【February 2018 No.396】Commission on Ecumenical Ministries Reviews International Interaction

 The second Commission on Ecumenical Ministries meeting of the 40th General Assembly Period was held Sept. 11-12, 2017 in the Kyodan meeting room. From this time, the representative of the Japan Christian Social Work League on the Commission on Ecumenical Ministries, Nagasawa Michiko, was replaced by Miyamoto Kazutake.

 Proceedings began with a report by Rev. Hayashida Yoshiyuki on the Japanese Church in Kaohsiung, Taiwan about his work there, which spanned many years. This was followed by a report on overseas mission personnel that was accepted and approved, including the following notes.

•Rev. Kuyama Yasuhiko will retire from his position at Centenary United Methodist Church in Los Angeles at the end of March 2018.

•Rev. Yoshioka Yasutaka of the Sycamore Congregational Church returned to Japan from Sept. 19 through Oct. 19 to extend his visa.

•Rev. Zama Yutaka of the Vancouver United Japanese Church will complete his term on June 30, 2018.

•The Rev. Chibana Sugako will return to the Pirapo Free Methodist Church in Paraguay on Sept.12.

•Missionary Kawai Nozomu was not able to go to his assignment at Pine United Methodist Church in San Francisco, California, USA, because his visa application was not accepted even after waiting for one year.

The main items discussed were as follows.

1) The memorandum of understanding concerning mission cooperation between the Gereja Masahi Injili di Minahasa (GMIM, the Christian Evangelical Church in Minahasa) in Indonesia and the Kyodan was reviewed. There are four GMIM churches within Kyodan (all in Kanto and Chubu districts), and the Commission on Ecumenical Ministries desires to promote this mission cooperation with GMIM.

2) Participants for the EMS International Youth Workshop to be held from June 27 to July 6, 2018 will be sought, but each youth will be required to contribute ¥100,000 towards expenses.

3) Last year, youth were sent to Taiwan and Germany, and the commission wants to continue sending Japanese youth to international places and gatherings.

 At the end, CEM member Wayne Jansen shared a paper, “The Reformed Church in America and the United Church of Christ Working Together.” (Tr. WJ)

From Kyodan Shinpo (The Kyodan Times)

—Nishinosono Michiko, secretary Commission on Ecumenical Ministries








一時帰国しておられた知花スガ子教師(ピラポ自由メソジスト酒井兄姉記念教会Pirapo Free Methodist Church)は九月一二日にパラグアイに戻られる。

川合望(Kawai Nozomu)宣教師(パイン合同メソジスト教会)はビザ申請から一年以上経過したが、ビザが認められず宣教師辞任を承認した。





【February 2018 No.396】Consultation on Missionaries from Korea Convened in Japan

 Representatives of three churches in Korea and two churches in Japan gathered at the Doshisha Biwako Retreat Center in Shiga Prefecture, Nov. 27-28, 2017 for a consultation on missionaries, the fourth such conference. Attendees discussed assignments of missionary personnel who are sent to serve in Kyodan churches from the Presbyterian Church of Korea, the Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea, and the Korean Methodist Church. Because of their involvement with the Kyodan through the work of teachers and missionaries, the Korean Christian Church in Japan also participated in this meeting.

 The consultation has previously convened three times in Japan and Korea. Agenda items include confirmation of procedures concerning the sending and receiving of missionaries, reports on the number of missionaries sent and received, and the current status of the missionaries’ work.

 Those attending the Nov. 27-28 meeting included one missionary personnel representative from each of the three Korean churches, KCCJ General Assembly Chairman Kim Jong-Hyun and three other KCCJ pastors, Kyodan General Assembly Secretary Kumoshikari Toshimi and Kyodan Executive Secretary Makoto Kato. Missionary Choi Jang-Soo served as interpreter for the attendees.

