Facing the Challenges of the Greatest Crisis in Japan since World War II: The Great East Japan Earthquake

Being Servants of Life Together with the Churches in the Devastated Regions
by Kyodan Moderator Ishibashi Hideo
“Our help is in the name of the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” (Ps. 124:8)
We wish to express our heartfelt concern for all the people affected by the recent earthquake and tsunami. At 2:46 p.m. on March 11, a devastating earthquake struck eastern Japan. At the magnitude of 9.0, it is the fourth strongest earthquake in recorded history, and it wrought horrendous devastation. The energy released was 45 times more than the Great Kanto Earthquake (Tokyo) of 1923 and 1,450 times more than the Hanshin-Awaji (Kobe) Earthquake in 1995. Likewise, the massive tsunami it generated devastated the Pacific coast for some 500 km (301 miles), swallowing up entire communities in the Ou, Tohoku, and Kanto regions. Ten days after the event, we are still unable to confirm the full extent of the damage and destruction.
As of March 22, over 8,000 people were confirmed dead, and more than 12,000 were officially listed as missing. Moreover, almost 350,000 others were left homeless and forced to live as refugees. Blocked roads and severed communication lines have left many areas isolated, and there are severe shortages of such necessities as gasoline, diesel and heating fuel. Relief supplies are not reaching many areas, and there are shortages of food and water. Likewise, the wintery weather has added to the misery, and with the shortage of doctors and medicine, many lives are in danger. This desperate situation surpasses anything we could have imagined, and with aching hearts, we pray to God for help.
Besides this, the serious situation at reactors 1 through 4 at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Facility has dealt the area an additional catastrophic blow, deepening the suffering and anxiety of not only the direct victims of the earthquake and tsunami but many others as well. The explosions at the facilities have caused radiation to spread through the air. All this has attracted the attention of the world. We can only hope and pray for the safety of the people in the area.
The crisis brought on by the dual disasters of the earthquake and tsunami, followed by the radioactive contamination from the nuclear facilities, are threatening lives in the greatest crisis to face Japan since World War II. In response to this, the Kyodan has set up a Disaster Relief Planning Committee, and a delegation consisting of the moderator, two executive secretaries, and four other committee members have worked diligently to gather accurate information on the extent of the damage, spending four days, March 13-16, in the Sendai region to visit churches in the affected areas of Miyagi and Iwate prefectures. To assist in this effort, the moderator and the staff of the Kyodan’s head office have remained in the office day and night since the time of the earthquake to gather information.
On March 15, the Kyodan delegation met with the moderators of Ou and Tohoku districts at Ichinoseki Church in Iwate Prefecture to confirm information about the damage suffered by the churches and the communities they serve and to deliberate on how best to deal with the situation. Under the direction of its moderator, Tohoku District immediately set up a disaster relief center in the district office to begin gathering information and to coordinate relief efforts.
Pastors of the churches in the disaster zones have devoted themselves to such tasks as checking on their congregations, the staff of their related institutions, the children in their kindergartens, in spite of the difficulties imposed by the breakdown in the communications network and the severe shortage of gasoline for their vehicles. They need the prayerful support of all of the Kyodan in these difficult times.
There was also considerable damage in Kanto District as well, so its moderator has been coordinating relief efforts for the affected churches in his district. The frequent aftershocks are also causing some damage, but the effects of the main quake were far reaching, not only severely affecting the above-mentioned districts but also resulting in considerable damage in Tokyo, Tokai, and Kanagawa districts as well. There was even a death in Hokkai District.
In response to this situation, the Kyodan Executive Committee at its March 22 meeting established a Relief Planning Headquarters to coordinate relief efforts, and a special Executive Council meeting has been scheduled on April 18 to determine a long-term plan.
The Kyodan has received numerous messages of support from overseas churches, offering their prayers and financial assistance. These prayers and contributions have greatly encouraged us, and they will help us in our efforts to support the churches in the disaster zones as they rebuild and serve their communities.
We call on all our churches to pray to God for his comfort and help as they support people who have lost family members in this disaster or who are still searching for their loved ones, those who lost their homes in the tsunami and are at a loss about where to go from here, those who are experiencing anxiety over the nuclear accident, and those who are being forced to live in evacuation centers under difficult circumstances. (Tr. TB)
March 23, 2011
東日本大震災、戦後最大の日本の危機に立ち向かって
  被災地域の教会と共に
   -命に仕えるー
「わたしたちの助けは、天地を造られた主の御名にある」(詩篇124編8節)
被災された方々とその関係者の方々に心からお見舞い申し上げます。
3月11日午後2時46分、巨大地震が東日本を襲いました。世界の観測史上4番目に大きいマグニチュード9.0を記録し、甚大な被害をもたらしました。その地震のエネルギーは関東大震災の45倍、阪神・淡路大震災の1450倍とのことです。さらに地震による
津波は太平洋側の奥羽、東北、関東500キロにわたって、沿岸地域の町や村を襲い、多くの尊い人命と家屋を呑み込みました。地震発生から10日たっても、その被害状況の全貌は把握しえない状況にあります。
 3月22日現在で、8千名余の死亡が確認され、さらに1万2千名余りの安否不明者、そして、35万名に近い人々が過酷な避難生活を強いられています。道路も寸断され、通信手段が切断されて、孤立した地域があり、ガソリン、軽油、灯油等が極端に不足しています。援助物資が被災地域に届けられず、水や食糧が不足し、真冬の寒さに震えて、命を奪われようとしています。今なお医師不足、薬の不足などで、命が脅かされ続けています。まことに、想像を絶する惨状に心が痛み、主の助けを祈らされています。
さらに二次災害として、福島第一原子力発電所で1号機から4号機までが壊滅的打撃を受け周辺地域の被災された方々を初め、多くの方々を一層の苦しみと不安に追い込んでいます。原子炉が爆発し、放射性物質が大気に放出されないように、世界の人々が注視していますが、ことに福島第一原子力発電所の近辺にお住まいの方々の安全を願っています。
巨大地震と津波がもたらした危機、原子力発電所爆発による放射性物質による汚染の危機、
戦後最大の危機の中に命が脅かされています。
教団では、大震災救援対策委員会を設置し、ただちに被災地域の教会の問安と被害状況を出来るだけつまびらかに知る為、教団議長、二人の幹事、社会委員の4名を仙台に派遣(13日~16日)、宮城、岩手の被災地域の教会問安と被害状況の把握に努めました。
また、地震直後から教団事務局の幹事、職員と共に議長が泊まり込んで情報の収集に懸命に努めました。
15日には岩手の一関教会にて奥羽教区議長、東北教区議長と共に、奥羽教区内、東北教区内の被災地域の教会の被災状況の確認と今後の対策を協議しました。
被災地域の教会の牧師たちは通信網の切断、極端なガソリン不足等で移動手段が限定されるなかで、信徒、付属施設の職員、園児等の安否の確認、被害状況の把握など、必死な活動を続けております。全教団の祈りによる支えが求められます。
東北教区では地震直後から教区議長のもと、東北教区センターを拠点に地震被災の情報の収集と支援活動を開始致しました。
関東教区内にもかなりの被害があり、関東教区議長を中心に被災教会の問安と被害状況の確認を懸命に行ってきています。余震による被災を含めて、今回の巨大地震は、上記教区の他、東京教区、東海教区、神奈川教区等にも深刻な被害をもたらし、また北海教区においても犠牲者がでました。
