【April 2019 No.402】Preserving the Natural World God Made

by Miyana Koichiro, member, Kodaira Church,Nishi-Tokyo District Attendee, Hokkaido Nakashibetsu Church, Hokkai District Park Ranger Assistant Rausu Park Ranger’s Office Ministry of the Environment

I am a person who loves to be immersed in the atmosphere of forests and rivers and have been working for four years as a park ranger assistant, referred to in Japanese as an “active ranger,” in the Ministry of the Environment’s Rausu Park Ranger’s Office at Hokkaido Shiretoko National Park. The Park Ranger’s work is carried out by public officials who protect the natural environment in national parks and other places. The main work for me, as an assistant, is to patrol the national parks on behalf of the Park Ranger, gathering information on such matters as the condition of facilities and disseminating it. I also do work connected with rare species of wild animals, such as the Blakiston’s fish owl.


I use the term “patrol,” but most areas are not accessible by motor vehicle within the 38,000 hectare Shiretoko National Park. Movement is almost entirely by walking; and maybe it’s not even an exaggeration to say that the work is walking—walking through the mountains, valleys, rivers, seashore, rock walls, thickets of bamboo grass bush and Siberian dwarf pine in the higher elevations, as well as walking where there are no paths. I would like to share two things I think about during those days of walking around Shiretoko.


My first thoughts are of Shiretoko National Park, the entire area of which is registered as a World Natural Heritage Site. In the park there are various living things in each of the highly diversified environments that extend from mountains rising 1,500 meters above sea level and continue to 2,000 meters below the surface of the deep sea. A world overflowing with these living things stretches from only one step outside the office, so there is no day when I am unaware of their existence. Of course I am aware of people, but my daily life is one that involves an awareness of living things other than humans. As a result, I have come to think that not only do I long to hand to the next generation a natural environment in good condition, a natural environment in the world created by God, I want to use the strength given to me for that purpose. Likewise, I have also begun to think that this work can be accomplished through the church.


It is written in Genesis 1:28 that God entrusted to humankind the rule over all living things other than humans. A concrete way of ruling is not specified, but I think the stance for this is revealed in the figure of Jesus washing His disciples’ feet. That is, within the system in which living things were created by God to carry out various purposes, we wholeheartedly, and with humility, provide the help they need. Proclaiming the good news to as many people as possible and living in service to one another is truly a magnificent thing. Isn’t it also required to include living things other than human beings in that affiliation?


My second area of thought is existence with a directed awareness of living things other than people. For this, it is necessary to have a calm and relaxed mind. It is difficult to live that way in person-to-person relationships, but furthermore, even thinking that way is completely thwarted without a relationship to God. After beginning my work, I was shown just how important it is to provide for a relationship of oneself to God. I began to realize that to continue this relationship, it is a rich blessing to have a set time for worship at the beginning of the week.


While I am walking around Shiretoko, time passes in an instant. Overwhelmed with business, exchanging ideas with various kinds of people, and sometimes in the midst of encountering a brown bear, physical and spiritual exhaustion accumulates. Then I realize how my awareness of working for the Lord has waned, how I have turned my back on the Lord during a mere week, in this very short period of time. In the midst of this realization, by welcoming worship on the Lord’s Day and in this hour having time to consider and review my relationship with the Lord, I am able to renew my commitment to work for the Lord from the bottom of my heart. A week begun in this way definitely overflows with good wisdom and, with a calm and relaxed mind, I can direct my attention to other persons and to living things as well.


Looking to the Lord, having been given a calm and relaxed mind, I have consideration for people and the existence of things other than people, and can live in mutual support. I think this is the way I want to live the life I have been given. (Tr. RT)


「20代の証し 仕事とわたし 神さまが創られた自然を支えるために」

宮奈光一郎(みやな  こういちろう)


東京・小平教会員 北海道・中標津教会出席








 主に目を向け、余裕を与えられて人と人以外の存在に配慮し、支え合って生きる。与えられた人生をそのように生きたいと思います。    (信徒の友2019年1月)

【April 2019 No.402】Seikyo Gakuen: A School Born through Prayer

The beginning of Seikyo Gakuen was unique. It started in the confusing and uncertain times after World War II. The Sunday school students of Kawachinagano Church in southern Osaka began to pray enthusiastically that they would always be able to learn according to the Bible at school. If you look around the world, you will see that it is still quite rare to find a school that was created by students and their own voluntary prayers.


