【June 2017 No.393】Our lives will end someday. What must we do before then?

by Takiyama Kiyomi, pastor, Takanosu Church, Akita Prefecture, Ou District                                                    Director, Kodomoen Shalom, Certified Nursery School and Kindergarten

My father used to declare, “I want to be working as a pastor until the day I die.” Ironically, just as he had said, he finished his earthly journey when he was 58 years old as the head pastor of Fukushima Shinmachi Church. My father was a happy-go-lucky kind of fellow who really loved children and liked to talk with people but did not like going to the doctor. He was so happy the day of my graduation from college, but that very night a stroke caused by arrhythmia took him away to heaven. It was just four days before Easter.

On that Easter Sunday my mother, the assistant pastor, gave the message instead of my father, who had almost always preached the sermons. Before that day, I had seen my mother stand at the pulpit only a few times. I do not remember the content of the message, but I will never forget the sight of my mother, illuminated by the light coming from the crystal glass of the chapel, looking straight ahead while speaking.

My parents were the kind of people who got really excited every Sunday. My mother used to get up especially early on Sunday mornings and sing hymns. I generally hid under the covers, but as her voice gradually got closer, I would jump out of bed. For me, the hymns that my mother sang were not a lullaby, but an alarm clock. My father had a habit of saying, “The job of a pastor is the best job!” He was the kind of person who, whenever he was asked about his sermon, would not stop talking.

I do not remember ever being told that I should become a pastor, but at some point I began to feel, “It is unnatural for me to live life as something other than a pastor.” I had been thinking, “Someday I will dedicate my life. Until then, I will do what I like.” But when I lost my father, I made up my mind and said, “Now is the time!” Right away, I got an application form and headed to an interview with a committee from Tohoku District in order to apply for the “C-course” examination.* The answer of the committee members was, “You are too young. But if you go to seminary, we will give you a recommendation. You need to study.” When I think about it now, all I can do is just blush. But at that time, I was ignorant of the fact that I did not know anything at all. Angrily, I headed for home.

I could not endure leaving my home in Fukushima, so I procrastinated about going to seminary and got a job at a nearby juku (cram school). Work was enjoyable, and every day was comfortable. But somewhere in my heart there was a sense of impatience. I thought, “I should not be doing this.” However, I could not break away from what I was doing. I kept saying to myself, “One more year,” until six years passed.

Then the East Japan Disaster happened. March 11, 2011 was supposed to be a normal day without anything unusual happening. It started out no different from usual. I left home, cleaned my workplace, and began to prepare for my lessons. At 2:46 p.m. as the ground shook violently, everything changed. It was announced that everyone should return home, so I went home and found my mother cleaning the church sanctuary. But our house was a mess! My mother was worried and said, “I wonder if we can hold the worship service this Sunday.” I looked at her, dumbfounded, and thought, “She really thinks of nothing else but church.” After my father had passed away suddenly, she was worried about the worship service even as she was crying. And now, even during the Great East Japan Disaster,  she was more worried about the worship service than about our own home, even though we had just had a sudden earthquake. Watching my mother, I saw that she had a divine and unwavering calling to be a pastor.

Every day, in the newspaper and on television, there were reports about the people who had died. I heard the names of people who were younger than I was. I am sure that each person had been spending that day no differently from any other day. However, days that are no different from other days do not last forever. Life in this body is going to come to an end someday. That “someday” will surely come, and it will come suddenly. As I faced the reality of so many deaths and became conscious of my own mortality, I started to think about what I wanted to do before I die. At the time of death, what would I be thinking? As I considered that, the answer was very clear to me. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you.” (Jer. 1:5)

Five months have now passed since I graduated from seminary and was called to Takanosu Church. As the church had been without a pastor for three years, I was appointed right away. My first Sunday in the pulpit was March 27, which strangely enough was Easter Sunday, and I recalled the sight of my mother, standing at the pulpit. This church is just a small group of seven church members, but they support me, a novice evangelist, both physically and spiritually. They are patient and polite with me, so I am getting along fine. Also Kodomoen Shalom, a church-related center for early childhood education and care, has welcomed me warmly as its director. I am really grateful. I think that I am protected like this due to much prayer behind the scenes.

