Breaking the Rules

Good Morning all my Faithful Friends out there,

Thank you for allowing me a diversion last week to tell about our trip to the great Outback of Australia.  I tried to think why I was so very impressed with the Qantas museum, and this is what I came up with.

Tony and I have always had a “pioneer spirit” running thru us.  I’m sure that’s at least partly why we enjoyed our mission career so much (besides the obvious Call, of course!)….. the idea of “going where no man has gone before” sort of thing. But in all fairness, I’ll have to say we were a bit pampered in Japan.  Anyway, the story I shared with you of two soldiers from WWI building an aviation empire starting in the middle of nowhere really caught our fancy.

And so today I want to continue thinking about those great visionaries who went to the mission field years and years ago to proclaim Christ.

Today’s excerpt is from Jack Garrott, who is STILL on the mission field today. I believe he was born in Japan to missionary parents Max and Dorothy.  We have several of these people in our mission, who just literally have always called Japan their home.  I think I can say my children would still be there if they had had their way. After all, Japan is such a wonderful country.

So Max Garrott’s initial time in Japan started in 1934 as a young single missionary. At that time it was mission policy (as it was in most of the world) for missionaries to live together on a compound.  Part of the idea was so that everyone could help support everyone else in difficult situations. There was also the “safety in numbers” approach, since many of those first missions were located in areas that were not exactly “foreigner friendly” (and that’s still true today). Traditional mission compounds were often designed with a fortress mentality, with houses actually forming exterior walls, many of which included broken glass and barbed wire along the tops. From the relative safety of a compound, children could play freely, and housewives could maintain their homes while their husbands ventured out on evangelistic sorties. This was definitely not the case in Japan, but out of necessity in some countries the practice still remains.

Shortly after Max’s began his work in Japan, the mission chairman left for a year’s furlough and Max made the decision, knowing all the while that he was violating strict policy, to move out of the compound and into the home of a local pastor.  This pastor just happened to have a son Max’s age, so that may have served as an encouragement.

Well, you can imagine what happened when the chairman returned. Remember in 1934 there was almost no communication, so this was news to the chairman, coming well after the fact.  Max, as he had anticipated, was called before a tribunal to decide what to do with this upstart young reprobate.  He had turned 25 by that time, and was seemingly doing quite well, but that didn’t release him from judgment.   Apparently the meeting was heated, with much discussion about young people and their ways.  The vote was a draw as to whether they’d send him packing back to the US on the first boat.
Let me interrupt here and remind you that these were, after all, the days of ‘respect’ for those in authority, coupled with the obvious dangers on any mission field.  Blatant disregard for rules had to be dealt with harshly for the benefit of others.

Thankfully, after some tense moments on Max’s part, they looked at what he had accomplished “outside the gate” and decided that a tie vote wasn’t enough to send him home.

He was to tell his son years later, “I figured if I was called to work with the Japanese, I didn’t know how that could happen clustered behind a wall with foreigners!”  Wouldn’t he be happy to know that now, almost 100 years later our missionaries are encouraged to live, if not with, at least next door to the Japanese?  “Clustering” with fellow foreigners these days is not encouraged and often not even possible.

Around the time Max finished language school, a leader in the Japan Baptist Convention (who by the way was NOT the pastor he was living with) commented, “That Garrott Sensei has the best Japanese of any of the other missionaries”.  He had been in Japan only 3 years.

That’s what I mean when I just know you’ll be impressed with our missionaries, especially those who came long ago with a clear understanding of who they were, Who God was and the ‘pioneer spirit’ (some might call it Apostolic calling) to get out there and get it done!

I’ll tell you some more about this amazing upstart next week, and maybe even some more stories about his time in Japan!


Comments are closed.