Life: God's Renewable resource
the pastor was a rascal
by Dale Bishop
Before God, and even in his own eyes, he was a hypocrite. He was lonely, troubled about his conduct, ashamed of his double life, and generally miserable.
Find out more about the work of Free Will Baptist International Missions at www.fwbgo.com. To learn more about Free Will Baptists in Japan, visit www.jfwbm.com.
YOSHIKAZU ISHII BEGAN LIFE as something of an anomaly. He was born into a Christian home in the Kansai area of Japan. Members of a Nazarene congregation, his parents took him to church consistently. As a young boy Yoshikazu was well liked by the church people. Although this continued as a teen, according to Ishii, he was an excellent actor or hypocrite throughout his junior and senior high school days.
He led three lives, particularly during his high school years. He was a fine young man at church, a model youth. At school and with his teenage friends he was a model rogue. He ran around with a bad crowd, stole bicycles and motorcycles, and was notorious as someone who knew how to have a good time. Before God, and even in his own eyes, he was a hypocrite. He was lonely, troubled about his conduct, ashamed of his double life, and generally miserable.
Everything changed when he met Jesus at a church youth camp. The camp evangelist spoke directly to the hearts and situations of those present. “Even though you are not lovable in your own eyes, and possibly in the eyes of others, God still loves you. He loves you so much that He gave His Son to die for even a rascal like you.” The message penetrated Ishii’s heart and he accepted Christ as Savior. A new person was formed from a rascal.
Yoshikazu felt God leading him into the ministry. After he graduated from high school he went directly to Kansai Bible College. Another anomaly. Usually, young Japanese Christians attend college before committing to Bible school. God used his days at Bible school to shape his thinking and his future.
A couple of Free Will Baptist young men from Hokkaido, the northern island of Japan, were also studying for the ministry. During a school break one of them invited Ishii to visit Hokkaido. Apparently, he liked the less hectic pace and after graduation Yoshikazu moved to Hokkaido to see what doors God would open. God provided a job at a peat moss factory owned by a member of Koinonia FWB Church in Nopporo, an area of the city of Ebetsu, Japan. Ebetsu is a suburb of Sapporo, the capitol city of Hokkaido.
During Ishii’s time in Ebetsu he attended the Koinonia church and was a tremendous help with the work and to me personally, as I was responsible for the church at that time. Yoshikazu especially enjoyed working with the young people, many of whom were experiencing some of the same problems he had faced as a teenager. After a couple of years, the church asked if he would consider working as youth pastor. He served as an assistant pastor for a little over a year learning many valuable lessons before God led him back to Kansai. Ishii was not sure why God wanted him to move, because he really enjoyed working and living in Hokkaido. However, he followed God’s leading and spent two years as assistant pastor in a larger evangelical church.
At the invitation of Pastor Kawasaki of the Ai No Sato FWB church in Sapporo, Ishii and his new wife moved to Sapporo to work as assistant pastor of the church there. He worked closely with the Ai No Sato church and the young people of our other churches in the area. Ishii was instrumental in the formation of a group called FIC, Friends in Christ. The young people meet twice each month for fellowship, Bible study, and mutual encouragement. His ministry has greatly blessed and influenced their walk with Christ. Yoshikazu was licensed to preach by Free Will Baptists on October 8, 2000, ordained in October 2001, and assumed the pastorate of the Bihoro FWB Church in 2002. Bihoro, begun in 1956, is one of the first Free Will Baptist churches in Japan.
Pastor Yoshikazu and his wife Emi have two young children, a daughter named Akari and a son named Tsukasa. Since arriving in Bihoro they have been instrumental in reaching out to families with young children. Although the Ishiis’ are from the city and a very different area of Japan, they are working hard to learn the culture and fit into the small town, rural life style of eastern Hokkaido.
Some of Pastor Ishii’s members come from surrounding towns and have opened their homes for him to lead Bible studies in an effort to reach their neighbors with the gospel. His teaching and leadership have encouraged them to broaden their vision, looking beyond their own homes to the lost around them. Pastor Ishii has studied in Korea and visited China, Panama, and the United States. He was the Japanese representative at the International Fellowship of Free Will Baptists in Panama in October 2004. He shared his report on the work in Japan and enjoyed the fellowship with the representatives from the various fields where Free Will Baptists are ministering. His good nature and enthusiasm made him well accepted and a fine representative.
Ishii’s travels have given him a vision for international missions as well as reinforcing his vision for ministry in his own country. He desires to be instrumental in aiding missionaries as they seek to spread the gospel to the ends of the earth. He strives to keep the needs of the world before his people by giving them information and inviting furloughing Japanese national missionaries to share their work and burden from his pulpit. For many years the Bihoro FWB Church has joined other Free Will Baptist churches of Japan in supporting the Lord’s work in India. Currently they support the Volena Wilson FWB Bible Institute in South India where future pastors, evangelists, and church planters are trained.
Pastor Ishii is a fine example of the pastors God is calling to lead His Church—in particular the Free Will Baptist churches in Japan. Please pray for him and the other pastors who are examples of servant leadership in the Free Will Baptist churches of Japan and around the world. Ask God to keep them strong, true, and committed to Him Who is building His Church.
ABOUT THE WRITER: Dale Bishop and his wife Sandra have diligently shared the gospel in Japan for over 30 years.
meet the other japanese pastors
Kawasaki, Toshikazu (left)—Converted August 1971; ordained July 1984. Pastors Ai no Sato FWB Church. Worked with Jerry and Janice Banks at Kita Hiroshima, before planting Ai no Sato church. He is married to Satomi and they have four children between 15–21 years old.
Keiichi, Kimura (right) —Converted June 1987; ordained August 1998. Pastors Kita Hiroshima FWB Church. Studied at Hillsdale College in OK, and then Tokyo Bible School. He and his wife, Sachiko, have two children: a daughter in junior high and a son in grammar school.
Matsuda, Takeshi—Ordained April 2000. Pastors Taihei FWB Chapel, a new mission work in Sapporo, Japan. He and his wife, Eiko, have one son who is studying for the ministry at Tokyo Bible School.
Ishii, Yoshikazu—Ordained October 2001. Pastors Bihoro FWB Church. Married to Emi, they have two children.
Sadao, Hirabuki—Ordained 2002. Pastor of Koinonia FWB church in Nopporo, Ebetsu. Married to Mayumi and they have three children and three grandchildren.
Kojima, Kiyoshi—Ordained 2003. Pastos Iriso FWB Church. Graduate of Kansai Bible College and Tokyo Christian Seminary.