In 1948, the Sunday school students started their fundraising activities by picking up sukudo (dried leaves used for kindling) and selling it in the streets to raise money to create their school. In 1950, the members of Kawachinagano Church, inspired by the enthusiasm of the students, joined the students’ efforts to establish a school based on Christianity. Two people, Ueda Shinichi and Nakayama Noboru, felt a special calling from God and decided to devote their own lives to the establishment of Seikyo Gakuen.


Ueda Shinichi (1896-1989) was the last member of the church to have been baptized by Rev. Alexander Durham Hail, the missionary who founded Kawachinagano Church.* To bring about the establishment of Seikyo Gakuen, God called upon Ueda, who had lived his life as a principal in the public school system. He full-heartedly joined the establishment efforts, donated the majority of his public school retirement bonus to the campaign, and drafted a statement in January 1950 to concretize the vision of Seikyo Gakuen. According to this statement, a clear goal was set in everyone’s mind: “We will create a genuine school that can cultivate true Christian spirit, that is to say, a school that can enhance true intelligence through loving God, loving people, and pursuing the truth.” After that, many people continued to dedicate themselves to this purpose, and in April 1951, only a year and three months after the draft of intent, through the miraculous intervention of God, Seikyo Gakuen Junior High School was founded. Ueda became its first principal.


Despite being a small school with only 49 students, it was a joyful place where the presence of God was embraced. As its location was in the countryside of southern Osaka, it was unable to gain enough students for smooth management, even though the Japanese economy was growing rapidly. Because of this, Ueda endured many difficulties as he continued to try to keep the school open. However, he continued to serve faithfully, in accordance with the words of the Lord, by setting an example and taking on many jobs, such as working at the school building’s construction site. In 1968, God once again miraculously gave the members dedicated to this cause the opportunity to establish a senior high school.


By the 1980s, Seikyo Gakuen had grown into a school with more than 1,000 students. Ueda thanked God for His divine work. In 1989, the Lord took him home at the age of 93. Until the end of his life, he continued to be an active principal. He loved to spend time with students and continued to speak with enthusiasm. His educational attitude made students sense the importance of passion. “Our students are our billboard” is a phrase that everyone in the southern part of Osaka knows.  It is our tradition at Seikyo Gakuen. This is the legacy brought about by Ueda’s faith.


Another founder, Nakayama Noboru (1925- ), was Sunday school teacher of the students who campaigned for the establishment of Seikyo Gakuen. He strongly believed, due to his experience of the devastation caused by World War II, that it was necessary to nurture human beings to be truly humane; he also believed that the enthusiasm of the Sunday school students showed him his God-given path.   Nakayama did not need time to reach this decision. In January 1950, his parents, who knew their son’s will, decided to dedicate their house to the church, although it was supposed to be passed on to their son. The donation was a big step forward for the establishment movement of Seikyo Gakuen.


As vice-principal, Nakayama dedicated himself to enhancing Seikyo Gakuen’s educational content for nearly 40 years under the leadership of Principal Ueda. Nakayama’s lessons and chapel sermons embodied the true mission of the school and were filled with thoughtful approaches. He pondered deeply and discussed with students the way to live a life that expressed the glory of God. In particular, the third graders in junior high school would spend more than a month interpreting and discussing Uchimura Kanzo’s The Greatest Legacy in their Japanese literature class. This gave students the opportunity to know about the importance of living with faith. In addition, the lessons helped foster the students’ ability to think independently and properly about things, and to make use of the gifts given to them.


