Youth Mission 2008 with the Berlin-Brandenburg Evangelical Church-the 5th
Germany and Japan Youth Exchange-was held in Japan, Aug. 12-22. The Steering
Committee of the National Federation of Kyodan Women’s Societies (NFKWS)
planned and hosted the program. Pastor Ute Feuerstack headed the German
delegation. The three-day retreat convened at Ashino-ko Camping Village in
Hakone, Aug. 13-15., with14 German participants, including 9 youth, and 26
Japanese participants, including 12 young people. The theme of the retreat
was “Faithfully Administering God’s Grace (I Peter 4:10).” We discussed
environmental issues, something many people throughout the world have become
more concerned about today. Abe Rintaro and Hamda Makito, seminarians at
Tokyo Union Theological Seminary, led the event for the entire three days.
On the first day, Pastor Ute Feuerstack preached during the opening service
for the retreat. Following the service, we introduced ourselves to one
another and had tea together. Afterwards, Pastor Yatsuka Kiyoshi from Aki
Church led a Bible study, during which we read chapters 1 and 2 of Genesis
and meditated on this text. The members from Germany cooked German food for
dinner. After enjoying our meal, we had time for cultural exchange. Japanese
participants introduced Japanese culture, Japanese songs with sign language,
calligraphy, and origami (paper-folding), and explained the situation of the
church in Japan. The visitors from Germany actively participated in this
cultural exchange program and were especially interested in paper-folding.
On the second day, Abe Rintaro preached the sermon at the morning worship
service. We separated into three groups?\prayer, worship, and skit?\and each
group made preparations for the closing service on the third day. This time,
Japanese members made somen, a traditional kind of noodle in Japan, for
lunch. The group from Germany liked somen more than we expected. We had
outdoor activities in the afternoon. After dinner, the German participants
introduced German culture to us. They performed a skit of Snow White and the
Seven Dwarfs and also presented a special “circus” for us. The Japanese
participants were impressed by the German performers’ entertainment skills.
We also enjoyed games together.
On the final day, Nishinosono Michiko, pastor of Kambara Church, preached at
the closing worship service. Each of the three groups formed on the second
day played a special role in this service. The prayer group offered the
invocation after the first hymn and led a special prayer after the sermon;
the skit group performed a play based on Genesis and explained the
significance of the creation story; and the worship group sang Taize hymns.
Pastor Feuerstack closed the service with a blessing and expressed her
gratitude to those who had worked on the exchange program this year and to
those who had prayed for us. She also thanked the host families, the staff
members, and all the participants. After the retreat, each of the German
members stayed with a host family and had fellowship at the church, then
participated in a study tour of Hiroshima and Kyoto together. Hopefully,
they had an opportunity to think about the peace of God, especially while
they were visiting Hiroshima.
Although the participants might have had various impressions, we have
expanded the horizon of our own views through this exchange program. With
the increasing globalization of our world recently, we share common
problems, such as environmental issues, on a global scale. By participating
in this program, we have come to realize that we have great possibilities
for our common future, despite the problems mentioned above. It is our wish
that hope and koinonia will be fostered by this program. We sincerely
express our gratitude to God, who made this program possible; to those who
worked on our behalf, to those who helped us through earnest prayers and
generous offerings; and to Jesus Christ, who makes us respect our
differences and unites us all into one Church.
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? Abe Rintaro and Hamada Makito, seminarians
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? Tokyo Union Theological Seminary