教団は、去る3月22日の常任常議員会で日本基督教団救援対策本部(仮称)を立ち上げ被災教区の支援活動を支えると共に4月18日に臨時常議員会を開催して今後の長期にわたる取り組みを協議します。
教団への海外諸教会からの熱い祈りと支援献金の申し出がなされています。これらの祈りと支援に励まされて、被害甚大な地域を抱える教区の被災教会支援活動を支え、さらに、教会再建などの取り組みに全力を注いで行きたいと考えています。
この時、被災地域の愛する家族を失い絶望の中にある方々、愛する者の安否を懸命に求めておられる方々、津波によって家を失って途方にくれておられる方々、原発の事故で不安の中にある方々、悪条件下で避難所生活をされている方々の為に、主の慰めと助けがあるよう、教団内のすべての教会の祈りを深めましょう。
                          2011年3月23日
                           日本基督教団総会議長
                            石橋 秀雄

Kyodan Delegation Visits Stricken Area Two Days after the Quake

On March 12, the day after the recent massive earthquake, the Kyodan’s Relief Planning Committee, headed by General Secretary Naito, decided to send to the stricken area a delegation of four persons: Kyodan Moderator Ishibashi Hideo, Exective Secretary Fujimori Yuki, Exective Secretary Kato Makoto, and Morita Kyoichiro, a member of the Committee on Social Concerns. Their main purpose was to visit the affected churches to gather information about people’s safety, damage, and casualties; to deliver some relief items; and if possible, to discuss with the moderators of Ou and Tohoku district plans for dealing with the crisis situation.
Early Sunday morning, March 13, we left Saitama and Tokyo in two cars. Deciding to enter Sendai from the Japan Sea coast to avoid Fukushima nuclear power station #1, due to its serious condition, we first aimed for Niigata. We attended Sunday service at Tokamachi Church, one of the bases for relief operations after the Niigata Chuetsu-oki Earthquake, and received advice from Pastor Arai Jun. We left quickly with relief items purchased at a local supermarket, entered Sendai via Niigata and Yamagata, and arrived at 10 p.m. at Sendai-Higashi-Rokubancho Church, pastored by Tohoku District Moderator Takahashi Kazuto. Although the water and electricity were both cut off, some young men in the area on a trip had taken shelter at the church via an evacuation site. That night we moved to Tohoku District Center with District Moderator Takahashi and exchanged information with the chair of the District Commission on Mission, Kataoka Etsuya. Electricity and water were both available at the district center although not in other parts of Sendai.
On Monday, March 14, we ate bananas for breakfast and headed for Sendai Kita Church with Moderator Takahashi. We saw all kinds of lines: lines of cars for gasoline; lines of people at stores; and another line of people at a park where water was available. What every line had in common was unusual silence. The Sendai-Kita Church sanctuary was exposed to the wind because two large panes of glass at the front had been broken. Pastor Konishi Nozomi agreed to be our guide as well as our driver, and we headed for the churches in the northern part of Miyagi Prefecture.
Collapsed and destroyed buildings were not so conspicuous in this area, in spite of the earthquake. However, some collapsed houses were visible around Rikuzen-Furukawa Church, pastored by Seki Jun’ichi, maybe because the town is old or the ground is not very firm. The severely damaged building next to the church was tilted. The church member in charge during the pastor’s absence said that the church, being new, was not damaged but that the old church could not have withstood this earthquake.
Heading toward the area along the shore, we first visited Tajiri Church, pastored by Kokubo Tatsunosuke, which has a new building and rectory, so no particular damage was caused. However, the report from Wakuya Church, served by Iioka Yosuke, was that many staff of the day nursery and others were suffering or missing. Our cellular phones registered “no service” in the Wakuya area. We could move around by car, but people with no means of transportation must be very anxious.
We headed further toward the sea. We must have been good deal of inland, but I suddenly noticed that the roads were whitish and covered with dust from seawater, due to the tsunami. This made us conscious anew that we were in the disaster-stricken area, and we began to feel tense. Driving through a residential area of Ishinomaki City, we were prevented from going any further as the road was flooded with seawater. A signboard with the words “… Christ Church” had fallen from a white building surrounded by water. It was a church of other denomination.
Further down towards the coast in Ishinomaki City, Self-Defense Force vehicles, police cars, and fire engines were coming and going. Where restriction of entry was imposed on general vehicles, we parked the car outside the restricted area and walked to Ishinomaki-Eikou Church. As soon as we crossed a bridge over an embankment, an unbelievable scene appeared before my eyes: countless heaps of rubble and a large number of unusually positioned cars that had fallen on top of one another, some caught on utility poles and others crashed into houses and destroyed buildings –a state of devastation like a city that had suffered an explosion. Many people were walking by in silence, carrying baggage, looking like they did not know where to head. Sometimes, a voice between a scream and a shout of joy was heard. I cannot say that these persons were safe, but they surely met again alive.
There was a lot of general traffic within the regulated areas, besides emergency vehicles, and so many people were walking in the street. But it was unusually quiet. I noticed after a while that none of the moving cars, while avoiding people, ever honked. Although we saw cars running anywhere they possibly could in other stricken areas, we never heard them honk. If people walking along silently prevented cars from moving, the cars stopped and waited quietly for them. It seemed to be an unspoken rule that nobody had made and would have been impossible in daily life in an urban district.
Ishinomaki-Eikou Church, pastored by Kofuna Minoru, barely escaped being flooded with seawater above the floorboards, maybe because its base is somewhat high. We had left the relief items in a car, so I helped myself to a dolly that happened to be at the side of the church and returned to the car to fetch them. Many streets were thinly covered with mud, believed to have been carried from the sea. It was hard to keep pushing the dolly with its load, but I sometimes felt like I was being stared at by the people sitting there in silence and people carrying their belongings to the limit on their bikes. But they were all very quiet.
We borrowed a car from Kofuna, and visited Ishinomaki-Yamashirocho Church. We did not see either Suzuki Jun’ichi or his wife Pae Sun-Hee and could not find out where they were, but felt relieved when neighbors said they had certainly been safe at the time of the earthquake. Leaving a small amount of food and water at their door, we went up the hill of Hiyori-yama Park where we could view the whole city.
