Pastor Toshio Masunaga was the minister of the Lord whom the Lord had given to
the Reformed Presbyterian Church as the first Japanese pastor. He was reformed
in theology, had always tried to be faithful boldly to the Bible in his preaching
and action, and was always an earnest and personal evangelist of the gospel.  
He has also stength and wisdom to lead the group of our congregations in Japan, 
even during his physical weakness.  Hgashisuma congregation grew under his 
leadership, and has continued to grow even during his illness because of the 
result of his training.  

Pastor Masunaga was born 31st of May, 1928 in Bujun, North Eastern China 
(Manchuria). He was an excellent student at the first Dairen High School and 
gradated there in 1945. Then the war ended, he was dtained at Dairen by Russians
and experienced the destruction of whole society and value system. God protected 
him even before He called him, so his family safely came back to Kumamoto city
in the Kyushu island of Japan. He graduated Kumamoto Foreign Language College
in 1950, and by God's plan and leading he came to Kobe city for his new employment
as the translator at the police office of Kobe city. He began to attend the 
Ichinotani RPC, and was baptized by Dr.Samuel E. Boyle on 27th of April, 1951.
He has been a great help for the mission as a translator. God called him to the 
ministry, so he entered in the Kobe Reformed Seminary(that is PCUS established 
and CRC, OPC have supported as the seminary of the Reformed Church of Japan) and 
graduated in 1958. He was ordained on 4th of February 1959 by the Far Eastern 
Commission as the first Japanese pastor of RPCNA. Since then he had been pastoring 
Higashisuma Congregation long years before pastor Sumito Sakai, to whom he had 
administered infant baptism, graduated from Kobe Reformed Seminary and succeeded 
him as the pastor there.

His contributions to the church are numerous, but we count several as typically 
important.  He was one of the translators of the Old Testament part of the New 
Japanese Version of the Bible, since his knowledge of the Hebrew language was 
outstanding.  He had taken the leadership of making the Japanese Psalter as
 the chairman of the Psalter Committee until the 1984 edition was completed. 
He translated the life of Christ in the Psalms into Japanese and made the singing
of it by all the RP congregations once a year as the traditional event of the 
Christmas season. He faithfully served for the session's and the commission's 
meetings, and had served as the moderator of the Japan Commission many times. 
He contributed the article concerning psalmody to the periodical of Japanese 
church music.  He activated Higashisuma church  making cell groups for prayer 
and home evangelism. It was one of the major reasons for the growth of Higashisuma 
church.  He also helped the start of Keiyaku RPC as member of the provisional 
session there. 

Pastor Gene Spear, his fellow laborer, wrote in memory of him as follows:
"I first knew Masunaga Sensei(means "teacher") as an excellent interpreter.  
Through his interpretation Keiyaku Church got its start.  What a great help he 
was to the missionaries and to the new Covenanter congregations!  Mr.Masunaga 
studied well and became a very scholarly pastor.  His organization and planning 
were a fine example and stimulus to all of our pastors.  As a result Higashisuma 
Church was a steady and growing congregation.  This was a great encouragement to
new churches. In addition Mr. Masunaga was an enthusiastic believer.  
He was enthusiastic about his faith and about his convictions.  He was enthusiastic
about his congregation and about his family. He took much pride in his sermons and
endeavored to make each one a masterpiece."  

So in short, he was a man of enthusiasm in personal evangelism.  He was also a 
loving husband and father. He was a faithful expositor. He has been the leader of 
RPC in Japan. 

His zeal for evangelism and pastoral counseling is known even among North American
pastors of RPCNA through various opportunities of fellowship. Especially his longer
stay for study during 1975-1976 at Westminster Seminary and our Seminary in Pittsburgh
left a deeper impression of his ministry in many seminary students' and pastors'hearts.

He had the strong call from the Lord as the apostle Paul stated:
"For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid
upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel."  1 Cor.9:16
He also knew the secret of our service to the Lord as Paul heard from the Lord
in his illness, since he also heard the same phrase from the Lord repeatedly:
"My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weaknss."
2 Cor.12:9

In the grace of God,  he died as an example.  Though his illness was serious 
and he endured pain and various inconveniences, yet till the last stage he expressed
clear hope in th Lord, and his only hope was to preach the gospel once more. The good 
example was seen also in his sincere love and concern to his wife, Eiko, and two sons,
Toshikazu and Hidetsugu.

Pastor Gene Spear wrote about this as follows:
"During his last years when he did not have much physical strength Mr.Masunaga
continued to have a strong zeal for the word of God and for the preaching of 
the Word.  He even preached when it was very difficult for him to prepare and 
present the message.  In this way he was actually triumphing over the weakness
of the flesh. And today we are assured that by the grace of Christ he has gotten
the perfect victory over our adversary and over all the weaknesses and sins of this
world. We praise God for the victory which He has demonstrated in our brother and 
fellow laborer, Masunaga Sensei."

Pastor Masunaga was called home at 5:20 pm, August 26,1998. He had cancer and 
various problems in his body. But he had overcome crises many times and even 
did preach a few months ago.  With the Lord's leading, we, Pastor John Tweed, 
Nick Beckwith and I, visited his house till about 5:00 pm, 20 min. before his 
death. We sang Ps.73 and read several passages from the scripture concerning the 
hope in heaven, and prayed. Pastor Masunaga couldn't talk, but tried to express
himself to us through physical contact which clearly reminded us of his faith in 
Him.. This was the day of departure of pastor Sumito Sakai, his succesor, for 
further training at the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Elder and 
Mrs.Funahashi with some members of Higashisuma came straight back from the airport
and joined with us.  Mrs.Masunaga had an hour of intimate private talk with her 
husband just before we came in. When we got on the subway, the cell-phone rang and
notified us of his death.  I returned to his house, then led the family worship of
his wife, two sons' and their families. The providence of God made his last witness
clearer to us.

According to the official record published at the 30th anniversary of Higashisuma
congregation, pastor Masunaga had had priviledge to perform about 100 baptisms at 
Higashisuma. And about two thirds was adult conversions.  The pace was about two 
conversions every year.  It is an example of the best results among Japanese 
protestant evangelism. This shows how patient and continuous faithful work is 
needed to see the fruit of the gospel in this spiritually hard soil of Japan.  
This data shows how he faithfully preached the gospel, dedicated himself to teach 
and train the converted people "until Christ is formed in them" (Gal.4:19),  
This was his life as called for Christ's evangelism in Japan. We are to be greatly 
encouraged by the example of his service, that steady but faithful effort of 
preaching and training have left a firm, self-evangelizing congregation like 

So looking back, the name after name he could not see without emotion, since 
these were the names of God's work. Now we are succeeding to follow his path of
faithfulness to the ministry given from the Lord in evangelism of Japan, having 
hope to see the God's work transforming the persons and lives of fellow Japanese.

He has showed us how to do.  He has showed us the fact we can work for the growth 
and victory of His kingdom even in Japan.

Be the name of God glorified in our memory of pastor Toshio Masunaga, through 
future generations of Japanese Reformed Presbyterians..

                         Shigeru Takiura
                         Pastor of Okamoto Keiyaku church
                         Japan Presbytery, RPCNA