Agreement through Spiritual Union : An address given at the 100th anniversary celebration of the Education Association of Christian Schools in Japan

by Nomoto Shinya, board chair
Education Association of Christian Schools in Japan and Doshisha University
This organization, referred to in this address as “the association,” has continued for 100 years. On this occasion, more than anything else, we need to give thanks to God our Father for guiding us through these years.
The seed of the gospel was planted in Japan some 150 years ago, and Christian schools and educational institutions began springing up in each district. However, as soon as they had begun to grow, they were forced to struggle against nationalism. This period also coincided with the beginnings of the ecumenical movement around the world, and so it was in such a situation that the association was born through the prayers, cooperation, and solidarity of the leaders of these schools.
In the first half of the 20th century, overwhelmed by the waves of history, both of Japan and of the world, and forced to cooperate with Japan’s war effort, the Christian schools faced a terrible ordeal. However, in the second half of the 20th century, they received cooperative support from both churches and mission organizations in the West, and as a result, democratic education began. Effort was made to incorporate moral education based on Christianity through mutual association, support, and fellowship among the member schools.
At present, in the association, there are 97 governmentally recognized school corporations, which include a total of 282 institutions with schools from elementary through university, with approximately 346,000 students. This is despite a Christian population of less than one percent, clearly showing that the principles and results of Christian education are generally held in high regard in Japan.
However, the history of those who have gone before us is a history of struggle. When we remember those of our predecessors who literally gave their lives in order to fulfill their calling from God, I feel a strong sense of gratitude and respect. At the same time, looking back at that history of struggle, we cannot overlook God’s blessing interwoven with that history. On this occasion, we are eager to learn about this history from the completed chronological index and, by next year, the compilation of original source documents of the 100-Year History of the Education Association of Christian Schools in Japan. Then, by extension, we may see our path forward and, I think, see our history interwoven with both joy and pain.
Further, even though each school in the association is based on Christian principles, they each have their own histories and traditions, and so they have varying understandings of Christian teaching. For this reason, it has been difficult to achieve a common opinion on issues and, I believe, this will continue to be true in the future.
However, in order for the association to be able to continue, as we must face our present reality and issues, and as we accept our weakness before God and each other, we must respect each other’s differing opinions and positions as we seek unity. That unity, of course, must be a unity based in spiritual union.
