I asked Dub Jackson what his biggest thrill was during his missionary career. He replied, “Well, I don’t know. It was all a joy. If you are doing what God wants you to do, it is a joy. If you’re doing God’s will, you are in the center of His will – Live it up!” Dub has enjoyed life this way for ninety-two years and he is not letting up now. He teaches a seminary class at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, helping train young men and women for the missionary life overseas.
Dub and Doris Jackson were married for sixty-eight years. Fifty of those wonderful years were enjoyed as career missionaries in Japan. Having been a fighter pilot in the Pacific during World War II, Dub’s missionary life was with the same zeal. As a fighter pilot, he says, “You should be willing to do anything that’s necessary – or don’t get into that airplane.” He believes the same is true for a missionary, “You go in there to do the work that is supposed to be done. You get it done, regardless of the circumstances.” His goal is to instill this tenacity and dedication in his students and encourage them in their future. He insists they understand that “Your goal in the country you go to is nationwide revival. Don’t settle for anything less.”
“I try to tell my students that come, ‘You’re going to have the greatest joy in the world. You’ll be doing what God told you to do. You will be in the center of His will, doing what He told you to do. How can you improve on that!?’” He then reflected, “O, how I wish I weren’t so old, so I could do it all over again… Can you believe I can still talk and witness at ninety-two? I am thankful He can still use me.”
Dub emphasized repeatedly that he believes his military time flying P-38’s provided him more in preparation for the mission field than did his seminary education. His military days were all-out, total commitment and this was a natural carryover to the mission field.
It is very unique indeed that Dub fought against the Japanese in World War II and then had such a burning heart to return to Japan as a missionary. I asked him where that deep desire came from. Of course he said, “Just the Lord. In seminary I wasn’t interested in going anywhere but Japan. I never wanted to be a preacher or a missionary, but the Lord gave it to me.”
I asked him when he knew he was supposed to go back to Japan. “I knew that when I got home. I was going back to Japan. If the Foreign Mission Board didn’t send me, I was going anyway. I wasn’t going because the Board would send me, but because the Lord sent me. You really need to have that kind of commitment. I want to pass that on to these students.”
Dub’s career as a missionary began in prayer, moving ahead in faith and witnessing God move in so many ways to accomplish what He had called Dub to do. This would be repeated as Dub and Doris served and trusted God to provide in impossible circumstances again and again. They followed a principle “I believed to be Biblical, then and now: do everything we can, and trust the Lord to do the rest.”
While in seminary, the senior missionary in Japan, Edwin Dozier, invited Dub and seven other young men to Japan to help in a summer evangelism campaign. After much prayer, it was definite to all of them that God wanted them to go. But this meant resigning the small church where he served as pastor, on a $50 per month salary, and making sure his wife and infant son would be cared for while he was away.
More obstacles lay ahead. It would take $1600 for Dub to go. (This was a substantial amount in 1950.)
Seminary professors and pastors advised against it. The Foreign Mission Board and their Executive Secretary advised them not to go. Dub was told that his desire to be appointed as a missionary the following year might be jeopardized if he went. But he had to go because he believed strongly this is what God wanted him to do. “I have thanked the Lord many times for that experience. He led us to go overseas on a campaign when there was no money and seemingly no possible way to go. He showed us how He could provide and give a victory when all seemed impossible.”
As soon as they landed they began sharing and witnessing Christ in the heart of Tokyo. At the Shibuya railroad station, they stood on the hood of a jeep, witnessing and handing out Gospel tracts. Dub says that 1950 Japan was devastated. They had nothing. “As we handed out the salvation tracts, all we could see were hands reaching up.” They were begging for the tracts in broken English. “To this day I can still see those hands and hear those voices begging for help!”
In a similar meeting in that station, another missionary handed a tract to a young man who was reaching and clutching for the Gospel. This man prayed to receive Christ and they invited him to join them in another street outreach in Nagoya a few days later. It was learned that this young man was Commander Mitsuo Fuchida, the pilot that had led the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. He was the pilot that, in a victory shout, had radioed back to his carrier, “Tora! Tora! Tora!”
