【December 2018 No.400】Living With Illness Ⅰ: A Woman’s Desire to Continue Playing the Piano

 by Ono Tomoko, member   Oki Church, Shimane Prefecture, Nishi Chugoku District

Nine years ago, when I was about 50 years old, I was suffering from various undiagnosed physical problems. I got tired easily; I felt lethargic; and my body hurt in various places. Furthermore, when it was cold, the tips of my fingers became white. My doctor at the hospital in Matsue told me that these symptoms were the result of scleroderma, a collagen-related disease. He further explained: “This disease cannot be healed with current medicine. We suspect that you have systemic scleroderma. Your blood flow worsens when it is cold; that is why your fingertips turn white. When that happens, be sure to warm up your fingers right away. If you don’t, your fingers may stiffen and become unable to move again. If this proceeds to your internal organs, for example, to your lungs, it could be life-threatening. Therefore, we are going to give you a large dose of adreno-cortical hormone.” When I heard this, my mind went blank.

I work as a teacher in a nursery affiliated with Oki Church, which is in Nishinoshima Island in Oki Islands. My original field of study, however, was piano, and I sometimes performed neighborhood concerts. Eventually, as my children grew up, I began to dream about spending more time on music than on my regular job; but I also often wondered whether or not I would still be able to play the piano. With fear and trepidation, I raised this question with my doctor, and this is what he said: “Stimulating your fingertips is not good. Though quitting the piano would be stressful for you, it is nevertheless very important that you change your lifestyle.”

I was speechless. I couldn’t understand why this was happening to me. Why did it have to be a sickness that limits my hand movements? I was sad and was often moved to tears. I spent much time praying, hoping for healing. My husband and family prayed fervently for me, and since I was in such a gloomy state of mind, a friend of mine who had heard that I was sick sent me a letter. In the letter, she said, “It’s regrettable that I won’t be able to hear you play anymore. I’m sending you a pair of cotton gloves in the hope that they will enable you to take care of your hands.” Inside the package was a cute pair of gloves. As I put on the gloves I felt a strange sense of happiness, and I wanted to play the piano. As I began to play a piece that I myself had composed, a soft sound that I had not previously been able to produce came out naturally. A Bible verse (II Cor. 12:9) resonated in my heart: “But he [the Lord] said to me [the Apostle Paul], ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.’”

I was reluctant to talk publicly about my illness, but for reasons related to my work, I had no choice. People with the same disease, some who lived on the island and others who lived elsewhere, began to contact me. I learned that there were people who were hiding their conditions from others in their workplaces and communities. There were also people who even found it hard to go outside. At that time, I was part of the prefectural collagen disease organization; however, because I lived on an isolated island, it was difficult for me to participate in the organization’s activities. Four years ago, however, I started an organization on our island for patients with this disease. I began this organization because I wanted to create a place where people with this same disease could congregate freely. I took this step after consulting with local doctors and health-care workers. We meet together twice each year to drink tea and participate in everyday conversation. Since doctors and health-care professionals are present at these meetings, we are able to discuss symptoms and treatment options about which we have questions. Meeting people who are experiencing the same stage of the disease has taught me and awakened me to the harsh realities of this disease. However, at the same time, these people’s approach to life has been encouraging to see.

When facing the reality that I cannot do something, I think it is necessary to trust the people at church and the various specialists I am meeting, whom God has given me, and to depend on others. In addition, I have learned that having peaceful connections with a wide group of people and relying on those around us who are experiencing similar situations is important for patients.Though my family has supported me fully, their support alone would not have been enough.

The church of which I have been a member, Oki Church, is a very small congregation. However, we pray for each other’s disabilities and sicknesses, and we look at our problems in the broader context of social structures and facilities. Oki has no medical specialists for different diseases, but there have been times when I have come to realize that nevertheless, I can live my life here on this island. The island’s doctor asked me what I wanted to do from this point forward. When I told her that I wanted to play the piano she replied, “I will help you to become able to achieve that goal.” Moments like this show me that staying on this island is a reasonable choice for me. During rehabilitation for rheumatism, which developed as a complication of my primary disease, the occupational therapist often told me that although doctors want their patients to get better, even more than that, want them to live a vibrant life.