Looking toward the sea, we found Ishinomaki completely eroded by the tsunami, with smoke rising up from place to place. Although we have never surveyed the city before, we instinctively knew that it had been entirely transformed. A helicopter was flying up and down, probably to look for those who were missing. We could only gaze and gaze, wondering whether or not there were still any survivors somewhere in this destroyed city. (Later, on March 20, nine days after the earthquake, an 80-year-old woman and her 16-year-old grandson were found alive just a few hundred meters far from where we had stood.)
Descending Hiyori-yama hill, we saw some familiar people coming up. They were the Suzuki couple. We enjoyed the unexpected reunion, prayed together, left the hill, and went back to Ishinomaki-Eikou Church. There we were asked to take a young man, who was staying at a church member’s place, back to his home in Sendai. He had encountered the tsunami while he was driving his company’s car back to Sendai. Narrowly escaping onto the roof of a three-storied factory, he endured a freezing, snowy night there. After the water receded, he was rescued from the roof and tried to find his way home, avoiding the routes that were still under seawater. On the way, while helping people carry their luggage or deal with corpses, he came across the church member and stayed at his place.
We drove to Sendai with the young man who survived the tsunami and stopped at two churches on the way. It was already dark when we reached Shiogama-Higashi Church, where we left the last two plastic tanks of water for Pastor Tsumura Masaru. Sendai-Higashi Church opened its sanctuary as a refuge for its members and neighbors. As these people prepared their temporary beds of two benches attached together, we wondered what they were thinking. How many people were feeling helpless that night? With convoluted thoughts passing through our minds, we returned to the car. The young man succeeded in getting in touch with his company by way cellular phone, and said that he would be welcomed by his fellow workers.
Actually, on arriving at the company, he was met by the excited cries and embraces of the delighted people.
The next day, on March 15, we visited some churches in the southern part of Iwate Prefecture, but we could not visit many because of an emergency meeting scheduled at Ichinoseki Church and Iwate is so wide. Heading for Ofunato in the south, we dropped by Senmaya Church, served by pastors Mikawa Yutaka and Yaginuma Sayoko. Along the way, among the low hills from Ichinoseki to Sanriku Coast, vending machines were unexpectedly working normally and shops were open. In those areas, ordinary daily life seemed to continue.
Proceeding awhile, however, we saw a terrible view in front of us. It might have been another village among the mountains, but it had been completely destroyed by the tsunami. The railroad bridge had floated away, and the rails were distorted like candy or had disappeared altogether. We were approaching the city of Rikuzentakata, which was off limits at the time, we entered the city of Ofunato. The church sanctuary and the parsonage of Pastor Tajima Hidenori are both located on a hill near the port and are brand-new, having just been completed a year ago. According to administrative board members there as caretakers, two church members are missing, both of whom are city residents.
Near the port we found that two- or three-storied houses were upside down, and that considering the height of the pile of debris, the tsunami had been more than ten meters high. Rescue parties from many foreign countries were actively searching and rescuing, and foreign television crews were filming their activities. It was a vision of intensity and animation, but nevertheless, strangely silent and calm. There was no sound and no words spoken at all.
Coming back to Ichinoseki, the emergency tripartite meeting of Ou District Moderator Ohara Muneo, Tohoku District Moderator Takahashi Kazuto, and Kyodan Moderator Ishibashi Hideo began with prayer. Outside, the snow was beginning to fall. (Tr. SM & AY)
–Fujimori Yuki, executive secretary
藤森総幹事報告
 地震発生の翌12日、総幹事のもとに設置された「救援対策委員会」は、直ちに被災地に調査員4名(石橋秀雄教団議長、藤盛勇紀幹事、加藤誠幹事、森田恭一郎社会委員)を派遣することを決定した。主な目的は、教団として被災教会を問安、安否・被害について情報を収集し、僅かでも救援物資を運び、可能ならば奥羽、東北の教区議長と対応を協議することである。翌日曜日早朝の出発と決まった。