Dub would get to know him well and they ministered together in evangelistic campaigns. “There I was, an ex-fighter pilot, standing next to the Japanese pilot who had led the attack on Pearl Harbor, and we were both sharing our testimonies concerning the love of Christ and the salvation He had given to us. Is this not amazing grace!?” Mitsuo Fuchida would become a preacher of the Gospel and faithfully served the Lord until his death.
That six-week experience as summer missionaries was thrilling for Dub and the team. They had witnessed 2,200 Japanese come to faith in Christ. And they had seen the hand of God at every turn, providing and leading. Dub was ready for his final preparation back home and eager to return to Japan.
Dub and Doris Jackson and their two small children arrived in Yokohama harbor on August 21, 1951. After long years of preparation and anticipation, they were finally where they knew they were supposed to be and eager to begin their ministry of sharing the good news of hope with the nation of Japan.
But first, language school. Dub says that was the most difficult time of his career. “My commitment was severely tested as we entered language school, for it was a challenging and difficult assignment. Nevertheless, I was determined to preach in Japanese…I recall one time in my frustration with the language that I told my missions professor at Southwestern that I could now preach on hell from experience.”
Graduating from language school in 1953, and three more kids now, their first assignment was in Asahigawa, the coldest place in all Japan in the winter, with temperatures falling to -20 to -30° F, and the hottest place in the summer, being surrounded by mountains that blocked the ocean breeze.
There were no churches or church members here, just the challenge to “build a New Testament church in a city of 175,000!” This city had been the Japanese headquarters for the northern island of Hokkaido during the war and was very restricted to religious activities. But God was leading, and they were determined to have a citywide presentation of the Gospel. They had no property or church building, no adequate budget and no church members and they needed to secure the best possible place to present their message.
They set their sites on the city auditorium, but learned there was a city ordinance prohibiting the use of the auditorium for religious purposes. But Dub would not take a no without asking in person. Claiming the Scripture passage from Matthew 7:7-11, Dub and Doris, family and many friends prayed earnestly for this campaign.
When Dub arrived at the auditorium’s business office, he met with the Japanese man that was the manager. Dub explained to him, “that we were planning on making a presentation of the Christian faith to the people of Asahigawa and wanted to do it in the most attractive and effective way possible. I told him we had assembled the finest evangelistic team in Japan and knew that the best location for the meeting was his auditorium.”
As the manager opened his scheduling book, Dub was expecting him to give reasons why he could not schedule this event, but thrilled to hear him say the dates they wanted were open and then added, “For a meeting like you have proposed, I will be glad to let you have the auditorium for half price.” Dub remembers, “For this young missionary standing in that empty auditorium, it was one of the most inspirational moments of my life. I had just watched the Lord turn water into wine again!”
Even at half price, the missions budget was not adequate to cover the cost. And there were more expenses for advertising, a banquet for the city officials and other preparations. But this dedicated couple were determined, whatever it took, to bring this campaign to the city of Asahigawa in the most attractive manner possible. “Our responsibility was to pray, plan and to commit to do what God was leading us to do, and then trust the Lord to provide. He did and He does. He is always dependable.”
The campaign opened on a Monday night with 60 people in the large auditorium, but there had been too many miracles for discouragement. Tuesday there were 120 present and by Wednesday the auditorium was packed with standing room only. That week, over 350 people from Buddhist and Shinto religions came forward accepting Christ as Lord. It was a grand and inspirational week indeed, and a wonderfully powerful way the church was started in Asahigawa.
But the Jackson’s story would not be complete without explaining the New Life campaign of 1963 that started in Tokyo and spread across Asia. I must leave this for my next post and say that it has been a tremendous blessing and privilege to visit with this man of God, whose life has been lived in such extraordinary ways, trusting his God and witnessing His great care and provision.