Many years ago I learned how God uses perseverance to accomplish his purposes. At the age of twenty-seven I was asked by my denomination to plant a church on the island of Oahu in Hawaii. This was 1973. I was approached for this assignment because I had been commissioned as a Navy Chaplain during the Vietnam War, and as a reservist had access to military bases in Hawaii. I had also traveled extensively in the Far East and was familiar with the challenges of interacting cross-culturally, especially in sharing my faith. My wife planned to join me on Oahu with our two young sons as soon as I was established. The first thing I did was to interview Dr. Jim Cook, well-known pastor of the International Baptist Church on the Pali Hwy in Honolulu. I told him I had just arrived to plant a church and asked him where there was the greatest need. He looked at me with some skepticism and then suggested the community of Aiea in the foothills overlooking Pearl Harbor. Before I left he said, "You need to know that the average tenure of a church planter in Hawaii is nine months."

That afternoon I scouted Aiea, twenty minutes east of Honolulu. It was home to hundreds of second and third generation Japanese families whose parents and grandparents had immigrated to Hawaii prior to World War II. All were Buddhist. It was also home to military personnel who were stationed at Pearl Harbor Naval Base and Hickam Air Force Base.

[Read the rest of the article at Reasons for Hope.]