【June 2017 No.393】Let Us Testify to the Good News through our Lives

by Otomo Satoshi, pastor, Nakamuracho Church, Tokyo

                                                                                     Professor, Tokyo Union Theological Seminary

My hometown is Kuroishi in Aomori Prefecture. Some 140 years ago, in 1878, three students from Toogijuku School, which had just been established in Hirosaki, came to Kuroishi and boldly began Christian evangelism. That was the beginning of Kyodan Kuroishi Church. One anecdote from that time is found in a book written in 1880 by an English traveler named Isabella Lucy Bird entitled, Unbeaten Tracks in Japan (published by Kodansha). She said that while she was staying in Kuroishi, these three young men from the former samurai class arrived and enthusiastically told her in broken English that they were there to communicate the Gospel to the people of Kuroishi. Thus, during this time of great upheaval in Japanese society soon after the Meiji Restoration,, a U.S. missionary had gone to the far north snow country of Aomori and made known the Gospel of Christ. These young men, who had gladly received the message, then were baptized and soon went out on their own to evangelize the surrounding areas, and Kuroishi Church was born.

It was in that small church that my faith was nurtured. I became a pastor and am now taking on the responsibility of raising the next generation of evangelists. The question I also ask myself is whether I have been able to inherit the evangelistic passion of those young men of long ago.

Isabella Bird was the daughter of an Anglican Church vicar, and when she traveled to Japan in the early Meiji Era, she wrote this concerning the few Japanese Christians that existed then: “These converts to the Christian faith were not simply converts, they were evangelists of high moral character, and in that there is great hope for the future of Japan.” However, she also warned that while the Japanese were adopting Western civilization at a prodigious rate, they were also resistant to Christianity, and their society and politics were in danger of moral decline due to materialism. She stressed the importance of communicating the gospel to the Japanese, expressing her hope that all Japanese who received baptism would themselves become evangelistic in their proclamation of the gospel. She concluded that hope for the future of Japan really lies in that. This message really speaks to us today as well.

It has been over 150 years since Protestant evangelism began in Japan, and yet the Christian population of Japan has not reached even one percent. While the numerous mission schools in Japan have had a positive effect, the total number of baptized Christians who attend worship services is still less than one million. Moreover, it has even been gradually declining in recent years. This decline is most apparent in rural churches. While evangelists are certainly necessary to revive the church, more important is the work of the laity. There are some types of evangelism that only lay people can do—namely, living a life that “releases the fragrance of Christ.”

One laywoman who is a pediatric doctor in a rural town has a box of Gideon Bibles in the waiting room of her clinic, with a sign on it saying, “Take as many copies as you want.” Worried mothers who bring their sick children to the doctor and are encouraged by her kindness often take a Bible back home with them. Some of them are moved by the words they read and think they would like to visit the church this doctor attends, so they bring their children with them. Some of those have then been baptized and become active members of that church.

Another laywoman married a Japanese man who was very much against her becoming active in church, even forbidding her to attend services. So on Sunday mornings, she would sit in the corner of the living room reading her Bible and, with tears in her eyes, softly singing hymns. Their three children grew up, watching their mother do this each Sunday. They saw their beloved mother treasuring this so much that they went to church themselves, and this eventually led to all three being baptized, which in turn led to their father changing. He also eventually was led to Christ and became a baptized Christian.

Last year, I experienced a totally unexpected stroke. Being faced with the possibility that my life would soon be over, I was forced to think seriously about what I should do with the rest of my life. I told of my experience in an article in a certain magazine, where I mused, “If I only have a short time left in life, I would want to use that time for the Lord and not myself. I would want to use it for evangelism, and I wonder if others think the same way.” As a result of that article, one pastor’s wife was encouraged to enroll in Tokyo Union Theological Seminary.

If each layperson would get involved in the kinds of evangelism they can do, we would see a revival of the Japanese church. I want to communicate the Gospel message and to do that as a joint project with all of you as we think together about what each of us can do.

 —Shinto no Tomo (Believers’ Friend), Feb. 2017 issue

             Summarized by KNL Editor Kawakami Yoshiko

(Tr. TB)

生き方を通して福音を証ししよう

小友 聡 お とも さとし/ 東京・中村町教会牧師、東京神学大学教授

私の出身は青森県の黒石です。今から140年前の1878(明 治11)年、弘前に設立されたばかりの東奥義塾の学生3 人が黒石にやって来て、果敢にキリスト教の伝道を開始しました。このとき生まれたのが、現在の日本基督教団黒石教会です。設立時の逸 話をイザベラ・バードIsabella Lucy Birdと いうイギリス人女性旅行家が『日本紀行』(Unbeaten Tracks in Japan1880年) の中に書いています。黒石滞在中の彼女をサムライ出身の若者たちが訪ねてきて、片言の英語で「黒石の人たちに福音を伝えたいのだ」と 熱っぽく語った、と。本州最北の雪深い地で、国家も社会も大きく変動した維新直後の混乱期に、米国宣教師から知らされたキリストの福 音を真っ先に信じ、洗礼を受けるやすぐさま伝道を開始した若者たちが、夢中になって伝道し教会を創りました。

