By Gary Craft

A wonderful opportunity for the Gospel stands just outside the doors of every military church overseas. Although our primary calling is to win the U.S. Military to Christ, we are very mindful of the nationals all around us. In many places around the globe, our military missionaries are seeing fruit among the local community.

In Germany, a great number of English-speaking Germans are part of our mission field where there is a large population of Americans living. The German people are drawn to the American church for several reasons. In response to the question about what drew him and his family to our church, Armin's words were "We love the music, the life and the warmth of love in the American church. It is more personal and not like the cold, formal, traditional state church." He and his wife were led to the Lord by Brother Gary Craft through the ministry of an American military church.

Sgt. Ricardo Grady was doing some work around Rhein River Baptist Church following a Saturday morning men's prayer meeting when he heard a knock on the glass door at the front of the building. There stood a slightly disheveled man looking in. "Can I come in and use your restroom?" he asked. "Sure," Sgt. Grady said as he opened the front door. When the man came out of the restroom, Sgt. Grady introduced himself to Joaa Francisco, an Angolan man who had been living in Germany with his family for several years. It was not long until Sgt. Grady asked about his salvation. There, at the front of the church, Joaa received Christ as his personal Saviour. The discipleship director Brother John Hornbeck began to follow up on Joaa and he began to grow in the Lord. It was not long until Joaa began bringing his French wife, Marie-Ange, and their three daughters to church.

One Sunday morning Marie-Ange came forward to receive Christ. The family began to attend Sunday school faithfully. Because the daughters spoke very little English, Mrs. Lancaster began meeting with the two oldest girls on Tuesdays to help them with their Sunday school lessons. On one of those Tuesdays the oldest daughter, Marina, was saved. Since then the other two daughters, Wendy and Adina, have been saved. The Franciscos have become one of the most faithful families at Rhein River Baptist Church, pastored by Brother Tom Lancaster. Their daughters have been involved in the ministry and their oldest, Marina, will be leaving for West Coast Baptist College in 2012 to prepare for full time service.

Stories like these prove the great worth of military ministries around the world reaching local nationals with the Gospel. One local German Christian businessman commented that the hope for so many Germans rests in the fact that the US military are here in Germany and that the military pastors and churches are here to preach the Gospel to whosover will may come.

Military missionaries use a number of means to try and win nationals to Christ. Two such means are tract distribution and making translation available in the services. In Germany, several military churches host special days such as German American Friendship Day and German Appreciation Sundays. The message of the Gospel is preached and translated into their language and a meal is served following the service offering friendship and fellowship. Because of their interest in the American church, many come and hear the Gospel. Some military churches have had over 40 Germans attending these special days.

Our military missionaries in the Pacific have had great success in the local national ministry in Japan and Okinawa. One wonderful story comes from the ministry of Yokosuka Baptist Church. Kazuhiro Takahashi's journey to faith started when he first met his wife and her family. He was impressed when he saw his wife and her family gather together in the living room to read Scripture, sing a hymn and pray together. He did not understand why they did that every night of their two week stay in the Philippines. He told his wife he did not want any part of it and locked himself in their bedroom. But, every night he would peep at them through the door and eavesdrop. When he knew they were about to finish, he would jump into bed, put on a facade and pretend he did not care. When his wife came to Japan, she already knew what church she wanted to go to. As a husband, Kazuhiro knew he was responsible to make her happy especially in a country not her own. So, every Sunday, he would travel with her by train to Yokohama, and tell her she could go to church and he would pick her up after the service. She did not protest but was not very happy either. After a few weeks, his wife began to look on the internet for a church around Yokosuka. One night after he came home from work, she excitedly showed him the website of Yokosuka Baptist Church. She told him that it was a fundamental Baptist church (he had no idea what that was) and that she wanted to go there the next Sunday. They visited the church near the end of the summer of 2006. Kazuhiro told his wife that he would not talk to the people or listen to the preacher but that he would sit by her. He was shocked when Pastor Mark Sage called their names and recognized them as visitors. His wife had filled out a visitor's card. He glared at his wife and complained to her and was certain that all the people around them knew. He was even more shocked when people started shaking his hand and welcoming them to the church. He asked his wife why they were shaking his hand when he was not a Christian. He even told his wife to tell the people not to shake his hand because he was not a Christian. She ignored him and he went home offended in ways he could not explain.

He started to persecute his new wife with hurtful words—words that would go to the deepest part of her heart. He told her the Gospel was a myth. But his wife was not shaken in her faith so he got more rebellious. Pastor Sage offered his friendship and he was suspicious at first, but their friendship grew. God began to work on him through Bible reading and friendship. One Sunday morning, when Brother Bob Smith was filling in for Pastor Sage, he spoke on Acts is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. This caught Kazuhiro's attention. God was convicting him. He experienced "white-knuckle disease" but did not go forward to get saved.

That night at home he pondered the question of Saul when he asked the Lord, What wilt thou have me to do? His wife knew what was happening and she asked him if he had something to say to her. He told her he believed in Jesus and did not want to kick against the pricks anymore. His wife prayed with him and the next Sunday, Brother Smith talked to him. On June 3, 2007, Kazuhiro fully surrendered his life and accepted the gift of salvation in Christ. He was never the same after that. He has taught the Japanese adult Sunday school class of Yokosuka Baptist Church for over three years. His walk has changed through the power of the Word of God. He and his wife have brought several Japanese people to the Lord. He is joyfully serving His Lord at Yokosuka Baptist Church.

The presence of a military missionary and a military church has been one catalyst of many to bring the lost of the world to Christ. On any given Sunday approximately 80 Japanese nationals attend the BIMI military churches in Japan. Our Field truly is the WORLD!

Missionaries of the Day
Sunday, February 14, 2016

2 Thessalonians 2:13 But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:

Joseph B & Kelleigh Edmondson -  CLAIM - MEDICAL MISSIONS
Benjamin & Rebecca Edwards -  MILITARY
Richard & Arlene Ensley -  ALASKA
Sunday, February 14, 2016