There is a vibrant body of believers in Japan who are studying the Bible from the Jewish perspective and have a love for the Jewish people and Israel! They are associated with Harvest Time Ministries and recently, around 1,100 of them attended the 9th Harvest Time Ministries Second Coming of Messiah Conference held in Osaka(Oct. 31), Nagoya(Nov. 1) and Tokyo(Nov. 3) to learn from Messianic Rabbi Larry Feldman and his wife, Fran.
A Japanese Pastor Meets an American Messianic Jewish Scholar in the Philippines
In 1989 Pastor Kenichi Nakagawa, the founder and leader of Harvest Time Ministries, met Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum, the founder of Ariel Ministries, at a conference in the Philippines. This was a turning point in Pastor Nakagawa’s ministry. He comprehended that Dr. Fruchtenbaum’s teaching of the Bible from the Jewish perspective was the approach he must learn and share with the Japanese people so he dedicated himself to relearning how to teach the Bible and laid out the philosophy and principles that have since guided Harvest Time Ministries.
Philosophy of Harvest Time Ministries
We teach and comprehend the Bible from the Jewish perspective. Based on a thorough understanding of the time, culture, and context, we interpret the Bible using the literal grammatical-historical method.
There is a huge gap in time, culture, and geography between the Bible’s authors and us. The meaning of something that would have been easily understood by those living at the time of writing is now difficult for us in the 21st century to comprehend. For that reason it is essential for us to learn the historical background of the Bible.
Further, since the Bible was written in the context of Jewish culture it is necessary to have knowledge about the manners, customs and languages of that time.
Why is Harvest Time Ministries so passionate about teaching the Bible?
Harvest Time Ministries believes in the power of the Word and understands Japanese culture. There is a long history of the gospel being proclaimed in Japan with the percentage of Christians remaining stuck at around 1% of the population. This should not be interpreted to mean that Japanese will not accept the message of the Bible. There are some countries which have a national passion for singing. There are some countries where people love to do community activities. The approach to evangelism is determined by the characteristics of the people.
So, what do Japanese love to do? Japanese love to study! This is a characteristic of Japanese culture. In this context, Harvest Time Ministries approaches the Bible straightforwardly and focuses on seriously studying all aspects of it with the belief that understanding the Bible will bring about a true spiritual awakening to Japan.
Connecting Japanese Believers with the Messianic Community #1
Harvest Time Ministries has forged a strong relationship with Ariel Ministries and in 2001 began a major activity called the Fruchtenbaum Seminar. Each seminar was 2 days long with Dr. Fruchtenbaum teaching and Pastor Nakagawa interpreting and elaborating. Every year around 450 people attended.
Over the course of 15 years attendees learned about the following themes:
|2016||What is Dispensationalism?|
|2015||The Climax of Eschatology|
|2014||The Rapture, Great Tribulation, and Destiny of the Jewish People|
|2013||What the Bible teaches about the Millennium Kingdom|
|2012||What the Bible teaches about life after death|
|2011||What the Bible teaches about salvation|
|2010||Angelology, Satanology, Demonology|
|2009||Eschatology and Israel: A Study of Romans 9-11|
|2008||God’s Program of Salvation for Mankind|
|2007||Messianic Prophecies in the Old Testament|
|2005||The Life of Messiah from the Jewish Perspective|
|2003||John’s Book of Revelation|
|2002||The Eight Covenants of the Bible|
|2001||The Historical Unfolding of the Abrahamic Covenant|
Connecting Japanese Believers with the Messianic Community #2:
Harvest Time Ministries Second Coming of Messiah Conference
In 2010 a second major activity, the Harvest Time Ministries Second Coming of Messiah Conference was started to support the faith of Japanese believers who are anticipating Messiah’s return. Its aims are to ignite a spiritual awakening in Japan, to connect with the Messianic community and pray for the salvation of the Jewish people and to prepare for the Second Coming of Messiah.