Today, as we approach the 100th anniversary of the association, I believe that we should not think of this as a mere point in the passing of time, not a “chromos” but a true “kairos,” in which we can receive anew the gospel of Christ and affirm together the spiritual union we have already received. We should use this opportunity to deepen our unity and fellowship.
As we look back on our past history, both the struggles with the narrow-minded nationalism that was forced upon us, as well as in times when things were more favorable, we need to learn from the experiences of our predecessors in the association, how they sought to fulfill their calling to bring to fruition the freedom and love based on the Gospel of Christ and also the reasons why they could not. We should learn again from the firm resolve, faith, and wisdom of the teachers who went before us in the past 100 years. We should make our own that firm resolve that they have passed on to us. Further, ought we not to confirm that we are being led by the hand of God, which guides history, and use this opportunity to deepen our faith and solidarity? (Tr. GM)
       ―From Kirisutokyo Gakko Kyoiku
         (Christian schools and education)
100周年記念式典式辞―スピリチュアル・ユニオンとしての一致を
           野本真也 キリスト教学 校教育同盟理事長・同志社理事長
キリスト教学校教育同盟(以下、教育同盟)は、 ここに結成100周年を迎えました。わたしたちは何よりもまず、ここにいたるまでの歴史の歩みを導いてくださった父なる神に、心から の感謝をささげたいと思います。
 教育同盟は、日本に福音の種が蒔かれ、各地でミッション・スクールやキリスト教学校が芽 を出し、成長し始めるや否や、国家主義との厳しい闘いを強いられる中、また世界的なエキュメニカル運動が高まる中で、同志的な結束を 願う先達たちの祈りと努力によって誕生いたしました。それ以来、20世紀前半の時代に は、世界と日本の歴史の荒波に揉まれ、戦争への協力を余儀なくされるなど、厳しい試練にさらされました。また、20世紀後半の時代には、欧米のキリスト教会とミッ ション団体の強力な援助を受けつつ、民主主義教育をはじめ、キリスト教を徳育の基本とする教育を担う加盟校への支援と相互の交わりに 努めてまいりました。
 現在、教育同盟には、97の学校法人、小学校 から大学までの282校が加盟しており、約34万6千人の児童、生 徒、学生が学んでいます。この事実は、いわゆるキリスト教人口が1パーセントにも満たない状況にもかかわらず、キリスト教(主義)学 校の教育方針と成果が一般に高く評価されていることを端的に表していると思われます。
 しかし、ここに至るまでには、先達の苦闘の歴史がありました。時には、文字どおり存亡を かけて、神から与えられた使命を担い続けてくださった、今は天上に召された多くの先達の方々を想い、尊敬と感謝の念を強く覚えます。
 それと同時に、その苦闘の歴史の背後には、神の祝福の歴史があったことも決して見逃すこ とはできません。わたしたちは、このたび完成した『キリスト教学校教育同盟百年史 年表』から、また来年度完成予定の『百年史通史 編』と『資料編』から、先達の苦闘と神の祝福の織りなす歴史を読み取りたいと思います。そしてその歴史の延長上に、わたしたちの進む べき道もまた示され、託されている使命を担う喜びと苦しみの織りなす歴史を展望したいと思います。
  そのうえ、教育同盟の加盟校は、各々固有の歴史と伝統をもつキリスト教主義の学校であ り、それゆえに、キリスト教理解そのものもまた多様であります。それだけに、意見の一致を見ることが困難である場合さえ、これまでも ありましたし、またこれからもあり得ると思います。
 しかし、まさにこうした現実と困難な課題をかかえているからこそ、また、わたしたちが神 の前に、そしてお互いに弱さをかかえているからこそ、異なる意見と立場を尊重し合い、一致を願い求めていかなければ、同盟が存続して いくことはできません。そして、その一致は、何よりもまずスピリチュアル・ユニオンとしての一致でなければなりません。
 わたしたちは、100年目を迎えた今日というこの時を、単なる時間の流れの区切り、クロ ノスとしてではなく、まさにカイロスとしてキリストの福音を改めて受けとめ直し、わたしたちにすでに与えられているスピリチュアル・ ユニオンを確認し合う、その好機とし、相互の交わりを深めていきたいと思います。
 そのために、過去の歴史において、ときには偏狭な国家主義との闘いを強いられる中で、あ るいは逆に、順風の吹く時代環境の中で、教育同盟と加盟法人各学校の先達が、キリストの福音にもとづく自由と愛の現実化のために、ど のような仕方で使命を果たそうとしてきたか、また果たし得なかったかを学びたいと思います。そしてこれまでの100年の歴史の中か ら、先達の堅い志と信仰と知恵を学び取り、わたしたちもまたそれらを継承していく決意を新たにし、さらに歴史そのものが見えざる御手 によって導かれていることを確認し、わたしたちの信仰と連帯を強める契機としようではありませんか。
(『キリスト教学校教育』)

Japanese-Americans' Wartime Experiences Shown on Japanese TV

by Tim Boyle, missionary
Kwansei Gakuin, Nishinomiya
For five nights in November 2010, Japanese television showed a ten-hour-long dramatic series entitled “99 Years of Love, the Japanese-Americans.” It was a powerful and emotional drama that brought back memories of watching Alex Halley’s Roots some 30 or more years ago, with its portrayal of the African-American saga.
The plot is quite true to history, with the unavoidable exception that all the Japanese-American characters are able to speak perfect Japanese but not very good English―necessitated by the parts being played by Japanese actors for a Japanese audience.
