TESTIMONY - Noel Morris

I was confused and angry. I pushed the accelerator to the floor as I drove along the winding country road. "God, if you are real, keep this car on the road" I prayed. Was it a real prayer? Was God real? I didn't care much because my life was falling apart.

Just minutes before I had been arguing with my wife Edith. She had been staying in a psychiatric hospital for the last few weeks trying to sort out her life too. We both knew we had a problem, but we always finished up arguing about the answer. It seemed that our marriage was finished. Divorce was the inevitable solution.

The road led through a small town, and as I passed the local bar, I resisted the urge to stop and drown my sorrows there. Another town, another bar, but again I kept on driving back to the city. I even drove past our own home because I did not want to be on my own yet. Where could I go to be with people but be alone with my hurting thoughts? I remembered that Edith had some Christian friends who had a prayer meeting that evening. So I drove to their house.

Perhaps it was the unconditional acceptance and love I felt from the people that night, or perhaps the peacefulness in the house that started me thinking more about God. Two days later I was home alone, and began recalling the past seven years.

Edith and I had married young, and had struggled to get ahead in life in New Zealand. She had contracted polio as a baby and walked with a leg brace and a stick. Much of her childhood had been spent in hospitals.

I grew up with a lack of self-confidence, always being pushed to achieve but never really being able to be successful. Now I was facing the prospect of failing again in our marriage. As I reflected all through the night, I began to write a letter to Edith telling her how sorry I was that I had failed her as a husband. I finished it, and before I crawled into bed I knelt down and prayed again. "God, if you are real, please help me. I have made a mess of my life, can you do anything for me?"

As I drifted off to sleep I was wondering how to get this letter to Edith. It was Saturday, and to mail it would take several days before she would receive it. If I went out to the hospital, then we would probably just argue again. Yet I felt it was urgent to let her know my heart.

At the same time as our marriage problems, and partly the cause of them, I was having problems with my job as an Electronics Engineer. I was in responsible for the installation and repairs of X-ray equipment in hospitals in about eight cities. I often spent hours driving to fix a machine late at night, and arrive home in the small hours of the morning. This job was at first a great challenge, but finally became a cruel, driving master.

I had realized too late that it was affecting my marriage, but I had resigned anyway. Other companies would be eager to employ me with all my talents, I thought. But it was not so. No new doors opened to me.

The ringing of the telephone dragged me out of the deep sleep I had fallen into. The man on the phone, a former customer, asked me if I was still looking for a job. "Yes? Come and see me on Monday morning."

As I hung up the phone, something in my heart began to say "See, God does care for you." But I was still tired and drifted off to sleep again.

Two hours later I heard a noise. The door opened and Edith came into the bedroom. It seemed to me that God was answering more of my prayers. I sat up in the bed, and handed her the letter that I had spent so much time in writing the previous night. I burst into tears, tears of repentance, as I experienced a cleansing feeling go right through my very being. It was as if my life was wiped clean and I was given a new start. Jesus became very real to me at that moment.

At the same time the Lord gave me a promise. The words we had spoken at our wedding: "What God has joined together, let no man take apart." The promise was assuring me that the pending divorce would not happen and that our marriage would be repaired.

Together we began to walk with the Lord. It wasn't easy, but little by little Jesus changed our lives and helped us learn to love each other. After a few months, Edith was delivered from the Valium and other pills she had been dependent on.

I experienced my own deliverance too. I had smoked cigarettes since I was at high school, and couldn't seem to break the habit. One night at the prayer meeting (the same one I had gone to before I knew Jesus) I mentioned that I was going to try to give up smoking again. The men there knew the power of the Holy Spirit, and they gathered around me, laid their hands on me and prayed. After the prayer, I gave them my pack of cigarettes and lighter. In the 27 years since then I have never even had the desire to smoke a cigarette again. The Lord did for me something that was far beyond my own power to accomplish, He set me free.

As my hunger for more of Jesus grew, so did my desire to know more of His Word. My new job was the Lord's way for me to be discipled. I was in a workshop with several other Christians, and we talked about Jesus and the Bible all day as we worked. One of them suggested that I should go to Bible School, so the following year I gave up my job, rented out our house and together we enrolled at Faith Bible College.