Many of the students who grew up receiving an education from Nakayama had these words from the Bible deeply engraved upon their hearts: “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another” (I Peter 4.10). These students participated actively and served in society following graduation. After Ueda had passed on, Nakayama led Seikyo Gakuen as president and principal. He continued to work towards the improvement and enhancement of the school. Humbly asking for God’s will and with great effort, Nakayama worked towards creating an educational curriculum that would enable all students to make full use of their own talents.


In the first decade of the new century, when the results of his school administration were fruitful, Seikyo Gakuen grew to approximately 2,000 students and became one of the most trusted schools in the southern Osaka area. Even now, Nakayama often says, “God was pleased with His creations. In His likeness, we will find joy when we are able to make something new. We have endured a lot of hardships since our founding, but we prayed continually and devoted ourselves to making our school with everyone, and eventually we all got supreme joy from God.”


Seikyo Gakuen, for which everyone kept praying and working together, still continues through the grace of the Lord. This is the real testament to Nakayama’s faith.


                           —Ueno Kimitoshi, secretary-general

                            Seikyo Gakuen


*Rev. Alexander Durham Hail: a missionary of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, located in the United States


清教学園の創立 ~祈りから生まれた学校~






【April 2019 No.402】A Meeting with One Heart for Cooperation (PCUSA Asia Pacific Partner Consultation)

by Saito Naomi, missionary (education) Reformed Church of America, Kyodan representative

In the warmth of the early sun, I arrived at Chiang Mai International Airport in Thailand on Sunday, Jan. 27th, and quickly spotted the sign that read “PCUSA.” Soon after, I met a fellow participant in the consultation, and immediately I found the joy of fellowship with a brother in Christ. Though I was very nervous about the work I would have to do in the coming days, especially since I was still quite inexperienced, this fellowship at the very beginning of the journey reassured me that with God’s strength and vision it was going to be an extraordinary conference. It wasn’t long before I knew this ethos was shared by all those involved in the 2019 PCUSA Asia Pacific Partner Consultation.


The welcome dinner began at 7 p.m. that same day. Most participants had arrived at that point, and since the resort at which we stayed was very large, we rode on a tram to the venue. As we gathered, we sat in groups of eight and promptly began conversations with anyone near us. It was a blessing to be able to meet so many partners from various countries (South Korea, Sri Lanka, India, Vietnam, and Pakistan), and as we prayed that first night, the spirit of cooperation was palpable. Eating and conversing throughout the evening, we prepared for the hard work to come the next morning.


The first meeting started early and promptly at 9 a.m., and we sat in groups of eight once more, though the seating was assigned. Around me sat representatives from Pakistan, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Myanmar, India, Sri Lanka, and South Korea. Before getting down to business, we started with a morning worship service, where we brought forth gifts representing each of our cultures or churches. Praying and singing together before the day’s work was a potent reminder of why we were all there, to share with each other not only our voices but our hearts and minds.


After a quick recap of the Presbyterian World Mission Strategy Process, we jumped right in with a tough question: “How effective has PCUSA been as a partner sharing together in God’s mission?” Many of the participants in my work group spoke of the amazing work the PCUSA had done in their respective countries, from works of reconciliation to the creation of educational and medical institutions. It was the opinion that there could always be more ways in which to be partners in our countries, but the overall consensus was that we welcomed more involvement of the organization.


Then we had stirring presentations from two representatives, Fiji and South Korea, showing their interpretations of the signs of the times. With these visions of the work needed in God’s world, we continued on to the next question, “Where is God calling us to put our energy today?” Many spoke of further works of reconciliation between countries as well as working to communicate better between associated organizations. There were also voices for more effort in the stewardship of our planet and support for minority groups in all the countries represented. Soon after, we came to our last question of the day, “What does it mean to be partners in God’s mission today?” In defining partnership, themes of equality and communication were central to the discussion. After discussing and presenting our opinions to the rest of the consultation participants, we ended the day with prayer in time for dinner. After a long day, many needed as much rest as they could get for the next day, but the evening meal was a joyous event with further fellowship and laughter.


