December 1, 2023

Heber J. Grants Mission to Japan

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Heber J. Grant, the seventh prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has incredible stories, on trusting in the Lord through everything. There was a point in Heber J. Grants life when he was in terrible financial trouble, and it consumed him. After much work to solve how he would get out of his financial bondage, he had a plan, and knew he would be able to get himself out of debt with hard work. As a trial of faith, around at the same time of establishing his financial plan, he was called on a mission to Japan. Very difficult decisions needed to be made, and Heber J. Grant knew what he needed to do, and the Lord knew of his determination, faith and sacrifice.

The financial problems of Heber J. Grant started when he invested 30,000$ in a lumber company, 30,000$ in a sheep company in central Utah, and another 30,000 by signing on a mill with his brother. All three businesses failed and he found himself in debt of almost 100,000$. 100,000$ in the 1890's is more than 12 million dollars today.

Heber J. Grant sat down with his family, and made a plan on how they could recover from this extreme debt. If they all, including the children did menial jobs, and if he did well in his job, they could have their debt paid off in 13 years.

Not many years later, Heber J. Grant was walking down the street and told he needed to go to a meeting. Many of the people before the meeting began, were guessing that it was not time to open a Mission in Japan. Heber J. Grant had a feeling that he would be called to preside over this new mission in Japan, even before the meeting started.

Toward the end of the meeting President Lorenzo Snow, indeed, said they will be opening a mission in Japan and called Heber J. Grant to open that mission. When extending this calling they asked Heber if he was in financial straights to be able to go on this mission. When asked, about his finances Heber said "Oh, well, I owe a few dollars". Although nervous about his financial responsibilities, Heber was determined to go, he said, "even if it took him another 10 years to pay off his debt, he would go where the Lord wanted him to go."

After the meeting Heber J. Grant could not get up from his chair, he was overwhelmed with what had just happened and what he had agreed to. Another man entered back into the room, John W. Taylor, and said "Heber, it's been made known to me that you made a financial sacrifice today, comparable to Abraham. It has been made known unto me that the Lord has accepted your willingness to go to Japan. It has been made known unto me that the Lord will open a way and you will leave from Japan a free man financially."

President Grant wept.

Elder Taylor went on to say, that he would tell Heber exactly what he needed to do to get out of debt. He said "you are not to plan to make money, you are to get up every day and ask the Lord to guide you every day. He will put ideas into your mind, and if you follow those, you will be out of debt."

This meeting took place around 2:00 in the afternoon. He went home, and could not wait until tomorrow morning :).

Six months later he was out of debt, and went to Japan.

Opening of Japan for Missionary Work

This miraculous experience made it possible for Heber to go on his mission with no debt but the mission proved to be harder than expected for Heber. Heber J. Grant opened that mission, but did not see the success he planned on. The Japan mission was terribly difficult, especially with the language. He use to say "Yes, I speak that language, but the Japanese people do not understand it when I speak it."

Someone once said this of Heber J. Grants mission to Japan: "Heber J. Grants only success in Japan was that he continued in the absence of success."

Two very important events happened while Heber was serving in Japan. The first thing was that he had gotten a start into the translation of the Book of Mormon into Japanese which ended up taking 9 years!

The other was that there was one baptism and at this baptism Heber J. Grant he offered a dedicatory prayer in Yokohama opening that country to the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In this prayer of dedication he said "the Three Nephites would assist in the carrying of the gospel into the Japanese hearts."

As of 2022, the LDS Church reported 130,251 members in 231 congregations in Japan, making it the second largest body of LDS Church members in Asia behind the Philippines.


"The Presidents of The Church" by Truman G. Madsen Chapter 7

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