We stand amazed at the work of Christ in the life and service of TEAM Japan missionary, Judy Galley. She first arrived in Japan 50 years ago on November 16, 1963. “I nearly didn’t make it,” explains Judy, “since I was told that I was too young and needed more experience!”
Although surprised at this response, Judy was convinced that Japan was where God was leading her. She was offered two options within the States to provide some training and experience – one was a city-based ministry, the other was rural.
“I chose the rural option and was put in a situation where the person did evangelism to American Indians by going house-to-house. We did Bible studies with them and also child-based evangelism.”
When asked why she came to Japan, Judy responded immediately by stating, “God sent me!” She went on to explain that she wasn’t looking to go to Japan, or even thinking of it. “But God put Japan before me through various circumstances. I worked at a library and seemed to notice titles connected with Buddhism and Japan. I was given Sunday School materials to teach a class and they covered Japan. I received a letter from a friend letting me know about a Japanese girl passing through and asked if I’d meet with her. We met and became friends. She later came to be my roommate.”
God continued to place Japan before Judy in preparation for a significant meeting with a missionary who served in Japan. “I told her about what was happening and asked her advice. She said ‘Keep praying and God will show you’.” Judy later read in Isaiah, “…that they may know from the rising of the sun that I am God”. Then later, asking God again if He really wanted her to go to Japan, “He had me see these words of His, ‘Listen to me you islands… Before I was born the Lord called me’.”
Now that Judy has completed 50 years of service in Japan and is well beyond the standard retirement age, we asked why she hasn’t returned to her home country to retire. She passionately replies, “I just can’t see an end to the work God has given me in rural places within Japan. There are so many houses to visit and so much follow up to do.”
She finds continual encouragement by being challenged by Scripture “which keeps me going, and I’m determined to keep going while I can. Finances keep coming in and I have good health. God also sends other encouragements to keep me going, and Japanese people are telling me to keep doing rural evangelism, as well as helping me in various ways.”
Judy dedicates most of her time to work in the Japanese Alps and in very rural areas where there are relatively few people. We asked why she’s concentrating on such places rather than the cities where there are many more people. “In the beginning I worked in some cities,” Judy recalls. “On return from my first Home Assignment, when I was flying over Japan, I noticed homes on the mountains and wondered if the people living there had ever heard about Christ. I was single and could drive a car so I asked permission to go into a rural evangelism ministry.”
Judy was given a three month trial period. “I was told having a single missionary running around in the mountains didn’t sound very strategic to churches back home,” Judy chuckles. “I asked which area was the most needy and was told about Mie Prefecture, which I knew nothing about. I got some info and drove there with bare essentials. On route, I stopped to eat and the Japanese waitress asked why I was there. I said to tell people about God. She said that would be too hard but teaching English would be a better thing to do. I felt this as a working of Satan to try to tempt me away from going directly with the Gospel to rural homes.”
Judy gradually made contact with local churches and also used their addresses on the literature she handed out. “The pastors wanted to meet me and it was exciting to get acquainted with them. I kept thinking of all the people out there needing to hear the Gospel and there was just me out there attempting to reach them all. At different times, pastors would join me and send some from their church people to help with evangelism,” Judy remembers.
After the three month trial period, Judy returned to Tokyo and gave a report to the leadership. She was then given another three months and later it was determined that she could continue the rural ministry, and the rest is history! “I was warned by some about the dangers of being alone and getting sick, and the car breaking down with no one around to give help in the remote areas. Some Japanese people even warned about bears and snakes, but I said that God would protect me for the people needed to hear about Jesus,” Judy recalls with confidence.
“I’ve been sick and couldn’t go anywhere. I did have some problems with my car. But in all occasions, God has always provided people to help me at the right time, including help with failing brakes and even a flat tire …and then there was the time when the car fell off a mountain road landing upside down…”
With a puzzled look on her face Judy comments, “It was hard for me to understand why other people didn’t do rural evangelism. I’ve been told that I’ve been made for it. But really I just leave it to the Lord and He helps.”
We asked Judy what she says when knocking on a door for the first time. She replies, “I just leave it up to God and He gives me the right words to say.” Judy finds that people naturally turn to the back of the literature she hands out and they see the name of the local church and Gospel radio programs which she has stamped on the back. “So I don’t need to mention anything about church or Christianity. I am there to tell them of Jesus and what He did for us and why. Judy finds that sometimes someone is familiar with the radio Gospel program. “If so, I talk about the programs, using the radio station as a base. I have even given radios to people who don’t have them.”
One of Judy’s contacts, Mr. Y, a 92-year old man, wrote to her saying, “that hearing from God’s Word during our visit, I realized that I needed a change of heart. I am now listening to the Gospel radio program.”
In addition to the radio, Judy finds talking about the cross effective because they hear about it, wear it and see it around. “Even though they’re familiar with it, they don’t know what it means. I excite them about the meaning of it and sometimes give out knitted crosses made by some of my churches to help.”
Thank you so much, Judy, for your example of a faithful, caring, and passionate servant of God who is determined to fulfill the calling of God. Just imagine what Judy will discover when entering heaven and hearing about all the lives she touched because she went to places where others have never gone.
“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news…” (Isaiah 52:7)
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