【December 2019 No.405】The Light of Hope

by Ootsuka Shinobu, pastor Okayama Church, Higashi-Chugoku District

Merry Christmas!

In the Bible, two of the Gospels report the birth of Jesus. In the Gospel of Matthew, it is the wise men, and in the Gospel of Luke, the shepherds, who make an appearance. Those who appear in each of the Gospels are different, but central in both stories is the existence of ‘light.” The wise men are led by a star and meet the baby Jesus. The shepherds who care for sheep in the midst of darkness are surrounded by the light of God’s glory and are informed of the birth of Jesus by angels. So although both Matthew and Luke depict the story of Jesus’ birth in completely different ways, what they have in common is that “light” has shined on people living in this world, that an account is given of persons living in this world being led to hope. There are places on earth that have lost light. Wandering and walking about in the darkness due to the loss of light and, with darkened reason, people are in despair. However, these two Gospels bear witness that without fail, God will rip open the darkness and will give humans “light” to shine on them!

 

At the beginning of July 2018, floods damaged a large area of western Japan. In the part of Okayama Prefecture where I live, which suffered extensive damage, there were 14,000 flooded homes and a total of 61 deaths. (Of the 52 persons who died in Kurashiki City, 51 were in its Mabi district.) It was decided that Higashi-Chugoku District, the Kyodan, the Okayama Christian Disaster Support Headquarters, and the YMCA Setouchi would engage in the work of restoration together. At first, the work was shoveling mud and cleaning houses. Here and there, during the work intervals, people talked about their pain and about loosing something important.

 

In December, in Mabi-cho, a center called “Mabikura” was established as a space to aid restoration. This name is the shortened form of the phrase “Mabi ni kurashi no nukumori o,” a name that includes prayers and wishes and means “providing warmth and light to Mabi’s daily life.” It was a time for ongoing restoration, but Mabi’s December night enveloped the town with overwhelming darkness. However, while standing in that area, shining light into the darkness to bring back warmth to continue restoration and encourage the hearts of the people living in that area, we carried out our work in faith. In August of this year, with the cooperation of the Kyodan, the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan, and the YMCA Setouchi along with 16 children from the disaster area, a camp for their refreshment was held in Taiwan. I sensed that little by little, the children were beginning to have smiling faces again.

 

The prophet Isaiah said: “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in a land of deep darkness a light has dawned. You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy. They rejoice before you….” (Isaiah 9:2-3, NIV) And the Gospel of John tells us: “The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.” (John 1:9) The “light” that is mentioned here is Jesus Christ. The Bible says that a light of hope of saving the people who are in difficult situations came to reside on earth. This light of hope tears the darkness to pieces and shines forth. I believe that we want to tell many people about that light of hope that has come. (Tr. RT)

 

「希望の光」

日本基督教団岡山教会牧師 大塚忍

クリスマスおめでとうございます。

 聖書は二つの福音書がイエスの降誕を報告しています。マタイによる福音書には占星術の学者、ルカによる福音書には羊飼いが登場します。二つの福音書で 登場人物は異なっているのですが、物語の中心にはいずれも「光」が存在します。占星術の学者たちは、星に導かれて赤子のイエスに出会います。暗闇の中で羊の世話をしていた羊飼いたちは、主の栄光に周りを照らし出され、天使によってイエスの降誕を告げられます。マタイとルカでは全く異なるイエスの降誕物語が描かれていながらも、共通して「光」がこの世に生きる人々の命を照らし出したこと、この世に生きる人々を希望へと導いたことが記されているのです。地上には光が失われている場所があります。人間は、光が失われた暗闇をさまよい歩くことによって途方にくれ絶望することがあります。しかし、二つの福音書は、暗闇を引き裂いて、神様は必ず人間を照らし出す「光」をお与えくださると証言しているのです。