The story begins in 1911, when Hiramatsu Chokichi, a young man from a poor farming family, comes to Seattle to seek his fortune. He overcomes many obstacles through sheer determination and good luck, and after many years, builds up a thriving farm. He and his wife Tomo, who came to the U.S. as a “picture bride,” introduced by photograph and arranged by a marriage broker, are blessed with four children. But in 1940, as U.S.-Japan relations sour and anti-Japanese sentiments soar, they decide to send their two young daughters, Shizu and Sachi, to live with relatives in what they thought would be the safety of Japan, while they and the two older boys, Ichiro and Jiro, guard the farm and wait for things settle down.
Pearl Harbor and the outbreak of war, however, ruin their plans. Together with 120,000 fellow Japanese-Americans along the West Coast, they are forced to sell their farm for next to nothing and are herded into Manzanar Relocation Center, one of the hastily construction camps in the interior. Their two daughters likewise face severe hardship in Japan, with Shizu ending up in Hiroshima, where she survives the A-bomb, and Sachi in Okinawa, where she barely escapes with her life. They are briefly reunited, but Shizu dies of radiation exposure and Sachi, feeling she has been utterly abandoned by her family, disappears in the postwar chaos.
During the war, many people viewed the Japanese-Americans as enemy aliens, so to prove that he is a loyal American, Ichiro volunteers to serve with about 1,000 other nisei (second-generation Japanese) in the 442 battalion, which becomes the most highly decorated unit in U.S. history. Ichiro loses his life, saving his fellow soldiers, but more than anything else it was his heroics, along with that of the others, that changed the attitudes of U.S. society toward the Japanese-Americans.
In the story, the Hiramatsu farm had been basically stolen by a white man who hated the Japanese, but on learning that Ichiro had given his life in the dramatic rescue of his beloved Texas regiment (the “Lost Battalion”), he repents and as an act of contrition, gives the family back their farm, which then serves as a base where other Japanese-Americans can get back on their feet. Then in 2010, Sachi comes back to the U.S. for the first time in 70 years and is reunited with Jiro, thus completing the cycle of “99 years of love,” and learns of Ichiro’s ultimate sacrifice. “Greater love has no man than he lay down his life for his friends.” (Jn. 15:13) The sacrifice of Ichiro and his fellow Japanese-American soldiers had overcome the curse of prejudice and discrimination.
It is a powerful story that portrays the insanity of both racism and war, and with the inclusion of the atomic bomb, also the horrors of nuclear weapons. It appeals to President Obama’s pledge to rid the world of nuclear weapons and sends a powerful message of peace.
The beginning scenes can be viewed on the following website: http://www.dramacrazy.net/japanese-drama/99-nen-no-aijapanese-americans-episode-1/ The English subtitles are quite good, and there are links that enable the entire show to be viewed in successive episodes.
______________
Adapted from an article by the author published in the weekly Kwansei Gakuin University Bulletin

PCT General Assembly Thanked for Earthquake Relief Support

rom April 26 to April 29, I attended the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Taiwan. There was heated discussion at the assembly, but what surprised me most was seeing, for the first time, assembly members taking blood tests. With health notebooks in hand, they got their blood tests; and the following morning, based on the results, those assembly members who had a reading that was marked in red received advice about consulting a doctor. Those who were elected as assembly officers were given the privilege of getting a health check. Furthermore, between the most animated discussions, there was a lottery in which a digital camera and a bicycle were awarded. There were also times of great laughter.
The PCT General Assembly was held on the 9th floor of the Mackay Memorial Hospital. The meeting place was a theater-shaped chapel that will seat 500 persons. The Presbyterian Church of Taiwan operates three large hospitals, and because of this, local church apportionments represent only four percent of the total budget, which I frankly found quite enviable.
The PCT and the Kyodan have concluded a mission covenant, mutually sending out missionaries, and this interchange has a long history. Recently, PCT representatives visited the Kyodan in regard to the devastation caused by the Great East Japan Earthquake. The PCT has already contributed 35 million yen and has promised to contribute an additional 20 million yen.