The second day of the conference was just as busy as the first. After our morning worship, gift exchange, and Bible study, we did a quick recap of all that we had discussed the day before. Once our memories were refreshed, we dived right into the practicalities of the work ahead with the questions “What might this look like in practice?” and “What resources are needed and what can we contribute?” Many suggestions revolved around mutual responsibility for communicating needs and evaluating mission work in progress. Of course, there was always the need for financial support, but along with that, there was also a call for physical human resources and technical support for changing cultures and times. In the end, each group was tasked with creating a take-home message for the PCUSA World Mission. My group’s take-home message was very clear: “Sustainable Partnership for Reconciliation.” Sustainable because we require partnerships that will not fizzle out over time; partnership because all parties involved require an equal stake in the outcomes of the mission, all for the reconciliation within ourselves, our churches, our communities, between countries, and all of creation. With a closing prayer and worship, we concluded our discussions and enjoyed a final meal together.


That same night and through the rest of the next day, we all departed for our respective countries. Though there was sadness in our departure, we all left with the willingness and commitment to continue working together, no matter how distant we may be from one another. The time that we were able to spend together was truly a blessing, not only for considering the Presbyterian mission but also for the international fellowship that makes it so easy to bring glory to God. With one heart, we came together, and with one heart we departed. Thanks be to God, and may each mission be blessed through the hands that work there.




                          斎藤 直実(RCA宣教師(教育))

 1月27日(日曜日)朝日に照らされたチェンマイ国際空港に降り立った私の目に「PCUSA」の文字が飛び込んできた。すぐに参加者の一人と出会い、主に在る兄弟との親睦を楽しんだ。これから数日間に渡る未経験の責務に緊張している中、到着早々交わりの時を持てたことに、神の御力を感じ、並外れた会議だという予感がするが、後にこれは2019 PCUSAアジア太平洋連携協議会に関わるすべての人に共通する思いであったと分かってきた。




【April 2019 No.402】From the General Secretary’s Desk: My Reunion with Missionaries in Michigan

At the beginning of February this year, I informally visited Etta Hesselink, wife of the late Dr. I. John Hesselink, with my wife Hoshiko. Dr. Hesselink passed away on Oct. 28, 2018 at the age of 91. He worked in Japan for 20 years and, after teaching at Tokyo Union Theological Seminary (TUTS), held several prominent positions, including the presidency of Western Theological Seminary (WTS) in Holland, Michigan. He left a large footprint as a scholar of the Protestant reformer John Calvin, and his books Calvin’s Concept of the Law and Theologian of the Holy Spirit introduced pastors, laypersons, and researchers not only in the U.S. and Japan but also throughout the world to new aspects of Calvin. I studied under Hesselink at WTS in 1993-94 and have also continued to have a long and close association with his wife Etta.


A memorial service was held for him in Holland, Michigan on Nov.16, 2018. TUTS President Osumi Yuichi attended; however I was unable to be in attendance. Japanese who studied at WTS and all who had close associations with the Hesselinks at TUTS feel deep gratitude to both of them. Likewise, many other people feel a special closeness to them, so I also wanted to convey those feelings on this visit. When we left Tokyo, the mid-western states had been experiencing record cold and heavy snowfall since the week before, yet somehow the plane managed to land in Grand Rapids via Minneapolis on time. The temperature was between minus 20 to 30 F., as an Arctic air mass had descended, leading to the coldest temperatures in 100 years. As far as the eye could see there was a total winter landscape, a white and gray world covered in snow. We were met at the airport in Grand Rapids and driven to Holland, and despite driving in the middle of a whiteout caused by the blowing snow of a blizzard, we finally managed to make it to Holland.


While there, Mrs. Hesselink told us about her husband’s final days and her present condition and about the disposition of his extensive personal library, among other things. In addition, we were able to attend a chapel service at WTS, have a look at the new library, and see President Timothy L. Brown again for the first time in a long while. On Sunday, we attended services and received Communion at Holland’s Third Reformed Church and were asked to say a few words of greeting. We were grateful for the chance to get together, to fellowship with missionaries who had worked in Japan, and to talk with all of them and hear about their experiences in Japan.

