【February 2020 No.406】Ishida Motomu Commissioned to Serve in California

Pastor Ishida Motomu is scheduled to be sent as a missionary from April 2020 to Sycamore Congregational Church in El Cerrito, California, which is on the West Coast of the USA. His commissioning service, sponsored by the Commission on Ecumenical Ministries, was held on Sunday, Nov. 24, 2019 at Nishinomiya Church in Hyogo District. Commission on Ecumenical Ministries Executive Secretary Kato Makoto officiated at the ceremony, during which Commission on Ecumenical Ministries Secretary Kondo Makoto gave the sermon. Kondo had also been sent as a missionary to Pine United Methodist Church on the West Coast of the USA. He spoke about his experiences and about the joy and thankfulness he felt because he could serve as a pastor at a church attended by people of Japanese ancestry. In addition, he told about the diversity and the possibilities of his work. At the reception following the ordination ceremony, many encouraging messages were given, beginning with Hyogo District Moderator Furusawa Keita’s congratulatory address. These messages showed that Ishida had faithfully served Nishinomiya Church as its pastor and was loved by many people.


Yoshioka Yasutaka, who is currently at Sycamore Congregational Church, is scheduled to finish his five years of service as a missionary at the end of March 2020 and return to Japan. (Tr. KT)

           —Kato Makoto, Kyodan executive secretary



                                   加藤 誠


【February 2020 No.406】Hamamatsu Social Welfare Institution

On Easter Sunday in 1926, Christian young adults desiring to live like Jesus, who washed the feet of His disciples, began a laundry shop called the “Seirei (Holy Servant) Company.” Later they met a young man who was suffering with tuberculosis and were deeply moved. At that time, the Lord entrusted them with the work they are now continuing, and all the related institutions are based on the spirit of Christianity: the principle of “love for our neighbor.”


Seirei Mikatahara Hospital is located in Hamamatsu City, Shizuoka Prefecture. It gave birth to the first hospice in Japan in 1981. Construction of the present Seirei Hospice Wing began in 1997. The 27 rooms are all private and spacious so that families can live together. The flowers, small birds, and cats in the garden provide a peaceful setting. Next to the chapel is a plaque with a carved inscription of the Bible verse “the night will shine like the day,” from Psalm 139:12. Hasegawa Tamotsu, the first chair of Seirei Social Welfare Community’s Board of Trustees, chose these words in his younger days because after that young man’s death, his father requested the construction of this memorial.


Worship services are held in the chapel on weekday mornings from 8:40 to 9:00 a.m. and consist of hymns, a scripture reading, a message, prayer, and the Lord’s Prayer. Hospice care patients and their families, patients from other wings, neighbors, and students from various medical hospitals attend the services. Pastors and believers from various neighboring churches, as well as retired pastors, assist or give the message. The forgiveness of sins and eternal life through the cross of Jesus and His resurrection are proclaimed. Those entering the hospice anticipate the worship services and share about others who have gone through pain and suffering and know the blessing of being with the Lord. TV service is also provided in each room to make the blessings of the worship service available to everyone.


During the year, approximately 300 people pass through the hospice; among them, 3 to 5 are Christians and look forward to the worship services from the time they enter the facility. Almost everyone entering the hospice hears scripture and hymns for the first time and with peaceful expressions say, “I was comforted”; “God loves me as well!” There are individuals and also families who, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, are led to a believing faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and receive the blessing of baptism.


Besides relieving bodily pain, a central part of what has been entrusted to the hospice are prayers and support for living daily in the peace of the Lord. Enthusiastic volunteers help achieve that purpose. Upon request, I, as a chaplain visit a room, read the Bible, and offer prayer, making it a priority to take time to listen. I also visit other wings and related institutions as well. Occasionally, while listening to a scripture reading, some whose faces had looked sad and downcast would get up with a vivid facial expression. The power of the Word is surprising.

(Tr. RT)


From Kyodan Shinpo (The Kyodan Times), No. 4915

             —Sato Shinobu, chaplain

                Seirei Mikatahara Hospital, Tokai District



チャプレン 佐藤志伸






【February 2020 No.406】My Encounters with Missionaries Coming to Japan 40 Years of Japanese Language School Teaching

by Tohya Masumi, member

                      Kobe Tobu Church, Hyogo District

—Compiled by the Shinto no Tomo (Believer’s Friend), Editorial Committee

Crossing denominational lines, missionaries from North America, Germany, Norway, etc., founded Kansai Missionary Language Institute, a school for learning the Japanese language, in Sannomiya, Hyogo Prefecture, in 1979. It moved three years later to Rokko Church of the Kinki Evangelical Lutheran Church in Hyogo and rented several rooms there.


