A few months ago at a meeting of our Home Fellowship Group from church, one of the ladies gave a testimony about having gone back to visit the area in Japan where she and her husband served as missionaries for over 30 years. She was telling about some of the people that came to Christ during that time and mentioned one man whose wife had come to faith and wanted to be baptised. However, she would not do so until her husband was OK with it. He finally agreed and decided he wanted to do something special for his wife. He decided to write the bible out by hand in the Japanese language using his skills in calligraphy. While writing a copy of the scripture for his wife, he was moved, came under conviction and trusted in Christ as his Savior and Lord. As she told this story, I was moved to tears.
I mentioned how touched I was during our next meeting and she said she would give me a book that her daughter had written about their experiences as missionaries in Japan called One Rock at a Time-Building a Spiritual Legacy for God in Japan. Let me tell you the honest truth--you have to get this book and read it. If you have never read a book about a missionary and want to know the unvarnished truth of what their lives are like, this book without a doubt tells it like it is. You will be blessed, challenged, encouraged, and moved to weep at the experiences of this missionary family.
First of all, the book is written primarily from the point of view of Dale Oxley who served with his wife as a missionary to Japan for 30 years. In reading this book, I saw not just the ups and downs of a missionary serving in what I would call difficult conditions (but then again, I'm a wimp) but I also was able to get a sense of the man's heart. Dale had a love for the Japanese people and a desire to reach them with the gospel. In my opinion, it was this love for these people who were so different than he was that unified the whole book. It was this love that enabled him, and his family, to sacrifice so much to bring the gospel to people that were lost in complete spiritual darkness. Seeing a story like this told from the perspective of the man who lived it makes for a truly gripping read.
Secondly, I would recommend the book because there was no attempt to sugar coat the story. Their kids were kids and got in trouble sometimes like all kids do. They didn't see fruit from some of their labors for years. The living conditions were difficult. This is not some pie in the sky in the sweet by and by rose colored glasses picture as if to say "God's people never have problems". The family and the ministry experienced ups and downs but through it all you can see the hand of God at work as you read. It makes it hard for me to complain about my life and things that happen when I see the faith this family displayed as they endured struggles to bring the gospel to the Japanese people.
Finally, I would recommend this book because I know Ms. Betty, Dale's wife, personally. The love and faithfulness she shows her husband, who now suffers with Alzheimer's, is a testimony of the love that Christ has for His church. The gospel she, Dale, and her family shared with the Japanese people is a gospel they still live. I've been blessed to know Ms. Betty and to get to know her family through this book.
In Hebrews, we're told to spur one another on to good works. Reading books such as this is one way to do that. When we see the faithfulness of men and women who have served God, we are challenged to follow their example. I believe you will be blessed by this family's story. I know I was.