 After a review of the contents of previous discussions, reports dealing with the sending and receiving of missionaries were presented, and participants discussed the matter of ongoing assignments. Sometime after 2018 there will be a missionary conference centered on missionaries sent to the Kyodan from these three Korean denominations and the Korean Christian Church in Japan. (Tr. DM)

—Kato Makoto, executive secretary



 これは、大韓イエス教長老会、韓国基督教長老会、基督教大韓監理会の韓国3教団(教会)から、教団の教会等へ派遣される宣教師の人事に関する諸課題を検討する会議である。また、教団は、在日大韓基督教会との間においても教師や 宣教師の人事交流があることから、同教会もこの会議に加わっている。






【February 2018 No.396】An Eventful Visit to the Christian Evangelical Church in Indonesia

 On Dec. 4, 2017 I left for a seven-day journey to visit the headquarters of the Christian Evangelical Church in Minahasa, located on the northern tip of the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. I was accompanied by Rev. Akiyama Toru, chair of the Commission on Ecumenical Ministries, and Rev. Fukushima Sumio, chair of the Kanto District Commission on Ecumenical Ministries.

 Due to a one-hour delay in our departure from Haneda Airport in Tokyo, we had very little time for the transfer to our domestic flight to Manado. Local staff of the airline were there to guide us, but we were told not to expect the transfer of our checked luggage. It was no joke. We told them that this was their responsibility, and after further deliberation they increased personnel, found our luggage, put it and us in a taxi, and we got to the domestic terminal. However, arriving at the terminal, we found that our gate was number 26 of 28 gates in the terminal. In other words, we walked–or rather half ran–at least one kilometer to our gate. When we finally arrived at the gate, we were exhausted.

 The next day we left Manado and followed a mountain road about 25 kilometers north to the town of Tomohon. We were surprised at the number of churches we saw. In other words, most of the people living in the villages must be Christians. Even as we returned at the close of the day, we saw young people gathered at the various churches we passed, enjoying themselves. The church there is the center of community life.

 Tomohon is a highland town. It is no surprise that there is only one hotel. However, there is a Bible School where 1,000 students are studying. The church also has a hospital as well as a factory for processing coconuts where 40 students are being trained. In short, the church is giving birth to industry there.

 As we were returning to the hotel after a fruitful consultation at the CEC headquarters, the telephone rang. It was the travel agency, informing us that our original flight for the next day had been canceled and that the new flight would be at 11 a.m.

 The next day, as we were riding the car that had been hired for our trip to the airport, we received another telephone call from the travel agency, informing us that the morning flight had also been canceled. As a result, we rushed through the lobby of the domestic flight terminal and waited in line for a taxi, where 100 taxis were lined up, to go to the international flight terminal. In the end, we were able to return to Haneda Airport as scheduled, but this was much more of an adventure than we had expected. (Tr. JS)

—Kato Makoto, executive secretary

From Niji no Tayori, Commission on Ecumenical Ministries





 トモホンは高原の町である。ホテルが一軒しかないのも頷ける。ところが神学校には1000人が学ぶ。教会の病院があり、ヤシの木を加工する工場では職業訓練を行い40名の生徒が学ぶ。つまり教会が産業を生み出している。本部での充実した懇談を終え、ホテルへの帰り道電話が鳴る。旅行会社からで、翌日の便がキャンセルになり、午前11時の便になったと言う。翌日、手配の車に乗っていると再び旅行会社からの電話で、午前の便もキャンセルになったとの事。再び国内線ロビーを走り抜け、タクシーを100台!順番待ちして国際線へ。最終的には予定通り羽田に帰着できたが、いつもに増して今回は綱渡りであった。(「虹のたより」より 加藤誠)

【February 2018 No.396】Nurturing Faith through “Gospel Email”

by Horioka Makiko, president Hokuriku Gakuin Junior and Senior High School

Youth Director, Ishikawa Subdistrict Youth League, Chubu District

 The ministers in Ishikawa Subdistrict have been sending out “Gospel Email” for over two years, since July 2015. This is an attempt to deliver the Gospel by email every day.