昨年の7月の初めに西日本の広範囲に渡って豪雨被害がもたらされました。わたしが住む岡山県でも甚大な被害がありました。浸水家屋は14000棟。61人の方がお亡くなりになりました(52人が倉敷市の方、真備地区の方は51人)。日本基督教団東中国教区は、日本基督教団、岡山キリスト災害支援室、YMCAせとうちと共に、復興支援活動を担うことを決議しました。当初のワークは、泥かき、家屋の清掃でした。ワークの合間に、ポツリポツリと、大切なものを失った苦しみを語ってくださる方もおられました。12月には真備町に「まびくら」という施設を設置しました。そこは、復興支援のベースです。「まびに くらしの ぬくもりを」という祈りと願いが込めています。少しずつ復興がなされていく時でしたが、12月の夜の真備は、圧倒的な暗闇によって町が包まれていました。しかし、その地に立ちながら、暗闇を照らす光、そこにぬくもりが取り戻される時に、あの地の復興がなされていく、またあの地に住む方々の心の復興もなされていく、とわたしたちは信じながら活動を行なってきました。今年の8月には、日本基督教団、台湾基督長老教会、YMCAせとうちの協力のもと被災地の子どもたち16人と共に台湾においてリフレッシュキャンプを開催することができました。少しずつ子どもたちに笑顔が戻りつつあることを感じました。

「闇の中を歩む民は、大いなる光を見、死の陰の地に住む者の上に、光が輝いた。 あなたは深い喜びと大きな楽しみをお与えになり人々は御前に喜び祝った」(イザヤ9章1節~2節)と預言者は語ります。「その光は、まことの光で、世に来てすべての人を照らすのである」(ヨハネ1・9)と福音書記者は語ります。ここに記されているのは「光」とはイエス・キリストです。厳しい現実に置かれていた民衆を救い出す希望の光が宿ったと聖書は言うのです。この希望の光は、圧倒的な暗闇を引き裂いて輝きます。わたしたちその希望の光が来られていることを多くの方々に伝えていきましょう。

【December 2019 No.405】Mabikura: A Place of Comfort for Disaster Survivors

by Nobuto Yoshihide, Wake Church and Mitsuishi Church, Higashi Chugoku District

Following the disastrous flooding of the Mabi-cho of Kurashiki, a city in Okayama, due to the extremely heavy rains that occurred in western Japan in July 2018, we set up a relief center in a rented store building, first repairing the damage to the structure. As we desired it to be a place that brought warmth and comfort to the lives of the people there, we named it “Mabikura” (an abbreviation of the Japanese phrase meaning that). Operated by the Okayama Christian Disaster Support Headquarters, it is a joint effort of the Mission Gathering of Okayama Prefecture, the YMCA Setouchi , and Higashi Chugoku District. Relief activities began in December 2018, and we plan to continue the effort until March 2021. A dedicated staff operates the center on a daily basis from 10 am to 5 pm. Mabikura focuses its efforts in three areas: providing a place to relax, supporting children, and supporting temporary housing.

 

Singing Coffee Shop

From this past May, a group of us from Wake and Mitsuishi churches have held a “Singing Coffee Shop” on the third Wednesday of the month from 1:30 pm, as part of our effort to give people a place to relax. Accompanied by guitar, bass, piano, and “djembe” (hand drums), we sing songs for about an hour. We make a point of including one hymn as a means of trying to connect people to Jesus, the “true place to relax.” Then we offer snacks and drinks around the tables as we provide a listening ear for people to tell us about the trials they faced during the flood, all the problems they have had to deal with in the aftermath, and their ongoing struggles. This program is sponsored by Higashi Chugoku District, which provides the necessary funding, including transportation costs.

 

Management Committee

The management committee consists not only of a representation from each of the sponsoring organizations but also Kyodan Executive Secretary for Ecumenical Ministries Kato Makoto, who participates as a representative of the Kyodan, which funded the repairs to the building in which Mabikura operates. Mabikura has also become a place where churches of various denominations join forces to serve the needs of the people affected by the disaster. It is our prayer that it will continue to do so. (Tr. TB)

From Higashi Chugoku District News, No. 175

 

「まびくら」にまあ一ぺん来て見られぇ。

  和気教会・三石教会 延藤好英

 

〈まびくら〉

 昨年七月の西日本豪雨のあと、倉敷市真備町に、被災した店舗をお借りし、改装して生まれたのが「まびくら」という支援センターです。「まびに くらしの ぬくもりを」という願いを込めて「まびくら」と名付けられました。岡山キリスト災害支援室(構成員は、岡山県宣教集い、YMCAせとうち、東中国教区)で運営しています。二○一八年一二月から二○二一年三月までの活動予定です。毎日午前一〇時から午後五時まで、専属のスタッフがいて開館しています。

「まびくら」が取り組んでいることは三つの事柄です。①居場所作り、②子ども支援、③仮設支援です。

 

