DAILY ENCOURAGEMENT TUESDAY - CLASSICAL TESTIMONIES - Irene Webster-Smith.
They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. – Revelation 12:11.
By way of encouragement, I would like to devote Tuesdays to classical testimonies which have brought great blessing and glory to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. These are of men and women, who have faithfully served for the Kingdom of God. My prayer is that you will be blessed, encouraged, and inspired by these testimonies as I was. Enjoy…
When Irene Webster-Smith first sensed that God was asking her to become a missionary, she rebelled. She was hoping to get married and enjoyed her life in early 20th-century Ireland. Soon she began avoiding church services in which she might be confronted with appeals to mission work. Her enthusiasm for Christianity disappeared. No longer did she win converts. This went on for several months until the young woman confessed to Christ that she was wrong and asked him to set her right again. Joy and peace returned.
She read an article appealing for secretarial help with a missionary in Japan. In her spirit she sensed that this was the position God meant her for. But now that she was willing to go, circumstances interfered. Her mother at first objected, but then relented and said Irene might go after she was dead, revealing that she was terminally ill with cancer. After the burial, World War I made it almost impossible to get passage aboard any boat. Because of this, Irene sailed on a Japanese ship.
On the morning of this day, December 2, 1916, the Suwa Maru docked at Kobe, Japan. Irene's on-the-job training was about to begin. She learned Japanese and taught Bible classes. The Japanese called her "Sensei" - teacher. She had expected to return home and marry Al, the man she loved. But the two years she had signed up for stretched into five. She freed Al from their understanding, but he said that for him it was Irene or nobody. He promised to go on hoping, although he could not join her because he knew that God's place for him was in a pastorate in the United States.
Meanwhile, during a furlough, Irene realized that Jesus was asking her to rescue children who otherwise would be trained as Geisha girls. She told Al so. Irene returned to Japan and not only rescued girls but taught them to live with daily faith. The girls became accustomed to asking God for really significant answers, including the spiritual salvation of people they loved.
One convert, Kazue, won her whole family to Christ. In turn, they won others. Kazue married a Christian man, but he allowed his mother to oppress Kazue. The mother-in-law, a Buddhist, hated Kazue and locked her in a cupboard each day. Kazue contracted tuberculosis. She returned to Irene's care and finally died, never having said a word to anyone about her mother-in-law's cruel treatment. No one would have known if the mother in law had not confessed at the funeral. She, too, learned that Christ can forgive.
Another time, the girls (at their own suggestion) gave their Christmas dolls to poverty-stricken children who could expect nothing. Early in her ministry, they prayed for a large hill of dirt to be moved to allow sunshine into a house where a boy was dying. The girls claimed the promise that if we have faith as a mustard seed, we can move a mountain. For weeks, each girl hauled a load away each day, but the hill never seemed to grow smaller. One day, men arrived "out of the blue" with a truck and hauled off the dirt for landfill.
Irene was forced out of Japan at the start of World War II. Before she left, she found Christian homes for each of her girls. Now she thought she and Al would be able to marry. Instead, she learned he had died of pneumonia. After the war, Irene returned and hunted up each of her girls. All had stayed true to Christ. God then opened the way for her to speak with war criminals and she led fourteen of the toughest to Christ before they were executed. Some of the guards became Christians, too. In her last years Sensei worked with Intervarsity Fellowship, teaching Japanese college students about Christ.
Are you willing to do whatever it takes and give your all to win the lost to Christ? Then like, Irene Webster-Smith, put your hand in the hand of the man who stilled the water, and dare to follow Jesus wherever He leads you?
Loving Father, I thank you for the life of Irene Webster-Smith, and I pray that anyone reading this may be inspired by her testimony to give their life to you, and that you would use them in the same way, as you used Irene. By the power of the Holy Spirit, help me to be a person of like faith, that I may bring glory to your name. In the wonderful and mighty name of Jesus I pray. Amen.