【June 2015 No.383】My First Time at a Missionary Conference

by Kawakami Yoshiko, pastor                                                                                             Okubo Church, Tokyo District                                                                                             Editor, KNL Editorial Committee

The Missionary Conference, organized by Kyodan once every two years, was held from Monday, March 22 to Thursday, March 26, 2015 at Kansai Seminar House in Kyoto. Including overseas guests, 62 persons attended the conference, of which 34 were active or retired missionaries in Japan. What was particularly notable about this conference was that the Kyodan invited representatives from the sending churches, and two came from the United Methodist Church, two from the Presbyterian Church in the USA, and three from the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan. The Kyodan also sent invitations to its districts within Japan, and representatives from six Kyodan districts participated. Presently, missionaries serving within the Kyodan are not only from Europe and America but also from Asia and Africa. English was the native language of less than 20 of the participants. As the common language of many participants was Japanese, this was the main language used during the first half of the schedule, with English, Chinese, and Korean translation provided.

 

The opening worship service, which began at 5 p.m., was led by the Reverend Bernard Timothy Appau from Ghana, who is sent to Asian Rural Institute from the All Africa Baptist Fellowship. His sermon was translated into Japanese, and we sang the hymns in both English and Japanese. The evening program began with “a cooperative game” in which an eight-person team formed a circle and took ropes that were tied together in the middle like the spokes of a wheel. While not being allowed to speak, each person had to manipulate his/her own rope to lift a common bar hanging down from the center and pick up blocks that had a slot for the bar to fit in. The object of the game was to lift one block onto another in the least amount of time in order to form a tower of blocks that did not fall over. The game was designed to have team members feel each other’s pulling actions and come together as one. After that, we separated into small groups to share our mission experiences, and I was thankful to have an opportunity in my group to get feedback concerning our KNL newsletters.

 

On the morning of the following day, Kyodan Moderator Ishibashi Hideo introduced something he had used in his own ministry: kyogen laughter. [Kyogen literally means “crazy talk” and is a theatrical form associated with Japanese Noh plays.] It involves an exaggerated laughter from the gut using one’s entire body. During his devotion, he had us all practice doing it, so it became a morning devotion that included lots of laughter.

At the first panel discussion in the morning, we listened to presentations on the theme of “expectations of each partner” from the perspectives of both the receiving and sending organizations. Representing the Kyodan was Ou District Moderator Ohara Muneo, while Swiss Baptist missionary Ruth Ester Waehrer and UMC Associate General Secretary for Missionary Services Judy Chung represented the perspectives of the missionaries and sending bodies respectively. Waehrer came to Japan as a missionary 40 years ago from Switzerland and became a Kyodan pastor. She is presently serving at Uozu Church in Toyama Prefecture. She said, “It is obvious that we need to work alongside the church in Japan.” In addition, she pointed out the work of a missionary needs to be within the context of a “rubber framework,” meaning that while it is important for a missionary to work within a framework connected to the local churches in the area, it is important that there also be considerable flexibility to work within when various issues arise.

 

In his presentation, Ohara gave the example of a missionary who had been called to serve as the pastor of a Japanese local church but was then recalled by his sending mission board rather suddenly. The local church had worked together with him to develop some new ministries but was left in the lurch when he had to return to his country. So naturally, Ohara said that he wondered what it meant to be “partners in mission” in such a situation. Nevertheless, he stressed his hope to truly be able to work together as partners.

 

In her presentation, Chung expressed her desire for the receiving body to state clearly what its needs are. She said that the role of the sending body is to meet those needs and to give a new perspective. She added that both sides need to work on building bridges between the receiving and sending bodies. All three presenters joined together to emphasize the following two points: namely, that (1) prior to a new missionary coming to Japan, he or she needs to do as much language study as possible and that (2) the sending side will be greatly helped in providing the best match when both sides clearly understand the mission activities that are acceptable to the receiving body. There was also some discussion about how best to hold and publicize events for Japanese missionaries going overseas to tell about their work.

 

During the afternoon, missionary Timothy Boyle led a group outing to visit various historical sites in Kyoto that testified to previous Christian influence in Japan, first from the “Assyrian Church of the East,” often called the “Nestorians,” who had come to Japan as early as the 7th century, and then later from the Jesuit mission of the 16th century. We saw several artifacts showing that Christian influence, particularly from the turbulent period of the early 17th century, when Christianity was banned and Christians severely persecuted. We paused at the monument to the “Kirishitan” (Christian) martyrs on the banks of the Kamo River, where we heard of their courage and offered prayers for peace and reconcilliation in today’s world.

 

On the final morning, PCT Evangelism Committee Chair Dr. Chuang Hau Sheng led the devotion, which was held in the Noh Theater adjacent to Kansai Seminar House. The unusual setting was enhanced by an early morning snow that covered the garden. This was followed by a panel discussion that included Commission on Ecumenical Ministries Chair Akiyama Toru, the Reverend Divan Suqluman, a missionary sent by the PCT to Hokkai District, and PCUSA World Mission’s Regional Liaison for East Asia Lim Choonsik. We discussed “the prospects of partnership” by deepening our solidarity through mutual mission agreements. Suqluman, a member of an indigenous tribe in Taiwan, explained how she took time to develop a sense of fellowship and trust among the Ainu people in Hokkaido. That afternoon, participants were able to join either a tea ceremony held in the traditional tea house on the grounds or listen to a lecture by Christian artist Watanabe Soichi on the various Christian art items on display at Kansai Seminar House.