“But by the grace of God, I am what I am.” (I Cor. 15:10) The Lord is with me, so I will keep trusting in the Lord. I will endeavor to do my daily work, which has been given to me today. (Tr. KT)

—From Shinto no Tomo (Believers’ Friend), October 2016 issue

*Without attending a seminary or theological school. C-course candidates are required to pass all of the exams within a certain number of years after beginning the program.

p7

 

神に呼 ばれて:いつか終わる生涯ー自分のやることは何か

瀧山喜与実 秋田・鷹巣教会伝道師、幼保連携型認定こども園 しゃろーむキリスト教主事

牧師であった父は、福島の教会で現役のまま58歳で急 逝しました。副牧師の母は、4日後のイースターには講壇に立ちました。東日本大震災のときも、母は自宅のことよりも礼拝の心配をしまし た。たくさんの死を前に、私は自分が死ぬ前にやりたいことは何かを考えました。

この体にはいつか終わりが訪れます。

「生涯現役牧師」(死ぬまで牧師でいたい)と宣言していた父は、皮肉にもその言葉どおり、福島新町教会の 主任牧師であった58歳のときに、地上の歩みを終えました。おっちょこちょいで、子煩悩で、人と話すのが大好きで、病院が大嫌 いな、子どものような人でした。私の大学卒業を殊のほか喜んでいた父は、その日の夕方、不整脈による発作で天に召されました。4日後 にはイースターを控えており、急逝した父に代わって副牧師の母が講壇に立ちました。副牧師といっても、説教をするのはもっぱら父で あったため、私はそれまで母が講壇に立つのを片手で足りるくらいの回数しか見たことがありませんでした。メッセージの内容は覚えてい ませんが、礼拝堂のダイヤガラスからこぼれる光を浴びながら、まっすぐ前を見て語った母の姿が目に焼き付いています。

私の両親は日曜日になると張り切る夫婦でした。母は、日曜は特に朝早くから賛美歌を 歌っていました。布団に潜っていると、だんだんその声が近くなってくるので飛び起きたものです。私にとって母の歌う賛美歌は、子守歌 ではなく目覚ましでした。父は「牧師は最高の仕事だ」が口癖で、説教について尋ねると話が止まらなくなる人でした。

「牧師になるように」と言われた覚えはありませんが、私はいつのころからか「牧師以外 の人生は自分にとって不自然なこと」と感じるようになりました。「いつかは献身しよう。それまで好きなことをしよう」と思っていた私 は、父を亡くし「今がその時」と決心しました。早速願書を取り寄せ、*Cコース受験をすべく東北教区 の面接に向かいました。委員の方々の答えは「君はまだ若い。神学校に行くなら推薦する。勉強しなさい」でした。思い出すと赤面するば かりですが、何もわかっていないことすらわかっていなかった当時の私は、ぷりぷりと怒りながら家路に着きました。

福島の家を離れるのは忍びなく、私は神学校に行くのを先延ばしにして近所の塾に就職し ました。仕事は楽しく、穏やかな毎日でしたが、心のどこかで「こんなことをしている場合ではない」という焦りがありました。それでも 思い切ることができず、「あと1年」を繰り返し、6年が経ちました。

そして、東日本大震災が起こりました。

3月11日は何の変哲もない1日のはずでした。いつもと変わ らずに家を出て、いつもと変わらずに職場の掃除をし、いつもと変わらずに授業の準備を始めた午後2時46分、大きな揺れと共に全てが変わりました。帰宅指示が出て家に帰ると、母は礼拝堂の掃除をしていました。 自宅はめちゃくちゃなままでした。「日曜は礼拝できるかしら」と案じる母を見て、「この人は本当にそれしかないのだ」とあぜん唖然としました。父が急逝した 後、泣きながらも礼拝の心配をし、突然の地震の後も礼拝の心配をしている母の姿に、ぶれない牧師の召命を見ました。

新聞やニュースでは、亡くなられた方の報道が連日なされました。自分より若くして亡く なった方々の名前をなぞりながら、私は強烈に自分の死を意識しました。どの人も、いつもと変わらない1日を過ごしていたはずです。しかし、いつもと変わらない1日は、永遠に続くものではないのです。