Japan is facing its greatest crisis since World War II, and developing a strategy for dealing with this disaster has also become an issue of greatest importance for the Kyodan. An emergency response headquarters has been established, and a concrete emergency plan has been formulated to grapple with the issue of raising 2.2 billion yen from both within and outside Japan. I am deeply moved that in the midst of this crisis, the PCT has offered fervent prayers and aid, and furthermore, that earnest prayers were offered up at the assembly.
On behalf of the Kyodan, I expressed to the assembly that in addition to being thankful for the PCT’s support, we hope from here on also to deepen the relationship of both of our churches. (Tr. RT)
―Ishibashi Hideo, Kyodan Moderator
台湾基督長老教会総会出席
 4月26日~29日まで台湾基督教長老 教会(Presbyterian Church of Taiwan)の総 会に出席した。
熱い議論がなされる総会であったが、第一 に驚いたことは議員達が血液検査を受けている 姿を最初に見たことだ。健康手帳を持ち、血液検査を受け、翌日にはその検査を元に、数値が赤でしるされている議員は医師と面談をするよう にとのアナウンスがあった。総会議員に選ばれると健康チェックの特典が付く。さらに、白熱の議論の間にお楽しみの時間もあり、抽選でデジ カメや自転車が当たる。大笑いする時間もあった。
台湾基督長老教会の総会は、馬偕病院の9 階の礼拝堂で開催された。この会場は500名 くらい入る劇場形式の礼拝堂であった。
台湾基督教長老教会は病院を経営してい る。三つの大きな病院を経営し、その為に各教会 の負担金は全体の予算の4パーセントで良いとのこと、素直に羨ましいと思った。
同教会と日本基督教団とは宣教協約を結 び、お互いに宣教師を派遣し合い、その交流の歴 史は長い。今回の東日本大震災においても真っ先に日本基督教団にお見舞いに来て下さった。すでに3500万円の献金をして下さり、さらに 2000万円の献金をしてくださるという約束をして下さった。
日本は戦後最大の危機の中にあり、日本基 督教団もこの災害の対策が最重要な課題となっ ている。救援対策本部が設置され、国内、国外合わせて22億円の救援対策を具体的に取り組む計画を立てた。この危機の中にあって、日本基 督教団への熱い祈りと支援が、台湾基督教長老教会からいただき、さらに総会においても熱い祈りを捧げてくださり、感動した。
日本基督教団として、台湾基督教長老教会 からの支援を感謝すると共に、今後とも、両教 会の関係を深めて行くことを総会で表明した。
石橋秀雄

"The word of the Lord spread quickly and with power"

by Kyodan Moderator Ishiabashi Hideo
“Amazing Grace”
On Dec. 16, 2010, the movie distribution agency, Prestio, sent me a DVD and an invitation to write a review. The DVD was “Amazing Grace” (2006, U.K.), and I was asked to write on John Newton for the mass media. “Amazing Grace” will be shown throughout Japan from March 2011. Through his faith, the main character, William Wilberforce, fought to introduce a bill to end the slave trade, and was supported in his efforts by the Reverend John Newton.
John Newton, who wrote the lyrics for “Amazing Grace,” experienced many failures and setbacks as a youth, but he had a dramatic conversion experience during a storm at sea as he and his ship were spared. As a result of that experience, he went from being the captain of a slave ship to becoming a minister of the gospel. Upon realizing that the Lord could “save a wretch” like him from his sinful life, one for which he could never atone, he was able to sing about God’s unbelievable grace―that is, God’s “amazing grace.” In the movie, at the end of Newton’s life, when his eyesight began failing and his memory became dimmer, he exclaimed that even though he may have forgotten many things, there were two things he could never forget; that he was a sinner, and that Christ was his savior. I was moved to recognize this movie as an instrument of evangelism, and wrote the article.
