Transcription

December 2019No. 405The Light of Hopeby Ootsuka Shinobu, pastorOkayama Church, Higashi-Chugoku DistrictMerry Christmas!In the Bible, two of the Gospels report the birth of Jesus.In the Gospel of Matthew, it is the wise men, and in theGospel of Luke, the shepherds, who make an appearance.Those who appear in each of the Gospels are different,but central in both stories is the existence of ‘light.” Thewise men are led by a star and meet the baby Jesus. Theshepherds who care for sheep in the midst of darkness aresurrounded by the light of God’s glory and are informedof the birth of Jesus by angels. So although both Matthewand Luke depict the story of Jesus’ birth in completelydifferent ways, what they have in common is that “light”has shined on people living in this world, that an accountis given of persons living in this world being led to hope.There are places on earth that have lost light. Wanderingand walking about in the darkness due to the loss of lightand, with darkened reason, people are in despair. However,these two Gospels bear witness that without fail, Godwill rip open the darkness and will give humans “light” toshine on them!At the beginning of July 2018, floods damaged a large areaof western Japan. In the part of Okayama Prefecture whereI live, which suffered extensive damage, there were 14,000flooded homes and a total of 61 deaths. (Of the 52 personswho died in Kurashiki City, 51 were in its Mabi district.)It was decided that Higashi-Chugoku District, the Kyodan,the Okayama Christian Disaster Support Headquarters,and the YMCA Setouchi would engage in the work ofrestoration together. At first, the work was shoveling mudand cleaning houses. Here and there, during the workintervals, people talked about their pain and about loosingsomething important.In December, in Mabi-cho, a center called “Mabikura”was established as a space to aid restoration. This nameis the shortened form of the phrase “Mabi ni kurashi nonukumori o,” a name that includes prayers and wishes andmeans “providing warmth and light to Mabi’s daily life.” Itwas a time for ongoing restoration, but Mabi’s Decembernight enveloped the town with overwhelming darkness.However, while standing in that area, shining light into thedarkness to bring back warmth to continue restoration andencourage the hearts of the people living in that area, wecarried out our work in faith. In August of this year, withthe cooperation of the Kyodan, the Presbyterian Church inTaiwan, and the YMCA Setouchi along with 16 childrenfrom the disaster area, a camp for their refreshment washeld in Taiwan. I sensed that little by little, the childrenwere beginning to have smiling faces again.The prophet Isaiah said: “The people walking in darknesshave seen a great light; on those living in a land of deepdarkness a light has dawned. You have enlarged the nationand increased their joy. They rejoice before you .” (Isaiah9:2-3, NIV) And the Gospel of John tells us: “The truelight that gives light to everyone was coming into theworld.” (John 1:9) The “light” that is mentioned here isJesus Christ. The Bible says that a light of hope of savingthe people who are in difficult situations came to reside onearth. This light of hope tears the darkness to pieces andshines forth. I believe that we want to tell many peopleabout that light of hope that has come. (Tr. RT)Mabikura: A Place of Comfort for Disaster Survivorsby Nobuto Yoshihide,Wake Church and Mitsuishi Church, Higashi Chugoku DistrictFollowing the disastrous flooding of the Mabi-cho ofKurashiki, a city in Okayama, due to the extremely heavyrains that occurred in western Japan in July 2018, we setup a relief center in a rented store building, first repairingthe damage to the structure. As we desired it to be a placethat brought warmth and comfort to the lives of the peoplethere, we named it “Mabikura” (an abbreviation of theJapanese phrase meaning that). Operated by the OkayamaKNL特色C.indd 32019年12月号01.indd1Christian Disaster Support Headquarters, it is a joint effortof the Mission Gathering of Okayama Prefecture, theYMCA Setouchi , and Higashi Chugoku District. Reliefactivities began in December 2018, and we plan to continuethe effort until March 2021. A dedicated staff operatesthe center on a daily basis from 10 am to 5 pm. Mabikurafocuses its efforts in three areas: providing a place to relax,(Cont'd on p. 8)2017/10/12 16:2415:392019/12/06