Holland, Michigan is a special place in that a large number of missionaries sent to Japan by the Reformed Church in America (RCA) are spending their golden years there after retiring and returning to the United States. In addition to Etta Hesselink, those who attended the gathering included Eleanore Norden, who worked at Ferris Jogakuin; George and Joyce Magee, who worked in Hokkaido; William Max and Sarah Unzicker, who also worked in Hokkaido; John Edward and Helene Gaye Zwyaihuizen, who worked six years in Tsuyazaki, Fukuoka; Phyllis Glenn Bruggers, who among other positions served as Kyodan Executive Secretary; as well as Gordon Laman, who taught at TUTS, and his wife Natalie. (Note: his first wife Evon, who served with him in Japan, died in 2011).


With the addition of Rev. J.P. Sundararajan, who became director of the RCA Global Mission last October, it was a grand gathering. These are the people who enthusiastically supported the Japanese-language worship service at WTS that we started with our friends while studying there, which continues today. All of them served in Japan for 30 to 40 years, beginning after World War II at a time when Japan was still a poor country, up through the period of rapid economic growth in the 1950s  and the beginning of the conflicts within the Kyodan. Each one reported to J.P. Sundararajan on the work they had done in Japan, and we also talked about current issues in mission to Japan.


At the end, everyone prayed passionately for evangelism in Japan. While in this prayer circle, I was able to visualize clearly how much resolve and preparation it must have taken these missionaries before they were sent to Japan and how intense the struggle must have been to engage in mission in Japan. Overcoming struggles with the Japanese language, with a different culture and customs, and with the many obstacles to preaching the Gospel, they experienced the joy of mission and fellowship and loved Japan and the Japanese people. In order to tell of the love of Christ, they literally gave their lives and their families in dedication to that path. I was deeply touched, remembering the goodness of God and our Lord Jesus Christ in giving each of these lives a time like this, in pouring out His love, in summoning these individuals and giving them the mission to spread love. I sincerely recognize that the existence of our Kyodan today rests on this kind of work and prayer.

(Tr. DB)

                              —Akiyama Toru, general secretary


 2月の初めに故Dr. I. John Hesselink先生の遺されたEtta 夫人を、妻、星子と共に、非公式にご訪問しました。ヘッセリンク先生は、昨年10月28日に91歳をもって天に召されたのです。先生は20年間日本で働かれ、東京神学大学で教えた後ウエスタン神学大学の学長などを歴任され、宗教改革者ジャン・カルヴァンの研究者として日本やアメリカだけでなく世界の教会の多くの牧師や信徒、研究者に「カルヴァンの律法理解」や「聖霊の神学者カルヴァン」の新しい側面を伝えて大きな足跡を残した方でした。わたしは1993~94年にウエスタン神学校でヘッセリンク先生のもとで学びをし、エッタ夫人とも長い親しい交わりが続いています。2018年11月16日にミシガン州のホランドでMemorial Serviceが行われましたが、そのときは東京神学大学の大住雄一学長が参加しましたが、わたしは参加できませんでした。日本からウエスタン神学校で学んだ者、神学大学でヘッセリンク先生と親しく交わった者はすべてご夫妻に大変のお世話になっており、また特別な親しみを感じている人も多いので、この度の訪問でみんなの気持ちもお伝えしたかったのです。東京を発つときに、米国中西部は前週から記録的な寒さと大雪でしたが、なんとか予定通りに飛行機は飛び、ミネアポリスを経てグランド・ラピッズに着きました。気温はマイナス20~30度(F)、北極圏が下りてきたとかで100年ぶりの寒さだとか。見渡す限り全くの冬景色、雪に覆われ白と灰色の世界。吹雪の中を巻き上げる雪のせいでホワイト・アウトになる中を、迎えに来てくださった方の車でグランド・ラピッズからホランドまでやっとたどり着くことができました。

 ホランド滞在中、ヘッセリンク先生の最後の状況についてうかがったり、エッタさんの最近の状況や、残されたお宅にある膨大な蔵書の整理のことなど語り合う時間を持ちました。ウエスタンセミナリーで学生の礼拝にも参加し、新しくなった図書館をみたり、ティム・ブラウン学長と久しぶりに再会を果たしました。日曜日にはホランドのThird Reformed Church の主日礼拝に参加し、聖餐にあずかり、挨拶もさせていただきました。


