An interesting account of the beginnings of the publishing work in Japan.
The year was 1948. Japan was just emerging from the devastation caused by the bombing of the Second World War. The location was close to the center of Tokyo where the “premises” themselves were most uninviting – a rat invested shack that had already been condemned by the authorities. But it was there that the feeble beginnings of the assembly publishing work were attempted, a work, which by the grace and faithfulness of God, continues to this day supplying the believers with a steady flow of good reading matter and material to be used in gospel work.
Mr. ‘Bobbie’ Wright and a Miss Ruby Kyle, both from N. Ireland were the people involved. Miss Kyle, still in the middle of intense language study, rushed from school to the “store” daily, in order to supervise the work in general and, in particular, a night school student who was employed to look after the wrapping and mailing of what literature was available at the time. Meanwhile, brother Wright was scrounging paper, one of many scarce items of the day, and arranging with a large prison in the city to do the printing. Gospel tracts were the first priority. By the time tract publishing was taken over by local assemblies for their customized needs 30 years later, many millions had been distributed around the countryside. Reading matter then was not too plentiful. Defeat in war had given the Japanese a sense of the superiority of all things “American,” including their “religion,” Christianity. The distribution of pamphlets was easy since they were eagerly read. There are assemblies today that have good spiritual leaders who were first brought under the sound of God’s Word by reading one of these tracts.
Four or five of the little booklets, which John Ritchie of Scotland has again issued, revised and redesigned, were translated and published. These formed the basis of a teaching ministry dealing with God’s Word, Baptism, Assembly principles and practice, that has been built upon over the years. Three monthly magazines, one each for gospel work, for believers and for children were soon being issued. It was the second of these, to meet the needs of the small but increasing number of Christians that gave the writer his first interest in publishing. That exercise has continued from 1950 until now.
In due course, a small concrete block building of two floors was erected nearer the center of Tokyo. This was brought about by much sacrifice on the part of brother Wright. Over a period of some years a number of sisters gave much help in the running of what now has become a small business with an attractive retail store. Until her recent “retirement” to N. Ireland, Miss Gloria Speechley carried the daily burden for many, many years. The store was accessible right from the sidewalk on a main thoroughfare, which was also conveniently situated near a busy train station. This little shop became an office and storeroom, and served the work well for close to 30 years. In due course, because of developer interest in the little piece of property and because of skyrocketing land prices, it also became the means of settling the publishing work in a lovely third floor accommodation over the Gospel Hall in Fuchu City. This, being our fifth move, should be the last until the Lord comes!
Japanese secular publishing is, of course, “state of the art.” We have sought to keep pace with the developments, and all our publications, whether books, booklets or magazines, are of the very best quality. The objective of the publishing work remains constant. Booklets and books for gospel work, well known expository works, mostly translated from English, and a few written originally in Japanese are being sent out all over the country. A very strong emphasis is placed on literature teaching assembly truth. This is a means of helping the saints maintain, in simplicity, a good Scriptural order. The three monthly magazines, now in the hands of Japanese believers, continue to meet a need among many assemblies scattered all over the country.
During many of the years mentioned already, two Japanese brethren and a sister were employed in editing, checking, mailing. and dealing with the printers. These faithful helpers have now retired. For a while it appeared as though the work was going to suffer very badly as the result. However, God graciously answered prayer in the raising up of a very able young man to take over just about every aspect of the work they were doing. He has the help of his wife, both of whom are in the Fuchu assembly, and live only two doors down the street from the building now housing both the saints and this work. Other believers do help on a voluntary basis, but we are looking to the Lord to raise up others to assist as well. Especially needed are young men from the home lands who, with a God given exercise to make known the gospel, have both the desire and ability to communicate the truth of God to His people. If such were to settle into the study of Japanese, they would, in full fellowship with their Japanese brethren and sisters, soon become “vessels meet for the Master’s use” in this part of the vineyard. There are cities here, nearly as populous as the province of Ontario, crying out for some to “come over and help us.”
It has been our purpose over the years to make this work completely independent financially. For that reason, almost all the literature is sold, although at a very reasonable price. Still, the number of readers, especially for our larger expositional books, is not large. Consequently, we have a large deficit every year. To the glory of God, and as a mark of His faithfulness, we can testify to the fact that we never have ended any year with any debts whatsoever. In spite of very large monthly salaries, it has been our continual experience that “Jehovah Jireh” (God provides). While we know not what a day may bring forth, wisdom does mandate that some measure of preparation be made for the continuation of this work. It may not be very long until the Lord comes. It is our hope, that no matter what other circumstances intervene, this very helpful aspect of the Lord’s work in Japan will still flourish until we are all caught up to meet the Lord in the air. To this end, the continuing prayers of the Lord’s people are much desired.