 

Through these various programs, people of different backgrounds and languages were able to gather in the name of the Lord and use the language skills they had through either English or Japanese to open up to each other and encourage each other in their work. (Tr.KY)

 

宣教師 会議に初出席して。

教 団の、二年に一度の宣教師会議が、2015年3月22日 (月)~26日 (木)、京都市の関西セミナーハウス(Kansai Seminar House)に於い て開催された。参加者は、この会の為に来日した方々を含めて62名。今 回の特色は、宣教師の派遣元(海外教会)にも招待をし、合同メソジスト教会から2名、ア メリカ合衆国長老教会2名、台 湾基督長老教会3名の参 加を得たことである。国内では、各教区に案内を出し、6教区か らの代表が参加した。現在、宣教師方の出身地域は欧米、アジア、アフリカに拡がり、62名の 内、英語を母国語とする人は20名弱で あった。日本語が共通語となる方々もあり、日程前半は日本語をメイン言語とした。開会礼拝は午後5時から で、日英の歌詞で賛美歌を歌い、アジア学院のRev.APPAU,Bernard Timothy師(All Africa Baptist Fellowship) の英語の説教が、即、和訳された。夜の部は「協力ゲーム」から始まった。8人が輪 になり、無言で、互いに繋がったロープの端を操って、木製ブロックを拾って積む速さを競った。互いの力加減を感じ取りながら、心と動きを 合わせるゲームであった。その後、少人数に分かれ伝道経験を分かち合った。KNLの感想 を伺えたことは感謝であった。翌火曜の朝は、石橋秀雄・教団総会議長が、牧会経験の中で活用なさった、狂言の笑い方を紹介してくださっ た。全身を使いお腹から笑うことで、気持ちをほぐす。一同も実践し、笑いに満ちたディボーションとなった。午前中の第一回目のパネルディ スカッションは、「パートナーへの期待」として、宣教師を迎える側と、遣わされた側の意見を聞いた。教区を代表して邑原宗男・奥羽教区議 長、宣教師を代表してルツ・ウェーラー(Rev.WAHRER,Ruth Ester牧師 (魚津教会・Swiss Baptist)、 ジュディー・チャン(Rev.CHUNG,Judy)牧師 (合同メソジスト教会・世界宣教局副局長)の発題であった。ウェーラー牧師は、40年前にスイスから宣教師として来日。教団の牧師となられ、富山県・魚津教会で牧会をしておられる。「日本の教会に沿っ て働くのは当たり前」と仰り、その上で、宣教師の働きには「ゴム製の枠」が必要である、と指摘なさった。宣教師が、地域の教会と連携し、 ある程度の枠組みを設けた中で動くことが大事であるが、もしもぶつかったら柔軟性をもって受け止めることができる枠であって欲しい、と語 られた。邑原宗男・奥羽教区議長は「宣教師が牧師として着任なさり、地域や信徒方と馴染んできた頃に、派遣元からの急な帰国要請がなさ れ、築いたものが断ち切られることがある

と 一例をあげ、そのようなケースでは“Are We really partner?” と思う ことがあるが「我々はパートナーとしての歩みを続けて行きたい」と希望をこめて語られた。チャン牧師は、迎える側に対しては、”What the needs are?”(ニー ズを示して欲しい)と願われ、自分達の役割はそのニーズに応えることと、新しいperspectiveを与え ることであり、両側からの架け橋を作ることが大切だ、と語られた。今後へのアドバイスとしては三者から、来日する前に、①宣教師の側は出来るだけ日本語は学んできて欲しい、②迎える側が、どんな活動内容で受け入れてくれるのか具体的にわかってい ると、遣わされる側は助かる、という意見が出された。日本から海外に遣わされた宣教師の報告会開催とその告知方法についても提案があっ た。午後はティモシー・ボイル(Rev.BOYLE,Timothy)牧師の 案内で、京都市内に残る7世紀頃 の基督教(景教・ネストリウス派)と推定される痕跡と、16世紀戦 国時代のキリスト教の足跡に触れた。鴨川添いのキリシタン処刑の記念碑の前では、平和と和解を願って祈りを献げた。25日朝の ディボーションは台湾基督長老宣教委員長である荘孝盛牧師(Rev.Dr.CHUANG,Hau Sheng) PCTEvangelism Committee Chairが担当。時ならぬ雪に包まれた能楽堂が会場であった。午前中のパネラーは秋山徹世界宣教委員長、ディバン・スクルマン(Rev.SUQLUMAN,Divan)牧師 (台湾基督長老教会から北海教区へ派遣)、チューン・リム牧師、(Rev.LIM,Choonsik)PCUSA World Mission’s regional liaison for East Asiaアメリカ合衆国長老教会アジア担当幹事。「パートナーへの展望」として、宣教協約に基づく連携がさらに深められること を期待して語り合った。スクルマン牧師が、少数民族出身者として、時をかけて深められたアイヌ民族との交流も伺った。午後は茶室での茶事 とキリスト教画家の渡辺総一氏による講演が持たれた。幾つものプログラムを通して、複数の異なる母語を持つ人々が、主の名によって集い、 各自のスキルに応じた日本語や英語を媒介に、打ち解け、励まし合う時となった。

川 上善子 KNL編集長