私はこの小さな教会で信仰を育まれ、牧師となって、現在は伝道者を養成する務めをも任されています。自らに問うの は、あの若者たちの伝道へのエートス(情熱)が果たして今の私の中に継承されているだろうか、ということです。

バードはイギリス国教会の牧師の娘でした。彼女は明治初期の日本 を旅し、当時まだわずかの日本人キリスト者たちについて、こう書いています。「真の改宗者はそのひとりひとりが単なる改宗者ではな く、伝道師であり、また高い道徳観の中心であり、そこに日本の将来に対する大きな希望があるのです」(『イザベラ・バードの日本紀 行』講談社学術文庫Kodansha Gakujutsu Bunko)。 日本がものすごい勢いで西洋文明を取り入れているが、キリスト教を拒み、社会も政治も物質主義で道徳的にゆがんで先が危ういと警告し ています。日本人に福音を伝える必要を訴え、洗礼を受ける日本人が皆伝道師となって、キリストの福音を伝えてほしい。そこに日本の将 来の大きな希望がある、と。現在の私たちにも伝わるメッセージだとしみじみ思います。

日本のプロテスタント伝道が始まって150年たちましたが、キリスト教人口はいまだ1%に届いていません。キリスト教主義学校の数ではある程度の伝道の成果はあったとはいえ、教会で洗礼を受け、礼拝に 集うキリスト者は100万人に届きません。それどころか徐々に減少してい ます。減少は地方の教会において顕著です。教会を復興する伝道者が必要ですが、むしろ信徒の皆さんの働きが必要になります。信徒にしかできない伝道があ ります。それは生き方において、キリストの香りを放つという伝道です。

ある地方教会で、小児科医院の女医さんが待合室に国際ギデオン協 会の新約聖書をたくさん置き、「ご自由にどうぞ」と張り紙をしました。子どもを連れ、不安を抱えて診察を待つ母親たちが、医師の優し さと親切な態度に触れ、ほっとして聖書をもらって帰ります。その中から聖書を読んで心を動かされ、やがて「あのお医者さんが通ってい る教会に行ってみよう」と子どもを連れて教会にやって来る人がいるのです。また、ある女性は結婚後、教会に行くことを夫から厳しく禁 じられ、日曜日の朝、居間の片隅で涙をこぼしながら1人で聖書を開き、かぼそい声で讃美歌を歌いました。3人の子どもたちは母親の日曜日の姿を見て育ちました。そして優しい 母親が命がけで大切にしているものに気づかされ、3人とも教会に通って受洗、夫もやがて教会に導かれて洗礼を受けまし た。

昨年私はまったく予期せず脳梗塞の発作に襲われました。人生の終 わりを突然突き付けられ、残った時間を何に捧げるべきかを朦朧とした中で真剣に考えました。そして「もし残された時間がわずかしかないならば、その時間を自分のためではなく、主 のために、伝道のために使わせていただきたい。このように考え、献身する人はいないでしょうか。」とある機関誌に記した呼びかけ に応えて、東京神学大学に編入学した牧師夫人がおります。

信徒の皆さんが、それぞれできる仕方で 伝道を担ってくだされば、日本の教会は復興できるのではないでしょうか。福音を伝えたい!この、やむにやまれぬ思いを皆さんと共有し、何ができる かを一緒に考えてみたいと思います。(信徒の友2017年2月号より川上善子KNL編 集委員長要約)

【June 2017 No.393】Our lives will end someday. What must we do before then?

by Takiyama Kiyomi, pastor, Takanosu Church, Akita Prefecture, Ou District                                                    Director, Kodomoen Shalom, Certified Nursery School and Kindergarten

My father used to declare, “I want to be working as a pastor until the day I die.” Ironically, just as he had said, he finished his earthly journey when he was 58 years old as the head pastor of Fukushima Shinmachi Church. My father was a happy-go-lucky kind of fellow who really loved children and liked to talk with people but did not like going to the doctor. He was so happy the day of my graduation from college, but that very night a stroke caused by arrhythmia took him away to heaven. It was just four days before Easter.

On that Easter Sunday my mother, the assistant pastor, gave the message instead of my father, who had almost always preached the sermons. Before that day, I had seen my mother stand at the pulpit only a few times. I do not remember the content of the message, but I will never forget the sight of my mother, illuminated by the light coming from the crystal glass of the chapel, looking straight ahead while speaking.

My parents were the kind of people who got really excited every Sunday. My mother used to get up especially early on Sunday mornings and sing hymns. I generally hid under the covers, but as her voice gradually got closer, I would jump out of bed. For me, the hymns that my mother sang were not a lullaby, but an alarm clock. My father had a habit of saying, “The job of a pastor is the best job!” He was the kind of person who, whenever he was asked about his sermon, would not stop talking.