 それにRCAの海外宣教幹事と して昨年10月から働くようになったRev. JP Sundararajanも加わって盛大な会になりました。これらの方々はわたしたちがウエスタン神学校滞在中に仲間と共に始め、今も続いている日本語礼拝でも熱い思いで支えてくださった方々です。それぞれ戦後1950年代前後から30年~40年間、日本がまだ貧しい時代から高度経済成長を迎える時期、また、教団紛争の初めのころの日本で奉仕してくださった方々です。一人一人が日本でどのような働きをしたかをスンダララジャン幹事に伝えるかたちで報告、日本の宣教の現代の課題についても話しました。終わりに一人一人が日本の伝道のために熱い思いで祈ってくださいました。その祈りの輪に加わりながら、それぞれの方が日本に遣わされるまでにどれほどの決断と準備の時があったか、日本での宣教の闘いがどれほど厳しいことであったか、その情景をありありを思い浮かべることができました。日本語との闘い、文化や習慣の違いとの闘い、福音が伝わらない厚い壁との闘い、これらを超えて宣教の喜びと交わりがあり、日本を愛し、日本人を愛し、キリストの愛を伝えるために、まさに生涯を家族をあげて献身した歩みがあったのです。それぞれの人生にこのような時を与え、また、その愛を注いで、愛を伝える使命を与えて呼び出してくださった主なる神と主イエス・キリストの計らいを覚えて胸がいっぱいになりました。わたしたちの教団の今日があるのはこのような働きと祈りに支えられてあることを思い起こさせられました。

秋山 徹

【February 2019 No.401】Executive Council Raises Restructuring Issues

The second Executive Council meeting of the present two-year (41st) Kyodan General Assembly period was held Dec. 27-28, 2018 at the Kyodan headquarters, with 28 members in attendance. After a period of self-introductions, Moderator Ishibashi Hideo began by saying he will pursue structural reforms while at the same time continuing to emphasize unity around the Kyodan Confession of Faith, the church constitution, and its bylaws, besides striving to recover the life and strength of evangelism in the Body of Christ.


General Secretary Akiyama Toru then explained the reason why systematic theology was added to the examination for licensed preachers by the Commission on Ministerial Qualifications during the 40th general assembly period: “the members of the commission were in agreement that the doctrinal understanding of recent candidates was weak.” He reported on preparations for the establishment of the “Kyodan Youth Platform” within the General Secretary’s Office to create a place where youth activities of the various entities within the Kyodan can be integrated and engage with each other.


The first day’s deliberations centered on discussions concerning Kyodan structural reforms. The facilitator, Secretary Kumoshikari Toshimi, explained that the purpose of this discussion was simply “to have everyone give their honest opinion so that we can get an idea of how to move forward and not to reach any specific agreements at this time.” Each participant expressed a sense of urgency concerning the finances of the Kyodan, so the discussion began with a call to take this situation very seriously. One common sentiment was that since each local church is the nucleus of evangelism, a critical factor in restructuring is the relationship between issues of local church viability and that of the Kyodan as a whole. Another opinion was that besides efforts to eliminate wasteful duplication by streamlining the work of local churches, districts, and the Kyodan as a whole, the clarification of roles that only the Kyodan itself can fulfill would open the way to implementing reforms. Likewise, numerous comments stressed the need for focus on financial issues along with the fear that taking a defensive, protective position in this crisis could damage efforts to promote evangelism.


The main agenda of the meeting was the selection of the members of the various commissions and standing committees. It was evident at this Executive Council meeting, however, that the six members of the Commission on Ecumenical Ministries, with its subcommittees on evangelism, education, and social concerns, are all serving together on the three subcommittees although they were appointed to serve as two members on each subcommittee. The 16 members of the Task Force on Evangelism were also selected. (Tr. TB)

 —Kato Makoto, executive secretary






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