Kyodan Newsletter2No. 405, December 2019Executive Council Considers Structural &Budget ProposalsThe fifth Executive Council meeting of the present 41stGeneral Assembly period was held Oct. 7-8 at the Kyodanheadquarters with 29 members in attendance. GeneralSecretary Akiyama Toru gave a report on the damagescaused by Typhoon 15 (called Faxai in internationalmedia), and Tokyo District Moderator Kishi Toshihikodetailed the damage to Habu Church on one of the IzuIslands, thanking council members for their expressions ofsupport.During the discussion, questions concerning Kyodanactivities related to the succession of the emperor wereaddressed, and General Secretary Akiyama explainedthat the policy decided at the last General Assembly wasthat individual churches should conduct activities on thelocal level. He also stated that the Kyodan offices wouldnot observe the special holiday that the government hasdesignated for the ceremonies and would remain open.Next followed a report on the fall licensing examinationsfor ministers in full standing and licensed preachers: 42persons took the exam for ministers in full standing, with32 passing; and 13 took the exam for licensed preachers,with 7 passing. Those passing were recognized.The report of the Task Force on Evangelism in the Kyodanwas shared by the chairpersons of its two subcommittees.1. Kishi Toshihiko, chair of the Subcommittee on theImplementation of the Basic Policies on the Promotionof Evangelism in the Kyodan, reported that the churchmagazine Shinto no Tomo (Believer’s Friend) is featuringa series of articles entitled “Churches to Remember inPrayer,” naming ones in each district.2. Kuze Sorachi, chair of the Subcommittee on StructuralReform in the Kyodan, reported its recommendation thatthe number of General Assembly delegates be cut in half to100 clergy and 100 laity, with 16 or fewer appointed votingdelegates.The Commission on Faith and Order’s report included adiscussion from various points of view on the validity ofordination by the Evangelical Church Alliance. The reportwas accepted, but a question submitted by Kanto Districtwas referred back to the Commission on Faith and Orderfor further deliberation.During the financial report, a debate arose regarding thefollowing two specific proposals in the budget for the 2020fiscal year:1. to increase the subsidy of the Solidarity Fund forMission in Okinawa from 400,000 yen to 1,200,000 yen,and2. to allocate 7.2 million yen as funding for the NationalChristian Council in Japan.As the apportionments for National Christian Council inJapan (NCCJ) members are determined every three years,it was decided to discuss with the NCCJ the reduction ofthe Kyodan’s apportionment for the next period. The voteon the budget proposal ended in a tie, so the moderator castthe deciding vote. (Tr. TB)—Kato Makoto, executive secretaryVisiting Churches Damaged by Recent Typhoonsby Kato Makoto, executive secretaryTyphoons 15 (early September) and 19 (mid-October),referred to in Western media as Faxai and Hagibis, causeddamage from Kanagawa District and Tokyo District’sHigashi and Chiba subdistricts to areas northeast and evenbeyond Tohoku District. I will report on only some of thedistricts that were affected.As I had been planning to visit Tohoku on a missionarypersonnel matter, I combined that with visits to the officesof both Ou and Tohoku districts as well as to Kawamataand Motomiya churches in Fukushima prefecture duringthe time period of Oct. 16 to 18. I was personally able todeliver relief funds from General Secretary Akiyama Toruto each of those districts and, at Tohoku District’s MissionCommittee meeting on Oct. 18, heard the report listing allthe damage suffered throughout the district. Although thedamage was widespread and severe, I was left with theimpression that the lessons learned from the 2011 GreatEast Japan Disaster had been well implemented so theresponse had been swift and effective. On Oct. 17, I visitedKawamata Church, which was hard to find, so I dependedgreatly on my car’s navigating system. I had heard thatthe river had flooded over its banks, but at first the effectswere rather difficult to discern. The church parking lot was2019年12月号01.indd 2covered with sand from the flooding, but it was only as Iwas led inside the building that it became evident that thewater had risen above the floor. Fortunately, the sanctuaryand the newly rebuilt manse were high enough to avoiddamage, but the Bibles, hymnals, etc. on the lower floor,along with the furniture, toilet, etc. all had water damage.While I was there, two representatives from the city hallcame by, but one said that while the living quarters wereeligible for assistance in the removal of debris from underthe house, the church building itself was not. Nevertheless,removing debris and drying out and sanitizing the spaceunder the floor is necessary, so financial assistance isstill needed. I then went to visit Motomiya Church andkindergarten. Because of the flooding of the AdataraRiver, both the kindergarten and church were under water.The waterline could clearly be seen along the walls andwindows, and it was almost at the same level as the churchhad experienced when it was inundated during the 2011tsunami. The fatigue of the people involved in cleaning upthe mess was clearly evident on their faces. The church,which had just recently been rebuilt, had been reduced toruins, so one can only imagine how dejected the pastor andparishioners must feel. Thus we need to ask ourselves howthe Kyodan and the district should respond. (Tr. TB)2019/12/06 16:24