I do not remember ever being told that I should become a pastor, but at some point I began to feel, “It is unnatural for me to live life as something other than a pastor.” I had been thinking, “Someday I will dedicate my life. Until then, I will do what I like.” But when I lost my father, I made up my mind and said, “Now is the time!” Right away, I got an application form and headed to an interview with a committee from Tohoku District in order to apply for the “C-course” examination.* The answer of the committee members was, “You are too young. But if you go to seminary, we will give you a recommendation. You need to study.” When I think about it now, all I can do is just blush. But at that time, I was ignorant of the fact that I did not know anything at all. Angrily, I headed for home.

I could not endure leaving my home in Fukushima, so I procrastinated about going to seminary and got a job at a nearby juku (cram school). Work was enjoyable, and every day was comfortable. But somewhere in my heart there was a sense of impatience. I thought, “I should not be doing this.” However, I could not break away from what I was doing. I kept saying to myself, “One more year,” until six years passed.

Then the East Japan Disaster happened. March 11, 2011 was supposed to be a normal day without anything unusual happening. It started out no different from usual. I left home, cleaned my workplace, and began to prepare for my lessons. At 2:46 p.m. as the ground shook violently, everything changed. It was announced that everyone should return home, so I went home and found my mother cleaning the church sanctuary. But our house was a mess! My mother was worried and said, “I wonder if we can hold the worship service this Sunday.” I looked at her, dumbfounded, and thought, “She really thinks of nothing else but church.” After my father had passed away suddenly, she was worried about the worship service even as she was crying. And now, even during the Great East Japan Disaster,  she was more worried about the worship service than about our own home, even though we had just had a sudden earthquake. Watching my mother, I saw that she had a divine and unwavering calling to be a pastor.

Every day, in the newspaper and on television, there were reports about the people who had died. I heard the names of people who were younger than I was. I am sure that each person had been spending that day no differently from any other day. However, days that are no different from other days do not last forever. Life in this body is going to come to an end someday. That “someday” will surely come, and it will come suddenly. As I faced the reality of so many deaths and became conscious of my own mortality, I started to think about what I wanted to do before I die. At the time of death, what would I be thinking? As I considered that, the answer was very clear to me. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you.” (Jer. 1:5)

Five months have now passed since I graduated from seminary and was called to Takanosu Church. As the church had been without a pastor for three years, I was appointed right away. My first Sunday in the pulpit was March 27, which strangely enough was Easter Sunday, and I recalled the sight of my mother, standing at the pulpit. This church is just a small group of seven church members, but they support me, a novice evangelist, both physically and spiritually. They are patient and polite with me, so I am getting along fine. Also Kodomoen Shalom, a church-related center for early childhood education and care, has welcomed me warmly as its director. I am really grateful. I think that I am protected like this due to much prayer behind the scenes.

“But by the grace of God, I am what I am.” (I Cor. 15:10) The Lord is with me, so I will keep trusting in the Lord. I will endeavor to do my daily work, which has been given to me today. (Tr. KT)

—From Shinto no Tomo (Believers’ Friend), October 2016 issue

*Without attending a seminary or theological school. C-course candidates are required to pass all of the exams within a certain number of years after beginning the program.

p7

 

神に呼 ばれて:いつか終わる生涯ー自分のやることは何か

瀧山喜与実 秋田・鷹巣教会伝道師、幼保連携型認定こども園 しゃろーむキリスト教主事

牧師であった父は、福島の教会で現役のまま58歳で急 逝しました。副牧師の母は、4日後のイースターには講壇に立ちました。東日本大震災のときも、母は自宅のことよりも礼拝の心配をしまし た。たくさんの死を前に、私は自分が死ぬ前にやりたいことは何かを考えました。

この体にはいつか終わりが訪れます。

「生涯現役牧師」(死ぬまで牧師でいたい)と宣言していた父は、皮肉にもその言葉どおり、福島新町教会の 主任牧師であった58歳のときに、地上の歩みを終えました。おっちょこちょいで、子煩悩で、人と話すのが大好きで、病院が大嫌 いな、子どものような人でした。私の大学卒業を殊のほか喜んでいた父は、その日の夕方、不整脈による発作で天に召されました。4日後 にはイースターを控えており、急逝した父に代わって副牧師の母が講壇に立ちました。副牧師といっても、説教をするのはもっぱら父で あったため、私はそれまで母が講壇に立つのを片手で足りるくらいの回数しか見たことがありませんでした。メッセージの内容は覚えてい ませんが、礼拝堂のダイヤガラスからこぼれる光を浴びながら、まっすぐ前を見て語った母の姿が目に焼き付いています。

私の両親は日曜日になると張り切る夫婦でした。母は、日曜は特に朝早くから賛美歌を 歌っていました。布団に潜っていると、だんだんその声が近くなってくるので飛び起きたものです。私にとって母の歌う賛美歌は、子守歌 ではなく目覚ましでした。父は「牧師は最高の仕事だ」が口癖で、説教について尋ねると話が止まらなくなる人でした。

「牧師になるように」と言われた覚えはありませんが、私はいつのころからか「牧師以外 の人生は自分にとって不自然なこと」と感じるようになりました。「いつかは献身しよう。それまで好きなことをしよう」と思っていた私 は、父を亡くし「今がその時」と決心しました。早速願書を取り寄せ、*Cコース受験をすべく東北教区 の面接に向かいました。委員の方々の答えは「君はまだ若い。神学校に行くなら推薦する。勉強しなさい」でした。思い出すと赤面するば かりですが、何もわかっていないことすらわかっていなかった当時の私は、ぷりぷりと怒りながら家路に着きました。

