【June 2017 No.393】Prayer Meetings ‡U. Lay Leadership of Church Prayer Meetings

by Taino Keiko, member

                                                                                                              Kawakami Church, Ehime Prefecture

Kawakami Church was founded by a U.S. missionary in 1909 as a place for the Japan Methodist Church to hold lectures. At the time of its founding, there were already many Christian farmers. Pastor Matsuda Suzuo, appointed in 1947 just after World War II, got involved by providing land for the establishment of Galilee Home, which is part of Airin-en Special Nursing Home for the Elderly. This facility is a social welfare corporation, which at that time was still rare in farming towns. For a long time, he operated a kindergarten named “Olive Garden.” It closed ten years ago, but until then it had contributed greatly to community welfare and education. After his death in 1983, there were intermittent periods in which there was no pastor, and then the baton was passed to Pastor Mori Kenshiro, Pastor Imai Makio, and Pastor Hirosawa Mikio. Since 2015 the church has been experiencing its third period without a pastor. At present, Pastor Ota Tatsuo of Matsuyama Eiko Church in Ehime Prefecture is overseeing the church, which is a small congregation of 17 resident communicant members. He comes to hold worship services and attend church board meetings. Kawakami Church is also assisted by other pastors in the subdistrict.

I was baptized when I was 22 years old at Iimorino Church in Hyogo Prefecture. I transferred to Kawakami Church when I got married 54 years ago. I thought, “I want to marry someone with whom I can go to church.” That was the reason I married a Christian man. However, his family operated a dairy farm with 40 to 50 cows. It was all we could do to observe Sunday worship. It was about ten years ago when I was finally able to go to the prayer meetings. I am now 79 years old. Even during periods when there was no pastor, Kawakami Church maintained its prayer meetings, never once canceling them. Prayer meetings used to be held on Wednesday nights; then about 50 years ago it was moved to the afternoon, and now it is held from 10 to 11 a.m. There have been fewer attendees as time has passed because members have died or stopped coming for other reasons. Including myself, there have been three people who have always attended. Even so, there is never any talk of discontinuing the prayer meeting. We are continually encouraged by the words of Ueda Noriko, who is now 92 years old and still active as a Sunday school teacher. She says, “As long as there are people who can gather together, even if it is only one or two people, I want to continue the weekly prayer meeting.”

When Pastor Ota took on the role of overseer of the church, we considered moving it to the afternoon so that he could also participate. However, because there would have been someone else who could not attend, we decided to continue holding it in the morning, as a prayer meeting for the laity. For the first half of the prayer meeting, we study the Bible. We are presently studying the books of the Chronicles. The person whose turn it is to lead reads the Bible passage ahead of time, and then comes and shares his or her thoughts with everyone. Though there are many sad things happening in today’s world, as we study this subject, we think about what Jesus is saying to us now, and we all discuss it together. After that, we follow a booklet issued by Shikoku District called “Inoro Shikoku no Kyokai” (“Churches of Shikoku, Let’s Pray as One Body”). We pray for Kawakami Church, for the people connected to it, for the many children who gather in the facilities related to the church, and for each other.

Whenever I think, “Today there is a prayer meeting,” it is very encouraging for me. In life, there are many unpleasant things, but if you go to church and pray, God will listen to everything. Since my husband died I have been living alone, but it is reassuring to realize that God is with me so I am not really alone. Whenever all three of us look at each other and feel the same way about something, we are thankful and say, “It is so good that we were able to come to the prayer meeting today.” Our prayer meeting is also a place to confirm such blessings from God.

Although Kawakami Church is small, in 2014 we were able to construct a new building. The old church, built in 1934, was a two-story wooden structure that had badly deteriorated. It was also inadequately retrofitted to withstand earthquakes. It had reached the limit of how much repair could be done to stop the rain from leaking in. The church was on a mountainside, where transportation was definitely inconvenient. A long time ago, the road in front of the church building was also the main road that ran through the center of town, so there was a lot of traffic. However, since then a bypass and a highway have been constructed, and the circumstances are completely different.