〈歌声喫茶〉

 わたしたち三石教会と和気教会は、今年の五月から毎月第三水曜日午後一時半から「まびくら」で歌声喫茶を開催しています。①の居場所作りの一環です。ギター、ベース、ピアノ、ジャンベに合わせて、一時間ほど一緒に歌を歌います。賛美歌も一曲は歌うようにしています。真の拠り所であるイエスさまとつながっていただけるよう願いつつのことです。

その後、用意した飲み物とお菓子をいただきながら、テーブルごとに三〇分ほど語り合っています。豪雨にあった時の事、その後の大変だったこと、今の問題など、いろいろ語ってくださることに耳を傾けます。この活動は東中国教区の活動として交通費など必要経費は教区から支給されています。

〈運営委員会〉

 運営委員会には各団体代表者だけでなく、「まびくら」の改修工事費を一手に引き受けてくださった日本基督教団から加藤誠教団世界宣教幹事も参加してくださっています。

「まびくら」という一つの拠点で、今、様々な教派の教会が心を一つにし、力を合わせています。被災された方々のニーズに応えることができるようお祈りください。

【December 2019 No.405】Executive Council Considers Structural & Budget Proposals

The fifth Executive Council meeting of the present 41st General Assembly period was held Oct. 7-8 at the Kyodan headquarters with 29 members in attendance. General Secretary Akiyama Toru gave a report on the damages caused by Typhoon 15 (called Faxai in international media), and Tokyo District Moderator Kishi Toshihiko detailed the damage to Habu Church on one of the Izu Islands, thanking council members for their expressions of support.

 

During the discussion, questions concerning Kyodan activities related to the succession of the emperor were addressed, and General Secretary Akiyama explained that the policy decided at the last General Assembly was that individual churches should conduct activities on the local level. He also stated that the Kyodan offices would not observe the special holiday that the government has designated for the ceremonies and would remain open.

 

Next followed a report on the fall licensing examinations for ministers in full standing and licensed preachers: 42 persons took the exam for ministers in full standing, with 32 passing; and 13 took the exam for licensed preachers, with 7 passing. Those passing were recognized.

 

The report of the Task Force on Evangelism in the Kyodan was shared by the chairpersons of its two subcommittees.

1. Kishi Toshihiko, chair of the Subcommittee on the Implementation of the Basic Policies on the Promotion of Evangelism in the Kyodan, reported that the church magazine Shinto no Tomo (Believer’s Friend) is featuring a series of articles entitled “Churches to Remember in Prayer,” naming ones in each district.

2. Kuze Sorachi, chair of the Subcommittee on Structural Reform in the Kyodan, reported its recommendation that the number of General Assembly delegates be cut in half to 100 clergy and 100 laity, with 16 or fewer appointed voting delegates.

 

The Commission on Faith and Order’s report included a discussion from various points of view on the validity of ordination by the Evangelical Church Alliance. The report was accepted, but a question submitted by Kanto District was referred back to the Commission on Faith and Order for further deliberation.

 

During the financial report, a debate arose regarding the following two specific proposals in the budget for the 2020 fiscal year:

1. to increase the subsidy of the Solidarity Fund for Mission in Okinawa from 400,000 yen to 1,200,000 yen, and

2. to allocate 7.2 million yen as funding for the National Christian Council in Japan.

As the apportionments for National Christian Council in Japan (NCCJ) members are determined every three years, it was decided to discuss with the NCCJ the reduction of the Kyodan’s apportionment for the next period. The vote on the budget proposal ended in a tie, so the moderator cast the deciding vote. (Tr. TB)

—Kato Makoto, executive secretary

 

第5回常議員会報告

 第41総会期第5回常議員会が10月7,8日、教団会議室で常議員29名の参加をもって開催された。総幹事報告において秋山徹総幹事は台風15号被害を報告。岸俊彦(Kishi Toshihiko)東京教区議長がお見舞いに対する感謝を述べ、伊豆諸島の波浮(Habu)教会の被害と現状について報告した。

 質疑に中で天皇代替わりに対する教団の活動が問われ、秋山総幹事は前回の教団総会決議の趣旨に従い各教会で行動してほしい。事務局は10月22日を休みにしないことで姿勢を示すと述べた。

 秋季教師検定試験合格者承認の件では、正教師受験志願者42名中合格32名、不合格10名。補教師受験志願者13名中合格7名、不合格2名、継続4名の報告があり、合格者を承認した。