福島の家を離れるのは忍びなく、私は神学校に行くのを先延ばしにして近所の塾に就職し ました。仕事は楽しく、穏やかな毎日でしたが、心のどこかで「こんなことをしている場合ではない」という焦りがありました。それでも 思い切ることができず、「あと1年」を繰り返し、6年が経ちました。

そして、東日本大震災が起こりました。

3月11日は何の変哲もない1日のはずでした。いつもと変わ らずに家を出て、いつもと変わらずに職場の掃除をし、いつもと変わらずに授業の準備を始めた午後2時46分、大きな揺れと共に全てが変わりました。帰宅指示が出て家に帰ると、母は礼拝堂の掃除をしていました。 自宅はめちゃくちゃなままでした。「日曜は礼拝できるかしら」と案じる母を見て、「この人は本当にそれしかないのだ」とあぜん唖然としました。父が急逝した 後、泣きながらも礼拝の心配をし、突然の地震の後も礼拝の心配をしている母の姿に、ぶれない牧師の召命を見ました。

新聞やニュースでは、亡くなられた方の報道が連日なされました。自分より若くして亡く なった方々の名前をなぞりながら、私は強烈に自分の死を意識しました。どの人も、いつもと変わらない1日を過ごしていたはずです。しかし、いつもと変わらない1日は、永遠に続くものではないのです。

この体にはいつか終わりが訪れます。「いつか」は必ずやってきます。それも突然に。自 分の死を意識する中で、私は死ぬ前にやりたいことを考えるようになりました。死ぬ間際に、自分の頭に浮かぶのはどんなことかと考えた とき、答えは明確でした。

「わたしはあなたを母の胎内に造る前から あなたを知っていた」(エレミヤ書1・5)

神学校を卒業し、鷹巣教会に派遣され、5カ月が たちました。鷹巣教会は3年間無牧だったので早めに赴任し、3月27日から講壇に立っています。3月27日は、奇しくもイースターで、講壇に立った母の姿が浮かんできました。教会員7名の小さな群れですが、新 米の伝道師を心身共に支えて、忍耐強く配慮をしてくださり、何とか過ごせています。教会の関連施設のこども園「しゃろーむ」でもキリ スト教主事として温かく迎え入れていただき、本当にありがたいです。こうして守られているのも、背後に多くの祈りがあることを思いま す。

「神の恵みによって今日のわたしがあるのです」(Ⅰコリン ト15・10)。共 におられる主に依り頼みつつ、与えられた今日1日の務めに励みたいと思います。 (信徒の友2016年 10月号)

【June 2017 No.393】Acting General Secretary’s Report: Strengthening Ties with Korean Churches in Korea and Japan

The work of the General Secretariat Office is quite varied, and one important function is its work in relating to church bodies outside the Kyodan. Our relationship with the “Group of Three” Korean Churches [The Presbyterian Church of Korea (PCK), The Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea (PROK), and The Korean Methodist Church (KMC)] together with the Korean Christian Church in Japan (KCCJ), is increasingly getting stronger.

The Kyodan had formulated a mutual mission agreement with the three Korean churches (PCK, PROK, and KMC) in 1992, but after 1999, we had not held a joint conference until 2016. Likewise, even though the Kyodan and the KCCJ established their mutual mission agreement in 1984, sufficient exchanges between clergy have not been developed. However, during 2014 and 2015, former General Secretary Nagasaki Tetsuo led the way in finally initiating substantive dialog on the subject of clergy exchanges. In addition to Nagasaki Tetsuo, Kyodan Secretary Kumoshikari Toshimi, Executive Secretary of General Affairs Dohke Norikazu, and Executive Secretary for Ecumenical Ministries Kato Makoto were selected to represent the Kyodan in the consultations, which first began with several meetings with the KCCJ. The conclusion of those initial consultations was that the three Korean churches should also be invited to participate in these consultations, so in 2016, formal discussions between the three Korean churches (PCK, PROK, and KMC) and the two Japan-based churches (Kyodan and KCCJ) began.

One topic of discussion is the two routes by which a clergy member of a different denomination can become a Kyodan pastor. One is to come in as a missionary sent by another church. Such a person is sent by the home church or denomination to work as a Kyodan clergyperson in a Kyodan church or related school or other institution. Another route is for such a clergy person to transfer his or her ordination to the Kyodan. The first route is handled by the Commission on Ecumenical Ministries, while the second goes through the Commission on Ministerial Qualifications. Recognition of missionary status is almost always done through documentation, but for the transfer of ministerial qualifications, the process involves the various regulations of the Kyodan Constitution and bylaws, together with interviews, and so on.

For overseas pastors working in Japan, there is another significant issue. When someone is sent from overseas as a missionary to Japan, documentation from the sending body is sufficient to obtain a religious worker’s visa. However, when it comes to the transfer of ministerial qualifications, it is much more difficult to get such a visa. Depending on the circumstances, it may be necessary to apply for a different kind of visa. It is to discuss these various issues that we are now continuing these dialogs between the two Japan-based churches and the three Korean churches.

