【June 2019 No.403】Work of Tohoku Disaster Relief Center, Emmaus, Ended

The Kyodan Tohoku Disaster Relief Center, Emmaus, which received much support, concluded its activities at the end of March 2019. On March 23, 2019, Tohoku District held a gathering to express its thanks to the relief center for all its activities during the past eight years.


The gathering commenced with a worship service that was followed by a time of fellowship. The 60 attendees included people from churches within the district, former staff workers, meal volunteers, staff who were involved in the initial establishment of the center, and the former chairperson of the Sasayashiki neighborhood association. There were reunions with old friends; and some who couldn’t make it to the gathering sent video letters, so we were able to listen to the words of many people concerning how they felt about Emmaus.


During a time when society was demanding efficiency, at Emmaus, the importance of “moving close to wounded people,” which places a high value on “slow work,” had become a common slogan of which we consistently reminded each other.


The following comments have been received from the disaster survivors: “Thanks to the help of Emmaus, I recaptured the courage to continue my farm.” “Though the tsunami was the cause of much that made life difficult for us, I am deeply grateful for the opportunity it gave us to meet all of you.” “Please don’t forget us.”

The connections we made at Emmaus will continue. While many experienced blessed encounters through the work of Emmaus, there were some among those helping through Emmaus that experienced a great deal of pain as well. We pray for God’s comfort and blessings for all experiencing both of these aspects. We remain deeply grateful to all those who prayed and provided support for Emmaus.

(Tr. DM)

—Ogawa Sachiko, pastor, Sendai Aisen Church,

Tohoku District Former Head, Kyodan Tohoku Disaster Relief Center, Emmaus


 8年間皆さまに支援していただいた東北教区被災者支援センター・エマオKyodan Tohoku Disaster Relief Center, Emmausは、この3月末ですべての活動を終えます。東北教区では、3月23日(土)に被災者支援センター委員会主催で「被災者支援センター・エマオの8年を感謝する会」を開催しました。第一部礼拝、第二部感謝会(茶話会)で、教区内諸教会をはじめ県外の各地から元スタッフ、ワーカー、食事ボランティア、初期の立ち上げにかかわった方々、笹屋敷の前町内会長など60名の参加がありました。懐かしい出会いがあり、都合で参加できない方はビデオレターを送って下さり、いろいろな方のエマオへの思いを聞くことが出来ました。




【June 2019 No.403】Learning from LGBT(*1) People and Seeing the Love of God in Sexual Diversity

Shinto no Tomo (Believers’ Friend) by the Kyodan Board of Publications’ periodical recently issued this article as the first in a series entitled as above.

by Taira Aika, pastor, Kawawa Church, Kanagawa District

                                                                                 Theological Seminary for Rural Mission teacher


Christianity often sees “sexuality” as a taboo subject. It is a private matter but something that everyone should take seriously. Some people are even hesitant to look at an article on such a subject. But many others find it hard to live when things related to it are hidden away. The attitude toward gender(*2) difference that says, “Males are like this, and females are like that” leads to, solidifies, and makes real the distorted view that men look after women and women are looked after by men. It also can mean that your natural sexuality(*3) is not understood by those around you, which can be very painful. When people suffer because their gender identity(*4) is different from their physical body, they may actually suffer even more if the people around them do not understand what they are and their pain.


LGBT is an abbreviation  of the words lesbian(*5), gay(*6), bisexual(*7), and transgender(*8). More than a reference to the people themselves, the letters symbolize the difficulty some people have as they live in a society where it is taken for granted that people will love someone of the opposite sex or accept their own physical body. There are people who use other terms, such as “asexual”(*9) or “x-gender”(*10) to identify themselves as well.