 教団伝道対策委員会報告では、そのもとにある2つの小委員会が活動を報告した。

 教団伝道推進基本方針展開検討小委員会では、岸俊彦委員長が「信徒の友」に各教区からの「祈りに覚える教会」を掲載する企画について報告した。

 次に教団機構改訂検討小委員会の久世そらち(Kuze Sorachi)委員長が総会議員数を従来の半分とする教職100名、信徒100名推薦議員16名以内の案を提案した。

 信仰職制委員会報告では福音主義教会連合の按手の有効性について様々な立場からの意見表明がされた。報告は承認されたが関東教区から出されていた諮問への答申は、信仰職制委員会へ差し戻すこととなった。

 2020年度教団歳入歳出予算案の審議では、沖縄宣教連帯金を現行40万円から120万円とすることについて議論になった。

 次にNCCの分担金が720万円と高額なことも議論になった。分担金は3年に1度の更新の為、次の更新時に減額できるようNCCと協議する方向性が示された。予算案は賛否同数のため議長採決で可決した。 (加藤誠)

【December 2019 No.405】Visiting Churches Damaged by Recent Typhoons

by Kato Makoto, executive secretary

Typhoons 15 (early September) and 19 (mid-October), referred to in Western media as Faxai and Hagibis, caused damage from Kanagawa District and Tokyo District’s Higashi and Chiba subdistricts to areas northeast and even beyond Tohoku District. I will report on only some of the districts that were affected.

 

As I had been planning to visit Tohoku on a missionary personnel matter, I combined that with visits to the offices of both Ou and Tohoku districts as well as to Kawamata and Motomiya churches in Fukushima prefecture during the time period of Oct. 16 to 18. I was personally able to deliver relief funds from General Secretary Akiyama Toru to each of those districts and, at Tohoku District’s Mission Committee meeting on Oct. 18, heard the report listing all the damage suffered throughout the district. Although the damage was widespread and severe, I was left with the impression that the lessons learned from the 2011 Great East Japan Disaster had been well implemented so the response had been swift and effective. On Oct. 17, I visited Kawamata Church, which was hard to find, so I depended greatly on my car’s navigating system. I had heard that the river had flooded over its banks, but at first the effects were rather difficult to discern. The church parking lot was covered with sand from the flooding, but it was only as I was led inside the building that it became evident that the water had risen above the floor. Fortunately, the sanctuary and the newly rebuilt manse were high enough to avoid damage, but the Bibles, hymnals, etc. on the lower floor, along with the furniture, toilet, etc. all had water damage. While I was there, two representatives from the city hall came by, but one said that while the living quarters were eligible for assistance in the removal of debris from under the house, the church building itself was not. Nevertheless, removing debris and drying out and sanitizing the space under the floor is necessary, so financial assistance is still needed. I then went to visit Motomiya Church and kindergarten. Because of the flooding of the Adatara River, both the kindergarten and church were under water. The waterline could clearly be seen along the walls and windows, and it was almost at the same level as the church had experienced when it was inundated during the 2011 tsunami. The fatigue of the people involved in cleaning up the mess was clearly evident on their faces. The church, which had just recently been rebuilt, had been reduced to ruins, so one can only imagine how dejected the pastor and parishioners must feel. Thus we need to ask ourselves how the Kyodan and the district should respond. (Tr. TB)

 