What is Evangelism?
Paul held daily discussions about God’s amazing grace in the lecture hall at Tyrannus in Ephesus “so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord.” (Acts 19:10) The Ephesians took time from their lunch hour to listen eagerly to the gospel at the lecture hall. Paul spoke passionately, and the people listened intently. Many people repented.
The evangelism of which Acts speaks is that of repentance. When the Ephesians understood the amazing grace of which Paul was speaking, they confessed their sins, “and openly confessed what they had done.” (Acts 19:18) They were released from their sins, and thus, were also made free.
The towns in Ephesus were full of magic practices. The people who heard Paul’s gospel clearly confessed their sins and discarded their magic. They repented and burned the books of magic, which had been at the center of their lives. “When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas.” (Acts 19:19) Scrolls of magic were quite expensive. “Fifty thousand drachmas” represents a huge price in their world. The valuable scrolls of their world were destroyed.
As the magic books were the center of the Ephesians’ lives, they depended on them for overcoming the troubles of their lives and this world. People were finally released from the bondage of the magic practices that had enslaved them. The words of the living God have power to change peoples’ lives. God frees us from the bondage of magic, myths, and hardships.
God’s Words are Influential
“In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power.” (Acts 19:20) Not through Paul nor through the words of people, but through the word of the Lord the message of the Lord Jesus through his cross and resurrection rapidly spread.
Speak the Word passionately, listen to the Word passionately, and sing praises to God on high in worship. Let us be an evangelistic church with a burning faith and a passionate witness. May the word of the Lord spread quickly and with power in the Kyodan so that it will be recognized for its evangelism. (Tr. WJ)
―From Shinpo (Kyodan Times) published in Jan. 19
主の御言葉が勢いよく広まる          総会議長 石橋秀雄
驚くほどの恵の中で
 昨年12月16日映画配給会社プレシ ディオからDVDと原稿依頼が送られて きた。DVDには「アメイジング・グレイス」(2006年英国)とあり、マスコミ用資料としてジョ ン・ニュートンについて書いて欲しいとの事 であった。
アメイジング・グレイスが今年三月に全 国の映画会社から公開される。
この映画の主人公は「奴隷貿易禁止法 案」を成立させる為に信仰もって闘ったウ イリアム・ウィルバーホースである。この闘いをジョン・ニュートン牧師が支える。
アメージング・グレイスを作詩したジョ ン・ニュートンの青年時代は挫折と転落 の人生であり、その救いの体験は、難破船の中で、必死に祈り、死の危険から救われたことによる。その後、奴隷貿易船の船長から、牧師に なった。 このならず者、 償い切れない罪を犯した者を、罪の中に捨てられた者を、主は見いだし救ってくださった。神の驚くべき恵 みが歌われる。まさに、アメー ジング・グレイスだ、驚くべき恵みだ。
映画の中で、ニュートンは視力が落ち、 記憶が薄れ、人生の終わりが近い中で、 「すべてを忘れても決して忘れられない二つの事がある。それは、私が罪人であり、キリストは救い主であるということだ」と告白する場面が ある。この映画は伝道 の映画だと感銘を受け原稿を書くことにした。
伝道とは
この驚くべき恵みをパウロはエフェソの ティラノの講堂で毎日論じた
「アジア州に住む者は、ユダヤ人であ れ、ギリシャ人であれ、だれもが主の言葉 を聞くことになった」
(使徒言行録19章10節)
エフェソの人々は。貴重な昼休みに講堂 にやってきて熱心に福音を聞いた。
「パウロは熱心に語り、人々は熱心に聞 いた
ここで多くに人々が悔い改めた。
使徒言行録が示す伝道とは、「悔い改 め」を起こさせることだ。
エフェソの人々はパウが語る「驚くべき 主の恵み
を知らされた時、罪の告白をしている。
「自分たちの悪行をはっきり告白し た」(同18節)
彼らは罪から解放された。そして、同時 に自由にされたのだ。
エフェソの町は魔術が盛んな町であった。
パウロの福音を聞いた人々は「その悪行をはっきり告白」して魔術を捨 てた。自分の生活の中心であった魔術 の書物を、悔い改めて捨てて燃やした。
「その値段を見積もってみると、銀貨5万枚にもなった
(同19節)
魔術の書物は高価な書物であった。銀貨5万枚は膨大なこの世の価値を示している。こ の世の価値書物が燃やされた。