In church, by using the words from Genesis to say “God made us man and woman; people will marry to become one; and they will be blessed with children,” we will often go on to say that LGBT people have disobeyed God, and therefore attack them and drive them out of the church. But modern theology is becoming much more diverse. Some people will say, “The Bible says ‘no,’ so the answer is ‘no’,” but others will raise the question, “Are you really obeying every place in the Bible where it says ‘no’?” There are rules about food, impurity and uncleanliness, but not many people say, “The Bible says ‘no,’ so we must say ‘no’ to them.” We read certain parts of the Bible as they are and go beyond some other parts in our interpretation.


In doing so, some people will insist we cannot allow this with regard to LGBT, saying that our sexuality is a gift from God that allow us to create progeny, and will take the position that any other form of sexuality is an abuse of the Bible and a misuse of our sexuality. Behind a such claim, there is the view that human beings are created as male and female, each has their own roles, and that sexuality should only be expressed in a marriage relationship. Some people think God did not create homosexuals and others think that God created homosexual people but test them to overcome it. Such people also do not accept transgender people whose gender identity is different from their assigned sex and gender.


However, others see that just as there are left-handed and right-handed people, with regard to sexual ori-entation(*11) there are homosexual and heterosexual people, bisexual people, and asexual people; and they will reinterpret the Bible to say that we are all called by God to build sincere and true relationships, who-ever we are. Procreation is not the only act to be blessed by God. We need to think about and raise a question about how men and women should be and the legitimacy of marriage itself. Whatever position we choose, it may be connected to our faith. But we must remember those who are struggling and suffering. I am one who suffered as a Christian.


I was born into a minister’s family in Okinawa. The name of Aika has two meanings.The Chinese characters used for my name “Aika”(愛香)mean “fragrance of love.” On the other hand, I was given this name because aika sounds like a cry for peace in Okinawa. The title of the Book of Lamentations in the Bible is also  pronounced Aika but is written with other Chinese characters (哀歌). My name is often mistaken for that of a female, but I am actually male and even have a beard. And I am homosexual. From an early age, I noticed that I was attracted to other males. But when I reached junior high school, I realized society as a whole thought this was strange, and I felt isolated. I went to a church-related senior high school and was taught that homosexuality is an unforgivable sin that rejects God’s order of creation. Being rejected by society, and feeling that I was disliked by God, every day I thought only of dying. What kept me from dying was what my parents had taught me from a young age. I learned from them that “even if the whole world is against you, Jesus is on your side.” I suffered because of Christianity, but it was also Christianity that supported me and kept me alive.


Little by little, I came to understand that there were differences among Christians. There were those who continued to say homosexuality is a sin, but there was also a pastor who said, “God has created you as a homosexual person and has blessed you.” I wanted to learn more about the Bible, and that’s what led me to the Theological Seminary for Rural Mission in Machida, Tokyo, where I was able to come out(*12) as a homosexual person. Then, I became one of the first persons to come out and become a pastor. A lesbian woman came out several months before I did and became the first openly LGBT pastor in Japan.


As an openly gay pastor,  I have heard many stories from LGBT Christians. Some told me that after they came out, their pastors continuously told them, with anger, that they were lacking in faith.  Some told me that they were suddenly and unexpectedly surrounded by church members who prayed for them—a very frightening experience. Others were told by Sunday school staff that they could no longer work with the children because they would have a bad influence on them. Still others spoke to their pastor about wanting to value their faith as a homosexual person and were told, “That is not the faith of our church,” and were expelled from membership. One woman was told, “Have a relationship with man to cure yourself”—a clear example of sexual harassment; and a man being forced to marry a woman was told, “If you get married you will be cured.”


Some people just had no place to go. People thought they were being kind by saying things like, “I’ll introduce you to a person of the opposite sex with whom you can build a relationship,” but that made it difficult for some people to continue going to the same church. The words from the Bible, “Be fruitful and multiply,” were spoken as a blessing but also made it difficult for some people—and not only LGBT people—to continue going to the same church. Many left the church after experiencing pressure by being told, “We will pray that you will be cured.” One pastor said, “We will openly welcome LGBT people to our church,” while not being aware that at least two LGBT people were already there. Saying “we will welcome you if you come” reveals an unawareness of the fact that LGBT people may already be there. From a bisexual person, I heard with pain that the leader of the church spoke ill of such a person for being totally immoral. From now on, let us think together and let us know and experience that God loves us all just as we are.(Tr. RW)


1. “LGBT” is an abbreviation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender. It is also used as an umbrella term that refers to people who have diverse sexuality and gender identities. Sometimes Q is added and it stands for “questioning,” representing people who are still exploring their sexual orientations or gender identities.