台風19号被災教会訪問

加藤 誠

 台風15号と19号の被害は、神奈川、東京・東支区、東京・千葉支区、東北教区に及んでいるが、今回は、その一部を報告する。

 元々、宣教師人事の関係で東北に出張予定が入っていたことに併せて、10月16日~18日に、奥羽教区事務所と東北教区事務所そして福島県の川俣教会と本宮教会を訪問した。それぞれの教区事務所には秋山徹総幹事から託されたお見舞金を手渡した。東北教区事務所を訪問した18日は、午前10時30分から教区宣教部委員会が開催され、教区内の被災教会の情報が一覧出来る報告書が配られた。福島県内の被災地域が複数ある深刻な状況にもかかわらず、2011年の東日本大震災の時の教訓が教区に生かされていたがゆえに、教区としての対応が素早く正確なのであろうと思わされた。17日にはまず川俣教会を訪問した。教会にたどり着くにはナビの指示が必要であった。川の氾濫と聞いていたが、注意して見ないと被災状況は分かり辛い。教会の駐車場は砂にカバーされていたため、氾濫の痕跡が残っていたが、案内されて教会の中に入り改めて床上浸水であったことを認識した。幸いにして礼拝堂部分と新築されたばかりの牧師館に被害はなかったが、書籍類や家具、トイレや壁が被害を受けた。滞在中に町役場から視察に人がきたが、住宅は床下の消毒や被災ゴミ撤去の援助の対象になるが教会は入らないと言う。衛生上の観点から床下の乾燥、消毒は必要なので経済的援助が求められる。続いて本宮教会・本宮幼稚園を訪問した。安達太良川の氾濫により、幼稚園、教会は水没状態であった。窓や壁に濁流の到達点が分かる横線が残されている。2011年に津波の被害を受けた東北の教会堂の中に残されていたのと同じ線である。そして片づけに追われている町の人々の表情には疲れの色が滲み出ていた。

 新しい会堂が全く使い物にならなくなってしまったことによる牧師・教会員の落胆を考えると、教区として、教団としてどのような援助が相応しいのかが問われるであろう。

【December 2019 No.405】Japanese and Korean Christians Jointly Pray for Reconciliation and Peace

Christians between Japan and South Korea held a joint prayer meeting at Nihon Kirisuto Kyokai (Church of Christ in Japan) Kashiwagi Church in Shinjuku, Tokyo on Oct. 9, amid the recent worsening political, economic, and societal relationships between the two nations. In addition to the Kyodan, representatives from the Korean Christian Church in Japan, the Anglican-Episcopal Church in Japan, the Japan Evangelical Lutheran Church, the Japan Baptist Convention, the Japan Baptist Union, the Japan Christian Church, and the Japan Catholic Council for Justice and Peace formed an organization committee to sponsor the event, and the more than 170 participants surpassed expectations.

 

This event was in response to prayer meetings held on Aug. 11 in South Korea  by church people concerned about the present situation between Korea and Japan. They expressed the hope that Christians in Japan could also hold such a prayer event. About 20 Christians from South Korea came to attend the meeting in Japan. So as fellow Christians who look up to our Lord, who brought reconciliation through the breaking down of barriers through the shedding of his own blood, we joined our hearts together in prayer.

Following messages by Kyodan Moderator Ishibashi Hideo and General Secretary Rev. Dr. Lee Hong-Jung of the National Christian Council in Korea (NCCK), written prayers from ten representative South Korean and Japanese churches and organizations, including the YMCA, were read as part of a litany of prayer. A choir from South Korea also sang hymns of praise, which made the prayers for reconciliation and peace all the more powerful. Likewise, there was a report from a team that had visited Pyongyang in North Korea in July, and although the flow is indeed only a trickle, the Lord of reconciliation and peace is working in that situation. (Tr. TB)

—Akiyama Toru, Kyodan general secretary

 

和解と平和を求める日韓キリスト者の共同祈祷会

 昨今の日韓の政治・経済・社会の関係が悪化しているなかで、表記の集会が10月9日夕に日本キリスト教会柏木教会で開かれた。本教団をはじめ、在日大韓教会、日本聖公会、日本福音ルーテル教会、日本バプテスト連盟、同盟、日本キリスト教会、日本カトリック正義と平和協議会などによる実行委員会の主催で、予想を超える170余名の参会者によって盛大に行われた。この集会は、去る8月11日にこの状況を憂える韓国の教会からの呼びかけで、ソウルで行われた集会の連続で、日本でもぜひこの祈りの会を開きたいとの願いを受けて開かれたもの。韓国からは20名ほどの参加者があり、同じ主を仰ぐキリスト者として、隔ての壁をご自身の血によって取り除き、和解をもたらしてくださった主イエス・キリストに心を合わせて祈った。

集会では石橋教団議長と韓国NCC総幹事のメッセージの後、両国の教会やYMCAなど各センター10数団体からの平和を求める祈祷文が読み上げられ、主の祈りをもとにしたリタニ―によって祈りがささげられた。韓国からこの集会のために来られた聖歌隊による力強い賛美もあって、和解と平和を求める祈りを熱くさせられた。

また、この集会で7月に平壌を訪れた訪問団の報告会も行われ、北朝鮮人民共和国のキリスト者との交流の、まだ細い流れではあるが、和解と贖罪の主の導きによる歩みが始まっていることの報告を受けた。(秋山 徹)

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