Week 4: Eternity in Their Hearts (part 1) October 5-11

  • View Week Four Video (Dr. Daniel Kikawa).
  • Read Eternity in Their Hearts, pages 1 – 96, Chapters 1-2.
  • Pray daily for Japan and Japanese, using Operation Japan. 
  • Post thoughts and questions online.


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    Apologies for incomplete

    Jim Woo

    I sincerely apologize for not completing this homework. I was only able to read Chapter 1 of the book this week. It is doubtful I can finish it today, for I have the second part of the How Does God Grow His Kingdom training, and then I have a 7-hour drive back to Wisconsin.

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    Minako Week 4

    Minako Wilkinson

    Eternity in Their Hearts has been sitting on our book shelf for all these years and I never picked it up to read it until now. I wish I had read it before! Chapter 1 is a series of fascinating stories in different people groups about how Jehovah God has been revealing Himself to them from ancient times and they even have a word for Him. However, different events in history have caused people to lose this concept of a Creator God. Then Chapter 2 records stories of people groups mostly in and near Burma about how these people groups have been wanting to discover the lost book about God and that they had been waiting for a “white foreigner” to bring the book to them! The description of the Karen people was astonishing.

    Dr Kikawa suggests that the Japanese people may have the word for Jehovah God “amenominakanushnokamii” in his videos “God’s Fingerprints in Japan” that appears in the oldest history book “Kojiki“ written in 712.

    A quick search for amenominakanushinokami on the Japanese Wikipedia tells us that amenominanushinokami is considered to be the supreme god (who existed before any other gods) and Hirata Atsutane (1776-1843), a well known Japanese scholar/medical doctor/philosopher/Shinto believer in the Edo Period read some books about Christianity (strictly forbidden then) and thought that the universe was created by amenominanushinokami, along with two other gods (three creator gods). Very fascinating.

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    JD Week 4


    I read Don Richardson’s book many years ago, but after several years of international ministry it has new meaning for me. To be honest I read a lot and don’t remember much from the previous reading. I certainly was moved by chapters 1 & 2. On one hand it seems so surprising to learn and hear examples of how God has been working in other cultures for centuries. But why should this be surprising? We’ve been informed by his Word. More Christians should be taught these examples from history. They show that God not only has a heart for the nations, but has been active.
    This encourages me to be bold and intentional, because there are people everywhere that God has prepared to hear of his Grace.

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    Week 4 Harumi

    Harumi Butler

    Week 4 comment

    It is very encouraging to read all the stories of how God saved many people groups in different and unique ways. I know he is eager to save and ‘the Father is always at work’. He also appoints the leaders among people. Just like He chose Abraham and spoke to him to leave his homeland, even to this day He is appointing people. If Abraham did not accept the assignment, God would have chosen another person for the love of His creation. When the author mentioned that Abraham was originally from the land of idol worship, it made me wonder and appreciate the mystery of God. Just like God chose Abraham, the indigenous leaders and the missionaries, he has been choosing people for Japan. I will continue to pray that the hearts of Japanese people will be softened like, the Karens and different people groups of Burma, Thailand and India. I want to have the wisdom “to find evidence of God-fearers living among pagan peoples in recent times”.

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    Week 4 reflection


    This week’s reading was very good reminder to me that God is God of every culture and history, even we often forget and don’t realize it. Throughout this class, I am learning so many things about how to discern the genuine teachings of the gospel and the cultural influences and traditions. I most liked the term, gap less logic, which was described by the author upon apostle Paul’s apologetic in Athens. Cultural differences often bring us uncomfortable feelings but it doesn’t mean that these are inferior or wrong. Due to Japanese culture is so much different to the westernized standard, we Christians also often make many mistakes about considering their culture as only superstitious and idolatry. But this week’s reading reminded me that there is no culture which was ignored and abandoned by our God.

