A Tribute to Dub Jackson
Asahikawa – a city of 170,000 souls perched in the northern sphere of Hokkaido, the northernmost large island of Japan – is well known to the Japanese, and its perpetually cold weather is legendary. But, beyond that, there was certainly no reason to expect one of the great revivals of modern history to unfold there. However, that is precisely how God worked through missionaries Dub and Doris Jackson, who were assigned upon completion of language training school in 1953 to open the new Baptist mission work in Asahikawa. What made it especially breathtaking was that Dub Jackson, who would be the pastor of this new church plant, had flown an endless number of missions for the United States Air Force as a young P-38 fighter pilot, devastating the Japanese enemy in World War II. Chosen to be among the first to enter Japan, Dub Jackson quickly set his heart on winning to Christ the Japanese people, whom he now adored with an unquenchable love. Most people probably doubted whether Dub and Doris could even remain there in such a harsh climate, but the whole situation suited them perfectly.
On January 19, 2020, pilot and missionary Dub Jackson at age 95 has joined his wife and one of their five children in heaven. He slipped peacefully out of an awareness of this world and, with an excitement in his heart that is hard to imagine, set foot in heaven’s grandeur. Since he made this transition on a Sunday morning, I can only imagine that there may very well have been an incredible service of worship similar to what John saw in Revelation 4-5, and Dub undoubtedly wanted to take the trumpet that he had played all over Japan and the world and join with heaven’s magnificent trumpeters in the praise of our Savior.
Dub Jackson’s wonderfully encouraging and inspiring monograph Whatever It Takes tells the story in brief form of the way in which God took a young super patriot with a great love for flying and made him fly higher and faster than he ever dreamed in the ministry of our Lord. As a boy of 15 years, I could never forget my meeting with this man. My father, a faithful leader among Baptist people, had watched the discouragement that had been thrown at Dub from every side. He decided that he would ask Texas Baptists to do what even the Foreign Mission Board said it would not do. Texas Baptists would jointly sponsor the New Life Movement, an endeavor to do in all of Japan what the Jacksons had accomplished in Asahikawa years before. The thing that is left in my mind and heart after all these years is that most people were certain this could not happen. First of all, the post-war situation in Japan was preoccupied with rebuilding the country; and from a business point of view alone, such a mighty revival would not take place. Second, the Japanese, as everybody knew, did not tend to show any emotion and would not respond to a public invitation. Third, liberal Christianity had already begun to spread its influence in Japan, and the few Christians who were there tended to be despondent.
But Asahikawa was not a one-time situation. Dub Jackson had also been asked by the Japan Baptist Mission to begin an English-speaking church in Tokyo. At first, he was not responsive. Gradually, however, he began to see how a church in the heart of Tokyo could hasten the turn of the entire country to Christ. The Tokyo Baptist Church was the result of this endeavor, and once again, Dub Jackson in his merciful and optimistic spirit even asked a 16-year-old preacher to come and preach four different revivals during this New Life Movement. What absolutely could not happen according to most, happened as 45,000 people in Asia, 23,000 of those being from Japan alone, professed Christ as Savior during this movement of God. Churches were born, and the gospel was heard more universally in Japan than at any other time known to us in history. Young pilot Dub Jackson, who believed that God had put the evangelization of Japan on his heart, took God at His Word, and the unthinkable became a reality.
My son Armour serves now in the Japanese Baptist Church of North Dallas and has developed a close relationship with Dub and with Japanese students throughout the area. A few weeks prior to his exit from this world, Dub said to Armour, “I have one wish – I wish that I could preach just one more time in Japanese.” Armour assembled a group of Japanese and included even some who were not believers. They gathered around Dub in his home which Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary provided them in their later years. There, one last time, Dub had the opportunity to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ in the Japanese language. Can you imagine a man, knowing that he did not have long and preceded by his wife to heaven, asking for one last favor – the opportunity to preach in the language that had been so challenging for him to learn. No wonder the title of his book is Whatever It Takes. That is the life theme of Dub Jackson – one of the greatest missionaries Southern Baptists ever had.