 Until now I think the most frequent style of church evangelism has been: “Please come to us. If you do that you can hear the Gospel.” So people who are able to go to church on Sunday morning will receive the Gospel; but can people be expected to understand the Gospel by themselves if they are unable to attend church? The leaders of the young adult groups considered this question and began an experiment: “Let’s try to take the Gospel to those who cannot attend church and nurture our own everyday life of faith as well.”

 The Gospel Email is sent to young adults on the mailing list of those expressing a desire to receive it. Normally, it is sent each morning during the six-day period of Monday through Saturday. A message from the district ministers or from a speaker invited by the young adults’ training session is sent to each young adult’s smart phone or cell phone. The message is intended to be 1) short, 2) made for that one day, and 3) speaking the Gospel to the young people in that district. At this point, there are about 50 young adults receiving the email.

 At present, “delivery” itself is most important, so the process has not reached the point of the sender and the receiver (a person who received the email) sharing their thoughts. There has been a period of give-and-take, but the number of contributors is limited. And if the content of the writing is long, preparation becomes complex, so the group is concentrating on “delivery.”

 Essentially, there is joy in hearing the Gospel together with others, so we are hoping that in the future, even outside the tool of email, an opportunity will be created for young people to talk about the Gospel daily. A freshness of new ideas is needed to move beyond the mere tediousness of sending the email in order to continue and have the strength to deliver the Gospel. Nevertheless one day at a time, they are continuing to spread the gospel. (Tr. RT)

From Shinto no Tomo (Believers’ Friend), November 2017 issue




ほりおか まきこ/中部教区石川地区青年会担当教師、


* * *




 ポイントは ①短く、②その日1日に向かって、③地区の青年たちに福音を語りかけることです。今では、50名ほどの青年がメールを受け取っています。

 現在は「届けること」に重点があり、発信する側と受け取る側、あ るいは受け取った人同士が感想を分かち合うところには至っていません。少しやりとりをした時期もあったのですが、書き込みをする人が 限られたり、書き込まれる内容が多すぎると煩雑になったりするので、「届けること」に徹しています。


 課題はマンネリ化してきたことです。ただ送られてくる……という 退屈さを超えて、新鮮に福音を送り続けるための新しいアイディアと福音を届ける力を必要としていますが、1日、1日と福音の配信を続けています。(「信徒の友」2017年11月号より)

【February 2018 No.396】Laypersons with a Priestly Calling: Guiding Newcomers

by Ogasawara Akihiro, member Ofunato Church, Iwate Prefecture, Ou District

 I entered Tohoku Gakuin University in 1980 and through God’s guidance joined the men’s glee club, where I had my first contact with hymns and religious music. I also studied the Bible, but only for class credit, without believing in God’s teaching; so as I approached graduation, I put my Bible and hymnal on the back of my bookshelf.

 On March 11, 2011, the giant tsunami caused by the Great East Japan Earthquake descended on the Sanriku coast of Iwate Prefecture, and both the house in Kamishi where I grew up and my house in Rikuzen Takata were washed away. I could not even cry at the sight of the hellish scene before my eyes.

 In the whirl of the first year-and-a-half afterwards, my body and mind did not function normally, and I continued to experience insomnia. Somehow I was able to do my job, though completely exhausted when I got home, so I distracted myself with alcohol. I commuted to Kyoto to pray at shrines and also prayed at temples, but even when I did that, after ten days or so, I felt the same as before.

 One day, I went to Tsuchizawa Church in Hanamaki to pick up some relief supplies. My wife’s parents often performed ventriloquism there as volunteers. When I told the pastor that my Bible had been washed away, she gladly gave me one of the church’s Bibles and hymnals. When I got home I casually opened the Bible, and the first thing that jumped out at me were the words in Matthew 6:25-34 “do not worry.”
 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. . . . So, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” (NRSV)

 At that moment I heard the Word of God. I felt strongly, “I need to go to church!” and I could not stop crying. Ofunato Church warmly welcomed someone like me into their church. I started attending services with my wife, who had been baptized in her youth, and eventually I too was baptized.

