“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” John 5:24
Okinawa’s population is among the longest living peoples in the world. The residents there have less cancer, heart disease and dementia than Americans. Interestingly Okinawan women live longer than anywhere else on Earth. The reason of my trip to the beautiful island of Okinawa had a much deeper meaning for me and for our brethren there. What can be better than a healthy long life? The answer is the words of Christ accepted by faith from us. At the time when we hear, believe and experience the word of God, these words become a transforming power by the Holy Spirit who is changing our mind and habits and is making us as Christ is. It is wonderful to experience and feel God’s presence in us personally. The word of God is living water which gives to faithful believers not only long life, but everlasting life. “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word.”
My trip to Okinawa was a special and joyful experience for me. It was a trip to see my precious friends, my brothers and sisters in Christ which I had missed for several years. My heart was full of thankfulness to our Lord because God fulfilled my impossible dream since many years ago while I was a young boy living in communist Bulgaria. At that time I was sad because the message of true reformation hadn’t reached Japan. My prayers and wish to God was for Him to help us spread the message of Reformation successfully in that country. God performed a miracle to fulfill my dream to make me participant in this wonderful blessing. The Lord’s work started and developed in Japan with the effort, support and sacrifice of Br. Kang from South Korea and Br. Masahiko Matcumoto and his wonderful family too. This trip brought back memories to the good experiences which we had shares in other Asian countries which we visited together previously. My prayers and love are with them as well.
I was surprised and blessed to see our own church property in Okinawa for the first time. This is a sign of progress. Even though it is not to a large building any person can feel comfort when they enter in the church, especially when our members are there. In this room there are smiles, good spirit and nice relationships among the members, perfect and tasty vegetarian meals which helped me to remember how to eat with chopsticks. In the church there is a heavenly atmosphere with wonderful piano and violin music. Our members in Okinawa are very talented singers. Additionally everyone can feel something very important in this church, which is the nice relationship between our church brethren. They are united as one nice family.
We held seminars over a few days which were a blessing to all who attended. The main topic was our need to be as Christ is. Christ as the second Adam who came to Earth to help us by uniting His own divine nature with our human nature. Following the example of Christ by faith and by entirely surrendering to Him, he is able to purify our human nature. “given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” 2 Peter 1:4
I was overjoyed at the decision of the yang brother and sister, children of a sister who I baptised years ago. They were baptised in the same place where their mum was baptised. This particular place I will never forget because I had done several baptisms and I conducted a wonderful wedding ceremony as well. It was during my previous visits there. After the baptism of the two dear souls we experienced a joyful and very emotional acceptance of the new baptised souls in the church. We had Holy Communion service and reorganization of the church also.
Then came the time for my trip back to Australia. We needed to travel to Naha, the capital of Okinawa. We arrived in Naha around two hours before the sunset. I was surprised that we stopped nearby to a very interesting place, an ancient fortress. It was an amazing place which helped me to understand a part of the history and the culture of the Okinawan people. Usually in every ancient place there is some special and specific story typical for that place. Right from the beginning before we entered in the fortress Br. Masahiko took my attention to two sculptures lions which were placed on both sides of the gate. The lions look like the same, but there is a strange difference between them. One of the lions had an open mouth while the other had a closed mouth. Inside the fortress in front of the throne there were two dragons one of them had an open mouth and other had a closed mouth as well. Br. Masahiko explained the meaning of this difference according to the traditional way of thinking of the ancient Okinawan people. The lion and Dragon with open mouths expressed the typical understanding of the Okinawa past time people: “let everything be taken if it could be taken”. The lions and dragons with closed mouths mean “I will not give anything”. For me this sounded like a selfish point of view. Definitely it is not typical for current Okinawan people at all, even they sell so many of these kind souvenirs. Later on my thoughts were engaged with these two symbols – the lion and the dragon. In the biblical point of view Satan is compared as a lion in several verses. For example “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:”1 Peter 5:8. Satan is compared in the Bible as dragon as well. For example: “And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,” Revelation 20:2. Yes, the appearance of any kind of selfishness in us is a serious sign that we are under the influence of the Satan’s evil spirit.
Thanks to God the Father for His kindness and love to us who gave for our salvation through His beloved Son. In the Bible it is clearly written that there is another Lion, the “Lion of the tribe of Judah” Revelation 5:5. His name is Christ our Saviour in whom there is not even a spot of any selfishness. Jesus gave and continue giving us His best to help and save us in the Heavenly court named “Most Holy Place”. He wants first to help us to overcome our sinful habits in our characters by the justifying process of our transformation. Then after, if we surrender entirely to Christ’s sanctifying guidance in co-operation with the Holy Spirit, Christ will continue transforming our characters according to His entirely unselfish character. Christ will implant in us a divine nature and He will give us eternal life. If we continue the battle united together with Christ, then Satan will be furious like a “roaring lion”. Then we have to enter our final battle by entering our final fire of baptism. Then let us go by faith with Christ. If Christ is with us, then who is against us. Now, it is important to understand that we need to make our clear and definite choice with whom we would like to be. There is not middle road to heaven. There are only two absolutely clear options: 1/ First option is to be an entirely self-sacrificing person as Christ is, as He is the “Lion of the tribe of Judah” or as 2/ the second option is to be selfish as Satan is, “who is the devil, as a roaring lion” and he is also the dragon, “that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan. The choice is ours.
On the last day, before my departure I visited the church property. I was surprised that at the place where I usually stayed, I saw a nice present from a boy. We both became good friends during the meetings. He made for me very interesting dogs and squirrel with pieces of paper. How he did them I don’t know, but they are very well done. You can see them in the picture below. Obviously, he spent a lot of time to make me happy and I appreciate it very much. Even so he made me happy with the words which I will never forget. He said, “I would like to be baptised by you when you come back next time”. How wonderful it is when God touches the hearts of our children. The current prophesied political signs of events around us and around the Earth are shouting to us “Christ is coming”. Now is the time when “the Spirit and the bride (must) say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.”
Dear reader you are welcome to see the photos and videos below to participate in my joyful and blessed trip to Okinawa.
Pastor Anton Salavyov