At its peak, there were 40 students at a time. After the Great Hanshin Awaji (Osaka-Kobe and offshore Awaji Island) Earthquake of 1995, when missionaries were recalled to their home countries, this language school was forced to close. However, I continued to use one room at the church and taught people who wanted to study Japanese. So I was a Japanese language teacher from 1979 at Kansai Missionary Language Institute and continued to teach privately from 1995 to 2018.


I had difficulty teaching students with a wide range of various abilities in Japanese, but more than anything else I happily responded to their devotion to their mission in Japan. I am particularly happy when children of missionaries return to Japan as missionaries. In my classes, I also taught the students about Japanese society and culture. As practical training, we went shopping at a supermarket. Reflecting the difference in food culture, the response was, “There are so many varieties of food, it is difficult to shop.” For example, even if they knew the difference between green tea, roasted green tea, and barley tea, it was difficult for them to choose the appropriate tea for a particular situation at church. I also heard about the mistake of choosing round buns filled with sweet bean paste when searching for plain dinner rolls.


I not only taught, I also learned about the various cultures of the students’ countries. Many Norwegian missionaries came after the Great East Japan Disaster in 2011, but no matter what their church denomination, they were all careful about liturgical colors. During the Advent season, churches in Norway use a purple theme throughout, even to the extent of using purple napkins at lunchtime. I was amazed by the students’ surprise that the Japanese churches where they had been do not observe the custom of displaying liturgical colors.


Besides celebrating Christmas at the churches they were sent to serve, the missionaries also valued observing Christmas with their families, and they always invited single missionaries. Christmas dinner menus differed, depending on the area they were from, and I also helped them search for food in Japan. Chicken and salmon were readily available, but I also ate salt-preserved lamb procured from Norway, which is used in a dish called pinnekjott. This may or may not be palatable to the average Japanese person’s taste, but it was fun to try, which made the experience quite enjoyable.


Beyond that, the ways of observing the season from the beginning of Advent to Christmas differ little from those in Japan. I always sensed that the missionaries were truly using this time for the purpose of celebrating the birth of Jesus. I learned that Advent was not spent trying to call to mind a certain feeling but was a period for quieting the heart, of being invited and inviting, of sharing joy together.


Sometimes missionaries must leave Japan for reasons dictated by the country in which the sending body has its headquarters. At the time of the 2011 Great East Japan Disaster, the Norwegian government prepared planes and made Norwegians residing in Japan return home. Missionaries I knew said, “Especially at a time like this, missionaries are necessary,” and returned to their homeland only temporarily. There are also denominations that have stopped assigning missionaries to Japan, so the number of missionaries being sent to Japan has decreased.


Despite that, I have enjoyed meeting new faces. Two years ago, taking advantage of their summer break, two seminarians in their twenties came from Norway for study. Even though it was not a long period of time, they experienced an earthquake, a typhoon, and a blackout. However, they were amazing! Skillfully using their cell phones, they found places to charge them during the blackout and investigated how to reinstate city gas usage. The care that had been necessary for former missionaries was unnecessary for them. They had studied where to ask questions and had also mastered the online application for automatic translation from Norwegian to Japanese.


They came to me with questions about the difference in intonation between the various accents they heard in the Kansai area and what they had learned at the Japanese language school. (Vowels are emphasized in spoken Japanese in the Kansai area.) It seems that the online Japanese-language application they were using for study did not include the Kansai dialects.


These students possess the same passion as the missionaries who stirred me at the place where I first worked. They also told me of their plan to bring younger seminary students and to visit Japan again. I have taken a break in my work as a teacher, but if I can help them share the joy of the Gospel, I hope to be able to respond to their passion in the future as well. (Tr. RT)


—From Shinto no Tomo (Believer’s Friend), December 2019


来日宣教師たちとの出会い 日本語学校教師の40年

東家眞澄(とうや ますみ)









 それでも新たな出会いがあります。一昨年は20代の男子神学生2人が夏休みを利用して、ノルウェーから研修にやってきました。決して長い期間ではなかったのに、なんと彼らは地震、台風、停電を経験する羽目に陥りました。しかし彼らはすごい! スマートホンを駆使して、停電中でも充電できるところを捜し当て、ガスの復旧の仕方も調べました。以前は必要だったお世話が、彼らには必要ありません。訪ねたいところも検索済みで、ノルウェー語から日本語への自動翻訳ソフトも使いこなします。



   KNL2019年12月号   (まとめ・信徒の友編集部)+KNL編集部

【February 2020 No.406】Elizabeth J. Clarke: In Memoriam

All those who knew Elizabeth Clarke will always cherish the memory of her bright smile and enthusiastic energy for the mission of the Church in Japan. By this, combined with her sharp wit and deep intellectual insights, she left a legacy of commitment to the high calling of Christian witness and service in Japan that extended to other Asian nations as well as to North America.


