by Lee Sung Jeon, member
Kawasaki Korean Christian Church in Japan
Professor, Keisen University
When he was 16 years old my father, Lee In Ha, (born in1925) came to Kyoto from Korea, a colony of Japan at that time, because the school he was attending in Korea had been forced to close. He began studying at a Buddhist-related school. Pastor Wada Tadashi, an English teacher there, led my father to Christ and he met my mother, Sakai Sachiko, at the Kyodan’s Kyoto Nishidamachi Church. Living alone in a foreign country while he was young, my father developed a pioneer spirit. As a young boy, I remember my father’s “back.” Whenever our family went out together, he always walked fast ahead of us, and I have vivid memories of my mother and us children trying hard to keep up with Father.
During the years when my father had an official position in the Korean Christian Church in Japan (KCCJ), he often went abroad. As children, we were used to him being away from home, since we knew he had many responsibilities. Also at our home, a parsonage, there were many visitors, such as members of the church and young people who shared my father’s time, so we children were brought up in a rather open and free atmosphere. Contrary to the Confucian culture of the Koreans in Japan, my father seemed to respect the personality and freedom of children. This must have been closely related to his experience of studying abroad at Knox College in Canada.
The Presbyterian Church in Canada is a parent church of KCCJ. Our family had very rich experiences of fellowship with many missionary families, such as the Talbots and Hyndmans. At times we spent our summer vacation at Lake Nojiri and had family fellowship with missionary families there. This no doubt inspired me to start studying the work of missionaries. I clearly remember hearing my father reminisce once that he owed much to the mission work of the Presbyterian Church in Canada for his self-formation. In other words, my father was to be “a leader of the local people” as well as “an honor student” of the mission.
There came a turning point in the life of my father. Even though he had never missed sending money to his parents, he still felt an unfilled obligation to his home country, which he had left even though he was a firstborn son. Returning from Canada, he accepted a position as an assistant pastor of Tokyo Church. Then suddenly, he received an invitation to serve a church in Seoul. I imagine that he was happy about the possibility of returning to Korea. However, when the family was ready to leave, I, then in pre-school, contracted an eye disease and was told that I might lose my sight. I heard that the doctor had warned my father, who wanted to go back to Korea, of the difference in the level of medical treatment between the two countries at that time. Because my father heeded the doctor’s advice, I retained my eyesight, but he lost his chance to return to Korea. Later, at the strong request of the members of Kawasaki Church, he took the position of pastor there.
On the first night in Kawasaki, all the family members were surprised to see the night sky tinted crimson. We thought it was a fire but soon learned that it was only the reflection of blast furnaces in the night sky. Serving in Kawasaki, “the city of pollution,” seemed like just another coincidence in life and, in a way, a failure. However, it seems that later in his life, my father made this seeming coincidence into the inevitable.
After that, my father used his pioneer spirit well, serving the KCCJ diligently, being blessed with many encounters, and while facing the various problems that Koreans in Japan have, being encouraged by such encounters. My father fulfilled the role of weaving a new relationship between Japanese and Koreans in Japan, enabling them to share joy and sadness together as they experienced trying conflicts and encounters while working together in social incidents, such as the Hitachi Employment Discrimination Court Case and the Movement Against the Fingerprinting of Foreigners as well as in the construction of the Sakuramoto Day-care Facility and the Fureai-kan. At my father’s memorial service, I greatly appreciated the farewell sermon given by my father’s friend, Pastor Sekita Hiroo, entitled “Disciples of Reconciliation.” It was also a valuable testimony.
During the 49 years of his work, my father never moved from Kawasaki and ended his life there. He lived in a parsonage. When he retired, he became an honorary pastor of the church but moved into a special living zone for newly arrived Koreans, which was an even more difficult living environment. These living conditions might have heightened his susceptibility to the type of pneumonia he contracted (interstitial inflammation), which is considered incurable. I told my father, who was bedridden at the time, that “it was a decoration, a medal, given to you for your life.” For an instant, he looked surprised, but his face soon became calm and he faintly nodded. I can still see him.
Last year, during the night of June 30, a moment before he was called to heaven, our family members were able to express words of gratitude to him. He was supported by the encounters of many, and I think I can say that he was able to change so-called coincidences into inevitabilities in his own way. As his son, I want to testify that this was also due to the rich blessings and faithful leading of the Lord. (Tr. RK)
–From Shinto no Tomo (Believers’ Friend)
by Lee Sung Jeon, member
The year 2009 was a particularly memorable year as it marked the 150th anniversary of Protestant Christianity in Japan. In preparation for its celebration, the Kyodan formed a committee that planned and carried out three main commemorative events. Recalling now each of those events, we can give thanks as we enter this new year.