One fine day during a class break, all the students were sitting in the sun drinking tea and chatting. Someone asked where we would like to go if we were going to be missionaries. Some brave people mentioned Africa or Papua-New Guinea. Others wanted to be called to easier territory like Hawaii or Surfers' Paradise! I heard my wife say that she wanted to go to Japan, and I began to laugh. "Bring me back a new tape-recorder when you return" I told her. To me it was a great joke.

But to God it wasn't a joke. Over the next few months He began to get my attention. The name JAPAN would come up in the teaching, or in conversation. Every time I heard that word it was as if a nail was pounded into my heart. I would pick up some item, and marked on it were the words MADE IN JAPAN. Everywhere I turned, there was JAPAN. God got my attention, and finally I said "Yes. Lord, I will go."

Until this time I don't even remember having met any Japanese people. Then we attended a FGBMFI Convention in Rotorua. We were told at the Hotel that our room needed to share bathroom facilities with another room. Did we mind, because the people in the other room were Japanese?

This was like the Lord's final confirmation for us. The Japanese were two businessmen from Osaka, not Christians but the first we were to meet. Also Osaka was the place in Japan we had chosen to go to. Now we knew even more surely that this was God's will for our lives.

Morris family in Osaka 1974

On November 28th 1973 we arrived at Osaka Airport. We came to join the YWAM team in Osaka, but soon the Holy Spirit began to show me a more specific need that would eventually become our ministry in Japan. The leader shared with me the verse from Nehemiah Chapter 8: ".. and send portions to them for whom nothing has been prepared." The "portions" were cassette tapes carrying the teaching of God's Word, and soon the work of FAITH TAPES began.

It started in a small way, recording messages in Japanese in the YWAM meetings, and at seminars and church services. At first most of the tapes were borrowed by other Christians, as this was just after the Oil Crisis and not many could afford to buy them. Sometimes I would take a box of the latest messages with me to meetings and lend them out. Sometimes people would crowd into our small bedroom that was also the tape library to borrow them.

Tape Library in 1976

When we moved to Takarazuka in 1974 and published a catalog, we began sending out tapes by post. At first we copied the tapes from one deck to another. Later I built a duplicator from spare parts, and used it until we could afford to buy a cassette duplicator.

In those days there was not much attempt to make good recordings of the sermons in the churches. Usually they used small portable recorders while sitting in the front row. We pioneered the need for good microphones near the preacher to make good quality recordings.

This was also the era of the "Holy Spirit Seminars" which Rev. Les Pritchard and Rev Marvin Fast set up to bring excellent Bible Teachers to Japan. I was involved in the recording of many of these seminars all over Japan.

By 1977 we had moved to Ikoma to live, and about this time we began to experiment with video. Using borrowed or rented cameras we made our first videotapes. Little by little new equipment was added, and our productions improved. Still, video was much more complex than audio, and so it required a lot more time and equipment to produce.

Videotaping in 1985

A turning point occurred in 1988 with the visit to Japan of Charles and Frances Hunter. I was the contact person for their meetings in the Osaka area, and the first stage was to have their book "How to Heal the Sick" translated and published. It was in great demand, and we soon sold the first printing of 10,000 copies.

Then came the seminars and "Healing Explosion." Both events were far more popular than anyone expected. For the seminars we rented a hall seating 400, but eventually we had to rent extra rooms, and even had 200 people sitting in the lobby of the building watching on TV.

For the "Healing Explosion" we had ordered a hall that seated 1100. The local pastors thought it would never be filled. On the day we squeezed 1300 inside, another 200 outside the doors watching on TV, and another 600 in an adjacent cafeteria also watching on TV.

For Faith Tapes, these meetings began a ministry of publishing other books, and also started the popularity of "Ministry Videos".

FGBMFI team from Seattle. Osaka 1985

In 1981 I had tried to start a chapter of FGBMFI in Osaka. It had been tried several times before in Japan, but with limited success. I found also that it was very difficult to attract men to expensive dinner meetings. Frustrated, I gave everything to the Lord. It seemed that it was not yet the right time.

Later that year Mel Tari came to Japan, and there was an opportunity for me to set up a meeting for him. Although it was advertised as a FGBMFI meeting, I decided on a different style of meeting. No meal, not only men, and a time for ministry and prayer. Over 100 people crammed into the room at the Osaka Christian Center to attend the first FGBMFI OPEN MEETING. This is where the name "Open Meeting" originated.

