I receiv ed her message about her salvation. In my heart I believe she is somewhere serving our Lord and I would so much like to be reconnected. Perhaps in another Divine Moment God will reunite us. May God’s Kingdom come and may His will be done on earth as in Heaven.

  3. Sarah Gordon says:

    Thank you for bringing the gospel in a meaningful way to the people of Japan. You are indeed an answer to prayer! Missionary to Japan 28 years!!