June 24, at Fujimicho Church in Tokyo: On the same site that served as the venue for the organizing conference of the Kyodan in 1941, we held a service of commemoration for the 68th anniversary of the Kyodan, followed by a ceremony commemorating the 150th anniversary of Protestant evangelism in Japan. Sixty-one pastors who have been serving for 50 or more years were given a special commendation.
Nov. 22, at Tokyo Yamate Church: The church was packed with some 950 people for the Laity Rally under the banner of “Giving Thanks for 150 Years and Aiming for 200 Years Together With Our Lord.” At the opening worship service, Kyodan Moderator Yamakita Nobuhisa encouraged us all with his message, “Entrusted with the Gospel.” Following that, we were treated to a pictorial presentation that reviewed Christian evangelism over the past 150 years, and then a representative from each of the 17 districts gave a brief testimony of their faith as well as highlights from their districts.
We concluded the event with everyone singing together a song that had been written specifically for this event, entitled, “The Church Goes on Forever.” It was a very moving event and strengthened our resolve to increase our efforts in evangelism. The melody of the song was composed by Naito Shinya. The words, which were written by Tsunakawa Megumi, are as follows:
Verse 1. In 1859, foreign missionaries came to spread the word, and the history of a small church began. It has continued to this day through a strong faith in Jesus. We went through a bitter period of war and overcame numerous trials. The Church, as it goes from age to age, still exists, and there are so many people here now. From tomorrow, we aim toward the future and single-mindedly run the race, with the help of Jesus.
Verse 2. The gathering of the Church, through the fellowship groups of men and women and youth, as well as church school children, all come together to learn from Jesus. It is because these gospel seeds that have been planted continue to grow that the Church, as it goes from age to age, still exists, and there are so many people here now. Today, we work together to further the gospel, for we are the salt of the earth and the light of the world.
Verse 3. As a member of the Church and a child of the Church, what is it that I can do? Let’s put our minds together and find something to do for the evangelism of the Church for the Church, as it goes from age to age, still exists, and there are so many people here now. The Church will go on into the future forever, giving thanks to God the Father through our joyful prayers.
Nov. 23, at Aoyama Gakuin University: Approximately 1,500 people came together for a gathering of commemoration under the banner of “Christ: Our Salvation.” Saemoonan Presbyterian Church, the oldest church in Korea, sent its Yebon Choir to help celebrate the event, and former Kyodan moderator Ojima Seiji gave the sermon: “The ‘Foolishness’ of Evangelism.” Moderator Yamakita also gave his greetings and introduced the numerous foreign guests in attendance. Following that were two presentations, one by the former head of Fuji Bank and member of Hijirigaoka Church, Hashimoto Toru, who gave a talk entitled “The Role of the Layperson in Evangelism,” and the other by retired pastor Kato Tsuneaki, entitled “Lift Up Your Hearts.”
While looking back at the past 150 years, these sermons and presentations focused on the theme that the only true form of the biblical and apostolic Church is one that properly administers the sacraments, and so it is time to consider further the Church as it ought to be. (Tr. TB)
–Naito Tomeyuki, general secretary
１、1859年に外国から宣教師が来てみことばが伝えられ、小さな教会の歴史が始まった イエス様を信じる強い信仰をもって、この日まで。苦しい戦争の時代やいくつもの試練を乗り越えてきた。うつりゆく 時をこえて 教会は今もここにある。こんなに多くの人たちがここにいる。明日からも前を目指し、走り続ける ひたすらにキリスト・イエスに助けられ
２，教会の集いはいつでも教会の交わりの場をつくる 青年や婦人や壮年、教会学校の子たち、 イエス様の教えを聞いて だんだん大人になってゆく 福音の種は確実にこの地に播かれて育ってるから うつりゆく時をこえて 教会は今もここにある こんなに多くの人たちがここにいる 今日もまた 力をあわせ 伝えてゆこう 福音を 僕らは地の塩 世のひかり
３，教会の一人として教会の子として僕に 私に 何ができるのだろう自分たちで考えて 何かを見つけてしよう 教会の伝道のためにうつりゆく時をこえて 教会は今のここにある こんなに多くの人たちがここにいるいつまでもずっとずっと続けてゆこうこの教会 喜び祈って 感謝しつつ ららら・・・父なる神様 感謝します
礼拝では韓国で最古のセムナン教会(Saemoonan Presbyterian Church)イエボン讃美隊の奉仕があり、おじませいし前教団総会議長による説教「宣教という愚かな手段」に続いて礼拝後山北議長の挨拶があり更に、国内外の来賓の紹介、午後には橋本とおる氏（元富士銀行頭取・ひじりがおか教会員）の講演「伝道における信徒の役割」と加藤つねあき牧師の講演「心を高く上げよう！！」があり、150年の歴史を振り返ってみことばの説教と正しい聖礼典執行こそが聖書的使徒的教会の真の姿であると、教会のありかたが問われる時となりました。