We decided to rebuild, using our fund of 20 million yen that had been saved by the church for 40 years, adding donations from churches all over the country. We relocated to level ground. We had prayed for this for 40 years, and it became a reality. We were blessed because when the church was founded, missionaries had prepared for us a large sanctuary for worship and a parsonage. Proceeds from the sale of the large plot of land and the buildings could be used for covering the cost of repaying the debt. We are thankful for God’s wondrous guidance. (Tr. KT)

—From Shinto no Tomo (Believers’ Friend), January 2017 issue. Summarized by KNL Editor Kawakami Yoshiko



愛媛・川上教会  田井野圭子(Taino Keiko)  たいの けいこ/川上教会員

川上教会は日本メソヂスト教会の講義所 として、アメリカ人の宣教師により1909年に創立された教会です。創立時は農業を営む信徒が多くいました。戦後の1947年に赴任 した松田鈴雄(Matsuda Suzuo)牧師は、まだ農村では珍しかった社会福祉法人愛隣園特別養護老人ホームの ガリラヤ荘設立に土地提供などをとおして関わりました。オリブ園という幼児園も長く営み、こちらは10年 前に閉園しましたが、地域福祉と教育に貢献してきました。松田牧師が83年 に亡くなってからは、無牧の時を挟みながら森研四郎(Mori Kenshiro)牧師、今井牧夫(Imai Makio)牧師、廣澤幹夫(Hirosawa Mikio)牧師とバトンが継がれ、2015年 よりは3度 目の無牧を経験しています。現在は代務の大田辰夫(Ota Tatsuo)牧師(愛媛・松山栄光教会牧師)が来て礼拝の御用をし、役員会に出席して くださっています。分区の先生方にも支えられています。現住陪餐会員(resident communicant members)17名の小さな教会です。

私は、兵庫県の飯盛野教会で22歳 のときに洗礼を受け、54年 前に結婚と共に川上教会に転会しました。「一緒に教会に行ける人と結婚したい」という理由でクリスチャンである夫と結婚したのです が、婚家は牛40~50頭 を飼う酪農家。日曜日の礼拝を守るのが精いっぱいでした。祈祷会に出られるようになったのは10年 ほど前からです。今は79歳 です。川上教会の祈祷会は無牧のときも含めて、一度も休むことなく続けられてきたそうです。水曜日の夜に行われていましたが、50年 ほど前に昼に移動し、現在は午前10時 から11時 までです。会員が亡くなるなどして年々出席者が少なくなり、常時出席しているのは私を含めて3人です。しかしそれでも祈祷会をやめる という話にはなりません。92歳 で、今も現役のCS教 師をしている上田倫子(Ueda Noriko)さんの「1人でも2人でもいいから、集える人がいる限り、祈祷会を続けて いきたい」という言葉に励まされ続けています。

大田牧師が代務になったとき、午後に移 せば牧師も参加できるということで検討しましたが出席できなくなる人が出るために、信徒だけの祈祷会として午前に続けることにしまし た。祈祷会の前半は聖書の学びです。今は歴代誌を学んでいます。当番が事前に読んできて皆と感想を分かち合います。悲しいことの多い 時代ですが、この学びをとおしてイエスさまが今の私たちに何を語り掛けてくださっているのかを考えながら皆で話し合っています。その 後は、四国教区が発行している小冊子『祈ろう四国の教会』に従って教区の教会のために祈り、また川上教会とそれに連なる人たちのた め、関連施設に集う多くの子どもたちのため、お互いのために祈ります。

私にとって、「今日は祈祷会がある」と いうことは大きな励みです。人生、いろいろと大変なことがあります。でも教会に行って祈れば、神さまが全部聞いてくださるのです。夫 を亡くして今は一人暮らしとなりましたが、一人ではない、神さまがいてくださるのだと思うと心強いのです。同じ気持ちの3人が顔を合 わせるたびに、「今日も祈祷会に来ることができて本当によかった」と感謝しています。祈祷会とはそのような恵みを確認する場でもあり ます。