 13日(日)早朝、車2台でそれぞれ埼玉、東京を出発。すでに深刻な事態となっていた福島第一原発を避け、日本海側から仙台に入ることとした。まずは新潟の十日町教会を目指す。新潟中越沖地震の際に救援活動の拠点の一つとなった十日町教会で主日礼拝を守り、新井純牧師と懇談して、アドバイスも受けた。市内のスーパーで救援物資を購入し、急ぎ被災地に向かう。新潟、山形、経由で仙台に入り、仙台東六番丁教会(東北教区議長高橋和人牧師)に到着した時は夜十時を回っていた。水道、電気ともに遮断されたままだが、旅行中に地震に遭った青年らが避難所を経てここに逃れていた。
 その夜、高橋和人教区議長と共に東北教区センターへ移動。教区宣教委員長の片岡謁也牧師らと情報交換する。この東北教区センターは、仙台市内では珍しく電気・水道とも通じている。安心して水が飲め、トイレも使えるのはありがたい。
 14日(月)、朝食代わりのバナナをほおばり、高橋教区議長も同乗して仙台北教会(小西望牧師)へ向かう。仙台市内を走っていてよく見かけるのは、様々な行列だ。まず、ガソリンを求めて道路の端に並ぶ自動車の列。次に、スーパーなどの商店に並ぶ人の列。そして、水道の出る地域の公園では水汲みの行列。どの列にも共通しているのは、整然とした静けさだ。
 仙台北教会は、礼拝堂正面の高い位置にある大きなガラスが2枚ほど割れ、礼拝堂は吹き曝しとなっていた。しかしこの日、小西牧師が案内係兼運転手を引き受けてくれて、宮城県北部の教会を目指す。
 この度の震災の特徴でもあるが、巨大地震にもかかわらず、地震の揺れそのものによる建物の倒壊や損壊の被害はさほど目に付かない。ただ、陸前古川教会(関純一牧師)の周辺では、古い市街だからか地盤のせいか、倒壊家屋がいくつか見られ、教会の隣の建物もかなりのダメージを受けて傾いていた。留守を守る教会員に状況を聞くと、新しい会堂で被害はなかったが、旧会堂だったらこの地震には耐えられなかっただろうとのこと。
 沿岸地方に向かい、途中、田尻教会、涌谷教会を訪ねる。田尻教会(小久保達之佑牧師)は、新しい会堂と牧師館で、とくに被害はない。涌谷教会(飯岡洋介伝道師)では、保育園の職員、関係者の多数が被災、行方不明者があるとのこと。
 この涌谷辺りから携帯電話がつながらなくなった。「圏外」だ。私たちは車で移動しているからよいが、移動手段を持たない人の不安はいかばかりだろう。
 さらに海の方を目指す。まだかなり内陸のはずだが、ふと気づくと、道がうっすらと土埃をかぶって白っぽい。ここまで津波による海水で覆われたのだ。改めて「被災地」を意識し、にわかに緊張感が高まる。
 石巻市街に入り、住宅街の路地を抜けようとすると、行く手を阻まれた。海水で道路が冠水している。一つの白い建物が水に囲まれている。見ると、「・・・キリスト教会」と記された看板が落ちている。他教派の教会だった。
 さらに石巻市街を海岸方面へ進む。自衛隊や警察、消防の車の往来が目立ち、ついに一般車の進入が規制された。規制区域の外に車を駐め、歩いて石巻栄光教会へ向かう。
 小さな土手にかかる橋を越えると、いきなり、あり得ない光景が目に飛び込む。おびただしい瓦礫の山、どれも異常な姿勢の多数の車。折り重なり、電柱に引っかかり、家に突っ込んでいる。破壊された建物。爆撃後の街さながらの壊滅状態。
 多くの人々がどこへ向かうともなく、荷物を抱えながら、黙々と歩いている。時々、悲鳴とも歓声ともつかない声が上がる。無事と言えるのか、とにかく生きて再会したのだ。
 規制区域内でも、もちろん緊急車両は走っているし、一般の車も少なくない。道路には大勢の人も歩いている。なのに、何か静かだ。しばらくして気づいたが、人を避けながら走るどの車も、決してクラクションを鳴らさないのだ。他の被災地でも車の通れる所はどこでも車が走っているが、どこでもクラクションを鳴らすのを聞いたことがない。黙々と歩く人が車の進行を妨げれば、車も黙って待つ。誰が決めたのでもない暗黙のルール。日常の市街地ではあり得ない。
 石巻栄光教会(小鮒實牧師)は、土台が若干高いのか、辛うじて海水は床上まで襲わなかった。幼稚園舎は避難者のために開放されていた。救援物資は車に残してきたので、たまたま教会堂の脇にあった台車を借りて、物資を取りに車まで戻る。道路は、海から運ばれたと思われる泥で薄く覆われている所が多い。荷物を積み上げた台車を押すのはやっかいだが、時々、強い視線を感じる。呆然と座り込む人、自転車に限界まで荷物を積んで運ぶ人。しかし皆、静かだ。
 小鮒牧師の車をお借りし、石巻山城町教会を訪ねる。鈴木淳一牧師、裵善姫(ペーソンヒ)牧師夫妻は、地震発生時は無事が確認されていたが、その後の足取りが不明だった。しかし、夫妻は無事に帰ってることを隣家の人から聞いて一安心。少しばかりの水と食糧を玄関先に置いて、石巻の街を一望できる高台の日和山公園へ登ってみる。
 海に向かって目をやると、初めて見る石巻なのに「変わり果てた街」だと分かる。津波に嘗め尽くされ、所々、煙も立ち上っている。捜索だろうか、ヘリコプターが昇降している。この壊滅した街の、しかしどこかに生存者がいるに違いないと思いつつ、ただ眺める(後日、地震から9日後の20日、80歳の祖母と16歳の孫が、ここからわずか数百メートルの所で救出された)。
 一同、日和山から降りようと階段から下を見た時、見覚えのある顔が登ってくる。なんと、鈴木牧師夫妻だ。思いがけない再会を喜び、祈りを合わせて、日和山を後にする。
 一度、石巻栄光教会に戻る。近くの教会員の家に一人の青年が滞在しているので、仙台まで送り届けてほしいと頼まれる。この青年は、会社の営業車で仙台に帰る途中、津波に巻き込まれた。命からがら3階建ての工場の屋根に登り、その屋根の上で冷たい雪に晒されながらも一晩中耐えたのだ。水が引いた後に屋根から下ろされ、まだ引いききらない海水を避けながら道を辿り、時に遺体の処理の手伝いなどをしながら帰る道を探していた。たまたま栄光教会の信徒の荷物を運ぶ手伝いをして、その信徒宅にお世話になった。
 津波を生き延びた青年を乗せ、仙台を目指す。途中、二つの教会に寄らせてもらう。塩釜東教会(津村勝牧師)に着いた時はすでに夜。残っていた最後のポリタンク2缶分の水を差し上げる。最後の仙台東教会は、教会員や近隣の方々の避難のために礼拝堂を開放していた。礼拝堂の長いすを向かい合わせたベッドで、寝る支度を整えているこの人々は、何を想いこの時を過ごしているのだろうか。いま、いったいどれほどの人々がこの心細い夜を過ごしているのか。去来する様々な思いを引きずるように、車に戻る。
 かの青年は、携帯電話で会社に連絡。同僚や先輩たちが、迎える準備をしているという。会社に到着すると、青年は歓喜の輪の中でもみくちゃにされた。
 翌15日は、岩手県南部の教会を訪ねたが、夕方には一関教会教会で奥羽教区議長、東北教区議長と教団総会議長の三者で緊急協議を行う予定なので、多くの教会は訪ねられない。なにしろ岩手県は四国四県が入るほど広い。南部の大船渡を目指しながら、途中、千厩教会(三河豊、柳沼赦羊子牧師)に立ち寄る。古い会堂は無人だったが、鍵はかかっていない。鍵をかけようにも、玄関の扉が閉まらないのだ。
 一関から三陸海岸方面に向かう道は緩やかな山間だが、意外にも自動販売機は稼働し、商店も営業している。この辺りでは日常的な生活が保たれているように見えた。
 ところが、しばらく進むと突然、異様な光景が目前に広がった。山間の村と思われたが、ここも津波に飲まれたのだ。鉄道の鉄橋も流され、道床にはレールがない。飴のように曲がって、その先どこへ消えて行ったかも分からない。陸前高田の街に近づいたのだった。
 規制されている陸前高田市街を回避し、やがて大船渡の街へ入る。大船渡教会(但馬秀典牧師)は港から近いが高台にあり、昨年献堂されたばかりの新しい会堂と牧師館だ。留守番をしていた役員に聞くと、二人の会員が行方不明とのこと。しかも二人とも陸前高田在住だという。
 港近くの市街へ下りてみる。2階、3階の建物がひっくり返っている。瓦礫の高さなどから想像するに、津波の高さは優に10mは超えていそうだ。海外のレスキュー隊が、瓦礫の間に潜って捜索・救出活動をしており、そこに海外のメディアがテレビカメラを向けている。視覚的には緊迫した激しい光景だが、シーンとした静けさが異様だ。言葉もない。
 一関に戻り、邑原宗夫奥羽教区議長、高橋和人東北教区議長、石橋秀雄教団議長の三者協議が祈りをもって始まった。雪が降り始めていた。

Kyodan Taiwanese Churches Trace Roots

Tokyo Taiwan Church
Situated at Ogikubo, Suginami-ku in Tokyo, Tokyo Taiwan Church was established in January 1925, before World War II, and is a congregation of the Kyodan. Christian students from Taiwan, studying in Tokyo at the time, met weekly in the home of Gan Chhun-Hongin in Higashi-Nakano for Bible study and invited Pastor Lau Chin-Hong, who was also a student from Taiwan, to be their leader. In 1927, as the number of students from Taiwan increased, the students began to hold worship services. A classroom of Meiji Gakuin’s Theological Studies Department was rented, and the group was named the “Tokyo Taiwan Youth Christian Group.