この体にはいつか終わりが訪れます。「いつか」は必ずやってきます。それも突然に。自 分の死を意識する中で、私は死ぬ前にやりたいことを考えるようになりました。死ぬ間際に、自分の頭に浮かぶのはどんなことかと考えた とき、答えは明確でした。

「わたしはあなたを母の胎内に造る前から あなたを知っていた」(エレミヤ書1・5)

神学校を卒業し、鷹巣教会に派遣され、5カ月が たちました。鷹巣教会は3年間無牧だったので早めに赴任し、3月27日から講壇に立っています。3月27日は、奇しくもイースターで、講壇に立った母の姿が浮かんできました。教会員7名の小さな群れですが、新 米の伝道師を心身共に支えて、忍耐強く配慮をしてくださり、何とか過ごせています。教会の関連施設のこども園「しゃろーむ」でもキリ スト教主事として温かく迎え入れていただき、本当にありがたいです。こうして守られているのも、背後に多くの祈りがあることを思いま す。

「神の恵みによって今日のわたしがあるのです」(Ⅰコリン ト15・10)。共 におられる主に依り頼みつつ、与えられた今日1日の務めに励みたいと思います。 (信徒の友2016年 10月号)

【June 2017 No.393】Let Us Testify to the Good News through our Lives

by Otomo Satoshi, pastor, Nakamuracho Church, Tokyo

                                                                                     Professor, Tokyo Union Theological Seminary

My hometown is Kuroishi in Aomori Prefecture. Some 140 years ago, in 1878, three students from Toogijuku School, which had just been established in Hirosaki, came to Kuroishi and boldly began Christian evangelism. That was the beginning of Kyodan Kuroishi Church. One anecdote from that time is found in a book written in 1880 by an English traveler named Isabella Lucy Bird entitled, Unbeaten Tracks in Japan (published by Kodansha). She said that while she was staying in Kuroishi, these three young men from the former samurai class arrived and enthusiastically told her in broken English that they were there to communicate the Gospel to the people of Kuroishi. Thus, during this time of great upheaval in Japanese society soon after the Meiji Restoration,, a U.S. missionary had gone to the far north snow country of Aomori and made known the Gospel of Christ. These young men, who had gladly received the message, then were baptized and soon went out on their own to evangelize the surrounding areas, and Kuroishi Church was born.

It was in that small church that my faith was nurtured. I became a pastor and am now taking on the responsibility of raising the next generation of evangelists. The question I also ask myself is whether I have been able to inherit the evangelistic passion of those young men of long ago.

Isabella Bird was the daughter of an Anglican Church vicar, and when she traveled to Japan in the early Meiji Era, she wrote this concerning the few Japanese Christians that existed then: “These converts to the Christian faith were not simply converts, they were evangelists of high moral character, and in that there is great hope for the future of Japan.” However, she also warned that while the Japanese were adopting Western civilization at a prodigious rate, they were also resistant to Christianity, and their society and politics were in danger of moral decline due to materialism. She stressed the importance of communicating the gospel to the Japanese, expressing her hope that all Japanese who received baptism would themselves become evangelistic in their proclamation of the gospel. She concluded that hope for the future of Japan really lies in that. This message really speaks to us today as well.

It has been over 150 years since Protestant evangelism began in Japan, and yet the Christian population of Japan has not reached even one percent. While the numerous mission schools in Japan have had a positive effect, the total number of baptized Christians who attend worship services is still less than one million. Moreover, it has even been gradually declining in recent years. This decline is most apparent in rural churches. While evangelists are certainly necessary to revive the church, more important is the work of the laity. There are some types of evangelism that only lay people can do—namely, living a life that “releases the fragrance of Christ.”

One laywoman who is a pediatric doctor in a rural town has a box of Gideon Bibles in the waiting room of her clinic, with a sign on it saying, “Take as many copies as you want.” Worried mothers who bring their sick children to the doctor and are encouraged by her kindness often take a Bible back home with them. Some of them are moved by the words they read and think they would like to visit the church this doctor attends, so they bring their children with them. Some of those have then been baptized and become active members of that church.

