Dub Jackson’s driving passion for life and adventure as a fighter pilot in World War II seemed to dove tail into his passion to bring the Gospel of Christ to the Japanese people after the war. The son of a small town church pastor in west Texas, Dub always knew that there was a special calling on his life to serve God. His military career prepared him for the mission field, and as he left the battlefield he knew that he had to return to Japan.
Dub emphasizes that his attitude has always been, “If you’re not willing to go ‘all out,’ don’t get into mission work. Stay out of it! But if you get into it, be willing to do whatever it takes!” His wife, Doris, had the same understanding of their calling. Dub remembers, “Doris was a constant encouragement. In difficult times, she never showed any discouragement…I am amazed at how she was so committed.”
Fifty plus years of God’s blessings, care and protection is what these parents of five children experienced in Japan. The most significant events of these wonderful years is how God prepared for and supplied needs for the New Life Movement in 1963 that would begin in Tokyo and reach all of Asia and, as a result, would give birth to Partnership Evangelism. That campaign lasted six weeks and saw 45,000 people from Buddhist and Shinto religions become followers of Christ.
It began in 1957 as the family returned to Japan from furlough. Dub reluctantly accepted the request from the Japan Baptist Mission to start and pastor the first English language Baptist church sponsored by Southern Baptists overseas. He and Doris desired to move forward with their God-given burden for the Japanese people. “We found it hard to accept the idea of building and establishing a church so that Americans could have another option to hear the story of Christ, a message the Japanese had never heard.” But this young missionary accepted the challenge with the understanding that he would return to his heart’s burden for the Japanese after it was established.
Not understanding God’s plans initially, this work would be a major step toward a citywide campaign for Tokyo and would be the beginning of the New Life Movement, “a movement that would be the most effective and far reaching effort we would ever have the privilege of being a part of.”
At the first meeting there were twenty-seven people – businessmen, military personnel and missionary families who were interested in starting Tokyo Baptist Church. Dub explained to them that the “number one priority would be to win Japan to Christ and build a church that would serve as an example for all of Japan and Asia…We knew we were setting out on a course that would require miracles and God’s constant direction.” Everyone at that meeting was in total agreement with their pastor’s admonition for total commitment to these goals.
Miracles and direction from God is what they needed and exactly what they would receive. Beginning with no budget and no money, they would soon have property and temporary buildings donated by an Air Force base commanding officer as well as $1,200 in newspaper announcements for the dedication service. Seven years later, five hundred Americans would be sent from that church, fanning out across Asia during the six weeks of the New Life Movement and experiencing thousands receiving Christ.
As they ministered in their first assignment, Asahigawa, and during their furlough in 1956, God had given Dub Jackson the vision of witnessing a major city and nationwide crusade in Japan. Many churches in the States had responded enthusiastically and Dub, now a scheduled speaker at the mission meeting in 1957, desired to convey his excitement for his vision.
But he was a nervous young missionary, beginning his second term. His dilemma was how to present this message God had laid on his heart to all the experienced missionaries in attendance without coming across as instructing. “I could not appear to be telling these veteran missionaries what ought to be done and how to do it. I could never share my burden and vision that way.”
The morning he was to preach, Dub stayed in his room praying, still concerned about being misunderstood and asking the Lord what message he should present. The time came when he was to walk to the worship service and he says, “I was almost frantic, for I still had no understanding of how I could share my message.” In that hour God gave him the assurance and awareness that was sufficient, not only for that day, but through the next seven years of preparation for the New Life Movement.
Dub finally had his sermon topic, “Victory Over Odds.” And at the close of the message, a veteran missionary stood, with tears in his eyes, and made the motion to begin funding the Tokyo Citywide Revival Fund. This was a major step forward, but the main thing was, “We were recognizing that our God is able to do all things, if we could only believe and ask.”
As plans began to be formulated, the need was for 150 three person teams to go into all 150 Baptist churches of the Japan Baptist Convention. A preacher, a musician and a layman would make up each team. Billy Graham was to climax the five major areas in Japan: Fukuoka, Osaka, Nagoya, Sapporo and Tokyo.
This effort would require at least $350,000. But a slight problem existed – there were no funds available and no personnel for such a project. As they had before, Dub’s team began to rely on Matthew 7:7-11, “Ask and you shall receive…”
As they moved out in faith, God began opening doors, bringing the vision to other leader’s and churches’ hearts and providing direction. While on furlough in 1961, Dub realized that President Kennedy had invited Japan’s Prime Minister Hayato Ikeda to America. Dr. T. A. Patterson, Executive Director of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, shared Dub’s burden for the campaign in Japan. Dub phoned him to encourage him to meet with the Prime Minister and show him what really makes America great.
After many phone calls and State Department protocols, it turned out that Vice President Johnson’s office called and invited Dub to meet with the Prime Minister at Travis Air Force Base in California. “As a poor missionary without a dime in my pocket, I said, ‘Yes, I will be glad to go.’” On the Sunday before he was to fly to California on Monday, the First Baptist Church, Brownfield, Texas provided Dub an offering that covered the round trip flight and all the long distance calls.
Dub was able to explain to Prime Minister Ikeda that America’s greatness is in our religious freedom and faith in Christ (Certainly not politically correct today). The Prime Minister was impressed, expressed that he too believed the greatest need in Japan was spiritual and how he was glad that the missionaries were there and invited Dub to his official residence in Japan. Dub presented him an honorary Texan citizen certificate, some cowboy boots and a hat.
Dr. T. A. Patterson took on the courageous challenge to raise the funds for the campaign and it began to pick up momentum. Billy Graham said during his meetings in South America, he was constantly told by people that they were praying for his involvement in the upcoming Japan campaign. This prompted he and his director to pray and felt they should give an additional three days in Japan.
A movie of modern Japan was needed so it could be shown at the Southern Baptist Convention in 1960. Dub had received an unexpected $3,000 check and thought this would be enough money to make the movie. The Japanese movie company quoted $12,500! Dub was shocked and declined. A week later Dub was called back and the executives said, “We, too, believe we need that movie and Japan needs it. We will make it. We will pay $10,000 and you pay $2,000.” That movie was shown to 16,000 people at the convention. Dub says, “It had its divine effect!”
Professional athletes, such as Bobby Richardson of the Yankees and Carl Erskine of the Brooklyn Dodgers and gold metal wrestler Shelby Wilson were invited and used effectively. Nationwide advertising costs were met at a $200,000 price tag. The of the largest stadium in Tokyo declined to provide the stadium at first. Then his heart was changed. He not only provided it, but also required his 700 employees to be in attendance. This mission effort was one of unprecedented miracle after miracle.
Dub says, “In the New Life Movement there was no budget, no personnel and little understanding of the program. But God gave 549 dedicated laymen, musicians and preachers from America to execute the program and almost $800,000 to support the campaign. God gave the victory even though we had none of the so-called ingredients necessary to experience a real victory!”
Dr. Dub Jackson has lived a life of faith, believing God when it seemed hopeless. But, you know, that is when God does His greatest work. Thank you for that example, Dub Jackson, and for sharing the great victories and the encouragement you bring to us all!