Kyodan Newsletter3No. 405, December 2019Japanese and Korean Christians Jointly Pray forReconciliation and PeaceChristians between Japan and South Korea held a jointprayer meeting at Nihon Kirisuto Kyokai (Church of Christin Japan) Kashiwagi Church in Shinjuku, Tokyo on Oct.9, amid the recent worsening political, economic, andsocietal relationships between the two nations. In additionto the Kyodan, representatives from the Korean ChristianChurch in Japan, the Anglican-Episcopal Church in Japan,the Japan Evangelical Lutheran Church, the Japan BaptistConvention, the Japan Baptist Union, the Japan ChristianChurch, and the Japan Catholic Council for Justice andPeace formed an organization committee to sponsorthe event, and the more than 170 participants surpassedexpectations.This event was in response to prayer meetings held on Aug.11 in South Korea by church people concerned about thepresent situation between Korea and Japan. They expressedthe hope that Christians in Japan could also hold such aprayer event. About 20 Christians from South Korea cameto attend the meeting in Japan. So as fellow Christians wholook up to our Lord, who brought reconciliation throughthe breaking down of barriers through the shedding of hisown blood, we joined our hearts together in prayer.Following messages by Kyodan Moderator IshibashiHideo and General Secretary Rev. Dr. Lee Hong-Jung of 2019 NCCThe banner for the joint prayer meeting, displaying the theme:"Breaking Down Barriers"the National Christian Council in Korea (NCCK), writtenprayers from ten representative South Korean and Japanesechurches and organizations, including the YMCA, wereread as part of a litany of prayer. A choir from South Koreaalso sang hymns of praise, which made the prayers forreconciliation and peace all the more powerful. Likewise,there was a report from a team that had visited Pyongyangin North Korea in July, and although the flow is indeedonly a trickle, the Lord of reconciliation and peace isworking in that situation. (Tr. TB)—Akiyama Toru, Kyodan general secretaryRegional Meeting Addresses Impact of Empires andMission ResponsesThe Taiwan Ecumenical Forum for Justice and Peace(TEF) was constituted and inaugurated by the PresbyterianChurch in Taiwan (PCT), partner churches, and ecumenicalorganizations to work with the PCT on its mission concernsrelated to the transitional justice and internal isolation ofTaiwan. In order to deepen solidarity in northeast Asia aswell as to provide and to clarify the issues involved, theTEF Steering Group has highlighted the nature of empiresand its impact on Taiwan.The Northeast Asia Regional Meeting on the Impact ofEmpires and Mission Responses is a small group of expertsfrom northeast Asia (namely South Korea, Hong Kong,Taiwan, and Japan) whose aim is to discern the nature ofinternational conflicts and national oppressive forces andto formulate common mission strategies and cooperation.This year the group met Oct. 11-14 in Shinjuku, Tokyo inthe Kyodan Conference Room and the TKP Star RentalConference Room. The 13 attendees were from Taiwan [6],the Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea (PROK)[3], Hong Kong [1], and the Kyodan [3]. The followingspeakers addressed the impact of empires and missionresponses to that: Rev. Toru Akiyama (Kyodan), Rev. Dr.Jae Chon Lee (PROK), Mr. Ljavakaw Tjaljimaraw (PCT),and a professor from Hong Kong.Unfortunately, as Typhoon Hagibis hit Tokyo Saturdayevening, Oct. 12, the conference schedule was shortened.2019年12月号01.indd 3On Sunday morning, participants joined the worshipservice at Waseda Church, which is adjacent to the Kyodanoffice. One-eighth of the population of Shinjuku Ward inTokyo is from overseas. PROK representatives were soglad to meet their church members at Waseda Church.A public meeting was scheduled to be held at EphphathaChurch in Shinjuku, Kameoka Ken, pastor of its Churchintroduced its history. It was a significant time for us tolearn about the local church.—Kato Makoto, executive secretaryMerry Christmas & Happy New Yearto all KNL ReadersPublisher: Akiyama ToruEditor: Kawakami YoshikoCopy Editor: Hazel Terhune, Timothy BoyleExecutive Secretary: Kato MakotoStaff Assistant: Hironaka Yoshimi, Niina TomokoEditorial Committee: Tokuta Makoto, Kofukada Yutaka,Suematsu Kozue, Kashiwabara MichikoTranslators: Timothy Boyle, David Burger, Takata Tai,Robert Terhune, Wayne JansenNote: The names of Japanese persons are listed in traditional order,with last names first.2019/12/06 16:24