Between 1934 and 1940 Koeh Ma-Se was called to be the first pastor of the church, and the number of members increased to over 100. Worship services were soon held at several places, by renting rooms in churches at Tsunohazu in Okubo, Kashiwagi, and Asagaya. In 1971 a room was purchased at Sanshin Mansion in Shibuya for use as a sanctuary, in order to end the constant moving here and there and renting parts of church buildings.
The following year, Japan and Taiwan broke off diplomatic relations, and Taiwanese church members saw their Taiwan Embassy taken over by the Chinese government. In order to safeguard its property, it was proposed that the church join the Kyodan. The proposal was approved in July 1975, and Tokyo Taiwan Church officially became a member of the Kyodan. Members increased continuously. With Elder Lu Beng-Thoan as a central figure, a piece of land was purchased in Ogikubo, the present location, and a church building project was begun. A year later, on January 23, l977, the new church was dedicated. At that time, 120 members attended the church regularly. The generosity of Hijirigaoka Church in Shibuya, which provided the use of its sanctuary during the year prior to construction, was appreciated greatly.
In the 1980s, members continued to increase, and the congregation soon outgrew the capacity of the church building. Therefore, branches of Tokyo Taiwan Church were built in Ikebukuro, Kawagoe, and Chiba. Two factors pose a challenge to the future of the Taiwan Church in Japan. The first is the uncertain status of our country, Taiwan, as an independent, free nation, which consequently places Taiwanese people living in Japan in a comparably uncertain situation regarding such matters as rights to social security. The second is that living within a society of few children and economic instability directly affects future planning for the Taiwan Church. The Taiwan Church seeks God’s guidance as well as the concern and prayers of intercession of all of you. (Tr. RK)
–Lee Meng-Jer, pastor
Tokyo Taiwan Church, Nishi-Tokyo District
Osaka Taiwan Church
By the grace of God and the prayer support of Higashi Umeda Church members and many others, Osaka Taiwan Church has held Sunday worship services continuously for 21 years since April 1, 1990. At present, there are 30 members, and we strive for the growth of the church as before. Although a small church, it is somewhat like a large family, as both Taiwanese and Japanese people worship together harmoniously. The worship service is conducted in Taiwanese, but there is simultaneous translation into Japanese. Also, the worship service on the fourth Sunday is in Japanese. Every week after the service, there is a 20-minute Bible study, followed by a church luncheon for everyone, which deepens our fellowship in Christ.
Our path has never been smooth. In the third year of its pioneer evangelistic work, Pastor De Tsuan-Seng and his wife had to leave on account of illness. During the following two years, there was no full-time minister, and the church was supported by short-term ministers. In 1995, Pastor Lu Kim-Tsun came to fill the post and worked to organize the church and various activities. In July 1998, an application to join the Kyodan was accepted. (It is a part of Osaka District.) In November 1998, the name was changed to Kyodan Osaka Taiwan Church. The worship services were held in Higashi Umeda Church. The church always planned to have its own sanctuary, but the living conditions of members in Japan were never stable, and the plan did not progress. However, during the effort to raise funds and search for a site to build, we finally arrived at a two-step method. To implement this plan, members would first locate a small place for worship in the Umeda area and, when membership increased, construct a larger building.
At around that time, the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake occurred, and Higashi Umeda Church decided to rebuild. So we had to move out of that church building. Fortunately, we were able to buy a room in a building across the street from Higashi Umeda Church and to remodel it as a sanctuary. It was dedicated in October 1999. We rejoiced greatly, receiving it as gift from God. However, in March 2000, Pastor Lu Kim-Tsun had to leave because of age. Pastor Li Tsong-Hen came and filled the post from April 2000 until the end of February 2001. With further efforts, land was bought in Yodogawa-ku, Osaka, and in April 2007, a new sanctuary was dedicated. In May 2008, Pastor Liu Fu-Ching came from Seattle to take the position. He endeavored to nurture the spiritual growth of the members through Bible study and prayer. Seeing the growth in membership through the leading and grace of God, members cannot help but give thanks. By the grace of God, we hope to continue our evangelistic work for the community. (Tr. RK)
–Sone Kensho, elder
Osaka Taiwan Church
東京台湾教会について
 東京台湾教会は日本基督教団に所属している教会で、東京都杉並区の荻窪に位置し、第2次世界大戦前の1925年1月に設立された。
 当時台湾から東京に留学しているクリスチャン留学生が毎週、東中野にある顔春芳(Gan, Chhun Hong)さんの家で聖書勉強会を開き、同じ留学に来ていた劉振芳(Lau, Chin Hong)牧師を指導者として立てた。1927年秋頃、留学生の数が増えたので、明治学院神学部に教室を借りて礼拝するようになり、また、名前も東京台湾基督教青年会に決めた。
1934~1940年の間、郭馬西(Koeh, Ma Se)牧師を教会の初代牧師として招聘し、信徒の数も百名以上になったので、大久保の角筈、柏木、阿佐ヶ谷教会などいくつかの教会に礼拝堂を借りて礼拝を行った。1971年に渋谷にある三信マンションの一室を礼拝堂として購入し、それまでの転々とした借家生活に終止符を打った。
 翌年日本と台湾が国交断絶。当時の台湾大使館が中国政府によって接収されたのを見て、教会員たちは教会の財産を守るために、日本基督教団に加入することを提案した。この提案が1975年7月に承認され、東京台湾教会が正式に日本基督教団の一員となった。その後信徒数が持続的に成長し、呂名伝(Lu, Beng Thoan)長老を中心に、荻窪の現在地に土地を購入し、教会堂建設の事業に取りかかった。一年後の1977年1月23日に新会堂完成。当時定期的に集う信徒数は120名ほどあった。また、教会堂ができる前の6年間、ご自分の礼拝堂を喜んで提供してくださった渋谷の聖ヶ丘教会にも深く感謝する。
 80年代に入り、本教会の教会員が増え続け、やがて教会堂の収容人数を越えるようになった。そこで、枝教会を作ることが検討され、その後池袋、川越、千葉などに台湾教会を分設した。
 台湾教会にとって今後の努力目標は二つ。一つ目は祖国台湾の地位未定で台湾人居住者がしかるべき保障を得られずにいること。二つ目は社会全体の少子化、経済不安の中で、台湾教会の未来も予測できない不安定要因を抱えていることだ。神様の導き及び皆様の関心、とりなしを切に望んでいる。
日本基督教団大阪台湾教会の設立経過と現状報告
