Friend, Come Back into the Dearest Heart
🎦 Click on the icon above to begin playing all chapters. Play time is 76 minutes.
🎦 We would be deeply blessed when all of you, if you are already accepted Christ or even not yet, could be touched and moved by something released from each scene in this video.
How to View
“Friend, Come Back into the Dearest Heart” can be viewed in four languages. Select a language from the top row to change the subtitles and hymns to that language.
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The entire video is comprised of 17 episodes. Total play time is 76 minutes. We recommend that you view the chapters consecutively to further your understanding.
“Friend, Come Back into the Dearest Heart” is comprised of nine videos with recordings of church people’s activities, with eight testimony videos in between. Eleven hymns are used as background music in the nine church videos.
A testimony is when a person talks in front of others about how they met God.
Explanation of Each Chapter
See “Explanation of Each Chapter” for more details about each episode.
See “Production History” if you wish to learn about the history behind the making of “Friend, Come Back into the Dearest Heart.”
(Note: This history is provided only in Japanese.)
Explanation of Each Chapter
1. Friend, Come Back into the Dearest Heart
Kotobuki-cho (meaning “town of celebration”) in Yokohama, is one of the three most famous skid rows in Japan. It is a district about 200 m by 400 m surrounded by famous places, such as Chinatown, Yokohama Stadium and Yamashita Park. In this small district, many people have been compelled to live homeless lives. Those who have no place to return to or rest wander aimlessly through the streets, day and night, in despair and sorrow. The Kotobuki Labor Center, located in the center of Kotobuki-cho, offers them employment on a daily wage basis. The evangelical team, “Mission Lazarus” shares the Word of God with everyone in the open space outside the Kotobuki Labor Center. The hymn, “A Friend Wandering in a Desolate Night Town”is the theme song for gospel preaching in the streets by Mission Lazarus, which is a hymn about “wandering friends.” The last part of the hymn goes as follows:
“Come back into the bosom of dearest Jesus.” “My friend, say good bye to dark nights and find your way into His sweet heart.”
2. Messages from Pastors Sato and Seo
Pastor Seo testifies to her decision to devote herself to evangelism in Kotobuki-cho as follows: “I am a mere woman who is very weak and lacking in talents. But I began my work believing that Jesus inside me will give me power and everything else I will need for the work.” And Pastor Sato says, “In heaven we will dedicate ourselves only to worshipping God. So now is the only chance we have for preaching the gospel. I am so blessed to have been given this privilege.”
3. Street Gospel Preaching
They have been preaching the gospel on the streets come rain, snow or shine. The paper banners on which the lyrics of hymns are written have been used for a long time, and they have been repaired many times with masking tape. Some drunk people are sleeping on the road in front of the gospel team. Some are booing and heckling. But Pastor Sato pays no attention to them as he preaches the Word of God, and Pastor Seo is singing hymns with Mission Lazarus, the evangelical team made up of once-homeless and born-again Christians. People gather around the team, initially to get free meals, but over time they begin singing the hymns, attending church, become baptized, and go on to serving meals to other homeless people of their own free will. Their work slowly but steadily opens up the hardened hearts of the homeless to Christ. Their lifeless expressions change, and they regain liveliness. Their hardened expressions mellow, and become peaceful.
4. Testimony #1 Mr. Sakai (formerly heavily in debt)
He never grew tired of or learned from his sinful deeds. He became engrossed in gambling, ran up a huge debt, and eventually declared personal bankruptcy. He would see a road with cars and think, “I’ll throw myself onto that street.” Looking down on a river from a bridge he would think, “I’ll jump in!” Looking up at a tall building he would think, “I’ll throw myself off it!” He became obsessed with such thoughts, day after day. One day when he had not eaten anything and only drunk water for two days, he was given a rice ball by a staff member of the Canaan Christian Church. He wonders what might have happened if he had not been given that rice ball on that day.
