Asia Gakuin (Asian Rural Institute)

by Ban Hyung Wook
Korean Methodist Church missionary

Established in 1973 in Nasu-san-roku in Tochigi Prefecture, Asian Rural
Institute is a school founded on the love of Jesus Christ to promote the
progress and prosperity of the rural peoples of Asia. It was established
with the goal of promoting just and peaceful societies through the
training of local leaders who themselves hold these goals.

This year marks the 36th anniversary of the founding of ARI. During the
eight months from April to December, invited participants from Africa,
Asia, and at times the Pacific Island nations, South America, and others
of the world’s developing nations, come for leadership training. These
leaders are pastors, priests, officials of NGOs, farm organization
leaders, women’s group leaders, teachers, and any who are rural
grass-roots leaders working to improve the lives of rural people.

I myself am a graduate of ARI, class of 1983. I am a Korean Methodist
Church pastor and, since September 2004, I have been working as a
missionary staff member of ARI. I love ARI from the bottom of my heart.
Here I find great joy in working for God’s purposes as God’s vessel.
Since being sent to ARI, I have continually been filled with a burning
sense of my high calling. Here I can meet with young students who gather
from all over Japan and, while working together or eating together in
the Koinonia dining hall, I can share my thoughts and feelings with
these students. As the staff person responsible for group life, I can
assist ARI students when they complete their training and return to
their home areas as rural leaders. My heart swells with joy and thanks
to God as each ARI student achieves transformation into a good leader.
This becomes the motivating power for my work as a missionary.

Sometimes I receive telephone calls or E-mail from young people who have
at some time visited ARI. Sometimes these are reports of someone
beginning to read the Bible or beginning to attend Sunday worship
services, or receiving baptism. This is one such E-mail. “Dear Pastor
Ban, my life at ARI and the community there are very precious to me. For
me and my friend, the summer spent at ARI, where we experienced the
power of God, had deep importance for us. Through our experiences at ARI
our friendship has deepened. Can you believe that she decided by herself
to begin attending church services? Pastor Ban, you and your wife Chinhe
have been excellent Christian models for her and for me too.”
My wife Chinhe is fulfilling her calling from God by working as a
volunteer at ARI. One thing she does is to bake birthday cakes for
everyone in the ARI community. “This is the first time in my life that
someone has baked such a wonderful cake and celebrated my birthday,”
said one joyful person. When I see scenes like this, I too am overjoyed.

Even now the training of rural leaders from all over the world is
continuing. Knowing this, why is ARI’s name still the same? Why not
change the name to “Asia-Africa Rural Institute” or Asia-Africa-Pacific
Rural Institute? That is a question that sometimes arises, but there is
a reason for the name as it stands. The reason is that the founding of
ARI was an act of repentance before God for the sins committed against
the people of Asia during World War II. Because of the need to confess,
apologize, and repent for the brutal acts committed against the people
of Asia, the name “Asian Rural Institute” must remain.

Please pray for Asian Rural Institute, its students, its graduates, and
ARI’s calling to labor for those suffering in poverty? (Tr. GM)

Shinpo( The Kyodan Times)

Note:
Asian Rural Institute was awarded the 2008 Welfare Award by the Asahi
Shinbun newspaper company. Asahi gives this prize each year to the
organization it chooses to honor for its exemplary services to society
and its welfare. Begun in 1947 as the Social Welfare Award, this prize
was split into two separate awards from 1975. It is a great honor for
ARI to receive one of them.

2008 Kyodan Newsletter Index

CHILDREN AND YOUTH
Catholic-Protestant Fellowship
Addresses Educational Issues……………………348/4 June
First Christian Education Seminar
Held in Kochi………………………………………….348/3 June
JOCS Articles Feature Overseas Workers………346/3 Feb.
Kyodan Women’s Federation Hosts
Japan-Germany “Youth Mission 2008………349/6 Oct.
Morioka Holds Joint Church School
Apple-picking………………………………………….347/6 Apr.
Nine-day PCT-Kyodan “Youth Mission
2008″ Held in Japan…………………………………349/6 Oct.

