Kenny Joseph was an American missionary of Assyrian descent who was born in Chicago, Illinois on October 30, 1928. His father Samuel Joseph and mother Martha Adams Joseph arrived in the United States as immigrants from modern day Iraq, escaping persecution by Turkish Muslims.
Joseph graduated from Von Steuben High School in Chicago, and attended Moody Bible Institute and Bob Jones University from where he graduated in 1946.
In 1947, he answered a call from General Douglas MacArthur who called for a vast number of Americans to come to Japan as missionaries. In April 1951, Joseph began his service with TEAM (The Evangelical Alliance Mission).
On his fourteen-day voyage from San Francisco to Yokohama, Japan, he met a man named Kiyoshi Togasaki, a Christian businessman and publisher of the Nippon Times newspaper. It was with Togasaki that Kenny received his first offering from the hand of a Japanese. The two led two joint services during the voyage, and Kiyoshi took an offering and dedicated it to Kenny’s future work in Japan.
On August 24, 1955, he married Lila May Finsaas, and they are the parents of four sons (Kenneth, Robert, James, and Mark) and have fifteen grandchildren.
As a young missionary, Joseph taught at the Tokyo Christian College and served as editor of the Japan Harvest Magazine.
In 1967, Joseph left TEAM Mission in order to launch REAP (Reinforcing Evangelists And Aiding Pastors) Mission, launching his own magazine geared for missionaries in Japan, REAP Magazine which he published for a decade. He later served as an editor for Japan Journal.
Joseph spent most of his years in Japan and Asia as a traveling evangelist conducting crusades across Asia in locations like Vietnam, South Korea, the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, Laos, and Taiwan, among others. He pioneered the use of tract-dropping balloons which were sent into China through Taiwan and Hong Kong. During this time he pastored Grace Church in Western Tokyo.
Joseph has been published widely in publications like the Tokyo Weekender, the Mainichi Daily News, and the Japan Times, and his books have included The Missionary Language Handbook which he co-authored with Russell Stellwagon. Kenny and Lila were profiled in the book God’s Ambassadors in Japan which was authored by missionary biographer Dan Wooding.
Kenny Joseph served on the mission field of Japan from 1951 and traveled across Japan as an evangelist. He served as editor of Japan Harvest, Japan Journal, and Reap Magazine, and has written extensively for a wide variety of publications including the Tokyo Weekender, the Mainichi Daily News and the Japan Times, and his books have included The Missionary Language Handbook which he co-authored with Russell Stellwagon. Kenny and Lila were profiled in the book God’s Ambassadors in Japan which was authored by missionary biographer Dan Wooding.