2. “Gender” refers not only to biological sex but also to socially constructed differences (gestures, hairstyle, clothing, language, and gender roles) that separate male and female. The term is also used more broadly to denote a range of identities that do not correspond to established ideas of male and female.


3. “Sexuality” is a broad term that may include biological sex, sexual orientation, sexual activity, gender expression, and gender identity.  It is also used to express a way of being true to oneself in terms of sexuality.


4. “Gender Identity” is a personal sense of one’s own gender. It can correlate with assigned sex at birth or can differ from it. Some people understand “gender identity” as  “mental sexual identification” (in contrast to physical sex) but it is not accurate expression because there is no “gender” in our spirit itself.


5. “Lesbian” refers to women whose primary sexual orientation is toward people of the same gender. Today, some people use this term not only to indicate their sexual orientation but also to verbalize the fact that they are oppressed as a woman and a homosexual person.


6. “Gay” refers to men whose primary sexual orientation is toward people of the same gender. This term was originally used to mean “bright and showy.” It is sometimes used as a synonym of “homosexual people” including lesbian.


7. “Bisexual” refers to a person whose primary sexual and affectional orientation is toward people of the same and other genders, or towards people regardless of their gender (pansexual).


8. “Transgender” refers to someone whose gender identity or expression does not fit assigned sex and gender. The term “gender identity disorder” is often used to describe this condition as an illness. The opposite of transgender is “cisgender.”


9. “Asexual” refers to a person who feels no sexual attraction to a person of any gender.


10. “X-gender” refers to a person who recognizes oneself as neither male nor female. X-gender people will express their feelings in a variety of ways, saying: “I am neither male nor female”; “Either is OK”;  “I am between female and male”; and “I experience changes.” This term is thought to be coined in Japan. In English, the terms “non-binary” and “third gender” may be used to express “X-gender.”


11. “Sexual Orientation” refers to a person’s physical, romantic and/or emotional attraction towards other people. It could be homosexual, heterosexual, bisexual or asexual. It is not something one can choose freely.


12. “Coming out” or “coming out of the closet” refers to the act of voluntarily making public one’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity. For many LGBT people, the purpose of their “coming out” is  not to expose their secret but to share it with others in order to build a new relationship. The opposite of coming out is “staying in the closet.” (Tr. KM)


From Shinto no Tomo (Believers’ Friend), April 2019


教団出版局の「信徒の友」誌上で「LGBT(*1)から学ぶ シリーズ  性 その多様性にみる神の愛」という連載が始まった。その第一回を紹介する。(KNL編集部)













 居場所を失った人たちもいます。「いい人(異性の交際相手)を紹介しますよ」という「親切心」によって、その教会に行きづらくなったという人もいます。産めよ増やせよという聖書の言葉が無批判に祝福として語られたために、教会に行けなくなった人もいます(これはLGBTだけでなく多くの人を傷つけています)。 「治るように祈る」という圧力をかけられて教会に行けなくなった人を何人も知っています。ある牧師は「LGBTの人がうちの教会に来たら丁寧に受け入れたいです」と言ってくれましたが、すでにその教会には当事者が少なくとも2人いることを私は知っていました。「来たら受け入れる」という姿勢は、「すでにいるかもしれない」という意識を薄れさせます。バイセクシュアルの人からは「教会のリーダーに、ふしだらだとののしられた」という嘆きを聞いたことがあります。これから共に考え、「ありのままの私」を愛してくださる神の愛を体感していきましょう。