As the daughter of a Methodist minister, it was natural for Elizabeth at all times to have her base in the church wherever she served. Conversations always led to deep concerns for the struggles of the church in Japan and the wider context of inter-church relations with overseas partner churches.


Perhaps she will be remembered mostly for her role in promoting and developing the vital role of Christian education, especially the importance of higher education, for women in Japan. From her earliest assignment as a member of the first group of J-3 (Japan, 3 years) short-term missionaries in 1948, she served both as a teacher as well as administrator, first in Fukuoka Jogakuin Girls School, and later at Kwassui Girls School in Nagasaki, with her longest assignment to Aoyama Gakuin Junior College for Women in Tokyo.


Having served as a high school teacher in her native Wisconsin before arriving in Japan, as well as doing further graduate work at the University of Wisconsin and Columbia University Teachers College, she was well qualified both as a faculty member and scholar to make a major contribution to the study and understanding of the history and unique role of Christian education for women in Japan.


After leaving Japan in 1993, Elizabeth enjoyed her life at Pilgrim Place in Claremont, California as an active member of the retirement community, many of whom had also served in Japan. During these years, her concern for the work of the church in Japan as well as in the Claremont community continued to be a vital part of her life, serving as a model for all who were fortunate to know her personally, as well as for those who will be influenced by her legacy.


Elizabeth Jane Clarke

 Born Sept. 23, 1924, in Richland Center, Wisconsin

 Served various roles in Japan from 1948 to 1993

 Passed away on Dec. 7, 2019, at Pilgrim Place, Claremont, California

 Memorial Service on Jan. 11, 2020, at Claremont United Methodist Church

—George W. Gish, Jr., retired missionary















退職宣教師 ジョージ・W・ギッシュ・ジュニア

【February 2020 No.406】TUTS President Osumi Yuichi: Now at Home with His Lord

On Sept. 5, 2019, President Osumi Yuichi of Tokyo Union Theological Seminary (TUTS) suddenly passed away due to complications from a subarachnoid hemorrhage. People related to the seminary and many churches that supported the seminary were stunned and saddened to learn of this tragic event, as Osumi was beginning his third year as president and was only 64 years old. A funeral was held on Sept. 9 in the seminary chapel, and although Typhoon 15 (Faxai) was directly hitting the whole area in Japan and delaying traffic, 550 people gathered to pay their last respects.


Osumi graduated with a law degree from the University of Tokyo, entered TUTS and TUTS graduate school where he earned his master’s degree, and proceeded to study at Protestant University Wuppertal/Bethel in Germany, where he was awarded his doctorate in theology. He had been teaching Old Testament studies at TUTS since 1990. He also served as a licensed pastor of Omiya Church in Kanto District for 2 years and as an ordained pastor at Yoga Church in Tokyo District for 15 years.


Osumi had a mild disposition and was known for his unique smile and sense of humor and for freely conversing with students. Students nicknamed him “Snoopy,” and he was pleased to accept that name for himself.

At the same time, Osumi was an Old Testament scholar with special interest in Old Testament law, and he clothed himself in obedience according to the words of the prophets and of Jesus. He also took a firm stance in regards to local church issues and ministries and offered practical advice. Serving as a minister myself, I often witnessed Osumi’s courageous words when referring to what ministers should be and remember being very moved by them.


In Osumi’s last year as president, TUTS experienced an academic harassment claim that caused him to worry greatly about the future of the institution for which he prayed earnestly. Those of us related to TUTS have inherited his prayer and together must be committed to eliminating human rights violations. We pray that the precious comfort of the Lord will be with Osumi’s wife Mari at this difficult time. (Tr.WJ)

                        —Ito Mizuo, chair, Board of Directors

                         Tokyo Union Theological Seminary



東京神学大学理事長 伊藤瑞男