I have read about famous and great missionaries my whole life. I have met many amazing missionaries in my life as well. William Carey’s impact over two hundred years ago in India birthed the missions movement we have today. India even has a national holiday for William Carey. I just finished reading another book about Hudson Taylor who more than one hundred years ago spurred about big changes in the way missions was done until today. Last week, one of the greatest missionaries I have ever know passed away. I would say he is may the greatest missionary I have ever known or read about. He lived his life in a way to have big impact for the gospel, but clothed in complete humility. It is likely you have never heard of him. His name is Paul H. Broman. On November 24, 2012 he quietly passed away in his sleep after struggling with several illnesses.
I first met Paul Broman in about 1999 as he wanted me to translate tracts into Khmer in preparation for some of his family moving to Cambodia to share the gospel. I see many people come and go, so I didn’t think much of it at first. However, I was able to spend several long periods of time with Paul Broman, or Paul Sr. as we referred to him. I was captivated by his life, by his stories and by his gentle persistence for the gospel. In 1950 he left the US to share the gospel in post-war Japan. He never returned to the US. He didn’t even visit the US for nearly fifty years.
When I would talk with him he would quietly offer me advice about my life. He always had one piece of advice which resonated in my heart. He told me time and time again, “Throw away your life for the gospel.” I have never met a person so singularly focused on sharing the gospel with those who have never heard. In true Japanese style, Paul Sr. led a group of people who had all thrown away their lives to systematically go throughout Asia to share the gospel. He had 24 children. He taught them all Japanese, English and Chinese. They learned Chinese so they could be missionaries in China when one day it opened up. He taught them Chinese long before any foreigners could live in China.
Every morning they wake before dawn. They read their Bibles, eat porridge and then head out to share about Jesus. They don’t come back until nightfall. In every break time or meal they first read their Bibles. They have done this since 1950. What started as one man, Paul Sr., is now hundreds of children, grand-children, relatives and friends; all with a singular focus. They live only to share Jesus to those who have never heard. They have been to every home in Japan (yes, every single one) multiple times. They have missionaries in other countries too: China, India, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Mongolia, and even Russia (Siberia). Being a missionary with them is a life-long commitment. What has more than 60 years of commitment meant? They would never tell you and Paul Sr. would certainly shutter at any recognition, but in my estimation I would not be surprised if Paul Sr. and his band of missionaries have personally shared the gospel to more than 1 Billion people. Person to person. The fruit of more than sixty years of singular focus is staggering.
Why have you never heard of them? Because they never ask for money. They live by faith and hard work. They are not asking people to join them or any group, or to start a new denomination. They only want people to believe in Jesus. They refuse self-promotion or any recognition. They don’t even have an official name or logo, the Gospel of Jesus alone is their identification.
The life of Paul Sr. inspires me. I cling to his every word of advice in my life. I can still hear the echo in my heart, “Steve, throw you life away for the Gospel.” It reminds me every day that my life is nothing without Jesus. I should live for Jesus alone.
Goodbye my friend. Thank you for inspiring me. Thank you for changing the world.
Below is the official obituary of Paul H. Broman:
Paul Harold Broman
(Japanese Name: Masaru Iwasa)
Dec. 17, 1927-Nov. 24, 2012
Visionary Evangelist who called Tohoku Japan Home
Paul Harold Broman (Japanese name: Masaru Iwasa), a passionate evangelist, creative businessman, devoted educator, and dedicated family man, died peacefully in his sleep at 1:46AM, Saturday, Nov. 24th, with his wife Setsuko holding his hand at their home in Marumori, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan. He was 84.
Paul was welcomed to eternal glory, after a beautiful Tohoku autumn day, surrounded by family and his beloved wife, with whom Paul parented 24 children, 14 of whom were adopted as infants.
Born in Duluth, Minnesota, USA, to Clifford Fredrick Broman — son of Swedish immigrants — and Elsa Eugenia Netherland Broman — immigrant from Sweden, Paul was the oldest of four brothers. He was a brilliant student in high school, urged by his teachers to go to an Ivy League school, but he chose instead a life path of evangelism.
Go West, Young Man
While serving 2 ½ years in the occupation army in Japan, seeing first hand in Tokyo the devastation of WWII, he decided that he would soon return to Japan as an ambassador of the Good News of Jesus. So in August, 1950, at the age of 22, Paul came to Japan for the second time – this time with his brother Dave, through New Tribes Mission. Their brother, Phil, joined them 4 years later, and their father and mother, Clifford and Elsa, joined them all in 1963.
Since their arrival, Paul, his brothers, and colleagues have single-mindedly worked and lived together, as Marumori Ministries, to bring the message of salvation and hope of Jesus Christ to the millions of people in Asia and beyond. They preached not only in churches, but on the streets, in front of schools, in the alleys and wide roads, and in many homes and station fronts… using every possible means of delivery.
God’s Word is Everything
With the common goal of spreading the Good News without relying on funding from others, the group founded the MeySen Academy schools in Sendai, Japan, and GrapeCity Inc., a global IT company with branches in China, India, Korea, Vietnam, Myanmar, and other nations of Asia, as well as in the USA, Russia, and Brazil.
Always energetic, passionate, bold, and fearless, Paul was a doer, yet a caring, affectionate, and supportive person. He was loved and respected by many people – friends and strangers alike – who were touched by his warm-heartedness and generosity. All admired his deep desire for every person to know the love of God through Jesus and his Gospel. He was dedicated to the proposition that any person can be saved by grace and redemption through simple faith in Jesus. He lived fervently for the Word and by the Word. He gave his full measure of devotion to God and to man.
2nd Timothy 4:6-8
For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.
Good News for All
Paul loved singing hymns while playing the accordion, reading the Bible and The Economist, taking walks with his family along the creeks of Marumori, teaching linguistics, encouraging Christians to follow Christ without fear, and, most of all, sharing with all the Good News of the gift of eternal life that saves from sin and death those who believe in Jesus, the Son of God.
Paul is survived by Setsuko, his faithful wife of more than 52 years; his devoted brothers, Dave, Phil and John; his beloved children Paul Yoshihisa, Grace Mari, Daniel Nobuo, Ruth Naomi, Nathan Tadamitsu, Matthew Norinobu, Anna Hisae, Martha Kiyoko, Joshua Shinji, Abigail Sumie, Victor Takeshi, Gideon Tsuyoshi, Lance Masanori, Hope Kie, Faith Tae, Abel Naoki, Judith Mika, John Makoto, Gabriel Yukio, Caleb Satoru, Esther Yoshimi, Elijah Tomio; his 19 treasured grandchildren; many nieces, nephews, and close extended family members. Paul was deeply loved by his in-laws, the church that he labored with, and countless other friends who were blessed to know him. He is preceded in death by his parents, Clifford and Elsa and two sons who died in infancy.
It is our sincere prayer that all who loved him and were loved by him will receive salvation in our Lord Jesus Christ and be reunited with Paul again in heaven.
Friends and family are invited to attend a memorial service from 1:30PM, on Sunday, December 9th, 2012, at the corporate headquarters of GrapeCity Inc.
Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.