Another laywoman married a Japanese man who was very much against her becoming active in church, even forbidding her to attend services. So on Sunday mornings, she would sit in the corner of the living room reading her Bible and, with tears in her eyes, softly singing hymns. Their three children grew up, watching their mother do this each Sunday. They saw their beloved mother treasuring this so much that they went to church themselves, and this eventually led to all three being baptized, which in turn led to their father changing. He also eventually was led to Christ and became a baptized Christian.

Last year, I experienced a totally unexpected stroke. Being faced with the possibility that my life would soon be over, I was forced to think seriously about what I should do with the rest of my life. I told of my experience in an article in a certain magazine, where I mused, “If I only have a short time left in life, I would want to use that time for the Lord and not myself. I would want to use it for evangelism, and I wonder if others think the same way.” As a result of that article, one pastor’s wife was encouraged to enroll in Tokyo Union Theological Seminary.

If each layperson would get involved in the kinds of evangelism they can do, we would see a revival of the Japanese church. I want to communicate the Gospel message and to do that as a joint project with all of you as we think together about what each of us can do.

 —Shinto no Tomo (Believers’ Friend), Feb. 2017 issue

             Summarized by KNL Editor Kawakami Yoshiko

(Tr. TB)

生き方を通して福音を証ししよう

小友 聡 お とも さとし/ 東京・中村町教会牧師、東京神学大学教授

私の出身は青森県の黒石です。今から140年前の1878(明 治11)年、弘前に設立されたばかりの東奥義塾の学生3 人が黒石にやって来て、果敢にキリスト教の伝道を開始しました。このとき生まれたのが、現在の日本基督教団黒石教会です。設立時の逸 話をイザベラ・バードIsabella Lucy Birdと いうイギリス人女性旅行家が『日本紀行』(Unbeaten Tracks in Japan1880年) の中に書いています。黒石滞在中の彼女をサムライ出身の若者たちが訪ねてきて、片言の英語で「黒石の人たちに福音を伝えたいのだ」と 熱っぽく語った、と。本州最北の雪深い地で、国家も社会も大きく変動した維新直後の混乱期に、米国宣教師から知らされたキリストの福 音を真っ先に信じ、洗礼を受けるやすぐさま伝道を開始した若者たちが、夢中になって伝道し教会を創りました。

私はこの小さな教会で信仰を育まれ、牧師となって、現在は伝道者を養成する務めをも任されています。自らに問うの は、あの若者たちの伝道へのエートス(情熱)が果たして今の私の中に継承されているだろうか、ということです。

バードはイギリス国教会の牧師の娘でした。彼女は明治初期の日本 を旅し、当時まだわずかの日本人キリスト者たちについて、こう書いています。「真の改宗者はそのひとりひとりが単なる改宗者ではな く、伝道師であり、また高い道徳観の中心であり、そこに日本の将来に対する大きな希望があるのです」(『イザベラ・バードの日本紀 行』講談社学術文庫Kodansha Gakujutsu Bunko)。 日本がものすごい勢いで西洋文明を取り入れているが、キリスト教を拒み、社会も政治も物質主義で道徳的にゆがんで先が危ういと警告し ています。日本人に福音を伝える必要を訴え、洗礼を受ける日本人が皆伝道師となって、キリストの福音を伝えてほしい。そこに日本の将 来の大きな希望がある、と。現在の私たちにも伝わるメッセージだとしみじみ思います。

日本のプロテスタント伝道が始まって150年たちましたが、キリスト教人口はいまだ1%に届いていません。キリスト教主義学校の数ではある程度の伝道の成果はあったとはいえ、教会で洗礼を受け、礼拝に 集うキリスト者は100万人に届きません。それどころか徐々に減少してい ます。減少は地方の教会において顕著です。教会を復興する伝道者が必要ですが、むしろ信徒の皆さんの働きが必要になります。信徒にしかできない伝道があ ります。それは生き方において、キリストの香りを放つという伝道です。

ある地方教会で、小児科医院の女医さんが待合室に国際ギデオン協 会の新約聖書をたくさん置き、「ご自由にどうぞ」と張り紙をしました。子どもを連れ、不安を抱えて診察を待つ母親たちが、医師の優し さと親切な態度に触れ、ほっとして聖書をもらって帰ります。その中から聖書を読んで心を動かされ、やがて「あのお医者さんが通ってい る教会に行ってみよう」と子どもを連れて教会にやって来る人がいるのです。また、ある女性は結婚後、教会に行くことを夫から厳しく禁 じられ、日曜日の朝、居間の片隅で涙をこぼしながら1人で聖書を開き、かぼそい声で讃美歌を歌いました。3人の子どもたちは母親の日曜日の姿を見て育ちました。そして優しい 母親が命がけで大切にしているものに気づかされ、3人とも教会に通って受洗、夫もやがて教会に導かれて洗礼を受けまし た。