川上教会は小さな教会です。しかし2014年 に新会堂を建てました。1934年 に建てられた木造2階建ての旧会堂は劣化が激しく、耐震性もありませんでした。雨漏りの補修も限界を迎えていました。山の中腹にあ り、交通の便も決してよくありません。昔は会堂の前を通る道が村の中心道路で往来も多かったのです。しかし、バイパスや高速道路がで きて事情がすっかり変わってしまいました。

そこで、教会では40年間蓄えてきた資金2000万 円に全国の教会からの献金を合わせて建て替えることとし、平地に移転しました。40年 来の祈りが実現しました。幸いに教会創立時に宣教師により広い礼拝堂、牧師館が備えられ、その土地建物の売却金を借財の返済費用に充 てることができました。不思議な神さまの導きに感謝しています。(インタビュー・文=信徒の友編集部)

【June 2017 No.393】East Japan Disaster Sixth Annual Memorial Worship Service

by Kato Makoto, executive secretary

In March 2017, Evangelical Mission in Solidarity (EMS) personnel, namely, Rev. Dr. Kerstin Neumann (Head and Deputy General Secretary of the Department of Mission and Partnership), Rev. Solomon P. Benjamin (Liaison Secretary for East Asia and India), and Dr. Carola Hoffmann-Richter (EMS member) visited Japan. The purpose of their recent visit was to attend the anniversary meeting that was to be held in remembrance of the East Japan Disaster—to attend it on the date that the disaster occurred (March 11) and at the actual place it happened—and further, to meet leaders of the various Japanese churches and institutions affiliated with EMS and deepen their friendly relationship with them.

From March 10 to 13, I accompanied them as we followed an itinerary that took us to Sendai, Ishinomaki, Fukushima, and Asian Rural Institute (ARI). Since Secretary Neumann and Secretary Benjamin joined in the work of EMS last year, this was their first visit to Japan. As a former EMS mission co-worker, member Hoffmann-Richter had previously spent eight years in Japan, working primarily in the Kansai area. This time she came to Japan to provide translation and serve as a guide. At 2 p.m. on March 10, we met at the Kyodan Tohoku Disaster Relief Center, Emmaus in Sendai to hear presentations by Tohoku District (which has shouldered the burdens of  Emmaus), the Aizu Radiation Information Center, and the Kyodan Tohoku District Nuclear Disaster Relief Task Force, Izumi concerning their work. Following these presentations, the ensuing discussion period was marked by a lively exchange of opinions.

On the morning of March 11, we moved to Ishinomaki to observe directly what is currently being done in the disaster area. At Ishinomaki Yamashiro-cho Church, from 2:30 in the afternoon, we participated in the East Japan Disaster Six-year Memorial Worship Service, which was sponsored by Tohoku District. Rev. Sato Masashi, who had been sent by the Kyodan to serve as a director of Emmaus, delivered the sermon.

On Sunday, March 12, we moved to Fukushima Church, where we participated in another worship service commemorating the sixth anniversary of the East Japan Disaster. Rev. Hoshina Takashi, pastor of Fukushima Church, gave a sermon entitled, “Especially in Weakness.” He is also vice-moderator of Tohoku District and head of the Izumi Room of the Kyodan Tohoku District Nuclear Disaster Relief Task Force (which deals with radioactivity issues).

Late afternoon on the same day, we visited ARI in neighboring Tochigi Prefecture and shared in the dinnertime fellowship. We stayed in the guest room; however, the construction of the building was different from that found in Germany, and the coldness of the night in Nishinasuno caused some difficulty. The next morning, we participated in the morning program. After experiencing various farm chores, we had breakfast and shared in the morning worship service led by missionary Jonathan McCurley, who comes to us from the United Methodist Church. There are no students there at this time of year, so this gave us an opportunity to hear from the staff concerning ARI’s programs.