魔術がエフェソの人々の生活の中心にあるということは、同時に生活の 不安、その不安を魔術の本に頼って克 服しようとしていたということになる。
この今まで生活の中心にあり、人々の心を縛っていた魔術から人々は解 放された。
生ける神の御言葉の力は人々の生活を変える。
魔術から、迷信から、わたしたちを縛るあらゆる苦悩から自由にする。
主の御言葉が勢いよく
「このようにして、主の御言葉はますますい勢いよく広まり、力を増し た
(同20節)
パウロではなく、人間の言葉ではなく、主の言葉が、「十字架と復活の 主イエスの言葉が、ますます、勢いよ く広まり、力を増した
のだ。
御言葉が熱心に語られ、御言葉が熱心に聞かれ、神への讃美が高らかに 歌われる礼拝が捧げられ。この礼拝で 熱くさた信徒が,熱心に証をし、熱心に伝道する教会でありた い。そして、日本基督教団において「主の御言葉がますます勢いよく広まり、力を増した」と語りえる「伝道する教団」になって行きたい。

The General Secretary's Diary : Thoughts Concerning the Development of Young Evangelists

Recently, I heard the same wonderful report from two laypersons I know well in an outlying city. Last Christmas, three young people were baptized in their church, and this was in large part due to the enthusiastic efforts of a young pastor who had been called to that church the year before. I considered this as further evidence of a trend that I have seen recently of an increase in young, enthusiastic pastors. This is, of course, something I am very pleased to see, and I feel there is much hope for the future of the Kyodan as long as we continue to nurture new leadership with a clear calling from God and a passion for evangelism.
Likewise, a total of 74 persons took this year’s spring ministerial examinations, held from March 1. Of these, 58 took the qualifying examination for licensed preacher status, 15 for full ordination, and 1 was transferring from another denomination. Last fall there were 91 applicants: 19 for licensed preacher status, 69 for full ordination, and 3 who were transferring from another denomination. Thus, the total for the two examination periods during the past year is quite a large number, clearly surpassing the number of retiring pastors, which incidentally, was 38 in 2009, 51 in 2010, and this year, as of the end of February, is 42, with the figure at the end of the fiscal year in March expected to be just over 50. So if the number of incoming ministers continues to surpass the number of those retiring, this indeed will be a sign of hope for the future of the Kyodan. It is my prayer that the number of active ministers will continue to increase in the future, rather than decrease.
When I was young, two accomplishments considered to be the barometer of the health of a church was that it produced a flow of young people going into full-time Christian ministry and that it spawned new congregations. When I felt the call to go into ministry some 60 years ago, there was in the church I attended an amazing spiritual atmosphere in which several young people were led to dedicate their lives to evangelism and outreach. Attendance at the worship service steadily increased, with the sanctuary being filled to capacity. I recall the joy of being able participate in work camps to serve the community and the scene of children packing the church for the church school program. Many junior and senior high school students gathered, and from those, several went into full-time Christian service. But what is the situation now? The number of children in church school programs has drastically decreased, and so something needs to be done. Everyday, I pray that God will raise up young evangelists and give them the strength to fulfill his calling and to experience the sense of joy that accompanies this.