昨年私はまったく予期せず脳梗塞の発作に襲われました。人生の終 わりを突然突き付けられ、残った時間を何に捧げるべきかを朦朧とした中で真剣に考えました。そして「もし残された時間がわずかしかないならば、その時間を自分のためではなく、主 のために、伝道のために使わせていただきたい。このように考え、献身する人はいないでしょうか。」とある機関誌に記した呼びかけ に応えて、東京神学大学に編入学した牧師夫人がおります。

信徒の皆さんが、それぞれできる仕方で 伝道を担ってくだされば、日本の教会は復興できるのではないでしょうか。福音を伝えたい!この、やむにやまれぬ思いを皆さんと共有し、何ができる かを一緒に考えてみたいと思います。(信徒の友2017年2月号より川上善子KNL編 集委員長要約)

【June 2017 No.393】Kyodan Executives Attend the PCT General Assembly in Taipei

by  Kato Makoto, executive secretary

The 62nd (2017) General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan was held April 18–21 in a large conference room at Mackay Memorial Hospital in Taipei. I attended at the invitation of the PCT as a Kyodan representative, together with Kyodan Moderator Ishibashi Hideo and Hayashida Yoshiyuki and his wife Kyoko, former missionaries to Taiwan. Following the opening worship service led by Rev. Suda Tada, moderator of the previous PCT General Assembly, those of us from overseas churches gave our greetings. First was Rev. Hayashida, presently the pastor of Uneno Church in Kawanishi, Hyogo, Japan. The Hayashidas had served the Japanese church in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, from 1983 until March 2017. The PCT covered their expenses to attend and gave them this opportunity to speak to the assembly. The fourth and final greeting was that of Kyodan Moderator Ishibashi, who expressed his deep gratitude to the PCT for exchanges with the Kyodan and particularly for its great support for the victims of the Great East Japan Disaster of March 2011.

One of the distinguishing features of the PCT is the large number of pastors of aboriginal ethnicity. As a result, the handbook used at the assembly included Scripture readings in Amis, Bunun and seven other representative native languages. The assembly itself was conducted in Mandarin Chinese, but one could hear the Taiwanese language being used as well. Delegates’ statements and remarks were limited to three minutes, and since the remaining time for each delegate was displayed on a screen above the platform, no one spoke overtime.

On the first day, the new moderator was chosen by ballot, with Rev. Chen Ming-Chin being elected. The main agenda on the second day was the ratification of the executive secretaries at the church headquarters, and while there was some heated discussion concerning that, the slate was approved. The new associate general secretaries chosen were Rev. Tsai Nan-Hsin and Rev. Eleng Tjaljimaraw, while Rev. Joshua Lian was selected to be the executive secretary for the Ecumenical and International Committee. Executive Secretary Ching An-Yen, who played such a vital role in the deepening of relations between the PCT and the Kyodan during the past four years will be stepping down at the end of June.

The PCT is deeply divided over the issue of sexual minorities. There was passionate debate with no unity evolving, so the matter is shaking the foundations of the denomination.

Our schedule was such that we needed to bid farewell on the third day of the conference, but former General Secretary Andrew Chang made arrangements for Ishibashi and myself to drive through the Keelung area of northern Taiwan together with Rev. Lee Mneg Jer and his wife, who were the former PCT missionaries to the Kyodan’s Tokyo Taiwanese Church. I was so thankful that we could have good fellowship on the way to the airport. (Tr. TB)

台 湾基督長老教会総会出席

報 告 加藤 誠幹事

 

