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Vol. XXI No. 29
14 April 2024


Thanksgiving Report of Japan Trip, 8–20 March 2024, by Thessa Lagapa

My sister and I would like to give thanks to the Lord for how He has heard our prayers, seen the desire of our hearts, and opened the door for us to go back to Japan to see Grandpa Bob (the Rev Robert Kluttz). Because of COVID and other factors that hindered us from taking a trip to Japan, we have not been able to see Grandpa Bob for the past five years since 2019. We tried to make plans, but it just was not God’s will yet. In fact, my sister and I attempted to apply for our visas last year, but the application was cancelled and put on hold. It seemed like we just were not able to go around this time, but earlier this year, we tried to apply again and to our surprise and joy, it was approved in February. When we received the news, we knew this was from God, and we give Him all the praise for it. Sadly, though my father wanted to join us, his visa was not approved early enough. The system of the Japanese Embassy in Singapore was down and could not process any of the applications. We took this as part of God’s will.

We booked our flights as soon as possible. The reports about Grandpa Bob from his daughter, Auntie Karen, were starting to give us fear that we may not be able to see Grandpa Bob one more time. As Christians, we are assured that we will meet each other in our heavenly home and be there together forever. However, the human in me prayed that we could see him at least one more time and maybe even for a few more times. Grandpa Bob is truly a precious man in my family’s lives whom we love so dearly. God had used him to share the gospel to my father and mother, so that my siblings and I could be born into a Christian family. He was there when both my sister and I were born and was the one who suggested our names as well. He instructed us in the way of the Lord and encouraged my father to serve the Lord and study in FEBC. As one can see, God had used him mightily and is instrumental in why my family is where we are today. So, going back to Japan really and always meant going to see Grandpa Bob.

Now, that we are back from the trip, it felt surreal that it had really happened because we have doubted so many times whether God would answer this prayer of ours. Looking back, I think writing a report to thank God about the trip would be the most logical thing to do. Firstly, I thank God for keeping us safe during the travel. It took us a whole day to travel, and we had to take three flights, transiting at Taiwan, to reach Japan. It was definitely tiring and the cold that welcomed us when we stepped out into Sapporo made me realize I forgot how cold it could be. Yamazaki San (FEBC alumnus) met us at the Sapporo train station, and we headed off to see Grandpa Bob.

The tiredness and cold disappeared when we saw Grandpa Bob. He was on a hospital bed in his room, bedridden. I was a bit sad to see him like that when I used to remember he was up and cycling the last time we saw him. Yet, his inner man did not falter or weaken at all. He is spiritually stronger than ever, always talking about the Lord and encouraging us to serve the Lord in our youth. His mind is still sharp and functioning well. He asked about the brethren both in the Philippines and Singapore, saying that he was always praying for them. He introduced to us his latest favourite hymn, “I Would Be Like Jesus” (James Rowe), and we sang it over and over again. Each time, he would explain a certain word and how we could apply it to our lives. He said that someone had recently visited him and reminded them of Jesus. With tears in his eyes, he cried, “I’m not like Jesus! I’m not like Him at all! I’m so sinful!” Many of us would have appreciated that comment if it was said of us, but here was a man who is in his evening years, who had dedicated a large part of his life as a missionary to Japan to preach the Gospel. If there was anyone who is like Jesus, I would think it is Grandpa Bob. But he still saw the great difference between himself and the Saviour, that there is still so far to go to be like Jesus. That struck me a lot.

After praying for us, Auntie Karen and her son, Luke, drove us and Yamazaki San to the Suzuki’s, a Christian couple who are fruits of Grandpa Bob’s ministry. We spent the night there and worshiped on the Lord’s Day with them the next day. There was a morning devotion at 7 am, and the worship service started at 11 am. Aside from Suzuki San and his wife, Yamazaki San, my sister and me, three others came for the service — Suzuki San’s mother and colleague, as well as a lady who joined through a video call. She was supposed to be the one who would play the piano, but she did not come, so I stepped in to play. Yamazaki San, my sister and I were also given opportunities to share our salvation testimonies.

After lunch, we took a 5-hour train ride to Abashiri with Yamazaki San, and we arrived at 9 pm at the church where my sister and I would stay for the next few days. A few members of the Abashiri church were there to welcome us. Everything had been prepared so we did not have to worry about anything. They were willing to even take off their jackets and shoes so that we would be kept warm. It was such a wonderful manifestation of Christian love. In the following week, there were certain members who volunteered to take us out and show us around Abashiri and to meals. Yamazaki San had told us how excited the members were to have us. It was truly a blessing to be around them. There may be only a few Christians in Japan, but they were genuine ones. Yamazaki San had to work in the daytime at an elderly care, but he continued to serve the Lord in the church. He spoke during the Gospel Meeting on Wednesday night from Lamentations 3:22–23. We also had tracting sessions where we would go and slip in tracts into the mailboxes because door-to-door evangelism is not allowed in Japan. We also met two other missionaries — Bro Paul Schofield who had been in Japan for the past 40 years and hails from New Zealand and his fellow minister, a Japanese man, Mio Yutaka. They were both single and served the Lord together, sometimes travelling to other parts of Japan. Bro Paul also teaches an English class on Wednesdays where he would use the Bible as his sole teaching material.

We were supposed to have sessions with the children in the church on the weekend, but they all caught the flu that was going around in the schools; so sadly, we could not see them. We only heard that they have gotten bigger and taller since the last we saw them, but that they have not really confirmed that any of them have a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. We pray for these young, precious souls that there will continue to be generations of Christians in Japan!

On Monday, my sister and I took a 6-hour bus trip back to Sapporo to spend 2 more days with Grandpa Bob. I dearly treasure each moment we were able to spend with him, and he would always ask us to sing “I Would Be like Jesus.” On Tuesday night, the Suzuki’s came over as well, so we had dinner together with Grandpa Bob. It was very nostalgic to remember years ago when we were all together as a small but warm Christian community in Sapporo. We flew back to Philippines on Wednesday.

I thank God for this trip where I could see Grandpa Bob, Yamazaki San, the Suzuki’s, and the other Christians in Japan. I am very encouraged by them to press on serving the Lord in the part of the world where God has placed me. Please do keep Theya in prayer as she is still very burdened to serve in Japan. She had received advices from some missionaries while we were there on what to do, but she has to wait upon the Lord to clearly reveal His will. May the Lord pave the way for her to be used in Japan as His mouthpiece if it is indeed His will! To God be all the glory.


April 29–May 4, 2024, 8.30am–12pm,
One Credit
On Campus and Livestream
Lecturer: Rev Dr Jeffrey Khoo
Register at FEBC Hall on first day of class or online at
Credit: $40 Audit: $20
Lunch tickets sold daily for those taking classes on campus

Abashiri Christ Gospel Assembly, Japan, March 2024

1 Goldhill Plaza, #03-35, S(308899)
6254 1287

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