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If you’ve ever had the joy of interacting with Ralph Justiniano, then you would have quickly noticed his unparalleled love for Jesus. Ralph’s eyes would light up as he naturally talked about his Savior in almost every conversation. A huge smile would stretch across his face as excitement and joy overflowed from deep within his heart. His enthusiasm for life would captivate you and start rubbing off on you in the most beautiful way.
And that’s how Jesus works: He’s a wellspring of abundant life that pulls us in if we just surrender. And because Ralph had Jesus living in him, Ralph did the same thing. He truly viewed Jesus as the deepest treasure of his heart and surrendered every day of his life to Him.
The whole reason why Ralph and his wife Joan moved to Japan was because they wanted to share their wellspring of joy with whoever needed it most—and the average Japanese person knows almost nothing about Christ.
The Justinianos faithfully served in Japan for 28 years, where they used life-on-life discipleship, Bible studies, and a semi-annual camp to tell people about the deepest treasure of their hearts. The camps made such a positive impact on the community that the chairman of the board of education noticed and invited Ralph to be his fishing buddy. This opened doors to meet numerous fishermen on the island, and the opportunity to pray with them and share Jesus.
In recent years, they’ve also been seeking to shine Jesus’s light through an anime (Japanese animation) outreach project. Neither Ralph nor Joan knew anything about anime, yet they obediently pursued God’s promptings. As a result of their faithfulness, God connected them with a professional illustrator and provided them with a grant from the international ministry Cru, who believed in their vision.
Throughout their entire careers in Japan, God attracted countless Japanese to Himself just by shining His light through Ralph and Joan.
But on 29 July 2023, Ralph unexpectedly passed away while participating in a cycling event. Some of his last words were, “There’s nothing better than cycling with Jesus!” It’s easy to imagine the enthusiastic smile that must have spread across his face as he said that.
There’s no doubt that in Ralph’s passing, Japan has lost one of its brightest lights. Christ’s family on earth has lost a true brother, a dedicated co-laborer, and an irreplaceable friend. We grieve deeply at the thought of life without him, but we’re comforted knowing that Ralph is now with his Savior. Ralph spent every day of his earthly life treasuring Jesus and expressing abundant excitement for Him. Can you imagine how excited Ralph must be now that he’s finally face-to-face with the deepest treasure of his heart?
We eagerly look forward to the day when we’ll join Ralph in worshiping Jesus. Until then, may his story inspire us to more fully embrace the mentality that Ralph personified so perfectly: “To live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21).You can help continue Ralph’s legacy by contributing to his memorial fund.