【October 2016 No.389】2 Missionaries Key in Okinawa Christian Institute’s Founding

In 1957, 12 years after the battle of Okinawa, the Okinawa Christian Institute (present-day Okinawa Christian Junior College and Okinawa Christian University) was born out of the desire of Christians in Okinawa who had experienced the misery of war to nurture a new generation of young people who would take on the task of building a peaceful island. It was the second university to be established in Okinawa, following the University of the Ryukyus. Its founding was not initiated by overseas mission boards. However, it could probably never have been established without the tireless efforts of two missionaries from the United States who gave themselves fully to this project: Walter W. Krider from the Methodist Church and Maeda Itoko from the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). The first President, the Reverend Nakazato Chosho, provided the necessary spiritual guidance for the Institute, but it was the financial assistance of missionary Krider and the curriculum skills of missionary Maeda that helped to get things started.

 

Krider received his MA degree from Boston University Graduate School of Theology in 1920 and came to Japan the following year. He was involved in mission work in Tokyo until l922 and in Nagasaki until 1935. He returned to the U.S. and became quite rich as a lumber merchant but returned to Japan in 1955 to continue his mission work in Okinawa. He contributed generously to mission work in Okinawa and to the establishment and maintenance of Okinawa Christian Institute until 1960. His financial assistance was outstanding.

 

Okinawa Christian Institute began in Shuri Church, which was then within the Okinawa Kyodan, but was later able to put up a new building in a corner of Shuri Castle Park. (It has since moved to the town of Nishihara.) In order to erect the new building, Krider donated US$10,000 that he had made as a lumber merchant. The church in Okinawa did not have adequate financial resources to build the school at the time, but Krider also worked through the Interboard Committee to call upon churches in the U.S. to contribute to building the new school. As a result, the Methodist Church, the Disciples of Christ, and The Evangelical and Reformed Church each contributed $10,000 for a total of $30,000. After returning to the U.S., Krider died in 1965.

 

Missionary Maeda Itoko became a missionary to Japan but was actually a Japanese person born in Tokyo in 1918. She grew up in a house with a strong Buddhist atmosphere but became a Christian and felt a call to ministry while attending Seigakuin College in Tokyo, under the influence of Jessie Trout. Following graduation, she became a teacher at Seigakuin and Keisen Jogakuen Senior High School, after which she went to the U.S. and studied at College of the Bible of Eastern Mennonite College. After completing her studies, she was recognized as a missionary by the American Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and sent to Okinawa in 1956, where she engaged in mission work that included endeavoring to bring about the establishment of Okinawa Christian Institute. She worked hard to create a course of study that would compare with the high level of education she had experienced at Seigakuin. She designed the curriculum and helped to choose the staff. Her contribution was formidable. Outside of class, she was equally dedicated, making comments to students concerning their manners, behavior, and language and even accompanying them to their job interviews. Sometimes she smiled, and sometimes she scolded. This happened so often that they dubbed her “the scolder who also smiles.” But her students admit it was both her affection and her severity that enabled them to grow. She also directed her enthusiasm towards preaching in and leading women’s groups in the church. After leaving Okinawa, she was sent to Brazil and passed away in the U.S. in 2007.

 

Along with remembering the contributions of both Krider and Maeda, we are reminded of their relationship to the U.S. military bases in Okinawa. During the 1950s and 1960s, while they both were active in Okinawa, land was being expropriated and bases were expanding. Two of their former students accused them of depending too heavily on the U.S. military bases. In order to maintain the school buildings and raise money for scholarships, it is said that they took students with them to military bases and visited the chapels to ask for donations. Christian education and the relationship between mission and the military bases is one that came into question from this early time and continues to be questioned today. (Tr. RW)

—Dean Kim Young-Soo  Office of Chaplaincy

沖縄キリスト教学院の創設と二人の宣教師

 