Life on the island includes having to deal with a few busybodies, and there are also inconveniences. I have come to realize, however, that the island is also a society that gives one everything he or she needs. I will continue to play the piano and write music. Music is a gift from God. I am thankful for all the encounters I have had with people, and I am glad that God has guided me to this place. (Tr. DM)

—From Shinto no Tomo (Believers’ Friend), September 2018 issue

Summarized by KNL Editor Kawakami Yoshiko















【December 2018 No.400】Young Adult Study Tour: Vancouver, Canada

by Rev. Yoko Kihara, Kyodan Overseas Minister, Minister of the United Church of Canada

The first Young Study Tour to Vancouver was held between August 20th and 29th, 2018, welcoming ten young adults of the Kyodan, the Anglican Church, and the Korean Christian Church (KCCJ)in Japan sent by the Commission on Ecumenical Ministries, Kyodan.

First, they visited Vancouver School of Theology in University of British Columbia (UBC) on August 21st, welcomed by the Principal, Rev. Dr. Richard Topping. They listened to his presentation of their theological education and their unique programs such as Indigenous studies and Interfaith studies. Then, they moved to the Museum of Anthropology to learn about the history and culture of the First Nations people in the west coast, and the  Botanical Garden to touch and smell the nature of BC’s coast.

The next day, on Aug. 22nd, they went to St. Andrew’s Wesley United Church in downtown Vancouver to participate in the Children Summer Camp called Camp Spirit and interacted with about seventy children, introducing Japanese traditional play such as Origami, top spinning and drawing pictures beyond differences of culture and language.

The highlight of the tour was their participation in Kairos Blanket Exercise on August 23rd to experience the First Nations’ history of grief, stolen lands and destructions of families and communities. The exercise was led by Janette McIntosh, a leader of Kairos Vancouver and Melaney Gleeson-Lyall, an Elder of the Musqueam nation. Everybody had a profound experience through this exercise and their experience was more deepened by listening to the sad family story of Melaney and her drum and songs inherited by her parents following the exercise.

Then, on August 24th, they also visited First United Church Community Ministry Society in Down Town East Side of Vancouver which serves homeless people providing food, shelter, and various services. All were deeply impressed by their excellent services based on the Prophetic voices in the Bible and Love of Jesus Christ.

Over the weekend of August 24th to 26th, ten young adults were divided into five families of the United Church Congregations in Vancouver and suburban area and experienced home stay and attended Sunday Worship Service in each congregation.

Although it had been terribly smoky in Vancouver due to wild fires, it was clear on the day they drove up to Whistler, on August 27th. They could enjoy the amazing view of glaciers on top of the mountains. At the end of the tour, they visited Steveston in the city of Richmond where the first Japanese people arrived to Canada and formed their community. Touched by the great nature of Canada; the mountains in Whistler and the Pacific Ocean from Steveston, they had a good reflection on the learning and experiences of the past 9 days.


*The KAIROS Blanket Exercise program is a unique, participatory history lesson developed in collaboration with the indigenous elders, the knowledge-keepers and educators who foster truth, understanding, respect, and reconciliation among indigenous and non-indigenous peoples. (Adapted from the KAIROS Homepage)




 20日に到後、翌21日はBC州立大学(UBC)(University of British Colombia)を訪ね、構内にあるバンクーバー神学校(VST)でリチャード・トッピング校長から同校の神学教育の特色をビデオを交えて説明を受けた後、先住民博物館、ボタニカルガーデンを見学し、先住民の文化と自然に触れました。