 大阪台湾教会は1990年4月1日から約21年間、神様の御導きと御守り、東梅田教会をはじめ多くの方からの祈りと助けで、日曜礼拝を絶やさず守ってきました。わずかな信者からスタ–トし、現在は正会員三十数人になったが、引き続き教会の成長に努力している。まだ小さな教会であるが、台湾人と日本人が一緒に礼拝を守っていてとても和気藹々(harmonious?)としており、大家族のような教会だ。礼拝は台湾語ですが、(日本語への)同時通訳があります。第四主日は日本語礼拝です。毎週礼拝の後、約20分程の聖書勉強会があり、続いて全員参加の愛餐会があって、主にある交わりが深まっていると思います。
私たちの歩みは決して平坦ではなかった。開拓三年目、鄭泉聲(アルファベット表記は質問中)牧師夫婦は病気療養のため離任。その後二年間は専任牧師がいないまま短期応援の牧師によって支えられました。1995年アルゼンチンから呂金俊(アルファベット表記は質問中)牧師が赴任し、教会の組織作りと各種活動に取り組みました。1998年 07月には 日本基督教団への入会申請が承認されました(大阪教区所属)。 1998年11月 日本基督教団大阪台湾教会に改名しました。礼拝は東梅田教会ビル内で行いました。自分達の礼拝堂を持つ計画は設立当初からありましたが、異国で生活が安定せず、計画はなかなか進まない。しかし献金と土地探しに尽力し、二段階方式の計画に行き着いた。梅田地区に小さな礼拝堂を確保し、会員が増えてから大きな礼拝堂を建築すればよい、と。その頃阪神大震災があり、東梅田教会が建て直すことになり、私たちも教会ビルから移転をしなければならなかった。幸い、東梅田教会前のビルの一室を買い取り、礼拝堂として改修。1999年10月に献堂しました。神様の賜物として大変喜びました。しかし2000年03月に呂金俊牧師が高齢のため離任。李聡顕(アルファベット表記は質問中)牧師が同年4月から2001年2月末まで赴任なさいました。さらに努力の甲斐があって大阪の淀川区に土地を取得し、2007年4月に、新しい礼拝堂の献堂式を執り行いました。2008年05月に劉富敬(Liu Fu-Ching) 牧師がシアトルから赴任。聖書勉強と祈りの実践に取り組み、会員の霊的成長をはかりました。会員数も増え、神様の導きと恵みによって日に成長していることを目にして、感謝せずにいられません。今後も地域社会への伝道活動を展開していきたいと思っております。Sone Kensho

Taught by the Christian Witness of the Marginalized in Brazil

  by Koinuma Makiko, Kyodan missionary
Recently, Brazil is attracting the world’s attention as a country that is developing economically. Its shadowy areas, however, cannot be easily seen from the outside.
The history of Brazil began in 500 AD when it was “discovered” by the Portuguese. The intrusion of the Europeans resulted in a sharp decrease of the native population and the importation of millions of slaves from Africa. With the collapse of the slave system that had lasted for 300 years, immigrants from approximately 100 countries were introduced, and consequently, a variously mix-blooded, multi-racial, and multi-cultural nation has been formed. Merry, cheerful, and energetic Brazilians are good at living joyfully even with difficulties.
But the negative historical heritage can be seen in the survival of the power structure from the days of colonial control, which is still persistently the basis of society; the existence of a wealthy and powerful class of people who are corrupt and arbitrary; a tremendous gap between the rich and the poor; and the loss of family culture among the innumerable people of poverty. The area of Alto da Bondade in Olinda City in the state of Estado de Pernambuco in the northeastern Brazil, where I have been working since 2009, is one of the places with extremely bad conditions, far removed from the economic development of recent Brazil. In 1987 Pastor Davi Blackburn, a U.S. missionary, built a Methodist church here. Neighboring it is a nursery school, part of a social service to provide free care for the children of poor families. Unfortunately, however, Davi was electrocuted in an unexpected accident in 1992.
I first met Jane Blackburn, the leader of the members of this church, at the meeting of the World Federation of Methodist and Uniting Church Women in Rio de Janeiro in 1996, and we have been good friends since then. My husband and I worked with the Japanese Church in San Paulo during 1996-2006 as missionaries sent by the Kyodan, using the Japanese language to serve the first generation of Japanese immigrants. In ten years, unexpectedly, we were forced to come back to Japan as my husband was suffering from an incurable disease. He passed away in August of that year. He told me, “You need to accomplish your mission as you want,” and left enough inheritance to support my missionary work.
Being left alone, I made up my mind to work with the Brazilian church using no Japanese language since the church has no Japanese members. Moved also by my friend Jane’s earnest request, I formally set off for my new missionary post in Metodista em Alto da Bondade in March 2009. The scenery of Olinda is so beautiful that UNESCO designated it as a historical city. I have heard that the name “Olinda” is derived from the first colonist’s exclamation and means “How beautiful it is!” But the area of Alto da Bondade, where our church stands, is a place extremely far from “beauty.” Along the bumpy roads littered with garbage, in an unsanitary environment without even a sewer, live poor people who are somehow managing their everyday lives on scant income. Youth, having no hope for the future, easily become slaves to drugs, with its consequences of frequent violence and murders.
In this area overflowing with illness, drugs, alcoholism, violence, maltreatment, and domestic troubles, numerous churches of various denominations and sizes stand side by side, crying for miracles and the help of Jesus Christ. In fact, most of such churches bind the poor people with sundry rules, get them infatuated with church gatherings, and siphon off a great amount of money from them. Their understanding of Christian belief is that of a super-individualistic desire for miracles that never aims for the formation of a community in order to revive human dignity. Instead, these churches seem to enslave people in the name of Christian belief.
In such an environment, we want our church, which consists of some 25 members, to be the one that testifies about the love of God to the people of the area by loving God, ourselves, and our neighbors and by practicing Christian belief. The minister is compelled to be responsible for another church in a neighboring area, and few church members can take leadership responsibility. There are no material, economic, or intellectual resources at all for the church. The church does have one thing, however, which is the simple and strong belief that “God certainly helps us,” and that “Jesus is always with us and gives us strength.” We associate with each other with a humane, affectionate heart and walk together, helping each other, honoring God wholeheartedly, enjoying small things, and thanking God. I marvel at the witness of the members, who never fail to donate literally ten percent of their income to the church, however small the amount may be.