On March 13 we met with Kyodan Moderator Rev. Ishibashi Hideo and a number of other pastors and executive secretaries at the Japan Christian Center. After that we visited the Korean Christian Church in Japan, the National Christian Council in Japan (which is in the same building as the administrative offices of the Kyodan), and in the afternoon, the Tomisaka Christian Center.

Later EMS personnel visited the Kansai region; (I did not accompany them for this portion of their schedule in western Japan). On March 18 they completed their scheduled activities and returned to Germany. (Tr. DM)


Kato Makoto, executive secretary加藤 誠

2017年3月に、EMSの カースティン・ノイマン副総幹事、ベンジャミン・ソロモンアジア担当幹事、カロラ・ホフマンーリ ヒター議員が、来日した。今回の目的は東北大震災記 念日当日の3.11の 現地記念集会に出席することと、(日 本の) EMS加 盟教会・団体の指導者に会い、より親密な関係を深めることであった。

10日から13日までの、仙台、石巻、福島、アジア学院への旅程に、(私 は彼らと)同 行した。ノイマン副総幹事とソロモン幹事は昨年にエムスの働きに加わったため、初来日であった。カロラ議員はかつてEMSの ミッション・コワーカーとして、主に関西を中心に8年間滞在され、今回は通訳兼案内として来日された。3月10日 は仙台の被災者支援センター・エマオにおいて午後2時から東北教区が担う被災者支援センター・エマオ、会津放射能情報セン ター、東北教区放射能問題支援対策室いずみの活動についてのプレゼンテーションが行 われ、その後活発な意見交換が行われた。

3月11日は午前中に石巻に移動 し、被災地域の現在の取り組みを学ぶフィールドワークを行った。午後2時半からは石巻山城町教会で行われた東北教区主催東日本大震災6周年記念礼拝に参加し た。説教は佐藤真史牧師である。彼は被災者支援センター・エマオにディレクターとして教団より派 遣された。12日 (日曜)は福島教会に移動して東日本大震災6周年記念礼拝に参加した。説教は保科隆牧師(福島教会牧師・東北教区副議長・放射能問題支援対策室いずみ室長)説教題は「弱いときにこそ」。同日夕方にはアジア学 院を訪問し夕食の交わりに参加。ゲストルームでの宿泊となったが、ドイツとは家の造りが違い、西那須野の夜の冷え込みは予想外に厳し かったようである。翌朝は朝のプログラムに参加。それぞれ農作業を体験した後、朝食、UMCか ら派遣されているジョナサン・マッカーリー宣教師による朝礼拝に参加した。学生のいない時期ではあったが、かえってスタッフから じっくりとアジア学院の方針を聞く機会が与えられた。

13日は、東京のキリスト教 会館でまず、日本基督教団総会議長石橋秀雄牧師以下数名の牧師・幹事と懇談した。その後、在日大韓基督教会,National Christian Council in Japanと同館内の事務局を訪問し、午後は富阪キリスト教センターを訪問した。私は関西のスケジュールには同行しなかったが、EMSの 皆さんはその後関西を訪問し、18日 に全てのスケジュールを終えて、ドイツへ帰国された。

【June 2017 No.393】International Youth Conference Considers Sustainable Energy Issues

by Iijima Makoto, executive secretary Kyodan East Japan Disaster Relief Projects Planning Headquarters

The International Youth Conference on “Aiming to Realize a Sustainable Energy Future,” hosted by the Kyodan in Kyoto March 28-31, was a very significant event in the ongoing efforts to consider issues associated with nuclear power generation and energy consumption, in the following three respects.

1. The conference was held in Japan, which has experienced radiation exposure three times—in Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and Fukushima.

2. Not only did the conference clarify problems of nuclear power generation from a variety of viewpoints, it provided suggestions about how to realize a sustainable energy society in the future.

3. The conference, which was planned and implemented by youth leaders, gave birth to the possibility of a network that is rooted in the church and based on shared awareness among Christian youth from 12 countries, including not just Asian countries but also Canada, the USA, and Germany. There were 110 participants, with 20 from overseas.

These points are explained further below with corresponding numbers.