 2017年4月18日(火)~21日(金)まで台北市Taipei Cityあるマカイ記念病院 大会議室を会場にして第62回台湾基督長老教会Presbyterian Chruch in Taiwan総会General Assemblyが開催された。教団からは石橋 秀雄教団総会議長、林田義行元宣教師・林田響子夫人、加藤誠世界宣教幹事が出席した。第61総 会期議長のSuda Tada牧師による開会礼拝後、海外の 来賓挨拶が行われた。トップバッターは林田義行牧師(畦野教会)であった。林田牧師夫妻 は2017年3月まで台湾の高雄で1983年 以来日本人教会を牧会された元宣教師である。今回はPCTが費用を全て負担して台湾に招 き、総会で退任の挨拶をする機会を与えてくださった。4番目、つまり最後の来賓挨拶は 石橋議長であった。石橋議長はこれまでのPCTとの交わりに感謝し、特に2011年3月に起きた東日本大震災で被災された方々への支援を感謝した。

台湾基督長老教会の特色の一つは原住民の牧師が多数存在することである。それゆえ総会ハンドブックには聖書箇所は阿美語、 布農(ブヌン)語 など9種 類の代表的な原住民語でも記されている。総会では原則北京語で 会話がされているようであるが、時に台湾語Taiwaneseが 聞こえてくる。議員の発言は最大3分。 講壇上のスクリーンに残り時間が表示されるため時間オーバーして発言する人はいなかった。

初日の選挙の結果、新議長にRev. Chen, Ming-Chinが 選出された。二日目の議事のトップは総会本部に所属する幹事の人事が発表され、激しい議論があったものの、承認された。新しく助理 (副)総幹事に任命されたのがRev. Tsai, Nan-Hsin とRev. Eleng Tjaljimarawで あった。世界宣教幹事にはRev. Joshua Lianが 任命された。4年 にわたって教団との関係を深めることに多大な貢献をされたRev. Ching An-Yeh幹 事は6月 末に退任される。

台湾基督長老教会は性的少数者の事柄で教団全体を揺るがすほど意見が二分化されている。今回もこの問題では白熱した議論が起きたが一 致した見解を得ることは出来なかった。

こちらのスケジュールの都合で3日 目に総会は失礼したが、フライト前にRev. Andrew Chang前 総幹事の計らいで、台湾北部の基隆Keelungへ のドライブに東京台湾教会派遣宣教師の李孟哲(Lee Mneg Jer)牧 師夫妻、石橋議長と共に連れて行っていただき、良き交わりの時が与えられたことを最後に感謝したい。

【June 2017 No.393】Testimonies Featured at the 2017 Missionary Conference

by Takada Teruki, staff Kyodan General Office, Tokyo

A three-day missionary conference was held at the base of Mt. Fuji at Torchbearers Yamanakako from Monday, March 20 (a holiday), with the theme, “Joy at the Household of God” (Acts 2:42-47). Including missionary families and Kyodan staff, a total of 37 persons attended, among whom 23 were missionaries.

The Site: Torchbearers Yamanakako

The Torchbearers, which originated after World War II from the mutual friendship between the churches of British Wales and Germany, was founded for the purpose of opening Bible camps throughout the world. The one in Japan is a retreat established in an area located one kilometer from the shore of Lake Yamanaka and made to resemble closely the forests of Germany and the countryside of Canada. The wooden building felt soothing to me. The fragrance and heat of the wood burning in the fireplace warmed not only the participants’ bodies but also their hearts. This was different from a hotel or a Japanese inn. The immediate feeling of “narrowness” sensed by those who came—that very cozy closeness of space—shrank the distance between the participants, and relaxed relationships were instantly formed. In the midst of this cozy atmosphere, free of tension, the messages at the worship services and the testimonies reverberated deep within our hearts, and we experienced a noticeable rise in our ability to concentrate.

The Schedule

The message at the opening worship service on the first day was offered by Pastor Imaizumi Nobuhiro of Mukonoso Church (in Hyogo, near Osaka), and following a delicious supper, we split into small groups to introduce ourselves and pray for one another. It snowed from the morning of the second day. That morning, testimonies were given by Elizabeth Mbundu and Karen Strydom, teachers at Kyoai Gakuen High School, and following breakfast, under the direction of Kyodan Executive Secretary Kato Makoto, there was a treasure hunt and a ping-pong tournament. During individual free time that afternoon, we went to a nearby hot spa and other places. The evening campfire was canceled due to snow, but instead we warmed up the meeting room and held a candlelight service during which Nishinasuno Church (in Tochigi) Pastor Ban Hyung Wook and Sheila Norris, a teacher at Kwassui Women’s University (in Nagasaki), gave testimonies of their personal struggles of evangelizing in Japan.