The conference has had a distinguished list of speakers from the Messianic community addressing the following topics:
|The time of the salvation of the Jewish people is near – now, the prophecies of the Bible are being fulfilled one by one before our eyes-|
|8||2017||Eitan Bar||Jewish evangelism in the Internet age|
|7||2016||Irving Salzman||An Orthodox Jew who met Messiah shares his views about eschatology|
|6||2015||Mottel Baleston||From the Garden of Eden to the new heaven and new earth|
|A Jew and an Arab who know Christ|
|The gospel revealed in the 5 books of Moses|
|Kanzo Uchimura’s ministry concerning the Second Coming of Messiah and today’s Messianic Jewish movement|
|2||2011||Noam Hendren||Satan’s strategy and God’s grace|
|1||2010||Noam Hendren||God’s plan of salvation for the world|
9th Harvest Time Ministries Second Coming of Messiah Conference
This year’s invited speakers were Messianic Rabbi Larry Feldman of Chosen People Ministries, who is currently serving Shuvah Yisrael congregation in Irvine, California and the President of the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America and his wife, Fran.
Fran Feldman opened the conference by sharing her testimony of growing up in a Jewish home and how first her brothers, then her mother and finally she and her father came to faith in Messiah Yeshua. Hiroshi Nakagawa of Harvest Time Ministries USA interpreted for her. Her story resonated with many of Japanese believers who are also 1st generation believers in their family.
Rabbi Feldman spoke on:
- Presenting G-d’s Plan For Israel From the Jewish Scriptures (Tanach),
- G-d’s Promises to Israel, Presenting Messiah From The Jewish Scriptures (Tanach), and
- A Biblical Basis for Jewish Evangelism
Rabbi Feldman says this about their experience:
This was the first time that Fran and I came to Japan and we were not sure what to expect but were very surprised and blessed by the entire trip. To begin with the ministry was wonderful. The three meetings in Osaka, Nagoya and Tokyo were very well attended. The worship was godly and spiritual. Samuel Kan’s music and singing was uplifting and encouraging. People were very receptive and diligent in their desire to learn the Scriptures. The Spirit of God truly seems to bring us all together and overcome any cultural differences. The whole trip was just a complete joy and blessing to my wife and myself. I look forward in the future to the ministry in Japan.
Views of the Participants
After the program, many participants wrote their impressions. These are some of the reasons people attended and are interested in Jewish evangelism.
- The 900+ messages on Harvest Time Ministries’ Message Station Internet site are interesting. Harvest Time Website: https://harvesttime.tv/
- Harvest Time Ministries teaches the Bible using the literal grammatical-historical method and from the Jewish perspective.
- Went on the Harvest Time Ministries’ Holy Land Tour and met Messianic Jewish believers in Israel.
- Had an experience with a Christian organization like Bridges for Peace
- Church prays for the salvation of Israel
- Interested in eschatology
Two responses highlight the need for and the fruit of Harvest Time Ministries connecting Japanese believers with the Messianic community through bringing teachers to Japan and going to Israel:
- Up until now I have not had a very good impression of Jews. My impression came from what I heard about the Palestinian problem and Jews being focused on wealth. This prevented me from loving them. But, I felt through experiencing today’s conference that God has given me an opportunity to repent. I personally know several Jews and will now pray for their salvation and happiness.
- I first learned about Jewish evangelism when I started listening to Pastor Nakagawa’s messages. Before hearing about it I had absolutely no interest in the Jewish people. Now I consider them to be precious. I pray from my heart for the salvation of the Jewish people. I have attended every Second Coming of Messiah Conference. Since I came to believe in the second coming of Messiah I live each day with a feeling of peace.
“White for the Harvest”
Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work. Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest.”
For the past 20 years Harvest Time Ministries has been inviting distinguished Messianic Bible teachers to Japan to give Japanese believers a first-hand experience of the Bible being a Jewish book and to have Messianic teachers get a first-hand experience of the support Japanese believers have for the Jewish people and Israel. It is appropriate to conclude this article with a word from Pastor Nakagawa about his experience doing this ministry and his expectations for the future.
The average Japanese considers the Bible to be a sacred book of a Western religion that is difficult to understand. But, once I started teaching people how to read the Bible from the Jewish perspective I saw more and more people understanding it.
Our ministry began with the vision: Bible Study will ignite a Spiritual Awakening in Japan. We now see this vision steadily being realized. A spiritual awakening in Japan is underway! We pray and ask for your prayers for the season of Messiah to come to Japan.