2  ジェンダー


3  セクシュアリティ


4  性自認


5  レズビアン


6   ゲイ


7   バイセクシュアル


8   トランスジェンター


9   アセクシュアル


10  Xジェンダー


11  性的指向


12  カミングアウト


【June 2019 No.403】From the General Secretary’s Desk: The Inspiring Visit of RCA’s General Synod President and His Wife

The Reformed Church in America’s General Synod President James Nakakihara and his wife Lisa recently visited the Kyodan office. Nakakihara is a third-generation Japanese-American elder in the RCA. Elected for a one-year term of service in June 2018, President Nakakihara is the first person of Japanese descent to be elected to this position in the RCA’s long history. Within the church, there is now a difficult conflict regarding the LGBTQ issue, so Nakakihara is responsible for the important task of steering the church through this political situation.


The RCA was formed by immigrants to the USA from the Netherlands and previously was referred to as the Dutch Reformed Church. It is a well-known fact that the church has an especially deep relationship with Japanese churches. In the middle of the 19th century, the country of Japan emerged from isolation. When the door was opened to several foreign countries, the RCA was the first church to send missionaries to spread Protestant Christianity in Japan. Among those missionaries were Samuel Robbins Brown, Guido Herman Fridolin Verbeck, and James Hamilton Ballagh. Later, the RCA planted many churches in Japan and was deeply involved in the establishment of schools, such as Meiji Gakuin and Ferris Jogakuin. Dr. I. John Hesselink, who had served as a professor at Tokyo Union Theological Seminary for 20 years, returned to the United States and, after serving as RCA vice-president, became its president.


Nakakihara is a lay member and elder at Rancho Community Reformed Church in Temecula, California. He has served as a special education teacher and as an IT engineer who participated in product development and a variety of other activities. While he was working briefly in Utsunomiya in Japan, his wife Lisa, a Buddhist at the time, encountered the gospel and was converted. Although he had been baptized when he was in high school, Nakakihara had become inactive, but his wife’s conversion influenced him to come back to church. Because this happened in Japan, he is especially interested in—and prays especially for—the church in Japan. Now he is very active at his church as a small group leader and webmaster and also takes a leadership role at gatherings of the churches in the region. He says that although being chosen as the president of the RCA General Synod was completely unexpected, he accepted the job because he believed it was God’s calling. Lisa is also of Japanese descent and is also active in the church. However, around the time when James became general synod president, she contracted Guillain-Barré syndrome, which limited her mobility to a wheelchair. Even with this disability, she came with James on this trip to Japan.


While talking with both of them, one of the things that impressed me was the church that they belong to, Rancho Community Reformed Church. Although it is located in a city of around 100,000 people and began with only seven families, in nearly 20 years it has grown to become a church where about 2,000 participants gather to worship. The secret of this growth is that when church members really wanted to do something as Christians, they would simply gather together some like-minded people and do it. One group began a private school, and another group formed a women’s work group. Nakakihara started a website for young people that now has 4,000 followers. By making sufficient use of the gifts God has given to each individual, a living church was born and grows, seemingly with things naturally becoming what they are. Through this time of close fellowship in faith, I feel even more familiar with the RCA. (Tr. KT)

                              —Akiyama Toru, general secretary



 先日教団に、アメリカ改革教会の総会議長Mr. James & Mrs. Lisa  Nakakiharaさんご夫妻を、お迎えしました。ナカキハラさんは日系の3世で、アメリカ改革教会の長い歴史で初めての日系の総会議長に、2018年6月に一年任期で就任なさり、LGBTQをめぐる厳しい対立がある同教団の政治状況のなかでかじ取りをする重要な働きを担っておられます。

 アメリカ改革教会は、かつてはダッチ・リフォームド教会と呼ぼれていたように、オランダからの移民によって形成された教会です。日本の教会とは特別に深い関係があることはよく知られています。19世紀の半ば、日本が鎖国を解き、諸外国に向かって門戸が開かれるようになったとき、最も早くプロテスタントのキリスト教を伝えるためにS.R.ブラウンやフルベッキ、バラーなどの宣教師たちを送り出し、その後の日本の数多くの教会形成、および明治学院やフェリス女学院などの学校の設立にも深くかかわっています。かつて、20年間東京神学大学で教鞭を執られたDr. I. John Hesselink先生は、帰米後に、RCAのVice-Presidentを経てPresidentになられました。