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    Mariko's thoughts and questions


    Finding out that Yahweh God didn’t only reveal himself to the Jewish people from the earlier time, makes me more confident of who God is. In the back of my mind, there was always a lingering question about Yahweh. How come God wasn’t there to the people in Japan or other tribes from much earlier time (before missionaries came)? What Richardson is saying about general revelation to the different groups of people helps us to realize that Yahweh is not the only for the Jewish people but for all of us. Thus, this fact makes it clearer to see that Jesus died for all people in the world. Furthermore, it will be harder to deny the only true God.

    However, I’m just wondering how I communicate this general revelation of God more effectively to Japanese people since most people never heard of or are unfamiliar with Amenominanushinokami.

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    Eternity in their Hearts and the Etymological Trap

    Marty Parker

    I was fortunate to read Eternity in their Hearts in seminary for the Intercultural Ministry program I was in. It’s a great dive into the beauty of the information God has left about himself around the world.

    I think for the missionary, cross-cultural worker, or first generation Christ-follower, the endeavor is to not to fall into an etymological trap. That is to take a latent concept within a specific culture and make more out of it than need be.

    Often I think you’ll find in a culture, that a “religious thing” continues long beyond it’s actual worship. The names and the modes remain but the former reality it points to is no longer relevant to the generation partaking in it. I hypothesize that this is a common phenomenon among younger Japanese who attend regional festivals. It’s simply a festival for many.

    I’ve also observed that indigenous first-generation Christians are quite polarizing about the religions in their midst, and this has a fear-effect causing other Christians not to rely on their authority in Christ. They become superstitious about their engagement with religious others and their theology and praxis gets skewed. It results in weird disciples, not mature ones.

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    A belated response

    Linda Grimms

    I am sorry to be late in my response. I have been enjoying reading Eternity in Their Hearts.
    I had a fascinating experience a few years ago that illustrates how important it is to find cultural bridges that point to Jesus. I was traveling in Morocco, visiting an area that had been a large lakebed until the Sahara Desert took over. My specific destination that day was a fossil shop. As I left, I was talking to my tour guide – a devout Muslim man – about the fossils. I asked him about the Koran’s story about Noah — and whether this dry lakebed might be like the land after Noah’s flood that left fossils behind. He did not go with the idea of the flood and fossils — but he was astonished that an American would be interested in hearing about the Koran and Noah — it gave me an opportunity to share what I knew from the Bible about Noah. For the rest of the trip, he was much more willing to talk about what he knew from the Koran and what I knew from the Bible — we had a cultural bridge for conversation. I know that Richardson’s book has a different focus, but perhaps we do not need to see these supra-cultural God sightings only in the ancient past.

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    Esha: CSE101: Week 4


    I am sorry for being late in posting this. With English as my third language, this book is not an easy read. However, it is truly fascinating. I had to read some pages twice or thrice to truly understand what the author was saying. But every minute was well worth it! I have always been intrigued by Paul’s use of “unknown God” in Athens and using it to share the Gospel. the story that the book opens with provides some amazing backdrop to this very usage. Being from India, it has always fascinated me that there are two prefectures with average 90% Christianity in a country with less than 4% Christianity! This book makes it clear how the cultural concepts and ideas (redemptive analogies) deeply embedded in their lives bridges them with the Gospel and makes it their own! I am challenged to find more bridges like this within my own culture.

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    Mike's Week 4 Observations and Questions


    Eternity in Their Hearts is such an encouraging book to read again. I had read Peace Child and Lords of the Earth by Richardson in my Sr Year in college and the idea of redemptive analogies stayed with me across the decades. While encouraging I found the ideas in Eternity in their Hearts difficult to apply to ministry contexts in Japan and the middle east. Lacking much knowledge of cultural history that seemed to mirror any of the examples in this book – I dismissed its practicality/applicability. Fortunately, some others in Japan have done more research and study into Japanese History and found evidence for the 1 true God in early Japanese literature. I wonder if some in Japan would be interested in hearing more about the Unknown God in their history. It may be unknown to them – but could it peak their interest?