5. Never Give Up Even on Rainy Days
Fights, murders, suicides and fires are common occurrences in Kotobuki-cho. One day in fall, a Korean believer of the Canaan Christian Church was killed by a robber right in front of the church hall. After this tragedy, half of the believers left the church, and it faced serious financial problems. Pastor Sato used to work in a family restaurant, and Pastor Seo with other staff members opened a street stall to sell kimchi (korean pickles) to meet the financial needs of the church. But they could not find a good place to do business due to administrative regulations. The kimuchi did not sell well either. It suddenly began to rain one day, but Pastor Seo never gave up. She continued working.
6. Testimony #2 Mr. Tamura (former manager of a supermarket)
He grew up in family wealthy enough to put him through college. He was also treated well by everyone including his parents, friends, siblings, teachers at school, and superiors at work. But he lived his life thinking that all his successes were ultimately his own achievements. He spent all his money, time and strength on no one but himself, and in the end he lost his will to live, his house, food, clothing and everything else that he had. He spent a year-and-a-half walking from Kokura to Yokohama. He had decided that Yokohama was his final destination, and that if he didn’t pull himself together he would have no choice but to die.
7. Happy, Joyful, and Delicious
Why is the Canaan Christian Church called “The Curry and Rice Church”? It is because the Church serves curry and rice to its followers after church services. Sometimes when helpers from other churches join the team, they hand out curry and rice to people living near the church in the open space outside the Kotobuki Labor Center. On such days a couple of hundred dishes of curry and rice are made by the helpers. The place is normally filled with an atmosphere of darkness and despair, but it brightens up on such days, and becomes filled with warmth. People turn happy, joyful, and satisfied eating the delicious food.
8. Testimony #3 Mr. Matsuda (former band drummer)
In his student days, or when he was sleeping in the streets, he was always up to no good. He was self-centered, and always thought he would somehow find a way. When he was playing the drums in an “enka (Japanese ballad)” band too, he broke the rhythm on purpose if he didn’t like the singer, and was drunk every day on sake that people gave him. In the end he became sick and was hospitalized. He continued drinking even after his release from hospital, and began living on the streets. He ate box lunches he had stolen, and whenever he saw the police, he looked down in fear. He grew tired of his life, living in constant fear.
9. A Lazarus in Kotobuki-Cho
One day, Pastor Sato found an old man with wounded legs. He was shocked by the condition of his legs. They were rotten with numerous small holes and infested with a large number of maggots. How terrible! In the Bible a man named Lazarus appears who is very poor and desolate. The man with wounded legs was surely a “Lazarus” in Kotobuki-cho. Pastor Sato got him admitted to a hospital after becoming his guarantor. When the man was discharged Pastor Seo devoted herself to taking care of him and eventually his legs healed. After this incident, the Lazarus visited the Canaan Christian Church of his own free will for the first time.
10. Testimony #4 Mr. Hida (former patient with cerebral palsy)
His legs were crippled from birth. His younger sisters were healthy, and they both went to proper schools. He was physically disabled, so he didn’t even go to school, and he walked far behind his sisters whenever they went out. His parents too, pushed him away telling him to walk on his own. He never knew his parents’ or sisters’ love. “There’s no such a thing as love!” he thought. And he became homeless. His life was hard, and he thought he was going to die. But one cold winter night, a person came to visit him despite the fact that he smelled from not bathing himself.
11. Smiling Lazaruses
People not only experience pain and sorrow in their daily lives, but also joy. Joy such as the Bible study meeting at a camp in the mountains or a fireworks display in summer. Or receiving invitations from churches in Korea as witnesses of Mission Lazarus in sharing testimonies and singing hymns before our Korean brothers and sisters. Or the moment we are thanked by a homeless person for a rice ball handed out during our Patrol of Love and Prayer. Or our memories of the day of our wedding and birthday celebrations. And the party to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the Canaan Christian Church.
12. Testimony #5 Mr. Imaizumi (former human trafficking broker)
He used to trick workers and send them to places where they were forced to labor without pay. One day in Kotobuki-cho, he met a man whom he had cheated in the past, and was told, “Now it’s my turn to kill you!” After that he hid himself in a tiny room and immersed himself in drinking for around three years. On the brink of madness, he thought he wanted to die. He decided to drink for the last time to forget his worries, and he went out shopping.