From the morning of the third day, the weather was fine. The program began with the testimony of Uotsu Church (in Toyama) Pastor Ruth Ester Waehrer, followed by a worship service commemorating deceased missionaries led by Kobe Jesus Band Church Pastor Claudia Genung-Yamamoto and a communion service, with Rev. Thomas Goetz of Hokusei Gakuen University (in Sapporo) officiating. During the final meeting, the next year’s planning committee was chosen. Then Rev. Akiyama Toru, chair of the Kyodan’s Commission on Ecumenical Ministries, gave the message at the closing worship service. Throughout the entire meeting, Josephine Kimura of Ferris Girls’ High School (in Yokohama) provided the music.

The Participants

From Hokkaido in the north to Kyushu in the south, attendees were able to gather together from throughout the country. First-time participants were Mrs. Carol Imaizumi from Mukonoso Church, Rev. and Mrs. Lee Meng Jer from Tokyo Taiwan Church, Rev. Lin Mei-Ying from Saitama Chinese Worship Mission Church, missionary Karen Strydon of Kyoai Gakuen Gakuen, and Yuka, the adopted daughter of missionaries Jonathan and Satomi McCurley. There was sparse participation by missionaries from Korea and Taiwan and only Akiyama Toru, moderator of Kanto District, who also serves as chair of the Committee on Ecumenical Ministries, represented the Kyodan districts.

The Special Blessings of this Missionary Conference

I have worked in the Kyodan Office for the past ten years, but I have never before experienced as great a blessing as I did at this missionary conference.

1. The site was separated from daily life, a place free from our regular work and interpersonal relationships.

2. On the contrary, the institution was in the middle of nature, and when you tuned your ears to God’s Word, strangely it was a place where that Word reverberated in your heart.

3. Again, this time especially, there was a blessed chance to hear the testimonies of senior missionaries who had given their lives and struggled for a long time during their mission work in Japan. Sheila Norris’s testimony about her work of teaching and overcoming difficulties particularly struck my heart.

For this reason, participants soon opened their hearts, and as if they had been acquaintances for many decades, they were mutually able to deepen their trust relationships. It was a heart-cleansing experience.

 

The Planning Committee

What we must not forget about the missionary conference is the existence of the planning committee. On the last day of the 2016 Missionary Conference, held in Sendai one year ago, the following four persons were chosen and have borne that heavy responsibility:

1. Rev. Imaizumi Nobuhiro (United Methodist Church), Mukonoso Church),

2. Rev. Timothy Appau (All African Baptist Fellowship, Asian Rural Institute),

3. Rev. Chang, In-Hye (Korean Methodist Church), Hizume Church), and

4. Ms. Devora Umipig-Julian (UMC, Yoyogi Uehara Church).

At the initiative of Secretary Kato during the first consultation held in the Kyodan conference room in July 2016, the place, theme, and Bible passages were decided. Then while staying overnight at the site of Torchbearers Yamanakako, the committee proceeded to draft the schedule as well as to decide the division of responsibility. During the five days prior to the conference, when we were so busy with preparations, the flexible coordination of Devora Umipig-Julian was particularly helpful, for which I am very grateful. (Tr. RT)

2017年3月20日(月・祝日)から3日間、富士山の麓、トーチベアラーズ山中湖にて宣教師会議を開催した。テーマ“神の庭にある喜び(使徒2:42-47)”の下、宣教師の家族や教団スタッフを含め37名(内、宣教師は23名)の参加を得た。

 

1.トーチベアラーズ山中湖

第二次世界大戦後、英国ウェールズとドイツとの間で、互いの教会の友好のために始まったトーチベアラー ズは、聖書キャンプを開催するための施設を全世界に建設してきた。日本のそれは、山中湖畔から1キロの別荘地にあるリトリート施設。 その地は、ドイツの森やカナダの自然を彷彿とさせる場で、木造の建物は柔らかく感じられた。薪をくべた暖炉の匂いと温かさが、利用者 の体だけでなく心をも温めてくれた。ここはホテルや旅館とは異なる。入居時には正直“狭い”と感じたものの、そのこぢんまりとした空間の狭さが、参加者同士の距離を縮めてくれ、すぐに打ち解けた関 係を築くことができた。また緊張感から解放されているこの豊かな空間の中では、礼拝で聞く説教や証しがよく心に響き、集中力が格段に 増すのも体験できた。