I am a missionary, but I always feel that the Brazilian people are teaching me how to believe in God. How happy I am to believe in Jesus Christ! As hard as I can, I am praying and preaching. More than 180 children, youth, and adults gather together for the winter Bible class, held once a year. Usually the fund to support it is somehow endowed from outside of the church. Still insufficient in understanding the Portuguese language, I accomplish very little in the service by the way of words. Every time I preach a sermon in Portuguese, which is once a month, I endure birth pangs as if I were dying, but as soon as it is finished I am filled with gratitude and pleasure, and revive.
I pray and hope that my presence here may result in a religiously, materially, and economically useful relationship of mutual help between the church in Alto da Bondade and the church in Japan. (Tr. AY)
ブラジル宣教報告
日本キリスト教団宣教師 小井沼眞樹子
 昨今、ブラジルは経済的に発展している国として、世界の注目を浴びるようになりました。しかし、社会の影の部分は外からはなかなか見えにくいものです。
 ブラジルの歴史は西暦500年にポルトガル人に「発見」された時から始まりました。
ヨーロッパ人が潜入してきたことにより、先住民は激減し、アフリカから数百万人もの人々が奴隷にされ、300年続いた奴隷制が崩壊すると、今度はおよそ100ヶ国から大量移民が導入され、様々に混血した多民族多文化国家を形成しています。明るく陽気でエネルギッシュなブラジル人は、困難な中でも楽しく生きることが得意です。
しかし、ブラジルの負の歴史的遺産は、植民地支配の権力構造がいまだに社会の根幹に存続し、富裕な権力者層の横暴と腐敗、貧富の大差、多くの貧困層の家庭文化の欠損であると言えましょう。
 私が2009年から奉仕している北東部ペルナンブコ州オリンダ市のアルト・ダ・ボンダーデ地区も、ブラジルの経済発展とは程遠い、かなり劣悪な居住区です。
1987年にアメリカ人宣教師ダヴィ・ブラックバーン牧師がこの地にメソジスト教会を建てました。社会奉仕の一環として貧困家庭の子供たちを無料で世話する保育園も隣接しています。しかし、不幸にもダヴィ牧師は92年に不慮の事故で感電死してしまいました。
 私はこの教会の信徒リーダー、ジャニ・ブラックバーンと1996年にリオで開かれた世界メソジスト女性大会で出会って以来、友人として交わりを続けてきました。
私たち夫婦は教団宣教師として1996-2006年まで、サンパウロの日本人教会で奉仕しましたが、それは移民した日本人一世への日本語による牧会奉仕でした。思いもよらず10年目に夫が難病にかかり、帰国を余儀なくされ、その年8月に夫は他界しました。
彼は私に「あなたの使命を自由に果たしなさい」と告げ、宣教の経済的基盤も遺してくれました。
 単身になったので、日本語を全く使わず、日本人のいないブラジル人教会で奉仕したい願い、友人ジャニの熱心な招きにも心動かされ、2009年3月から正式に宣教師としてアルト・ダ・ボンダーデメソジスト教会に赴任したのです。
オリンダはユネスコによって歴史都市に指定されているほど美しい景観をもった町です。オリンダとは、「なんと美しい!」という最初の入植者の感嘆詞からとられた名前だそうです。
しかし、教会が建てられているアルト・ダ・ボンダーデ地区はおよそ「美しさ」とはかけ離れた地域と言えましょう。穴だらけの泥の道にはゴミが散在し、下水設備もない非衛生な環境に、日々の暮らしをどうにかやりくりしながら生きている人々がいます。若者たちには将来の希望も可能性も閉ざされていて、たやすく麻薬の虜になり、暴力、殺人事件が頻発することになってしまいます。
病気、麻薬やアルコール依存症、暴力、虐待、家庭崩壊があふれているこの地域には、大小さまざまな教会が軒を並べるようにたっており、イエス・キリストに奇跡を起こして助けてくださいと叫び求めています。そんな教会の多くは貧しい人々を種々の規則でしばり、集会づけにし、多額の献金を吸い上げているのです。その信仰理解は超個人主義的な奇跡願望であり、人間としての尊厳を回復させ助け合う共同体を形成する方向には向かいません。むしろ信仰の名のもとに人々を奴隷化しているように思われます。
 そのような周辺環境にあって、私たちは25名ほどの教会ですが、神と自分と隣人を愛し信仰を実践することによって、地域に神の愛を証しする教会でありたいと願っています。主任牧師は近隣のもう一つの教会と兼牧で、リーダーシップを取れる信徒は少なく、物質的、経済的、知識的資源としては何も頼りになるものがない教会です。が、有るものがあります。それは「神様がきっと助けてくださる」、「イエス様がいつも共にいて力を与えてくださるというシンプルで強い信仰です。そして、人間的な愛情深いこころを持って交わり、元気よく賛美し、小さなことにも喜び、神に感謝し、助け合いつつ歩んでいます。また少ない収入でも十分の一献金を欠かさずにするのには、驚かされます。
 私は宣教師としてここにいますが、いつも私の方が彼らから信仰を学んでいるいう気持ちです。イエス様を信じていることがどんなに幸いなことか。周囲の人々の崩れてしまった人生を回復させるために、一生懸命祈り、伝道に励んでいます。年に1度の冬季聖書学校には180名以上の子供たち、若者、大人たちが集まってきます。資金はいつも外部からの献金によって何とか賄われています。
 私はポルトガル語がまだ拙いので、言葉による奉仕はあまりできません。月に1回の礼拝説教はいつも死にそうなほど産みの苦しみを味わいますが、終わると感謝と喜びに満され、また復活するという具合です。
私がここに存在することによって、信仰的、物質的、経済的に有益な助け合いの関係がアルト・ダ・ボンダーデ教会と日本の教会の間に生まれ、育っていくことを祈り願っています。

~ On Being Open and Approachable ~

Lessons Gleaned from Involvement in Buraku Liberation Movement and Okinawa-related Issues
An interview with Kataoka Heiwa, member* Waseda Church, Tokyo District
I grew up in a Christian family, and so Christianity was always right there. I thought that how I should live and relate to people who were close at hand was really important. That changed somewhat when I went to high school. I had grown up in a Kyodan church, but when I went to Keiwa Gakuen High School, a church-related school, and started living in a dormitory, I realized that half of the students were not Christians and even those that were Christian came from many different denominations.
I began to wonder about the idea of “just believing.” Was faith an internal thing? Was it an individual thing? I began reacting against some of the things I had been taught. However, when I went to university, I realized that faith can be open to and expressed in the real world. That has been shown to me most clearly through my active involvement in the two areas of Buraku liberation and Okinawa-related issues.