1. In 1945 Japan suffered the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and, after the East Japan Disaster on March 11, 2011, also experienced the nuclear accident at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. We therefore bear a special duty, now more than ever, to alert the world to the grave effects of radioactive contamination on our lives. At this conference we did not limit ourselves to speaking out; we were able to invite youth from other countries that listened earnestly to our voices and were willing to engage in new challenges with us.

2. The conference made it clear that the nuclear power plant accident of 2011 caused irreparable harm and dire situations in the following ways.

   1) There are people who cannot return to their homes due to high levels of radiation.

   2) Not only has mandatory evacuation destroyed local communities, differing viewpoints on radiation risks have also caused division in families and among friends.

   3) Harmful effects on the health of children resulting from radioactive contamination are growing more serious with the passage of time.

Such problems were illustrated through the use of meticulous materials, and the situations and initiatives in other countries were also introduced. Through this, participants were also made aware of how important it is for us to adopt sustainable energy options into our daily lives; for example, going “off-grid.”*

3. The fact that this conference was planned over a period of one year and was carried out by young people is very meaningful not only for the future of the Kyodan but also for the Christian community in Japan. As we look forward with anticipation to the rich relationships that may develop among the youth who gathered, including those from abroad, we in the Kyodan must ask ourselves what we can do to foster such relationships.

Fellowship can take many forms. The special characteristic of the fellowship experienced at this conference was that participating youth discovered the importance of collaborating across denominational boundaries while remaining firmly grounded in the Gospel faith. Also noteworthy is the fact that 16 of the Kyodan’s 17 districtswere represented at the conference. (Okinawa sent no delegate.) It is encouraging to know that the Kyodan can come together like this to engage a single issue as one body.

Aside from the closing day’s plenary session, where we discussed and adopted a final statement, the conference was an intense event that featured 20 lectures and presentations in 21/2 days. The young organizers did a wonderful job of implementing the program. We can say that this youth conference inherited the spirit of the Kyodan’s first international conference, held at Sendai in 2014, and bore fruit beyond our expectations.

The tasks that lay ahead of us are: (1) to ensure that the issues of nuclear power transmitted from Japan will be deeply and widely received abroad and (2) to work with overseas partners who sent youth to this conference to host in those countries, on a rotating basis, a series of conferences focused on nuclear power issues.

With heartfelt prayers to the God of history, this concludes my report on the conference. (Tr. DGM)

*Going “off-grid”: Disconnecting from the power distribution network (“grid”) of major electric power companies by installing and using one’s own power-generation facilities.

「国際青年会議in京都―エネルギー持続社会の実現に向けて」報告 (飯島信)



(2)原発の持つ問題点が様々な視点から明らかにされただけでなく、未来のエネルギー持続社会実現に向かう示 唆が与えられたこと。




(1)    について。

1945年のヒロシマ・ナガサキへの原爆投下、そして2011年の3・11東日本大震災による東京電力福島第一原子力発電所の原発事故によって、私たちは戦争の悲惨さだけではなく、放 射能汚染が私たちの生活に与える深刻さを、これまでより一層声を大にして世界に発信する責務が与えられている。今回の国際青年会議は、2014年の国際会議に続く私たちの2回目の原発問題の発信の場であった。そして、それは、ただ発信するにとどまらず、私たちの発信を真摯に受け止 め、この問題を共に担うことが期待された海外からの若者を招いて行われたのである。


(2)    について。

3・11の原発事故は、以下の点で、取り返しのつかない悲惨な現実を生み出していることが会議を通して明らか にされた。


②強制避難によって地域社会が崩壊したのみならず、放射能の問題をめぐる意見の相違が肉親・親族の間に深刻な分 断をもたらしていること。


これらの問題が綿密な資料をもとに確認されただけでなく、他の国々の取り組みも紹介される中で、オフグリッド (注)など持続可能エネルギーを生活の中に取り入れて行くことの大切さが改めて認識された。