 

2.スケジュール

初日、武庫之荘教会・今泉信宏牧師の説教で開会礼拝をささげ、手作りの美味しい夕飯の後、小グループに分かれて自己紹介し、互いのため に祈った。2日目は早朝から雪が降っていた。朝は共愛学園高校のElizabeth Mbundu先生とKaren Strydom先生の証し。朝食の後には加藤誠幹事の指導で宝探しと卓球大会。午後は自由時間で各々、近くの温泉などに 出かける。夜のキャンプファイヤーは雪で中止となり代わりに室内で部屋を暗くしてキャンドルサービス。西那須野教会の潘炯旭(Ban Hyung Wook)牧師、活水女子大学のSheila Norris教授が、自らの日本宣教の取り組みについて証しをした。3日目は朝から快晴。魚津(Uotsu)教会Ruth Ester Waehrer牧師の証しで始まり、神戸イエス団(Kobe Jesus Band)教会Genung Yamamoto Claudia牧師による逝去宣教師を覚えての記念礼拝、北星学園大学Thomas Goetz牧師による聖餐式、まとめ会では次年度の企画委員を決め、閉会礼拝の説教は世界宣教委 員長の秋山徹(Akiyama Toru)牧師が担った。全体を通してフェリス女学院高校のJosephine Kimura先生が奏楽を担当した。

 

3.参加者

北は札幌・函館・弘前から西は長崎まで、全国から集まることができた。初参加は武庫之荘教会・今泉キャ ロル夫人、東京台湾教会・李孟哲(Lee Meng -Jer)宣教師ご夫妻、埼玉中国語礼拝・林美音(Lin MeiYing宣教師、共愛学園・Karen Strydom宣教師、そしてJonathan McCurley宣教師ご夫妻の養女(adopted daughter, Yuka)ゆうかちゃんであった。韓国や台湾からの宣教師の参加は少なく、教区代表者も世界宣教委員長を兼任する関 東教区秋山徹議長のみとなった。

 

 

4.今回の宣教師会議での特別な恵み

私はこれまで10年間、教団事務局で働いてきたが、今回の宣教師会議ほど、恵み深い体験はなかった:

①そこは日常から離れ、普段の仕事や人間 関係から解放された場であった。

②加えてその施設は、大自然の中にあり、神様の御言葉に耳を傾けると、不思議にその御言葉が心に響く場で あった。

③更に今回は特に、日本での宣教活動に長い間、人生を懸けて取り組まれた先輩宣教師の証しを聴く機会に恵ま れていた。私はNorris先生の、困難を乗り越えてのお働きの証しに特に心を打たれた。

こういう訳で、参加者はすぐに心を開き、あたかも数十年来の旧知の仲であるかのように、お互いへの信頼関 係を深めることができた。心洗われる体験となった。

 

5.企画委員

宣教師会議で忘れてならないのが企画委員の存在である。1年前、仙台で開催された宣教師会議2016の 最終日に選出された次の4名がその重責を担った:

Rev. Imaizumi Nobuhiro (UMC, Mukonoso Church), Rev. Timothy Appau (All Africa Baptist Fellowship, Asian Rural Institute), Rev. Chang, In-Hye (KMC, Hizume Church), Ms. Debora Umipig-Julian (UMC, Yoyogi Uehara Church).

加藤幹事のイニシアチブの下、2016年7月教団会議室での第一回打ち合わせ会にて場所・テーマ・聖書箇所を決定し、更に11月には開催地・トーチベアラーズ山中湖に赴いて宿泊の上でスケジュール組み立て及び役割分担を決めた。準 備活動が殺到する直前の5日間、特にMs. Debora Umipig-Julianの柔軟なコーディネーションが功を奏した。感謝している。

 

教団事務局職員 高田輝樹

【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

受け継がれる教会の業

無牧教会で信徒が担い続ける祈祷会

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)

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