I would also like to report on the “Minority Mission Center.” This new office is focused on the work of the KCCJ and was established at the Japan Christian Center on April 8, 2017 in the former office of the KCCJ and its general secretary. The impetus for establishing this center was the International Conference on Minority Issues and Mission held at the Korean YMCA in Japan, Nov. 18-21, 2015. Working under the slogan “Living Together under a Big Tent,” this conference initiated numerous efforts to deal with the problem of “hate speech” and other forms of discrimination faced by foreigners living in Japan—particularly Koreans in Japan.

The Kyodan is cooperating with this effort by sending one member to the Minority Mission Center Borard of Trustees

and two members to its Executive Committee. We pray that the grace of God will reign over the earth. (Tr. TB)

—Acting General Secretary Dohke Norikazu Executive Secretary of General Affairs

総幹事室より 道家紀一(総幹事事務取扱)

総幹事室の働きは多岐 にわたりますが、教団の外の教会(教派)や団体の働きに係るのも大切な務めです。最近は欧米の教会や団体以外との関係も多くなってい ます。とくに、韓国3教会(PCK PROK KMC)と在日大韓基督教会(KCCJ)との関係が密接になっています。

すでに、韓国3教会(PCK PROK KMC)とは1992年に宣教協約を結んでいますが、1999年以降2016年まで教会協議会を開催しておりませでした。在日大韓基督教会とは1984年 に宣教協約を締結しましたが、教師の交流については十分な関係が築けないでいました。2014年~15年にかけて、当時の総幹事長崎哲夫が中心となり、漸く、教師の交流につ いての協議が始まりました。長崎哲夫総幹事(当時)他、総会書記雲然俊美、総務幹事道家紀一、世界宣教幹事加藤誠が協議のために選出 され、先ずは在日大韓基督教会(KCCJ)と数回、協議をしました。その協議から、韓国の3教 会も含めた協議会を開催すべきとの意見が出て、2016年より、韓国3教会(PCK PROK KMC)と日本2教会(UCCJ KCCJ) とで教会協議会が始まりました。この協議は厳密にいえば、在日大韓基督教会(KCCJ)は陪席に位置づけられますが、日本2教会との教会協議会という形を とっています。

他の教会(教派)から 教団の教師になるのには、二つのルートがあります。一つは派遣宣教師です。本国(元の)教会(教派)から教団へ派遣されて、教団の教 師として、教会、伝道所、学校や施設で働く仕方です。もう一つは、本国(元の)教会(教派)から教団の教師となる転入審査を受けて教 団の教師になるルートです。前者は世界宣教委員会の宣教師人事委員会が扱います。後者は教師検定委員会が扱います。派遣宣教師の認定 は、書類審査で行われることがほとんどですが、転入審査は、教憲教規諸規則他、面接試験などがあります。 

また、別の問題として、日本で教師として働くためにビザの問題がありま す。派遣宣教師は本国の教会からの派遣状があれば、宗教ビザを取得できますが、転入した場合、宗教ビザを取得するには苦労します。場 合によっては、別のビザ申請に切り替える必要があります。

これらの問題を協議するため、韓国3教会(PCK PROK KMC)と日本2教会(UCCJ KCCJ)とは、今、協議を始め ています。

もう一つの事柄としては、「マイノリティー宣教センター」があります。 これは在日大韓基督教会(KCCJ)が中心となって、2017年4月8日に日本キリスト教会館5Fの一室(元在日大韓基督教会の事務室・総幹 事室)に設立されました。きっかけは2015年11月18日~21日に在日本韓国YMCAにて開催された「マイノリティー問題と宣教」国 際会議です。日本に住む外国人、とくに在日韓国人に対する様々な差別を撤廃し、ヘイトスピーチなどの問題と取り組み、「共生の天幕を ひろげよう」をスローガンに、多様な活動を始めました。

日本基督教団からも理事1名と運営委員2名を派遣して、協力していま す。神の愛と恵みが支配する世界を、この働きを通じて、共に祈っていきます。

【February 2017 No.391】Comment on the Incident of Multiple Knife Attacks at the Care Facility for Disabled Persons in Sagamihara by Yoshizawa Shin, chair Kyodan Committee on Social Concerns

On July 26, 2016, a knife attack incident took place in Sagamihara City in Kanagawa Prefecture at a residential care facility for persons with disabilities operated by the prefecture. An intruder with a knife entered the facility and attacked sleeping residents, one after another. Within a day it was confirmed that the perpetrator, who killed 19 people and injured 26, was a former employee. Of all the murder cases that have happened in Japan since the end of World War II, this one involved the largest number of victims. Acquaintances say the attacker had been repeating misguided and prejudiced statements that were based on eugenic thinking, and the media reported that he continued to make such statements even after his arrest. The incident has spread waves of sadness and distress to many people. The chair of the Kyodanfs Committee on Social Concerns issued a statement on this incident, as translated below. (KNL Editorial Committee)

 

———————————————————————————

 

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.