(3)    について。

今回の会議が、約1年の歳月をかけて、青年たちによって準備・運営された事実は、日本基督教団のこれからだけでなく、日本のキリ スト教界の将来にとって重要な意味を持つ。特に、国を超えて生まれた青年たちの交わりが今後いかに豊かなものに成長して行くか、そのため に日本基督教団として何が出来るのかが問われている。


交わりには様々な在り方がある。その中での今回の交わりの特色は、参加した青年たちが、福音主義信仰の土台の 上に、各個教会の枠を超えて協働の大切さを受け止め合えたことにあるだろう。特に今回の会議に、日本基督教団全17教区中、沖縄を除く16教区が青年代表を派遣した事実を見ても、教会・教区の枠を超え、日本基督教団が一致して一つの課題に向き合う ことの出来た事実が知らされるのである。

会議は、最終日の声明文採択の時間を除き、2日半で20の講演と発表が行われた過密なプログラムであった。しかし、青年達は見事なまでに会議を運営して行った。こう して行われた国際青年会議は、2014年に仙台で行われた日本基督教団初の国際会議を継承し、予想をはるかに越えた実りをもたらしたと言える。

課題は、日本から発信された原発問題が、さらに深く広く海外で受け止められ、今回参加した国々が、原発問題を 主題にした青年会議を次々に持ち回りで開催することである。


【April 2017 No.392】Acting General Secretary’s Report: Mission Emphasis Includes Support of NCCJ’s 70th Anniversary

The mission activities of the 40th General Assembly period (2016-2018) have now begun. As at every general assembly, various commissions and committees gather together to support the work of local churches and schools and other organizations related to the Kyodan, which is where our mission actually takes place. The standing committees of the Kyodan are:

          •   the Commission on Mission,

          •   the Commission on Cooperative Ecumenical


          •   the Commission on the Ministry,

          •   the Commission on Ministerial Qualifications,

          •   the Commission on Faith and Order, and

          •   the Commission on Finance.

Likewise, the following focus committees also operate under the Commission on Mission:

          •   the Committee on Evangelism,

          •   the Committee on Social Concerns, and

          •   the Committee on Education, including the

             Office of Evangelism Promotion.

In addition to these committees and commissions, the assembly established the Research Institute on the Mission of the Church, which began the process of revising the “basic theory of mission” during the 36th General Assembly Period (2008-2010). This process is still ongoing, with the discussion during the 40th General Assembly focusing on the very premises of the debate, that of “mission” and “evangelism.” “Our conclusion is that ‘mission’ is primarily communicating the gospel message—in other words, ‘evangelism.’ However, true evangelism must give birth to ‘witness.’ (Revised Basic Theory of Mission draft, I-2-4)*” [*Social action and activities] There is much debate within the Kyodan concerning this draft. It is my hope that this debate will not end merely with definitions of words but with the gospel of Christ spreading in various ways to every place.

As the National Christian Council in Japan (NCCJ) celebrates its 70th anniversary next year, “Mission Conference 2018″ and its lead-up gatherings are being planned. The four events, each with a separate theme, have been or will be held on the following dates:

   1. “Mission: Kerygma and Youth”: Sept. 24, 2016

   2. “Service: Diakonia and Life”: Feb. 4, 2017

   3. “Witness: Marturia and Collaboration Between

      Generations”: Sept. 9, 2017

  4.  “Prayer and Worship: Leitourgia and Diversity”

     : Feb. 3, 2018

Not only are the member denominations, churches, and other organizations participating but there will also be a Roman Catholic presence, thus making this a truly ecumenical mission conference. Preparations for the main conference are well underway, and the Kyodan intends to cooperate in every way possible to make it a success. (Tr. TB)

—Dohke Norikazu, acting general secretary Executive Secretary of General Affairs

日本基督教団第40総会期の宣教活動が始まります。毎総会期のことですが、宣教の最前線を担っている教会と伝道所および関係学校・団 体の働きを支えるために、各委員会が組織されます。常設委員会として、宣教委員会、世界宣教委員会、教師委員会、教師検定委員会、信 仰職制委員会、予算決算委員会があります。常設専門委員会として宣教委員会の下には、伝道委員会、教育委員会、社会委員会がありま す。伝道委員会の下には伝道推進室があり、これらの諸委員会とは別に、宣研究所委員会が組織されます。