 ナカキハラさんはカリフォルニア州のTemeculaという街にあるRancho CommunityReformed Churchの長老です。Special educationの教師やITの技術者、商品開発など、多方面に活躍され、しばらく宇都宮で働いていた時代に、仏教徒だったLisa夫人が、福音に触れて回心なさいました。それがきっかけで、高校時代に洗礼を受けたものの、教会からは離れていたJamesも、教会に復帰なさったのです。ですから、日本の教会のことについては特別な関心と祈りをもっておられます。現在、教会ではsmall group leaderやwebmasterとして生き生きと活躍しておられ、地域の教会の集まりでも責任のある役割を果たしておられます。RCA総会で議長に選ばれたのは青天の霹靂だったそうです。でも、神様の呼びかけがあると信じてこの職に就いたと言っておられました。リサ夫人も日系で、教会で活躍しておられますが、Jamesが議長になるころにギラン・バレー症候群にかかられ、車いす生活を余儀なくされています。今回の日本旅行も不自由な中で、お二人で来られました。

 お二人との話し合いの中で、印象的だったことの一つは、彼らの所属しているRancho Community Reformed Churchのことです。10万人ほどの町の中にあって2000名ほどの礼拝参加者が集まる大きな教会ですが、はじめは7家族だけの教会で、ここ20年ほどで大きく成長したというのです。その成長の秘訣は、教会員がそれぞれにキリスト者としてぜひやりたいことがあれば、何でも仲間を集めてやるというところにあるとのことです。そのなかからプライベート・スクールや女性の仕事会があり、ナカキハラさんが始めた若者のためのWeb-siteには4000人のフォロワーがいるとのこと。一人一人に与えられた神様からの賜物を十分に生かすところに生きた教会が生まれ、成長する、当然のことが当然になっている姿を見る思いがします。今回の、親しい信仰の交わりによってRCAの教会が、さらに身近に感じられました。 (秋山徹総幹事)

【April 2019 No.402】Pastoral Telephone Counseling Service Established

by Kato Mikio, chair

                                                                    Counseling Center for the Support of Pastors and their Families

The Counseling Center for the Support of Pastors and their Families is a telephone counseling service that will begin on March 4, 2019. It will be available every Monday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., excluding a lunch hour from 12 to 1 p.m., and will be operated by people with experience in telephone counseling. Both a guidance meeting for counselors and a committee meeting were held at Kamakura Meditation House, Jan. 15-16. Since 2009, the Subcommittee for Consideration of Disabled Persons has been discussing the serious problems of churches in crisis situations due to suicides and mental health issues in clergy families. With increased awareness of the urgency of the need for mental health care following three gatherings of the National Fellowship Meeting for Ministers and their Families, we were finally able to establish the Counseling Center for the Support of Pastors and their Families in 2018.

The purpose of the counseling center is to “promote understanding of spiritual ministry and mental health care in relation to issues actually experienced.” The specific problems that pastors and their families have been struggling with are not being dealt with well through the use of traditional counseling methods. However, though this is the case, we cannot turn away from the problem. Rather we should acknowledge that the effectiveness and power of evangelism has been weakened because of this. Thus it is of utmost importance that the Kyodan deals with this issue immediately.

In order to address the various issues with which people suffer, we began with the idea of phone counseling and invited church members with phone counseling experience to open our guidance meeting. At this meeting we determined ethical principles, of which the following seven are of most importance.


1. Participants must strictly uphold confidentiality by distancing themselves from politics or personnel relations within the Kyodan, church district, or local church, not making any judgments or personally following up on such issues. Likewise, counselors are not to answer inquiries from others.