But it was still not God's time for FGBMFI, and the next year the Lord spoke to me to begin monthly "Open Meetings" for ministry and intercession for Osaka. For the next 5 years the Lord provided us a man or woman of God as a guest speaker, and hundreds of Christians received the baptism in the Holy Spirit, were healed and delivered from various bondages, and many were also called into full-time ministry for the Lord.

In 1986 we began receiving visits from FGBMFI members from Seattle led by Bob Bignold, and from Canada led by Jack DeLong. Soon it became obvious that the Lord wanted to start the FGBMFI work in Japan again. I became the coordinator for the Kansai area, setting up the schedules for airlift teams coming from Seattle and Canada, and arranging all the Banquet and church meetings. At first we invited Bob and the FGBMFI members to share at our "Open Meetings". Then it became necessary for FGBMFI to have their own monthly meeting, and because many of the same men were involved in both meetings, we decided that FGBMFI should take over "Open Meeting" as their regular meeting.

After this the concept of FGBMFI began to spread throughout Japan and I went out with teams of American and Japanese members on outreach trips. The first of such trips consisted of "Open Meetings" in Nagasaki, Fukuoka, Hiroshima and Okayama on consecutive evenings. This not only made an impact on those cities, but particularly on the Japanese members who went. Most of them are now the leaders in the Fellowship.

In 1991 I felt that the Lord wanted me to resign from my responsibility with FGBMFI. I had been in charge of the FGBMFI National Office, and we had started having National Conventions. So it was time for Japanese men to do the work I had been doing. When I resigned, I did not then have anything else to do, and I even felt a little empty - like a parent does when their child leaves home.

God had another plan, and at the beginning of 1992 He gave me a vision in my heart. This was not like a movie picture, but a strong impression in my heart, that I should go to Russia. I have always prayed for Russia since becoming a Christian, and I had even tried unsuccessfully to go there in 1975. Now I was instructed to take a van full of Bibles, Christian books and tapes and take it to Russia along with some FGBMFI members. I was to preach the Gospel, give out the literature, give the van to a pastor, and then fly back to Japan.

The problem was that at that time I had never heard about taking used cars to eastern Russia, I had no more contacts in Russia, and I had no money for such a venture. In July 1992 at a FGBMFI meeting I heard missionary Reijo Blommendahl telling how he was taking used cars, Bibles, clothing, and other aid to Eastern Russia from Japan. My heart was excited, and I knew that I should be going with this brother on his next trip.

With an International team in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, giving out New Testaments

So in September I found myself on a Russian freight ship heading for the Island of Sakhalin. We had seven vehicles filled with all kind of supplies, a team of 6 people from different nations, and a camera crew from CNN who wanted to document our journey. After an exciting journey we arrived in Sakhalin, and as we were driving from the ship to our first evangelistic meeting, I realized that I was driving a van, and that it was carrying Bibles, books and tapes to distribute. We preached the Gospel, gave out the Bibles, gave the van to a pastor, and I flew back to Japan. And three of our team were FGBMFI members. What a wonderful way the Lord fulfilled the vision He had given me. In subsequent trips I often experienced this kind of supernatural leading, where the Holy Spirit would tell what was going to happen, and then it did.

With staff and students of Faith in Action Bible School, 1997

But this was really only the beginning. During this trip we saw many hundreds of people turning to Jesus, but there were very few churches and pastors to care for them. Again the Lord put another burden on my heart, the need to start a Bible Training School to teach the Word of God in Russia. As I continued to visit the Russian Far East, I met some pastors who had a similar burden. So in April 1994 we started "Faith in Action Bible School" in Vladivostok. Since that time we have trained over 60 workers, who are in many kinds of Christian work now. I travel to Vladivostok to teach in the school about 4 times each year, and since that first trip in 1992 I have been over 30 times.

But this is not just my own ministry because it is a wonderful way to give the Japanese Christians a part of Missions. Several FGBMFI members have gone to Russia with me to evangelize or see the Bible School. Much of the money to run the Bible School comes from donations by Japanese Christians. Russia is actually the closest foreign country to Japan, and it is so important that the Japanese church reaches out to its nearest neighbor.

This November (1999) marks our 25 years in Japan, and the things that give me greatest satisfaction are not so much what I have done, but when I see others doing the work I have pioneered for them, whether it is the Christians in churches in Japan, the leaders in FGBMFI Japan, or the Bible School students in Far East Russia. My desire has been to see those ministries multiplied, and the Lord Jesus receiving so much more glory. It has all happened because of His faithfulness.

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