本作業は今総会も引き継がれますが、作業の前提として議論となって いるのは、「宣教」と「伝道」についてです。「『宣教』とは、第一義的には、福音を宣べ伝えること、すなわち、『伝道』のことであ る、と結論されます。ただし、真実な伝道は必ず『証し*』を生み出します。」*社会的活動及び行動(改訂宣教基礎理論第二次草案Ⅰ -2-④)については、教団内には、なおいろいろな議論があります。言葉の定義の議論に終始するのではなく、キリストの福音が、あら ゆる場、様々な仕方で、広がってゆくことを願います。

NCCは、2018年に創立70周年を迎 え、「宣教会議2018」を開催します。そのプレ集会が4回企画され ており、教団も参加しています。毎回テーマがあります。「第1回 宣教=ケリュグマ×青年」(2016年9月24日)「第2 回 奉仕=ディアコニア×いのち」(2017年2月4日)「第3 回 証し=マルトゥリア×世代間協働」(2017年9月9日)「第4 回 祈り・礼拝=レイトゥルギア×多様性」(2018年2月3日)。 NCC加盟の教派・教会・団体をはじめカトリックからも参加者があり、エキュメニカルな宣教会議の開催に向けて、着実に準備が進んで います。日本基督教団としても出来る限り、開催実現に向けて、協力してゆくつもりです。

【April 2017 No.392】A Visit to Japanese Churches in Europe

by Kawai Nozomu, ministerial appointee  Pine United Methodist Church, San Francisco, CA

In 2016, I was appointed to serve Pine United Methodist Church in San Francisco as a Kyodan missionary. However my visa has yet to be issued. As of January 2017, I still remained in Japan. Given this situation, the Commission on Ecumenical Ministries decided to send me to visit Kyodan-related Japanese churches abroad to learn more about their circumstances and chose three churches in Europe. I visited the Cologne-Bonn Japanese Church in Germany; the Kobylisy Church in Prague, Czech Republic; and the Brussels Japanese Protestant Church in Belgium. In each of the churches, I had richly rewarding experiences. There are many things I would like to share, but here I will focus on two in particular.

First is the fact that people gathering together in Japanese churches abroad are yearning for relationships in the Japanese language. All of them are working and experiencing daily life in German, French, English, and other languages and generally have no serious difficulty communicating in a foreign language. However, there is still a strong desire for a church where they can hear a sermon in Japanese and enjoy fellowship in their native language. I think this is based on that deep influence and love of one’s mother tongue. A person who has been living in Germany for more than 45 years told me, “When speaking in German, there’s considerable mental and physical energy required. But when speaking in Japanese, it’s so easy.” These words are deeply embedded in my memory.

Secondly, I found that the missionary pastors serving in those churches are also experiencing loneliness. In Japan, there are neighborhood pastors to whom one can go and seek counsel and cooperation. However, when abroad, visiting a Japanese pastor might require hours by car or public transportation. Missionaries feel difficulty in talking about their worries and hardships with their congregants. As a result they keep these feelings inside and begin to experience added stress. If possible, I think the Kyodan should provide pastoral care for missionaries abroad by sending qualified personnel periodically to their areas of service.

Let me add a personal thought. When I was at the Brussels Japanese Protestant Church, I was the celebrant for the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. This congregation too has been waiting for a missionary to come from Japan, but also due to the delayed visa for that missionary, it had been a long time since the congregation had been able to celebrate communion. During the service, I served the cup and the bread to each member individually, and I could not help but feel the parishioners’ strong sense of joy and thanksgiving as they received the elements. Their deep desire for communion together was palatable. As a pastor, that moment filled me with exultation. I realized anew that I love this ministry to which I am called.

