Conversions in the land of the rising sun
Dr Werner Gitt in Japan
Published: 10 September 2008 (GMT+10)
Photo by Werner Gitt
Werner Gitt’s tracts ‘How can I go to Heaven?’ and ‘Who is the Designer’ were popular in Japan.
CMI’s good friend, information scientist and evangelist Werner Gitt, sent news of his recent speaking tour of Japan.
There were great opportunities, and a totally unexpected and overwhelmingly warm response to his messages, tracts, books—and to the Gospel in general.
Supplementing the messages was the availability of Werner’s book In the Beginning was Information translated into Japanese—particularly useful at his university lectures.
Japan was actually the first country to officially introduce the teaching of evolution, in 1877, a doctrine that was quite compatible with Buddhism.
Amazingly, one professor at a university insisted that his students do an assignment on what they had just been taught by Werner. Japanese people are overwhelmingly polite, so there was no open controversy at the universities—only one philosopher asked him whether he was coming to Japan as a scientist or as a missionary. Werner’s tracts ‘Who is the Designer?’ and ‘How do I get to heaven?’ achieved much, with reports of conversions following the highly organised and intensive tour.
The crowd at one of the meetings in Japan at which people received Werner’s message with gladness.
One professor said to his wife after a uni lecture: ‘That man has triggered a revolution in thought’. Werner just happened to get this particular feedback, because the professor’s wife attends a course in German language taught by the wife of the man who organised Werner’s tour.
Interestingly, Werner saw some churches growing via new conversions at a great rate, while at the same time, other Western missionaries were going home totally discouraged, with no fruit. He said, ‘I’m convinced that the latter are doing something wrong, they’re missing something about the “soul” of the Japanese people, because what I saw shows that they receive the Word with great joy if it is presented in a certain context.’
Creation apologetics appeared to be an important part of Werner’s approach. As he points out, the notion of a great Creator God is quite foreign to Japanese thinking. At Werner’s request, CMI-Australia had organized a shipment of English-language DVDs featuring his lecture on Noah’s Ark—despite not being in Japanese, they were ‘gone in no time’, he says.
On this tour, Dr Gitt gave his lectures in English, because while there were many folk available to translate from that language into Japanese, it would not have been the case for his native German. His Powerpoint slides had already been translated into Japanese. Audiences ranged from 50 or so, most commonly, to as many as 300.
The God of small things, too
Werner Gitt handing out a tract—religious/cultural boundaries are no barrier to the need to share the truth.
Werner said, ‘On this tour, I also experienced the smallest audience of my speaking career—it was one person. He happened to be American, so no translation was necessary.’ Was it in vain? It turns out that this man was responsible for translating many books into Japanese from the ‘progressive creationist’ standpoint, sowing compromise and confusion about what the Bible says about origins. This man said afterwards that after what he had heard, he would have to really rethink several issues. Praise the Lord that even that seeming disappointment turned out to be a wonderful opportunity that could have tremendous effects in the long run. Werner said, ‘Let’s hope that at least he won’t be translating any more such books, which by all accounts have unfortunately been strongly influential’.
Werner met Toro Yasui, a long-time friend of CMI who translated for him several times. Toru has visited our Australian offices more than once over the years and has been responsible for the translation of our booklet Stones and Bones, which had just been hot off the presses. Werner enthusiastically promoted this at his lectures as well, and told me, ‘It’s great that this country, too, can get such information!’
Praise God for the many people reached, the great materials now circulating, the enthusiastic responses and above all the folk who professed a saving faith in the Lord Jesus for the first time.