 23日はキリスト教超教派の社会正義に取り組む団体Kairos(KAIROS Canada)と先住民のリーダーを招き、植民地政策の下、土地と家族共同体のつながりを奪われた先住民の悲しみの歴史を学ぶ「ブランケット・エクソサイズ」(Blanket Exercise)を体験し、先住民の長老メラニーさん(Melaney Gleeson-Lyall )の体験談、代々受け継がれた彼女のドラムと歌に耳を傾け、多くの参加者にとってこのツアーのハイライトと言える深い経験となりました。



【December 2018 No.400】Even without a Sanctuary, Worship Held at First Member’s Tomb

Osumi Seko Church in Kyoto began its ministry as a group worshiping together at Osumi Kindergarten in Kyoto. The kindergarten itself was the result of the work of Rev. Enomoto Yasuro (1925-1977), well-known as “Pastor Chiiroba,” [chiiroba (little donkey), after the foal of a donkey on which Jesus rode into Jerusalem] and Ms. Miyamoto Wosue (1902-1967), a midwife who was the first member of the congregation. As a member of Osumi Seiko Church, Wosue worked tirelessly for the continued growth of the church in that area. From its beginning in 1952, Osumi Seko Church used the kindergarten as its sanctuary. However, for a variety of reasons, we have not been able to use the facility for the past seven years. Because an alternate location could not be found, three of the members travel 40 minutes by car to worship once a month at the church where I pastor. On the other Sundays, worship is held at the site of Wosue’s tomb. This tomb, which is a testimony to Wosue’s faith, was built by her family in a community cemetery near the kindergarten in the 1970s. Worship is held here regardless of the weather. The Bible, hymnal, and elements for the Lord’s Supper are placed on a small desk as there is no pulpit. On “Peace Sunday,” such things as a plowshare are also put on the desk to create a special atmosphere for worship. [Referring to “They shall beat their swords into plowshares” Micah 4:3, Isaiah 2:4] Sometimes a guitar or portable organ is brought in to assist in hymn singing.

Osumi Seko Church celebrates the Lord’s Supper every Sunday. Each Sunday I bake a large loaf of bread for communion. Following worship, we divide what is left of the bread into six sections that we wrap and take to the house where Wosue lived, which is currently occupied by her nephew and his family. In distributing the “church bread,” we continue to share the memory of Wosue with the family and the neighborhood. In preparation for worship, we clean Wosue’s tomb and the area around it each Sunday. Periodically a local committee responsible for the cemetery comes to clean as well. This cleanup is usually done on Sunday mornings, but the committee understands that our worship comes first. Although none of our members is on that committee, we always cooperate by bringing a mower on a small truck and helping. Although this is an unusual way to worship, I believe this is allowing us to sow Gospel seeds. (Tr. JS)

—Kishimoto Hyouichi, Pastor, Osumi Seko Church , Kyoto District

From Shinto no Tomo (Believers’ Friend), July 2018 issue



京都・大住世光教会牧師 岸本兵一





 礼拝をするにあたっては、毎週ヲスヱの墓とその周辺を軽く清掃します。年に数回あるこの区画の墓地委員総出の清掃日は、基本的に日曜日の午前中です。委員を務めている教会員はいませんが、協力するために軽トラックに草刈り機を積んで行きます。委員の方々には理解があり「教会さんは礼拝が先やな」と言ってくださいます。 変わった形の礼拝ですが、そのおかげで福音の種まきはできていると信じています。(信徒の友7月号より)

【December 2018 No.400】From the General Secretary’s Desk: Mission Agreement with Indonesian Church; Change of Situation in Korea

The 41st Kyodan General Assembly has ended, and the 2018-19 general assembly period has begun. One of the highlights of the assembly was the signing of the mutual mission agreement with the Christian Evangelical Church in Minahasa, known as GMIM, the acronym of its name in Indonesian, Gereja Masehi Injili di Mynahsa.

