57 Years of Serving by Paper & Ink!
The publishing work connected with assembly testimony in Japan will soon celebrate its fifty-seventh year in existence. In a land where the literacy rate is so high, it is virtually impossible to find an adult who cannot read in spite of the more than 2,000 Chinese ideographs, plus their many compounds.
A work producing good sound literature to further the gospel and to help establish the believers is, without question, absolutely essential. In 1948, Mr. R. J. Wright (N. Ireland) took the first very small steps to meet this need. He rented an old wooden shack, built in the aftermath of the destructive bombing Tokyo experienced. Although already scheduled to be pulled down, it served its purpose for three or four years. Old upturned apple boxes served as a display counter out in front. People passing could see the recently-produced half dozen tracts or booklets that were available to them.
Like everything else at the time, printing paper of any quality was just about impossible to obtain. Brother Wright brought in reams of paper from Australia and had it delivered to the Fuchu Penitentiary where, at the time, the printing work was being done. The authorities were more than pleased with this method, since it gave them work with which they could keep a fair number of the prisoners occupied. But the turnover of personnel was swift; no sooner would a prisoner become capable in the print shop than he would be released and another, less experienced person would take over. This turnover affected the quality of the work produced, but, happily, it did not last too long.
In due course, two little rooms for use in the publishing work became available in a small, privately-erected building. By this time, business conditions all around were improving and commercial firms began to do the printing work. Over the years, we have kept pace with the advances in the printing industry, so that we now produce high quality books, booklets, and magazines. Those who use this material have no reason for embarrassment in the quality of its appearance.
The most pressing need, at the beginning, was for gospel tracts. While the quality of the original prison work left a lot to be desired, over a period of at least 12 years, Evangelical Publishers supplied about 40 million pamphlets at a very economical price. As you would expect, profit was not a motive from the start. In fact, gifts from assemblies and individual believers subsidized the work.
Next on the agenda came a series of small booklets setting forth truths regarding the local assembly. These were translations of some of the publications offered by John Ritchie (Scotland). Over the years, those connected with this work in Kilmarnock have kindly given us full permission to translate, publish, and otherwise oversee any of their publications produced in Japan. We appreciate the fellowship thus extended.
In addition, three monthly magazines use up a lot of energy in editing and mailing. Each of these, one for children, one for gospel work, and one for believers, is now completely in the hands of Japanese brothers and sisters. I first became involved in the publishing work because of an exercise to produce monthly ministry magazines for believers. After seeing the magazine commenced, I gladly edited and otherwise took responsibility to produce the first 500 issues. Due to sickness, I asked others to do this work. They have now been doing that for about 10 years. To step aside in favor of others in this way was not so easy!
As a result of purchasing a small piece of land near the center of Tokyo, we erected our own little building, which comfortably housed the work for about 40 years. This building was the result of brother Wright’s foresight not long before he had to withdraw from the work in Japan as the result of sickness. In due course, a large urban restoration project forced the sale of this property. By setting up a trust fund, we were able to continue the publishing work. In cooperation with the Fuchu assembly, we used a large portion of this fund to construct our present building. Its first two floors are for the exclusive use of the assembly. The third floor houses the Evangelical Publishers as a store room and office. The fourth floor is a “missionary apartment” which my wife and I now use after the Elton Fairfields moved to slightly larger quarters.
Two full-time and one part-time employees (a brother and two sisters) check translations, liaise with the printers, look after the large mailing work, and attend to the bookkeeping. They are to be highly commended for the faithful way they apply themselves to this work. We could not keep going without them. While the monthly burden is large, their salaries are not going to make them rich by any means. During these long years of service for the Lord’s people, we have fully experienced the truth of the words “God is faithful.” Every year we have shown a loss in our business but never once have we finished the year in debt. The tax people are puzzled as to how we do it but, of course, they have no idea that we have invisible means of support.
Now, one of the longest established Christian publishing businesses in the Far East, Evangelical Publishers has been graciously used by God to maintain simple Scriptural testimony in many places. It is our fervent desire that this will not be interrupted until the Lord comes.