During my first summer at university, I participated in the Kyodan Buraku Liberation Center’s Youth Seminar, and I learned how great it is to read the Bible and to witness to one’s faith in the context of fighting against discrimination. Through the university’s Peace Research Institute and the Religious Department, I was able to participate in a field trip to Okinawa, where I learned about the history of Okinawa, the present concerns around U.S. military bases, and the activities of Christian networks working for peace.
My faith was changed through these experiences, and during my second year of college, I was baptized. Feeling that I wanted to continue my involvement in these issues after graduation, I did not participate in any club activities at the university because I thought it was important to relate not only to other university students but also to a variety of people of different age groups. For the same reason, when I thought about employment, I did not want just a regular job. I consulted with the minister of my church, and he introduced me to Waseda Hoshien.
The work of Waseda Hoshien is based on Christian values, and a wide range of programs and activities are available to both youth and adults. My work involves setting up courses in Asian languages for adults, as well as working with students. One of the activities with students is creating regular weekend opportunities to meet, play, and deepen relationships with children who have disabilities.
Almost none of the students who come to Waseda Hoshien is Christian. But when I see how passionately these students try to interact with the children in an effort to build authentic relationships, I am often amazed. I experienced that kind of relationship in the church, and it makes me really happy to know that, through my invitation, some people have started attending worship. It makes me feel that I know why I am working here.
Some of the people who come here have attended church-related kindergartens or schools, and others, even though they have no direct experience of Christianity, are often interested in Christian ideals. But there are also those who are not connected to the church in any way. When I introduce myself to these people, I always mention the church. Is that evangelism? I don’t know. But it is part of my approach to people to let them know who I am.
I am not being pushy about evangelism. Whenever I invite someone to a church event, I always emphasize how much fun it will be. On “Marine Day” in July, we held an event where we did some weeding around Chiyoda Church in the Shinjuku area of Tokyo and then had a barbecue with scallops sent from the Sanriku area, where the minister had previously worked. It was a lot of fun, and that’s what I want to do–namely, to find ways to have fun together.
I believe that Christianity and God can only be communicated through concrete and authentic encounter. To that end, I want to make myself open, approachable, and attractive to all people. (Tr. RW)
From Shinto no Tomo (Believers’ Friend)
*Kataoka Heiwa was born in Fukushima Prefecture and is 24 years old. His given name (Heiwa) means “peace.” After graduation from International Christian University with a major in sociology from the Liberal Arts Department’s Division of International Studies, he was employed by Waseda Hoshien in April 2008. Baptized during his second year of college at Waseda Church, where he is still an active member, he has also served on committees involved with youth, Buraku liberation, and Okinawa-related issues in Tokyo District’s Kita (north) Subdistrict.
インタビュー
片岡平和 さん
部落解放運動と沖縄問題への取り組みから
自分自身が魅力的であるように
福島県出身、二十四歳。国際基督教大学(ICU)にて教養学部国際関係学科に在
籍。社会学を専攻。二年次に早稲田教会にて受洗。卒業後の 二〇〇八年四月に
財団法人早稲田奉仕園に就職。同じ敷地内にある早稲田教会での活動をはじめ、
東京教区北支区での常任委員をつとめ、青年部、沖縄委員会、部落解放委員会の
活動にも従事している。
クリスチャン・ファミリーに育ったので、ずっと身近にあったキリスト教ですが、身近な人とどうやって生きていくか、そういった関係が大事だと思っていました。それが高校時代に一旦、相対化されました。それまで教団の教会内で育ってきたわけですが、寮生活を送ったミッション・スクール、新潟の敬和学園で、半分はノン・クリスチャン、あとの半分のクリスチャンもいろいろな教派の人たちがいたからです。 一方で、「ただ信じなさい」という教えに、信仰とは内面的なものなのか、個人的な問題であるのかとちょっと反発を覚えたりもしました。でも、大学に入って、そうではない外に開かれた信仰もあるとわかりました。それは僕の大学時代の両輪とも言える活動となった部落解放運動と沖縄問題への取り組みを通して示されたことでした。大学一年の夏に日本基督教団部落解放センターの青年ゼミナールの活動に加わり、聖書を読み信仰を証ししながら差別と闘っていくことのすばらしさを知りました。また、大学の平和研究所や宗務部の活動を通して、平和学習の一環で沖縄フィールドトリップに参加し、米軍基地の課題や沖縄戦の歴史などにどういう取り組みがなされているのかをキリスト教のネットワークによる活動を通して学んだのです。こうした中で、自分のキリスト教理解も変わっていき、大学二年のときに受洗しました。大学時代にサークルに入らなかったのは、卒業後もつながりのある活動をするためには大学生同士だけの関わりではなく、いろいろな世代の人たちとの関わりが大切だと考えたからです。ですから、就職先を考えたときに一般企業ではないと感じていました。そして、相談した所属教会の牧師の紹介で、早稲田奉仕園に就職しました。
ここはキリスト教精神に基づいて学生育成の支援と社会人対象にさまざま講座を開いている団体です。今、僕が主に担当しているのは社会人向けのアジア語学講座と学生活動です。そのひとつに障がいを持った子どもたちと学生が毎週末いっしょに遊んで交流を持つという活動があります。
 早稲田奉仕園に集まってくる学生はほとんどがノン・クリスチャンです。でも、彼らが子どもとの関わりの中で情熱を傾けているのを見ると人との関わりを強く求めていることがわかり驚きます。僕はそういう関わりを教会で得られてきたので、自分の呼びかけがきっかけで教会に通うようになった人がいるってわ かったときがいちばんうれしいですね。自分がここにいる意味を感じます。
ミッション系の幼稚園や学校だったということで、キリスト教に触れたことがある人や、そうでなくても少しは関心があるという人はけっこういると思います。ただ、教会にはつながっていないという層がいます。そういう人たちに対しては僕が自己紹介をすれば必ず教会のことに触れることになるので、それが伝道と言っていいのかわかりませんが、僕なりのアプローチです。とはいえ、積極的に伝道ということはしていません。教会でのイベントに誘うときに「すごく楽しいよ」と声をかけます。七月の海の日には新宿の千代田教会で草むしりして、その後そこの牧師の前任地だった三陸から送られてきたホタテをバーベキューで食べて楽しい時間を持ちました。とりあえずはこうして楽しくやりたいと思っています。キリスト教や神さまのことは具体的な人との出会いがないと伝わらないと思っているんです。だから、こうした出会いのために自分自身も魅力的でありたいと思っています。 (信徒の友)             Ω
フォトキャプション
2008年9月、早稲田奉仕園の学生活動のひとつ国際理解講座の学生とともに訪れた沖縄・辺野古の新基地建設阻止行動のテント前にて。