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In Japan the Crickets Cry

By Ronald Clements
February 2011 | Review by Philip Grist


As the Japanese advanced through China in 1942, many westerners were interned. In their prisoner of war camp the dying Olympic sprinter, Eric Liddell, gave young Steve Metcalf his running shoes, and challenged him to pray for the Japanese. This is the story of how a boy's grudging prayers were remarkably answered.

  • Publisher: Monarch Books
  • ISBN: 978-1854249708
  • Pages: 224
  • Price: £8.99
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Book Review

This is the life story of Steve Metcalf, who was born of and brought up by missionary parents in SW China. Steve later served God with his wife, Evelyn, in Japan.

The book is written by Dr Ronald Clements, who is himself a lecturer in a Chinese university. It is well written and gives a graphic insight into missionary life in China during the pre-revolution days. It then goes on to give an account of Steve’s work in Japan, which commenced in 1952.

The aim of the book, first written in Japanese, was simply to give an insight into the spiritual needs of Japan. It does that competently.

Conflict darkened the boyhood days of Steve Metcalf — the Japanese invasion of north China. Steve was at boarding school in Chefoo when, at the age of 14, he with others was interned and completely cut off from his family.

Here he saw something of the cruelty and brutality of that invasion. One person who significantly influenced his life was Eric Liddell, with whom he developed a close friendship. It was through Eric and particularly at Eric’s graveside that Steve learned how to forgive one’s enemies.

This led to his future call to Japan. Concerning the death of Eric Liddell, Steve wrote: ‘At the graveside I also picked up the baton he had held — the baton of forgiveness. I told God that if I made it out of the camp alive, I would go to Japan as a missionary’.

After release, Steve returned to his parents and then to Australia where he was later accepted by OMF for placement in Japan. As he sailed out of Brisbane harbour, he prayed, ‘Make me a beacon of light. A light that streams out into the stormy darkness, in a place where lights are so few and far between’.

The account of the next years in Japan is gripping and often moving. At first, Steve battled with the language, but God gave him proficiency beyond his own expectation. During the years of his dedicated service, he experienced in remarkable ways the power and blessing of God, witnessing many conversions to Christ.

At one festival in Hirosaki, 450,000 tracts were distributed in one week. How many Japanese shall we meet in heaven as a result of that? A great encouragement to all missionaries!

The book concludes with an account of Steve’s visit back to his old boyhood home in China and also to Japan. What an encouragement that proved to be! The entire book will warm the heart of every reader, both younger and older.

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