 A little more than a year later, a man with whom Ofunato Church Pastor Muraya Masahito had previously served as a volunteer probation officer started coming to church. With a record of more than 10 offenses, he was out of prison on parole. Pastor Muraya then asked my wife and me if we would help guide him as he prepared for baptism. It is the custom at Ofunato Church for members to take the lead in preparing others for baptism. Nevertheless, we were flabbergasted to receive this request when we had only been attending the church for a little over a year. However, if it is God’s mission, you cannot refuse, so we accepted.

 This man had a home and a wife and children, but he was living in a room in the church. Pastor Muraya looked after him every day, and from time to time I would go to the church and talk about the Bible and other things with him. He was a hard worker, doing routine tasks around the church like cutting grass and clearing trees and bushes on the hill behind the church. He even helped at an NPO in the city. You would often see him reading the Bible, and at Christmas he made a detailed plan for the church illumination lights. I even bought a radio and gave it to him so he could listen to the Christian broadcast FEBC every evening. He deepened his understanding of the contents of the Bible, and his preparation for baptism seemed to be going smoothly. If he successfully completed his period of parole, his sentence would be complete. However, when he had only a few days left in his parole, he ran away with a woman he had met at his workplace. He was quickly found and sent back to prison. After that, he finished his sentence, but he never came back to the church.

 What happened to the positive attitude he seemed to have had? My wife and I wondered if there had been something wrong with the guidance we gave him, and we spent our days questioning God about this. But this was not the end. Now the church is involved with a boy on temporary release from a juvenile correctional facility. At the same time, someone who had been shepherded through preparation for baptism by other church members was baptized on Pentecost Sunday in 2017.

 Pastoral care or preparation for baptism are not only the job of the pastor. Ordinary members also have roles as laypersons, jobs that only laypersons can do. We are not transferred as pastors are, so we can continue to guide those who come to church for the first time. We are to become “the salt of the earth” and believe in God and that we are certain to bear fruit. With this in mind, I want to continue to reach out to new people who come to church. Amen. (Tr. DB)

From Shinto no Tomo (Believers’ Friend),

October 2017 issue

Summarized by KNL Editor Kawakami Yoshiko


祭司とされた、信徒として 新来会者を導く

小笠原明寛おがさわら あきひろ/岩手・大船渡教会員


 2011年3月11日、東日本大震災大津波が三陸沿岸に襲いかかり、生まれ育った岩手県釜石市の実家と、陸前高田市の自宅が全流失しました。目の前に広がる地獄の光景に涙も出ませ んでした。





 1年あまりが過ぎたころ、大船渡教会の村谷正人牧師が保護司としてお世話をしていた男性を教会で引き受けるこ とになりました。前科10数回、仮釈放期間中とのことでした。そして村谷牧師より、彼の受洗の準備として私たち夫婦に導きの手伝いをしてほしいとお話があったのです。大船渡教会では、信徒が中心となって受洗の準備をするのが慣例です。それにしても教会に通いだしてまだ1年余りの私たちにこのような話があるとは。びっくり仰天です。しかし神さまのミッションとあらば断ることなどあり得ません。引き受けました。

 その男性には家も妻子もあるとのことでしたが、教会の一室に住まうことになり、村谷牧師が日々の世話をし、時間をみて私が教会に通い聖書の話などをしておりました。彼は教会の雑務、境内地の草刈り、裏山の雑木伐採などよく働いてくれました し、市内のNPO法人へも出かけて働いていました。聖書をよく読んでいる様子も見られ、クリスマスには教会をイルミネーションで飾る計画を具体的に進めていました。毎晩キリスト教放送局FEBCの放送を聞くようにと、私がラジオを買ってプ レゼントしたりもしました。聖書の内容も理解を深めて、受洗の準備も順調と思われました。仮釈放期間を無事に終えれば、彼は「出所」です。しかし、あと数日で終わろうとしていたとき、職場で知り合った女性と一緒に逃亡してしまったのです。すぐに見つかり刑務所に逆戻りとなりました。その後は刑期を満了したようですが、教会へは近づこうともしません。


(「信徒の友 2017年10月号」より KNL編集委員長 川上善子まとめ)