2. The most important thing is to focus on the client’s problem or pain and work to share that pain with the client, but not to focus on problem resolution.

3. When necessary, call a committee meeting to share ideas on how to deal with the case and hold discussions to deepen cooperation.

4. When a counselor is faced with a case that cannot easily be handled, bring the case to the committee and work together to find the correct solution and receive necessary support.

5. Take care not to share your notes and records with others to make certain that confidentiality is maintained.

6. Even though a pastor is a fallen creature like anyone else, he or she has a special responsibility and calling. Keep that in mind during consultations.

7. Though families of pastors may not have a particular calling or special training, their role causes them to be involved in very unique and unusual situations, and they may carry burdens that are very specific to their particular situations. Keep this in mind when having consultations with them.


We have prepared for this project by trying to discern the various types of consultations we might have, but until we actually begin, there is no way to imagine every possibility. Although we may not be able to bring the problems of pastors or their families to an immediate solution, we can strive together with them in their suffering, and hopefully become a place where they will feel they can gain some loving support. And more than anything, we hope that through our service, pastors and their families will be able to receive the blessings of Jesus Christ and the joy that comes from him. If they have already lost that, we want to be instrumental in bringing them back to that state of blessedness. (Tr. WJ)

          —Kyodan Shinpo (The Kyodan Times), No.4896













(加藤幹夫 教団新報4896号)

【April 2019 No.402】Kyodan Participation in Disaster Relief in Japan in 2018

The following three accounts, taken from Kyodan Shinpo (The Kyodan Times), describe the initiative and involvement of the Kyodan, its district, and its churches and members in disaster relief, with ecumenical and sometimes international cooperation, during 2018.

Carpenters from Taiwan Volunteer for Okayama Relief

by Osawa Motomu, pastor

Yamaguchi Church, Nishi-Chugoku District

When western Japan experienced disastrously heavy rain in July 2018, the Nishihirashima area in Okayama Prefecture, was the second worst in terms of aftereffects of the disaster, with 2,230 homes being damaged by flooding. Immediately after the devastation occurred, Kato Makoto, executive secretary of the Kyodan Commission on Ecumenical Ministries, among others, inspected the damage on several occasions. The commission began activities in August in the Nishihirashima area to promote relief efforts that met the needs of the people in the most appropriate ways.

We always keep in mind that it is “the person-to-person connection” that makes it possible to provide support. On Friday, July 6, heavy rain fell continuously, resulting in the overflowing of Suna River’s banks, and NGO Team Haru Haru entered the area on Sunday, July 8. The relief efforts continued nonstop, without taking even one day off, so a relationship of trust was established with the district. Wake Church Pastor Nobuto Yoshihide had already been participating in this work for several days, so the commission too was able to begin relief activities.Some people said that compared to other nearby disaster areas, reconstruction of the Nishihirashima area progressed more quickly. This was partly due to the help received from experienced volunteers. They soon finished removing mud, disinfecting, and drying floors. By August, they were at the point where the carpenters could begin necessary repairs. With the help of the Kyodan, volunteer carpenters from the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan were dispatched to the disaster area.

During a period of 39 days, from Monday, Aug. 27, through Thursday, Oct. 4, major and minor repairs were carried out on about 20 homes by a total of ten volunteers and three inspectors. I cannot forget the sight of the members of one family shaking hands with a carpenter from Taiwan, their eyes filled with tears as they said, “When we were looking at the ground covered with mud every day, we could not motivate ourselves to do anything. But now it seems that we can finally take one step forward.” During this same time period, a lot of damage was being caused by natural disasters occurring also in Taiwan. I want to thank the members of the family of God in Taiwan, who sent the carpenters to help Japan.