Even if distance separates us from each other on earth, our distance from God is always the same. All of us who share this earth together are held in the warm embrace of God. However, even believing this, Japanese Christians living abroad experience loneliness, alienation, and discrimination. Insuring that Japanese Christians abroad have more concrete means of experiencing God’s love is one of the tasks of the Kyodan. Through this trip to Europe, I thought to myself, “If there is anything I can do to accomplish this goal, I really want to do that.”

(Tr. JS)

*Editorial note: In mid-March, after this article was written, the missionaries being sent to Brussels (Rev. Kawakami Yasushi and Rev. Kawakami Masaki) have received their visas. However, Rev. Kawai’s visa has not yet been received.


パ イン合同メソジスト教会(赴任予定)

川 合 望(かわい・のぞむ)

私は、日本基督教団の宣教師として、アメリカ・サンフ ランシスコにある「パイン合同メソジス ト教会」へと、2016年中に派遣される 予定でした。しかし、なかなかビザが 発給されずに、2017年1月 の今でも日本に留まっています。そこで、この時間を利用して、海外にある日本人教会を訪問し、その現状を知るために、ヨーロッパ研修 の旅へと出かけることとなりました。

 このヨーロッパ研修の旅で、私は3つ の教会を訪れました。ドイツ・ケルンのケルンボン日本語キリスト教会、チェコ・プラハのコビリシ教会、ベルギー・ブリュッセルのブ リュッセル日本語プロテスタント教会です。それぞれの教会で、とても貴重な経験をさせていただきました。話したいことはたくさんある のですが、ここでは、大きく2つの焦点に絞って書いていきます。

 ひとつは、海外の日本人教会に集う誰もが、日本語 での交流を求めているという点です。彼らは皆、ドイツ語やフランス語、または英語などで、仕事をしたり、日々の生活を送ったりしてい ます。外国語でのコミュニケーションに、特に大きな問題はありません。それでも、日本語での牧会、礼拝説教、そして交わりを望んでい ます。それが、やはり「母語」の重さなのでしょう。もう45年以上ドイツで暮 らしている人が、私にこう言いました。「ドイツ語を話すためには、かなりの気力と体力が必要です。日本語での会話は、とても楽で す」。この言葉が、私の記憶に深く刻まれています。

 もうひとつは、それぞれの教会に仕える宣教師(牧 師)も孤独を感じているという点です。日 本であれば、近所に仲間の牧師がいて、気軽に相談したり、助け合ったりできます。しかし、海外であれば、隣りの教会の日本人牧師に会 いに行くだけでも、電車や車で数時間かかることも珍しくありません。宣教師は、自分の悩みや苦しみなどを、教会員に打ち明けることも できず、ずっと胸の内に秘めています。それは、かなりのストレスです。もし可能であれば、教団が定期的に人を派遣して、海外の宣教師 への牧会的ケアがなされるように願います。

 個人的な 思い出をひとつ。ブリュッセル日 本語プロテスタント教会の礼拝で、聖餐式が執り行われました。ビザの発給が遅れているため、この教会にもまだ日本から宣教師が来 ておらず、教会員のみなさんにとって、かなり久しぶりの聖餐式でした。

 聖餐式 で、私は、一人一人に直接、パンと 杯を手渡したのですが、教会員のみなさんは、本当に喜びと感動をもって、パンと杯を受け取られました。聖餐式を求めている気持ち が、ひしひしと伝わってきました。このとき、私は、牧師して最高の高揚感に満たされました。やはり、私はこの仕事が好きなんだ と、自分自身で再認識できました。

たとえ地上で遠く離れても、神からの距離は、どこでも同じです。地上に生きるすべての人が、神の温かな愛の眼差しに包まれています。 そうは信じていても、やはり、海外に生きる日本人クリスチャンは、孤独や疎外感、差別を感じずにはいられません。そのような方々のた めに、神の愛を目に見える具体的な形に表していくのも、日本基督教団の大切な職務のひとつです。そのために、「私にできることがある ならば、それを担っていきたい」と、このヨーロッパの旅を通じて、強く思いました。

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