Kyodan Women's Federation Hosts Japan-Germany "Youth Mission 2008" Event

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