大澤求 山口教会牧師






*               *               *

Kyodan Churches Join Interdenominational Relief in Hiroshima

by Kobayashi Katsuya, pastor, Kure Heian Church,

      Nishi-Chugoku District

       Steering committee member, Hiroshima Christian Church

       Disaster Relief Projects Planning Headquarters,

        Kure Volunteer Center

The flood-causing rains also severely damaged Kure City in Hiroshima Prefecture. In cooperation with several churches in Kure, the Hiroshima Cooperative Mission, Hiroshima Disaster Response Office, which had worked hard to offer support during another muddy disaster five years ago, launched an interdenominational organization called the Hiroshima Christian Church Disaster Relief Project Planning Headquarters, Kure Volunteer Center, which provided immediate support following the disaster.

The center provided housing for volunteers, limited to the first four weeks. This time limit was decided before starting so that the pastors and other people in the damaged areas would not collapse from exhaustion by doing relief work. Kure Heian Church also became a place that offered lodging. Many Christians, and many people interested in Christianity, crossed denominational lines and came from all over Japan, and from overseas too, to participate in the volunteer work. They met the needs of the victims, first helping churches, church members, the families and acquaintances of church members, and the regions where the churches are, in that order, by removing mud, disinfecting, etc. They carried out activities that included cooperating with the Social Welfare Council to bring in heavy equipment, like excavators and dump trucks, etc. In addition, since Akitsu Christian Church of the Nihon Fukuin Senkyodan (an independent evangelical denomination) was damaged, the volunteers also helped with its reconstruction project.

The volunteers intended to take responsibility for all the areas to which they had some connection until the end of the crisis. So they continued activities, such as removing mud and disinfecting, volunteering two days a week until the end of September. After that, the focus of volunteer efforts shifted to providing support for daily activities and providing emotional care. They started by giving out blankets to meet the needs of people in temporary housing. The circle of fellowship got bigger until it included the people in temporary housing and the members of the residents’ association who had experienced a lot of damage. The volunteers were able to send kotatsu sets (a small table with an electric heater underneath and covered by a quilt) and insulation sheets, along with Christmas cards. Akitsu Christian Church finished the construction, and on Dec. 24 a celebration was held to give thanks for the work completed and offer praise for the Lord’s mighty deeds.


呉平安教会牧師 小林克哉





  *               *               *

Kyodan Churches Work with Ecumenical Relief Group in Okayama

by Otsuka Shinobu, moderator

                                           Higashi Chugoku District

                                           Pastor, Okayama Church

One week after the downpour in western Japan, the Okayama Prefecture Mission Gathering, a group made up of several evangelical churches in Okayama Prefecture, held a meeting. I was invited and attended as moderator of Higashi Chugoku District. There was discussion about how to support the churches in the prefecture that had been damaged, and the Okayama Mission Gathering, Okayama Christian Disaster Support Headquarters was set up. After the meeting, the Kyodan’s Higashi Chugoku District also confirmed that it would assist with reconstruction together with the other churches. The Support Headquarters was moved into Nihon Seiyaku Kyodan Hiroe Seiyaku Christ Church. Volunteers gathered there at 7:30 a.m., and after holding a worship service, headed toward Mabicho, one of the disaster areas. Oda River and Takama River had overflowed, so some houses were submerged in water up to the second floor. Volunteers removed mud, cleaned the inside of the houses, and between periods of work, listened to the voices of the people who had experienced harm. In the Hirashima area of Okayama City’s Higashi Ward, both the Kyodan and the Taiwanese Volunteer Team assisted with reconstruction. Support work was continued until November, and as a result of discussions among the Okayama Christian Disaster Support Headquarters, the YMCA Setouchi, the Kyodan and Kyodan Nishi-Chugoku District, it was decided that the base of activity would be located in Mabicho, so it has served as our base of operations. On Saturday, Dec. 8, a ceremony was held to celebrate its opening. It was decided that the base would be active in the disaster areas for two years. Some of our volunteers who had started in the last half of July 2018, were baptized at Christmas. It was a source of great joy for all of us, too. As we listen to the voices of the people who have suffered harm, praying and talking with them, we want to follow through on the task that has been given to us.(Tr. KT)


大塚忍 東中国教区総会議長 岡山教会牧師


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