Training and licensing is the means the Kyodan employs to produce such new leadership. The training takes place at the Kyodan-established Tokyo Union Theological Seminary and five other accredited seminaries. The education of these seminaries stresses the Kyodan Confession of Faith, as well as the 2,000-year history of the Christian church. The licensing process consists of testing those who have successfully completed their seminary training, followed by the licensing and ordaining of those who qualify to serve as pastors in local churches. This standard procedure is, of course, the means of confirming the calling and sending forth of these servants by the Lord Jesus Christ. Those who hold a strong sense of calling then eagerly communicate the gospel and build up the church. My heart is full of joy as I see young pastors with a strong sense of calling being sent out to local churches, where they enthusiastically evangelize, leading to clear growth in the churches as new disciples are baptized into the body of Christ. (Tr. TB) (Written on March 4, 2011)
―General Secretary, Naito Tomeyuki
―若い伝道者の育 成をめぐって思うことどもー
○ 先日、地方都市に住む親しい信徒の方二人から、同じような 喜ばしい知らせがあった。昨年のクリスマスに三人の若者が受洗したという。それは一年前に招聘した若い伝道師の熱心な働きによるところが 大きいというのである。その知らせを聞いた時、最近伝道熱心な優れた若い伝道者が育ってきていると感じていたことが証明されたように思え た。教団の将来の伝道は、こうしたキリストによる召命と派遣に確信をもつ若い伝道者が育ってきている限り、とても明るい希望をもつことが でき、嬉しく思った。
○ 3月1日より春の教師 検定試験が行われた。受験者は総勢で74名(うち補教師58名、正教師15名、転入者1名)。昨秋の教師検定受検者数は91名(うち補教師19名、正教師69名、転入者3名)。このよう に年2回の教師検定試 験者はかなりの数にのぼっている。ちなみに 隠退される教師数は一昨年38名、昨年51名、今年は2月末で42名なので3月末には50名を少し越すのではないか。隠 退していく教師よりも新しく献身して伝道者にな る教師の方が多いならば、教団の将来は明るい。更に伝道熱心な若い教師が育っていけば一層教団の将来には希望が持てる。なんとかして現役 の伝道者数が減っていかないよう、いや、増えていくようにと祈るのみです。
○ かつて私が若かった頃、よく教会の健康を計るバロメーター として言われたことの中に『その教会から伝道献身者が次々に生まれてくること』と『新しく開拓伝道をして子教会を生み出すこと』というの があった。確かに私が伝道に献身しようと決心した60年ほど前の教会 には、何か不思議な霊的雰囲気があり、伝道を心からの喜び、生涯をそのために献げようと祈り導かれた青年が何人もいた。礼拝に集う人々の 数も確実に増えていき、会堂がいつも一杯の会衆で埋め尽くされていた。そしていわゆるワーク・キャンプをして地域に奉仕する喜びも体験し たし、日曜学校での子ども伝道も盛んに行われ、会堂は子ども達で一杯になっていた。中高生も多く集まり、その中から後になって献身して伝 道者になった者も何人もいた。それが今、どうなっているのか。教会学校の生徒も著しく減少しているということを聞くとなんとかしなければ と切に思う。主よ!!青少年に伝道する喜びと力とを下さいと祈る日々である。
○ 教団は教師を生み出すために「養成」と「検定」を担う。 「養成」は教団立である東神大をはじめ6つの認可神学校 に委ねられている(教規132条)、神学校は 教団信仰告白を土台として教憲・教規を重んじて二千年のキリスト教会の歴史を教える。「検定」は、神学校での養成期間を終えて卒業した者 を教会の教師として迎えられるために教団が実施し、合格者に准允、按手を行う。それが正規の手続きといわれることである。その時、大切な ことは主キリストによる召命と派遣の恵みを明確にしておくことである。この召命感が確かな者は熱心に福音伝道をし、教会形成に励む。最近 特に若い伝道者たちが確かな召命感をもって遣わされた各地の教会において熱心に伝道し、受洗者を次々と生み出し着実に教会形成をすすめて いることは、思えば本当に嬉しく、感謝に耐えないことと思う。
内藤留幸総幹事