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Veteran Missionary to Japan Passes Unexpectedly. You Can Help Continue His Legacy.

16 Aug 2023 Update

In a recent update, Joan said, “Thank you so much for your prayers since Ralph’s homegoing. We have felt God’s peace in the midst of this difficult time and are so grateful for all of the prayers being lifted up on our behalf.” 

She also clarifies that Ralph likely died of a heart attack, and that there was no heat stroke involved, as formerly believed. Doctors feel that Ralph was probably with Jesus by the time his body hit the ground. 

The Justiniano’s children were able to join Joan in Tokyo for a service, and there will be two more memorial services held in the US: 

  • August 16, 7:00 PM, at Los Altos Grace Church in Long Beach, California
  • August 26, 2:00 PM, at Community Grace Brethren Church in Warsaw, Indiana

Everyone is invited to attend as we continue to grieve the loss of our brother, support the Justiniano family, and honor Ralph’s legacy.

Learn more below about how you can honor Ralph’s life and the ongoing work in Japan through his memorial fund.

“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” 

The words were from the mouth of Jim Elliot, missionary in the 1950s in South America, who died a martyr testifying to Jesus Christ. But those words also describe the life of Ralph Justiniano, missionary for almost 30 years in Japan, testifying to Jesus Christ.  

We are grieving the untimely passing of Ralph on July 29. His death occurred amidst a cycling outreach in northern Japan, an activity that he dearly loved. That love, however, was surpassed by his love for Jesus Christ and his passion to help Japanese individuals understand Christ’s love. Ralph died doing an activity that was near to his heart amidst relationships that were central to his life. 

Our hearts ache for Ralph’s wife and teammate in ministry, Joan. That ache extends to the Justinianos’ four now adult children, all of whom spent years in Japan. We also grieve with an Encompass team in Japan, who feel his absence acutely. Thanks for your prayers for all of them. On Sunday, August 6, 2023, a memorial service in honor of Ralph’s life will be held in Tokyo. Additional services will follow in Nagano, California, and Indiana (details not yet available).   

Family members, teammates, and a host of friends will gather to mourn and to celebrate a life well lived. Of course, we grieve as those with hope — hope in Jesus Christ who overcomes the grave. 

Thanks to the generosity of the Justinianos’ partners, Encompass is committed to covering the immediate needs of the family and the memorial service. We are also committed to caring for the many practical, logistical, and financial needs of Joan and the family in the coming days.  

Many have asked how they can help. Thank you! Here are some ways: 

  • First, please pray for those who grieve, especially for Joan. The lives of many have been suddenly altered. In addition, pray for powerful witness to Jesus Christ in the coming days and weeks. There will be many opportunities to testify to our Savior and to His impact in Ralph’s life and relationships. Pray for people to embrace Jesus for who He is.
  • Second, take opportunity to communicate your sympathies to Joan, her family, and the team in Japan. You can reach Joan via email here.
  • Third, a memorial fund in honor of Ralph’s life has been established at EncompassWorldPartners.org/RalphMemorial. We’d be honored if you, your family, or your church would consider giving. All gifts to this fund will be used to support Encompass efforts to share the Gospel among the Japanese, a goal to which Ralph and Joan have given their lives. We are already praying that God would use these gifts to advance ministry in Japan, bearing much Gospel fruit in a needy land.

Providentially, a summit for all Encompass staff focused on ministry in Japan is already planned for early September. This will allow us to redouble our efforts, clarify our plans, and pursue our mission, the mission that animated Ralph’s life. Your gift will help support these kinds of efforts, both soon and far into the future.   

Thank you for helping us care for a special family and a special team. Thanks for your investment in Gospel vision, carrying on the legacy of our brother, Ralph. 

A recent video allows you to see and feel that ministry vision through the faces and voices of Ralph and Joan. Watch its powerful message: