【December 2017 No.395】Naito Tomeyuki: A Send-off to Heaven

Naito Tomeyuki was born in Yokosuka (Kanagawa Prefecture) in 1929. After attending a naval academy, he went on to study philosophy at Gakushuin University. Following graduation from Tokyo Union Theological Seminary in 1958, he became the pastor at Kochi Church (Kochi) then at Zentsuji Church (Kagawa), Banzancho Church (Okayama), Kanazawa Church (Ishikawa), Nogatamachi Church (Tokyo), and Takaido Church (Tokyo). He was general secretary of the Kyodan from 2007 until 2012. During that time, he also served as acting pastor at various churches. He passed away at age 87 on June 30, 2017.

 

A DAUGHTER’S MEMORIES

by Tsunakawa Megumi, Rev. Naito’s oldest daughter Member, Kyodokita Church, Tokyo

As a small child, I really loved my father because he was so sweet. He was always busy in his study, so having meals together with him was a special time. Before eating, we would all recite together the “scripture of the month” that he had selected. I remember such scriptures as “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for that is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (I Thess. 5:16-18) After all these years, I still remember such scriptures, which have now become a spiritual support for us.

 

My father didn’t drink or smoke; he didn’t even drive a car. The only TV channel he watched was NHK, the national public television station.* I remember him playing “ping-pong baseball” with my brother in the yard sometimes, but that’s about the only special amusement I remember as a child. My father’s interest was his work; ministry was his life.

 

In their later years, my parents and I lived in the same apartment building, although on different floors. I helped care for my mother, who was beginning to experience dementia, and through this I had more opportunity for time with my father. He and I shared this pain and distress together and experienced the added bond of comrades who were sharing a common mission.

 

Several years ago my father was diagnosed with cancer, but the cancer was not aggressive, so tranquil days continued. During that time, he began writing for Shinto no Tomo (Believers’ Friend), and I believe that was a great joy for him. Because he wrote of his own sickness and my mother’s care, many readers responded. There was a response from someone whom he had baptized many years earlier, and some people visited him from far away. I believe this was a saving grace for him in the midst of his battle with cancer.

 

About two weeks before my father died, he began to receive medical care at home. He would ask the doctors and nurses for their names and try to remember them. His pastoral care began with remembering people’s names, and I felt that he continued that care to the very last.

 

A CHURCH MEMBER’S MEMORIES

by Yachie Junko, member Kanazawa Church, Ishikawa Prefecture

Just a few weeks before his death, Rev. Naito said to me in a telephone conversation, “Ms. Junko, pray for me.” After saying that, he hung up, and those were his last words to me.

Rev. Naito came to serve at Kanazawa Church when he was 41 years old. My husband was drawn to the church, and when he was a university freshman he was baptized. Our wedding followed, and then the infant baptism of our two children. Our family was nurtured in the fellowship of the church and the counsel of Rev. Naito.

 

Right after coming to our church, Rev. Naito spoke of the importance of laity training and planned a seminar for laity. The first seminar was entitled “Principles of a Life of Faith.” With his husky voice and smiling face, he spoke to us individually and often wrote cards and letters, urging us to attend worship and various meetings of the church. He visited church members so often that his wife Michiko commented that he would wear out a pair of shoes in just a few months. In comforting us, in his sermons, and in his prayers, we would often hear, “It is written in the Bible,” followed by appropriate scripture.

 

However, there were times before his sermons when we could glimpse his own distress. “Lord, you know that in my prayers I have fervently asked you to speak through me.” That is the image of him that really stays with me. Rev. Naito was known for his memory and ability to remember names. But added to this God-given talent was his love for each individual, concern for each family, and constant prayer that made it all possible.