(Psalm 150:6)

Be fruitful and multiply… (Genesis 1:22)

 

All beings with life are born with God’s blessing, for it is within God’s blessing that all life is interconnected. Within the linkages between life and life, human beings can live. This is why we sing, “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.” A society that does not place life first will collapse. In a world where economy, not life, comes first, where life is disregarded, relationship is destroyed, human dignity is put at risk, and hatred and anger is spread to the world. Today the world is in the midst of such pain.

We have become completely accustomed to evaluating people according to scores, grades, and degrees of accomplishment. In this climate there is a danger that we will lose the ability to recognize life’s value. As human beings we are not in a position to decide who should be allowed to live and who should not.

 

The Bible teaches that every person is alive by the will of God, the Creator of all things in heaven and earth. If God chose to use God’s own abilities as the standard for judging us, none of us would be worthy of life before God. We are alive by God’s forgiveness and mercy. All people in this world are under God’s love, equally. People cannot be the judge of whether one lives or dies, including oneself.

 

God gives to each person a unique life. Within that unique life, everyone experiences times of joy, times of sadness, times of hardship. I believe God gives meaning to each of our lives.

In the very early hours of July 26, 2016, a multiple stabbing incident took place at Tsukui Yamayuri En, a welfare facility for persons with disabilities located in Sagamihara City in Kanagawa Prefecture. Within a day it was confirmed that 19 people had died, and a further 26 had suffered injuries of varying degrees.

The people who were attacked in this incident are victims of a society poisoned by an economy-first value system. It is a distressing incident that demands repentance from us, who have created such a society.

 

I pray from my heart for God’s deep comfort upon the people who suddenly lost a beloved family member and remain in deep sorrow and grief and also for God’s healing upon those who were injured.

One welfare caregiver who visited Tsukui Yamayuri En to lay flowers said, with teary eyes, “It’s regrettable that something so terrible happened at a facility with such a cheerful atmosphere. We interact with them not as ‘disabled,’ but as people.” This tragedy, which turned a cheerful facility into a picture of hell and produced many victims, has caused shock not just in Japan but also around the world.

Let us pray together for the families of victims, who are still in deep shock and pain, and for the staff and other persons associated with Tsukui Yamayuri En.

 

I hope that all people may come to know correctly the God of Jesus Christ so that through this, they may know that every person is in God’s love, learn to love and pray for one another, and aim toward an inclusive society in which all people encourage each other as we walk together. (Tr. DM)

—Yoshizawa Shin, chair

Kyodan Committee on Social Concerns

August 9, 2016

2016年7月26日、神奈川県相模原市にある県立の障害者福祉施設で大量の殺人事件が起こった。刃物を持った侵入者が、次々に入居者達を 襲ったの である。元職員の犯行で、同日中に19人の死亡が確認され、26人が重軽傷を負った。 第二次世界大戦後の日本において発生した殺人事件の中で、犠牲者の数が最も多い事件となった。職員であった頃の犯人は、優 性思想に基づいた、誤ちと偏見のある発言を繰り返していたと言われ、逮捕されてからも同様のことを発言していると、 報道されている。 この事件は、多くの人々に悲しみと嘆きの波紋を投げかけた。教団社会委員会は、 以下のようにコメントを出した。(KNL編集部)

――――――――――――――――――――――

相模原障がい者施設殺傷事件に際して

2016年8月9日

日本基督教団社会委員会委員長 芳澤  信

「息あるものはこぞって主を賛美せよ。」(旧約聖書 詩編150篇6節)「産めよ、増えよ」 (旧約聖書 創世記1章22節)

 すべて命あるものは神の祝福の 中に生まれます。神の祝福の中 で「命はつながりにおいて生きる」ことができます。命と命の つながりの中で人間は生きることができます。それ故「息あるものはこぞって主を賛美せよ」と歌われます。 命が第一にされない社会は破綻します。命ではなく、経済が第 一にされ、命が軽んぜられる世界は、このつながりを破壊し、 人間の尊厳が冒され、憎しみと怒りが世界に広がります。今世 界はその痛みの中にあります。

私たちは普段、点数や成績や能力、その成果の大小などによっ て人 を評価することに慣れ切っています。そのような中でいつの間 にか人の命の価値が見えなくなる危険性があります。誰が生きていていいのかと、誰が生きていてはいけないのかということについてま で、人は決めることはできません。

聖書は、人は皆、天地万物を創造された神の御心によって生きていると言ってい ます。もし私たちが、自分の能力を基準にされて神から見られるとしたら、誰も神の前に生きることはできないでありま しょう。神の赦しと慈愛により私たちは生きています。世の全ての人が等しくその神の愛の 下にあります。人は、自分自身を含めて、命の可否について判断を下すことはできないのです。

神は一人ひとりに固有な命を与えておられます。誰もがその固 有な 命の中で、時には喜び、時には悲しみ、時には苦しむのです。 その一つひとつの命に、神は意味を与えておられると信じます。