Beginning some 20 years ago, Indonesian Christians from the Minahasa area coming to Japan on work visas formed two churches in Oarai, Ibaraki Prefecture and one each in Oyama, Tochigi Prefecture and Suzuka, Mie Prefecture. There are now four such churches in Japan, so the signing of this mutual mission agreement further cements the cooperative relationships that have been formed with local Kyodan churches as well as at the district level. This is an historic development that needs to be celebrated, as it opens a new window of cooperation and fellowship among the churches of Asia.

There are presently about 2.56 million foreigners living in Japan, and when people of non-Japanese origin who have Japanese citizenship and the children of foreigners are included, that figure increases to more than 4 million. Many of these people have Christian backgrounds, so as we cooperate with churches around the world, being involved with common mission issues with them is a great opportunity and challenge for us.

The Kyodan was born under the shadow of World War II and cooperated with the Japanese war aggression against the nations of East Asia. We deeply understand that without confessing our sin and extending reparations, the Kyodan has no chance to recover full fellowship with our Asian neighbors, so we must not be hesitant to take concrete actions. Therefore, keeping this history in mind at all times, we seek to work together on common issues in our common mission.

In mid-September, I participated in the pre-conference and general assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea, which was held on the island of Jeju. Just prior to the general assembly, South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean President Kim Jong-un had held a meeting, and previous to that, Kim Jong-un had met with U.S. President Donald Trump in Singapore.

Thus, this is a time of great geopolitical change on the Korean peninsula. The theme of the pre-conference was “Reconciliation, Peace and Unity in Northeast Asia,” and representatives from churches around the world gathered to discuss this theme. It was in this climate of monumental movement towards reconciliation and reunification of the Korean peninsula that we were reminded anew of what church leaders had termed the “Tozanso Process.” This is in reference to an international Christian conference held at the YMCA Tozanso retreat center in Gotemba, Japan from Oct. 29 to Nov. 2, 1984 under the theme, “Peace and Justice in Northeast Asia, the Peaceful Resolution of Conflict,” which was the beginning of our present efforts

It was at the behest of the World Council of Churches and the Christian Conference of Asia that the way was opened up for the National Council of Churches in Korea and its North Korean counterpart, the Korean Christian Federation, to begin dialog. It was at the ecumenical gathering in Glion, Switzerland in 1986 that the North Korean representatives first participated, and ever since then, on a yearly basis, representatives from the two Korean governments have met for dialog even amidst the frosty relationship between the two countries. It is this process of reconciliation and unity, with the desire to remove military threats and to denuclearize, that has been called the “Tozanso Process.”

Our voice may seem distant and small in the process of making this dream come to fruition, but we unite our hearts in prayer with churches around the world as we join together in concrete actions, seeking a world that is led by the Word of God. (Tr. TB)

—Akiyama Toru, General Secretary


グミンとの協約と東山荘プロセス   秋山 徹

 教団総会を終えて、第41期の教団の歩みが始まりました。この総会ではインドネシアのミナハサ福音教会(GMIM)との宣教協約が結ばれたことが一つのハイライトでした。ここ20年来、茨城県の大洗に二つ、栃木県の小山、三重県の鈴鹿でインドネシアのスラウェシ島から日本への移住労働者として来ておられたキリスト者がそれぞれの地に教会をたて、礼拝してこられました。GMIMの教会として4つの教会があります。この度の宣教協約によってこれらの教会と教団のそれぞれの教区や近隣の教会とが協力し連携して宣教にあたる確かな絆が築かれ、また今後のアジアの諸教会との交わりにも新しい窓口が開かれる 記念すべき時となりました。




【October 2018 No.399】Executive Council Considers Structural Reform & Mutual Mission Agreement

The sixth Executive Council meeting of the present two-year (40th) general assembly period was held July 9-10 at the Kyodan headquarters, with all 30 members in attendance. The first order of business was a report on the damage caused by floods in Nishi-Chugoku District. In fact, all eight districts to the west of Chubu District had damage to report. Fortunately, however, the churches in Nishj-Chugoku and Shikoku district, where severe destruction was reported by the media, escaped with only minimal harm.