1957年、沖縄戦から12年を経て沖縄キリスト教学院(沖縄キリスト教短期大学・沖縄キリスト教学院 大学)は、戦争の悲惨さを体験した沖縄キリスト者達の、平和な島を作る担い手を輩出したいという願いから誕生した。沖縄では琉球大学 に次いで二番目に創設された大学である。いわゆる外国ミッションボードによって建てられた大学ではない。しかし、その創設の為に尽力 した二人の宣教師なくして、この学院の誕生は難しかったであろう。一人はウオルター W.クライダー(Walter W. Krider)宣教師(米国メソジスト教会派遣)、一人は前田伊都子宣教師(米ディサイプルチャーチ派遣)である。初 代理事長・学長の仲里朝章牧師が学院の精神的な指導者であったが、クライダー宣教師は財政面を支え、前田宣教師は教務を担当する形で 学院は出発することができた。

 

クライダー宣教師は、1920年ボストン大学神学大学院でM.Aを取得、翌年来日した。東京には22年まで、長崎で35年まで宣教活動をおこなった。一時帰国し材木商として財を成したが、1955年に沖縄で宣教師としての活動を再開する。1960年まで沖縄の伝道と沖縄キリスト教学院の設立・維持の為に多大な貢献をした。特に経済的な面で際立っている。沖縄キリスト教学院は、設立当初沖縄キリスト教団(現日本基督教団)首里教会の会堂を校舎としたが、その後、首里城公園の一角に新校舎を建設した。(現在は西原町に移転)その校舎建設のために、クライダー宣教師は材木商として貯めて来た一万ドルを捧げたのであった。当時の沖縄キリスト教団の経済力では、学校を創設することは不可能であったが、クライダー宣教師はIBC(Inter Board Committee:内外協力会)を通じてアメリカの諸教会に新校舎建設の為の献金を呼びかけた。その結果、メソジスト教会(The Methodist church)、ディサイプル教会(Disciple of Christ)、福音改革派教会(The Evangelical and Reformed Church)

 

の三教会から1万ドルづつ、計3万ドルの援助を受けることができた。師は帰国後、1965年に永眠した。

 

前田伊都子宣教師は、1918年東京生まれの日本人であった。仏教色の濃い家庭に育ったが、東京の聖学 院でキリスト者となり、恩師のジェッシー・トラウト(Jessie Trout)の感化をうけて献身する。卒業後、聖学院と恵泉女学園で教鞭をとった後に渡米しEastern Mennonite CollegeのCollege of the Bibleで修学した後、米ディサイプル教会の宣教師に任命されたのである。1956年に沖縄に派遣され、伝道と共 に沖縄キリスト教学院設立の仕事に従事することになる。自身が聖学院で受けた高度な教育を学生達に提供するために奮闘した。カリキュ ラムの作成、教育を担当する教員の雇用等、その教育的功績は大きい。教室以外でも、学生達の行儀や立ち振る舞い、エチケットや言葉遣 いにいたるまで気を配り、就職の面接試験にも同行する程熱心であった。学生達は「ニコガミ先生」と呼んだ。ニコニコしながらもガミガ ミと叱るということであろう。学生達はその愛と厳しさで成長したという。その他、教会説教、婦人会の指導に情熱を傾けた。沖縄宣教の 後、ブラジルにも派遣され2007年に米国で永眠した。

 

クライダー、前田、両宣教師の大きな教育的功績と共に考えさせられるのは、米軍基地との関係である。彼 らが活動した50年・60年代は、土地収奪と基地拡張の時代でもあった。当時の教え子達から、二人が「米軍のベース(基地)に寄りか かっていた」と指摘の声もある。学校整備や学生達への奨学金についても、学生達を米軍のチャペルに連れて行って献金を要請することも あったという。キリスト教教育・宣教と基地の関係の問題は、その時代から沖縄で問われ続けている。

(宗教部長 キム ヨンス金 永秀)