2016年7月26日未明、神奈川県相模原市緑区 千木良にある障がい者福祉施設「津久井やまゆり 園」で、刃物による殺傷事件が発生いたしました。同日中に19人の死亡が確認され、26人 が重軽傷を負いました。

今回の事件は経済 優先社会の価値観に毒された社会の犠牲者であり、このような社会にしてしまった私たちの悔い改めが求められる痛ましい事 件です。

突然にして愛する ご家族を失い、大きな悲しみと嘆きの中にある方々に神の深い慰めを祈ると共に、けがを負われた方々の癒しを心よりお祈り いたします。

津久井やまゆり園 に献花におとずれたある介護福祉士は、「明るい雰囲気の施設がこんなことになって残念です。私たちは障がい者ではなく人 として接しているのに」と目に涙を浮かべて話しました。明る い雰囲気の施設が地獄図となり、多くの犠牲者を出した悲劇は、日本のみならず世界に衝撃を与えています。

癒しがたいい衝撃 の痛みの中にある犠牲者のご家族、津久井やまゆり園の職員関係者の方々のために祈りを合わせたい。

願わくは、全ての人々が主イエス・キリストの神を正しく知る こと によって、神の愛の中に一人ひとりが置かれていることを知 り、互いに愛し合い、祈り合い、励まし合いながら歩む共生社会を目 指したいと願います。

 

【April 2017 No.392】Districts Report on the Kumamoto-Oita and Tottori Earthquakes

. The Kumamoto-Oita Earthquake: Challenges for Kyushu District

Ten months have passed since the Kumamoto-Oita Earthquakes. (On Thursday, April 14, 2016 a destructive earthquake occurred.) The situation remains serious, but we in Kyushu District clearly feel the Lord’s hand amid the hardships. Our two main challenges are continuing support for disaster survivors in the region and providing aid to disaster-affected churches, congregations, and pastors.

   1. Support for Disaster Survivors in the Region

Kyushu District and the General Assembly of the Korean Christian Church in Japan (KCCJ) collaborated to establish the “Volunteer Center Elpis (“hope” in Greek) Kumamoto,” and our work there continues. At the time of establishment there were great numbers of disaster victims taking refuge in shelter facilities. We started up “Dream Café” within the shelter in Mifune-machi, which was being managed by the Kumamoto YMCA, and provided entertainment and a listening ear to the weary-hearted. Another popular activity offered by district pastors was a series of handcraft classes, some geared to children and others to adults. These activities continued until the shelter closed at the end of October.

On Dec. 14 we began to serve at the Minami-kinokura temporary housing complex (55 units). The trust we had built up in the preceding months has been a great help in this work. On Dec. 23 we held a Christmas gathering at this location. By request from the residents, the gathering featured a Christmas message by Elpis Director Kim Sung Hyo (pastor of KCCJ Kumamoto Church), a handbell concert by students from Fukuoka Futaba Senior High School, as well as a meal, sweets, and some cake to take home. Those who attended kindly said, “This wasn’t just like an ordinary party; it really moved our hearts.” We plan to continue to hold café events at several temporary housing complexes and, through these, we plan to provide a listening ear and support for daily living.

   2. Support for Disaster-Affected Churches

Fifteen district churches suffered structural damage from the series of earthquakes, and church members and pastors were also deeply impacted. As a district we provided early support of ¥200,000 to each church member whose home suffered damage, and we are taking steps to respond to the needs of our pastors, who have labored with such devotion from the very first days—for example, by making health maintenance programs available to them.

Regarding church buildings, we commissioned W. M. Vories & Company Architects Ichiryusha to assess damages. As a result we estimate the costs of repair and rebuilding will be ¥180 million.

It remains difficult to find a local building contractor who is available to perform the necessary repairs or to rebuild. The rainy season and several typhoons since the earthquakes have caused the cracks and distortions in walls to grow more pronounced. We pray earnestly for the earliest possible resolution of these issues.

For the above reasons, the Kyodan initiated and is now promoting the “Donation Campaign for the Support of Reconstruction of Churches and Other Buildings Impacted by the Kumamoto-Oita Earthquakes” (target amount: ¥180 million).

                  —Umesaki Koji, moderator, Kyushu District

*                                          *                                   *

II. The Tottori Earthquake in Higashi Chugoku District

On Friday, Oct. 21, 2016, at 14:07, a strong earthquake occurred, the epicenter of which was in central Tottori Prefecture. At Kurayoshi City, the tremor was measured at magnitude 6 on the seismic intensity scale.

The three Kyodan churches in Kurayoshi were all significantly damaged. Kurayoshi Church developed several visible cracks in its walls, but we believe the damage was not severe. Agei Church experienced damage in many spots, including the collapse and cracking of concrete sections of its exterior wall as well as falling plaster and cracking of the interior walls. We anticipate that much repair will be needed here.

In terms of structural damage, Kurayoshi Fukkatsu Church suffered the greatest impact. The church’s perimeter wall and announcement board both collapsed; window sashes fell from the second floor; the main entrance door was toppled; plaster fell from walls; the floor was skewed; and many of the building’s doors are now creaking due to structural distortions. Temporary repair has been done with plywood and blue vinyl sheets, but the damage appears to be too severe for repair and continued use. We have gathered council members of the three churches to discuss the future.