 

What I learned from Rev. Naito was to trust the Lord from my heart, to never give up, to persevere, and to pray fervently. As one who showed great concern for the future of the church, this is the message that he leaves for all of us. In spite of his own weaknesses, he continued to pray and serve as a messenger of the Gospel. I can hear Rev. Naito, with his voice raised saying, “Let us pray!” (Tr. JS)

—From Shinto no Tomo (Believers’ Friend), October 2017 issue Summarized by KNL Editor Kawakami Yoshiko

 

*NHK, Nippon Hoso Kyokai (Japan Broadcasting Corporation), is Japan’s only public broadcasting corporation. As a public broadcaster, it is funded by fees received from TV viewers,

“内 藤留幸牧師る       内藤留幸

929年神奈川県横須賀市にて誕生。海軍兵学校を経て、学習院大学にて哲学を修める。1958年に東京神学大学卒業後、高知教会、善通寺伝道所(香川)、蕃山町教会(岡山)、金沢教会 (石川)、野方町教会(東京)、高井戸教会(東京)にて牧会。2007年より2012年まで、日本 基督教団総幹事。多くの教会の代務もつとめた。2017年6月30日87歳で召天。

 

綱 川めぐみ  つなか わ めぐみ   内藤留 幸氏長女、東京・経堂北教会員

小さいころ、私は優しい 父が大好きでした。一日中書斎で仕事をして いる人でしたので、父と一緒の食事の時間などはうれしい時間でした。食事の前には、父の選んだ「その月の聖句」をみんなで暗唱しまし た。「いつも喜んでいなさい。絶えず祈りなさい。すべての事について、感謝しなさい」(Ⅰテサロニケ5・16~18 口語訳)など、その時覚えた聖句のいくつかは、何十年も たった今でも自然に思い出されます。私たちの心の支えとなっています。

父は酒もたばこもやら ないし、車の運転もしない、テレビだってNHKを少しだけ。ときどき兄と庭でオリジナルルールのピンポン玉野球をやっていましたが、 娯楽はそれくらいしか思い出せません。父の趣味は仕事、つまり牧会だったのだと思います。

両親は晩年、私と同じマ ンションの違う階に住むことになりました。私は認知症の母の介護のサポートをするようになり、父との交流が再び増えました。介護の悩 みを共有する同志のような関係にもなれました。

数年前父はがんである ことがわかりましたが、がんはおとなしく、穏やかな日々が続きました。そんな中で『信徒の友』の原稿を書くようになったことは、父の 喜びであったと思います。自分の病気や母の介護のことを書いていたため、反響は大きいものでした。何十年も前に洗礼を授けた方から連 絡があったり、遠方からの訪問者があったりし、父にとっては闘病生活の中での救いであったように思います。

亡くなる2週間 ほど前、訪問診療・看護のサービスを受けることになりました。父は、医師や看 護師に名前を尋ねて覚えようとしていました。父の牧会は人の名前を覚えることから始まっていたことを思い、最後の最後まで牧師として 生きた父らしい対応だったと思っています。 Ω

谷内江潤子やち え じゅんこ 石川・金沢教会員

 天に召される数週間 前、「潤子さん、私のために祈ってね」。そうおっしゃって電話を切られたのが最後になりました。寂しさが日を追うごとに募ります。

内藤留幸先生が41歳で金沢にいらしたころ、教会に導かれた夫は大学 1年のときに受洗。そして結婚式、2人の子どもの幼児洗礼も含めて、私たち家族はずっと教会の交わりの中で内藤先生にお世話になりま した。

先生は着任後すぐ、信 徒の訓練が大切だと、信徒セミナーを計画されました。第1回は「信仰生活の原則」。ハスキーな声でにこやかに信徒一人一人に言葉をか け、また実にまめに手紙やはがきを書かれて、礼拝はもちろん、セミナーや総会、祈祷会への出席を促されました。また、美智子夫人が 「数カ月で靴がボロボロになるのよ」と嘆くほど、足しげく教会員を訪問されました。「聖書にはこう書いてあるよ」と、必ずふさわしい 聖書の箇所を選び、慰め、説かれ、祈られました。

しかし、時には説教を前にした先生の苦悩を垣間見 ることがありました。「主よ、お語りくださいって、ひたすら祈るんだけどねぇ……」。あの姿は忘れることができません。人の名前を覚 えることでは定評があった先生の優れた記憶力は、天性の才能に加えて、その人を愛して家族のことまでに想いを馳せ、いつも祈ってくだ さった故に違いありません。内藤留幸先生からいただいた大切な教え。それは主を心から信頼して、諦めず、忍耐して、熱心に祈ること。 これは最後まで日本の教会の行く末を心配し、弱さを抱えながらも祈り続け、どこまでも伝道者として走り抜いた先生の後ろ姿が示すメッ セージです。「祈りましょう!」 先生の大きな声が聞こえます。 (信徒の友10月号より。まとめ川上善子KNL編集委員長)