13. Early Morning Street Gospel Preaching
A lot of people are waiting for the Gospel Preaching on the Street to start, sitting on the steps of the Kotobuki Labor Center from very early in the morning. It is still dark. Their original intention is not to listen to any messages or hymns, but to get breakfast with hot miso soup handed out after the meeting. Nevertheless, Pastors Sato and Seo, and other members of Mission Lazarus are preaching the gospel and singing hymns to the Lord in all earnest. Darkness gradually recedes and the sunlight begins shining over them, as the preaching ends. Then people gather around lunch boxes and cups of soup.
14. Testimony #6 Mr. Ikeda (former manager of an adult entertainment business)
He was sleeping in the streets. He had not taken a bath for more than a year and he had let his hair grow long. Despite being in such a smelly, terrible state, he still wanted to smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol. It drove him to earn money by taking the train to Korakuen, without a care for the nuisance he was creating for the other passengers, to stand in line to buy tickets at Tokyo Dome. He lived to satisfy himself only, and he was totally self-centered. That was his life. He never believed in God. He lived as he pleased, and he would die one day and that would be the end. That’s what he always believed.
15. Before God and Men
A man and a woman, a couple, were living in a small house made of corrugated cardboard in an underground passage of Kannai station. The woman was pregnant and in a very critical condition. Pastor Seo got her admitted to an emergency hospital. She gave birth to a baby girl. Later, celebrating her one year birthday, the couple held a wedding ceremony at the church at the same time. They refused to depend on the livelihood protection system, and made a fresh start in life through their faith in Christ in a room inside the church building. The husband was employed as a garbage collector by the Ward Office and pays a tithe to the church like other members of Mission Lazarus. The baby has grown into a girl with a deep love of God and the members of the church. Today, the girl attends every church meeting in earnest to listen to the Word of God and sing anthems. Pastor Sato has been praying for her, and he says to her, “The world is waiting for you.”
16. Gospel on the Streets by Satoshi Sato (Senior Pastor of Canaan Christian Church)
Weekly street preaching is held in an open space in Kotobuki-cho. A lot of people sit on the steps of the building. Pastor Sato gives them a message full of strength. After preaching they sing one of the theme songs of Kotobuki-cho, “Samishi Yoru no Machi (In A Desolate Night Town).” Pastor Sato starts playing his accordion and they sing along. Some clap their hands and others sing holding beer bottles. The song finishes and a round of applause breaks out. They all say the Lord’s Prayer and the street preaching ends.
Christmas! A day on which the entire world will celebrate the birth of our Savior. At the Canaan Christian Church too, our Lazaruses go out on the town after the church service and celebrations dressed as Santa Clauses to deliver Christmas presents to our friends living on the streets, and march all around Kotobuki-cho. And in parks and at the station, they share their joy with passers-by. Finally they come back to praise the Lord in the church hall with a cross on its rooftop. They become emotionally fulfilled by the words of the Lord Jesus: “It is more blessed to give than to receive”. Merry Christmas!
Yokohama Canaan Christian Church
Satoshi Sato, Senior Pastor of Canaan Christ Church
Graduated from a university He was employed by a famous Big Steel Industry. Then abandoned the secular work he has dedicated himself to the Lord. Finished a night class at Seikei Seminary School and learned and trained four years at Immanuel Seisen Seminary School. Then gained his careers as a staff of the church of the Seminary, and he engaged in the Evangelical team for the homeless at Sanya, Tokyo. Later he has started his own ministry in Kotobuki-Cho with Pastor So.
Yeon-Hee Seo, Missionary Pastor of Canaan Christ Church
She was called and came to Japan to serve as a helper for a church in Yokohama in December 1992. During her duty at the church, she delivered lunch boxes and preached the Gospel for the people in Kotobuki-Cho. Through such experiences she had gotten a calling to work specifically for them. Then Sato and So started Canaan Christ Church in 1993 together, having worship services every Sunday and engaging in the evangelism in Kotobuki-Cho.