Destruction was not, of course, limited to church buildings. The homes of many members of these churches also suffered major damage. And just when we were finally returning to “normal” daily life, the region was hit by two heavy snowfalls in the new year. This caused water damage at Kurayoshi Fukkatsu Church, where the damaged roof had been a concern since the earthquake. At the sight of numerous roofs covered with blue-sheets while awaiting repair, one cannot help but feel the anxiety of many people.

Amid this situation, it was decided that the congregations of Kurayoshi Fukkatsu and Agei churches will hold joint Sunday services from April. There is still a mountain of challenges facing us, but we hope to move ahead steadily.

(Tr. DM)

 —Okuda Nozomu, pastor, Agei Church, Higashi Chugoku District

[From Kyodan Shinpo (The Kyodan Times).  Summarized by Kato Makoto, executive secretary.]

「熊本・大分地震」「鳥取地震」教区報告

「熊本・大分地震」から10箇月が経っ た。事態は尚、深刻だが、私共九州教区はこの苦難の中に、主の御手をはっきりと感じている。

九州教区の課題

課題は、地域の被災者 支援、被災教会・信徒・教職の救援、の2つである。

地域の被災者支援

九州教区と在日大韓基督教会総会が共同で「ボランティアセンター・エル ピス(Elpis)くまもと」を 設立し、この働きに当っている。発足時期が避難所に大勢の被災者が身を寄せつつある時だったので、熊本YMCAが管理する御 船町(

みふねまち)避難所でのカフェ開設「ドリームカフェ」による娯楽提供・傾 聴活動に取り組んだ。教区内教職による子ども・大人をそれぞれ対象とした工作教室も非常に好評で、活動は10月末の避難所 閉鎖まで忠実に続けられた。

仮設での奉仕は12月14日に南木倉 (みなみきのくら)仮設団地(55戸)から開始 したが、避難所で結んだ信頼関係が大きな助けとなっている。23日には同地で クリスマス会を開いた。住民の方々に請われて「エルピス」センター長の金聖孝(Kim Sung Hyo)牧 師(在日大韓熊本教会)がなしたクリスマス講話、来援の福岡雙葉学園(高校生によるハンドベル演奏に加え、食事や菓子、ケーキの贈り物もあり、「ただ騒ぐものとは違う、心に沁みる集まり だった」との感想をもらった。

今後も複数の団地でカフェ開設を軸に傾聴および生活支援活動を続けてゆ く予定である。

被災教会への支援

今次震災では15の教会がその 建物に被害を受け、信徒・教職もまた、その生活に大きな打撃を受けた。教区では、早期に信徒宅の被害1件当り20万円を支出 し、当初より献身的に働いて来られた牧師方には保養プログラムを提供する等の対応を進めている。

教会建物については「被災度区分判定」を一粒社ヴォーリズ建築事務所に依頼、その結果を基に補修・再建費用を1億8000万円と試算し た。

被災地では現在も尚、施工業者をつかまえることが難しい状況だが、壁の 亀裂も建物のひずみも震災以降の梅雨の大雨や台風の襲来を受けて、その傷の度合いを増している。一日も早い手当てをと願うや切なるも のがある。

このために教団が「熊本・大分地震被災教会会堂等再建支援募金」(目標 額1億8000万円)を呼び 掛けている。

(九州教区議長・梅崎浩二)

 

「鳥取地震」

2016年10月21日(金)14時7分、鳥取県中 部を震源とする地震が発生し、倉吉市内で震度6弱を観測し た。

倉吉市内にある教団に属する3教会もそれぞ れに大きな被害を受けた。倉吉教会は、建物の壁面に亀裂などが見られるが、大きな被害には至らなかったようだ。

上井教会は外壁コンクリート部分の剥落、亀裂、内壁の剥落、亀裂などが 多数あり、修理を要するものと考えられる。

教会建物に関して言えば、倉吉復活教 会の被害が一番深刻だった。外壁、掲示板の剥落、2階の窓のサッ シの落下、玄関扉の倒壊、壁のはがれや、床面のズレ、建物全体のゆがみによるものであろう扉のきしみなど多くの被害があった。現在は ベニヤ板、ブルーシートなどでの応急処置を終えているが、このまま修理して使い続けるということはかなり難しいだろうと考えている。3教会の役員が 集まって今後のことについて話し合う機会も持った。

もちろん建物だけではなく、連なる教会員の中にも大きな被害を受けた方 が多くいる。それぞれにどうにか日常を取り戻しつつあった矢先、今年に入って2度の大雪は、 かねてより屋根の傷みを指摘されていた倉吉復活教会でも雨漏り被害をもたらした。街中にまだまだ多くの残る未修理のブルーシート屋根 を見るにつけ、多くの方々の不安を思わざるを得ない。

このような状況の中、4月からは倉吉 復活教会と上井教会との合同 礼拝とすることも決断した。まだまだ多くの課題が山積しているような状況ではあるが、着実に進んで行きたいと願っている。

(上井教会牧師奥田望報)(新報より要約:加藤誠)