Funakoshi Family - Ukraine
The Testimony of Masato Funakoshi
I thank the Lord for sending great missionaries to Japan. Missionary Dave Marcum and his family came to Japan in 1964. He started a church in our hometown, Kakogawa, in 1970. My parents believed in Jesus Christ through his ministry. I praise the Lord for this! When my parents got saved, I was still in my mother's belly. So, since I was born, I have been in church my whole life. I thank the Lord for this wonderful privilege.
By the way, I met my wife in the church nursery. We grew up together in the church ministries. I received Christ as my personal Savior when I was eight years old. My wife got saved when she was 11-years old. When I was ten years old, I got baptized and made a decision to dedicate my life to the Lord.
Since I do love my country, Japan, I wanted to serve the Lord in Japan, but the Lord called me to foreign missions. It was so difficult for me and took a long time to realize that even small churches in Japan are given the Great Commission and the task of world missions. By God's grace, when I was 20-years old, I made a decision to dedicate my life to foreign missions.
Before I made this decision, I had the privilege to visit churches in the Philippines and Indonesia. Those experiences were surely used by God to help me to make this decision. I naturally thought that the Lord was calling me to go to one of the Asian countries. But later, I found out God was leading me in a different direction.
About the time I made the decision to go to the foreign mission field, the Soviet Union was about to collapse. I was almost forced to hear and watch their tragic physical, moral, and spiritual mess every day through newspapers, television and radio. God gave me a huge burden for the people of the former Soviet Union at that time. I understood the people in Russia were really looking for something true and for a real purpose in life. Then I heard of so many false religions and cults going into the former Soviet Union, including Oumu-Shinrikyo, influencing people there. That made me very sad. But, at the same time I was so scared by the thought that God might be calling me to Russia. I knew the Japanese language and English, to some extent, but not Russian language and culture! I thought, "how can I go there?"
But God started speaking to my heart clearly to go to the former Soviet Union. I struggled with God's calling for more than a year. One day as I was praying, God spoke to my heart with His own word, "Be not afraid, only believe." Finally I could say, "Lord, I can't do anything, but you can do everything. Send this servant to where ever you want." I surrendered myself to the Lord for missions in the land of the former Soviet Union on April 12, 1992.
Then the Lord gave me a great privilege to come to Trinity Baptist College to get training to go to the mission field. By God's grace, I graduated from Trinity May 8, 1996.
When I made the decision to go to the former Soviet Union I did not know that Brother Marcum, who started our church in Japan and led my parents to the Lord, was having a missionary ministry there. When I heard about this I was very excited. Then God provided us a tremendous opportunity to go to Ukraine with Brother Marcum in May of 1995. That was a great experience. I was very impressed by the way TITUS was working in world missions. Then in February of 1996 Brother Marcum came to Jacksonville. At that time he was a great help to me in planning my future missionary ministry, including teaching me how to E-mail. This has become a great communication tool for me and I appreciate what TITUS has done to help me. Then Brother Marcum mentioned the possibility of us becoming affiliated with TITUS. When I heard this, I shook with joy. As far as I know, there are no other missionaries to the former Soviet Union from Japan.
On March 19, 1996 my wife and I were accepted as missionaries to the former Soviet Union with TITUS. Three days after graduation from Trinity we went with the TITUS Team to Odessa, Ukraine. Our purpose in going at that time was to work with them and then spend four months on the field in language study and culture adaptation, as well as minister in local churches in Ukraine. It was a wonderful experience.
Update: The Funakoshi's have now completed their deputation and are church planting in Ukraine. They have begun an effective and creative ministry. Miki offers piano lessons to neighborhood children for free while Masato teaches a Bible lesson and uses a video in the Russian language to present the Gospel to the children's parents and gives them opportunities to ask questions about the Scriptures. TITUS International is very proud of this young and enterprising new missionary family and their labors in the Ukraine.