My missionary career in Japan began with less than two years of language school in Tokyo. I was then assigned to the large city of Fukuoka on the southwest island of Kyushu. My principal assignment was student evangelism, but soon I began to pick up other responsibilities.
One was the exciting but formidable task of teaching three Bible classes in the local prison, an equivalent of our state penitentiaries. I was asked to do this for a year by a veteran missionary who was about to leave on furlough. Only as I approached the first session in the fall did it begin to dawn on me that I might have bitten off more than I could chew. My predecessor had been born in Japan and knew well both the Japanese language and culture. I could barely carry on a simple conversation. I had a miniscule biblical and theological vocabulary in Japanese, and could not even give a simple testimony with any fluency. Yet I was going to conduct Bible classes in Japanese with three groups of prisoners, most of whom ...1