4Kyodan NewsletterNo. 405, December 2019Connecting with the Worldwide ChurchA Shinto no Tomo (Believer’s Friend) special seriesAsking a Missionary to JapanThe editorial staff of Shinto no Tomo asked this missionary, who had beensent to Japan and ministered for almost 40 years, about how he viewedthe Japanese Church and what issues he sees that need attention.A Church where AlmostEveryone can Feel at Homeby Timothy D. Boyle, retired missionaryUnited Methodist Church and Presbyterian Church USADuring the 1960s, there was a growing recognition in theUS of the importance of relationships with Asia, and thusa program was begun at the East-West Center in Hawaiito invite college students entering their third year to studyeither Japanese or Chinese. I applied and was one oftwelve to study Japanese for 15 months. I had no idea howlearning Japanese would be useful to my future career, butthe attraction of living in Hawaii for a year at governmentexpense was certainly a big part of my motivation. The lastthree months of the program was a “homestay” in Tokyo,and this was my first time to come to Japan.I later came back in 1971 as a short-term missionary withthe United Methodist Church and was assigned to Sapporoin Hokkaido. I had a great time interacting with otheryoung people in Japan (eventually marrying one of them)and returned to the US in 1974 to study theology andbecome a pastor. My wife and I returned to Japan in 1982as regular missionaries with the Kyodan and served untilretirement in 2016.During the first term of service back in Japan, I servedas the pastor of Shintoku Church in Hokkaido, and afterthat, we transferred to the “international city” of Tsukubaas missionaries with the Ibaraki Subdistrict of KantoDistrict for 21 years. Scientists, researchers, students,and their families come to Tsukuba from many countriesfor extended periods, and so much of our work centeredon meeting the needs of these people. I started TsukubaInternational School to serve those with children and aimedto make their stay in Japan a more stable and fulfilling one,irrespective of religious background or lack thereof.One other area of mission that stands out in my mind isthat of helping with the ministry of Bethlehem Churchof the Indonesian Minahasa Church in Oarai. As KantoDistrict was very active in helping to establish this work,I often went to that church to help, including preachingthere numerous times. I even went to Indonesia to visit theMinahasa Church headquarters. The Kyodan, includingmany lay persons, played important roles in establishingand maintaining this ministry to Indonesians living andworking in the area, and so it was with great joy that Iheard that in November of 2018, the Kyodan and MinahasaChurch signed a formal joint mission agreement that willfacilitate further development of mutual ministry andfellowship.Finding it Hard to Fit inThere is one thing I’ve often heard from Japanese studentswho have studied abroad and came to faith in overseaschurches. And that is that when they come back to Japan,they often find it hard to fit in when they try to becomepart of Japanese churches. Like many foreign studentscoming to Japan, they find the atmosphere of Japanesechurches to be rather dull and somber. I sometimes stillhelp out at Kobe Union Church, which was the secondchurch to be founded in Japan after it opened up to theoutside world at the beginning of the Meiji Era. Servicesare conducted in English but are also translated intoJapanese over earphones, and so in addition to people frommany countries, there are many Japanese, having eitherspent time overseas or being interested in becoming moreinternational, who participate in the lively service.A number of these people have had little exposure toChristianity before, but they are interested in improvingtheir English and experiencing the foreign atmosphere,and so they come. Some people might think that this isnot the mission of the church, but having such a placewhere people can feel comfortable and be welcomed intoa fellowship that can be used by God to draw them tohimself is surely pleasing to God.I am, of course, not saying that Japanese churches ingeneral should become like North American churchesthat are lively, open communities, as Japan has its ownculture. Having a certain amount of solemnity in worshipis a worthy goal. But it is also important to recognize thatmany people desire a more casual atmosphere, and so thereare things that can be done to try to accommodate this.This desire certainly isn’t limited to students. While it isnot true of all Japanese churches by any means, what Ihave seen in many of the Japanese churches I have visitedis that there is something about them that creates difficultyfor outsiders to enter in. It’s not that such people arenot welcomed, but it’s difficult to go much beyond that.Churches with few members naturally develop strongties with each other, which is a good thing. However,I think it is important to be on guard that these don’tbecome exclusive relationships. For instance, if members(Cont'd on p. 5)2019年12月号01.indd 42019/12/06 16:24

Kyodan Newsletter5No. 405, December 2019The Pirapo Church in Paraguay DedicatesA New Church Buildingby Rev. Ehara Yukiko, Kyodan missionaryIn May 2019, I arrived in Pirapo, a southern city inParaguay, South America, to become a full-time pastor ofthe “Pirapo Free Methodist Church,” also known as the“Sakai Keishi Memorial Free Methodist Church.”The church had virtually been vacant