In his report, General Secretary Akiyama Toru noted that in response to the recent, strong earthquake in Osaka—6.1 on the Japan Meteorological Agency’s Seismic Intensity Scale, the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan sent a donation of $10,000 to help in the recovery effort. Okamura Hisashi, chair of the Committee on the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation, reported that the youth conference held on March 21 at Aoyama Gakuin University’s chapel had 1,000 attendees, including about 200 from the Kyodan.

The first item of business on the second day was discussion of the “Kyodan Evangelism Promotion” program. The debate centered around which entity would take the lead in planning structural reform. No conclusion was reached so Secretary Kumoshikari Toshimi suggested that the issue be tabled until the October Executive Council meeting since the budgetary issues are not settled yet, and this was accepted.

Discussion turned to the mutual mission agreement between the Christian Evangelical Church in Minahasa (Gereja Masehi Injili di Minahasa [GMIM] in Indonesia) and the Kyodan. It was proposed that once finalized, there should be a signing ceremony at the Kyodan General Assembly. The question was raised as to whether this agreement would be like the one with the Korean Christian Church in Japan, by which the ministerial credentials of each denomination are mutually recognized by both denominations. General Secretary Akiyama answered that at present, the aim of the agreement is to recognize each other’s statement of faith and sacraments but does not include provisions for ministerial exchange.

The introduction to the agreement begins with a recognition that the relationship between GMIM and the Kyodan began during Word WarⅡthrough the role the Kyodan played in pacification of the conquered areas. With respect to this, the opinion was voiced that it is important how the Kyodan views its history and that this should be clarified as the agreement is finalized. Moderator Ishibashi Hideo then tabled action on the agreement, saying it would be reworked further for finalization at the October Executive Council meeting. (Tr. TB)

            —Kato Makoto, Kyodan executive secretary



 第40総会期第6回常議員会が7月9,10両日教団会議室において議員30名全員が出席して開催された。議事の最初は西中国豪雨の被害報告であった。中部教区から西に位置する8教区が被害報告を行った。大きな被害が出たと新聞等で報じられている西中国、四国地方では教会の被害は軽微であった。総幹事報告では秋山徹総幹事から震度6弱を記録した大阪・関西地震に対して台湾基督長老教会Presbyterian Church in Taiwanから1万ドルの見舞金が寄せられた事。熊本・大分地震の募金状況が報告された。宗教改革500周年記念事業委員会報告では、岡村恒委員長は3月21日に青山学院礼拝堂で開催されたユースカンファレンスに1000人の出席があり、教団からは200名の出席であったと報告した。

 二日目は最初に「教団伝道推進に関する件」が上程された。機構改定の検討をどこが担うのかについての議論があり、結論には至らず雲然俊美書記は予算などを詰めた上で10月の常議員会に再提案する方向を示し議場は承認した。「ミナハサ福音キリスト(GMIM)との宣教協約合意書に関する件」では、第41回教団総会において「宣教協約合意書に関する件」を議案とし、可決された場合には総会において締結式を行うことが提案された。審議においては、この協約が在日大韓キリスト教会との協約のように、職制を認め合うことまで含むものなのかが問われた。秋山総幹事は今回の協約は、信仰と聖礼典を認め合い、礼拝において交わりを持つことを目的とするもので、現段階では職制の交流までは含んでいないと答えた。合意書の冒頭で両教会の関係が戦時下の宣撫工作に始まったと述べている点について、教団が歴史をどう振り返り展望するのかを確認しつつ締結に向かってほしいとの意見があった。石橋秀雄議長は合意書は一旦取り下げ、整えた上で10月の常議員会で締結を目指すと述べた。(加藤 誠)