CHRISTIANITY IN JAPAN
Catholic-Protestant Fellowship
Addresses Educational Issues…………………..348/4 June
Christian Composer Leaves Legacy of
“Tomi-songs”………………………………………….350/5 Dec.
Christian Events Marking the Year of
Japanese-Brazilian Exchange”………………….350/6 Dec.
Christmas in Japan……………………………………….350/1 Dec.
Churches Damaged by Chuetsu
Earthquake Celebrate Reconstruction……….348/2 June
Church’s Monthly Birthday Party
Celebrates God’s Gift of Life……………………348/3 June
Coffee Shop Evangelism Enhances
Local Churches’ Ministries………………………350/7 Dec.
Commemorative Events for the 150th
Year of Evangelism in Japan…………………….350/4 Dec.
Day that Sado Became Iona…………………………347/4 Apr.
Desire to Teach Faith to Children
Inspires Japanese Hymnist……………………….349/8 Oct.

From Taiwan to Hokkaido:

A Missionary’s Story………………………………..346/2 Feb.
Izu Island Churches Experience
Support Amidst Natural Disasters……………..347/3 Apr.
Japanese Hymns Now Appearing
in English Hymnals………………………………….349/7 Oct.
Japanese Pastor in Ministry.
with Korean Congregation……………………….347/5 Apr.
Local Church Program Features Haiku,
Sign Language & Finger Braille Classes……348/7 June
Marina and a Thousand Picture Books…………..346/7 Feb.
Memorial Fund Aids Filipino Students………….346/4 Feb.
New Telephone System Enables
Worship Participation from Home…………….348/5 June

CONFERENCES, CONSULTATIONS, ASSEMBLIES
11th Kyodan-PCT Conference
Held in Taiwan………………………………………..346/1 Feb.
36th General Assembly Deliberates
Communion-related Issues……………………….350/2 Dec.
2007 Missional Planning Conference
Held in Tokyo………………………………………….348/1 June

First Christian Education Seminar
Held in Kochi………………………………………….348/3 June
Kyodan Women’s Federation Hosts
Japan-Germany “Youth Mission 2008″……..349/6 Oct.
Nine-day PCT-Kyodan “Youth Mission
2008″ Held in Japan…………………………………349/6 Oct.

ECUMENICAL AND INTERCHURCH RELATIONS
11th Kyodan-PCT Conference
Held in Taiwan…………………………………………346/1 Feb.
Catholic-Protestant Fellowship
Addresses Educational Issues……………………348/4 June
Christian Events Marking the Year of
Japanese-Brazilian Exchange”………………….350/6 Dec.
Details of the Visit to Retired Missionaries…….349/3 Oct.

From Taiwan to Hokkaido:

A Missionary’s Story………………………………..346/2 Feb.
Japan Representatives Visit
Retired Missionaries in the USA………………349/2 Oct.
Japanese Pastor in Ministry
with Korean Congregation……………………….347/5 Apr.
Kyodan Representatives to Visit
Retired Missionaries………………………………..347/2 Apr.
Kyodan Women’s Federation Hosts
Japan-Germany “Youth Mission 2008″…….349/6 Oct.
Memorial Fund Aids Filipino Students………….346/4 Feb.
Nine-day PCT-Kyodan “Youth Mission
2008″ Held in Japan…………………………………349/6 Oct.
Sign of Growing Relationship Between
Japanese and Korean Churches…………………349/1 Oct.

EVANGELISM & MISSION; HISTORY & CULTURE
2007 Missional Planning Conference
Held in Tokyo………………………………………….348/1 June
Catholic-Protestant Fellowship
Addresses Educational Issues……………………348/4 June
Christian Composer Leaves Legacy of
“Tomi-songs”………………………………………….350/5 Dec.
Christian Events Marking the Year of
Japanese-Brazilian Exchange”…………………350/6 Dec.
Christmas in Japan………………………………………350/1 Dec.
Churches Damaged by Chuetsu
Earthquake Celebrate Reconstruction……….348/2 June
Church’s Monthly Birthday Party
Celebrates God’s Gift of Life……………………348/3 June
Coffee Shop Evangelism Enhances
Local Churches’ Ministries……………………….350/7 Dec.
Commemorative Events for the 150th
Year of Evangelism in Japan…………………….350/4 Dec.
Day that Sado Became Iona…………………………347/4 Apr.
Desire to Teach Faith to Children
Inspires Japanese Hymnist……………………….349/8 Oct.
Japanese Hymns Now Appearing
in English Hymnals………………………………….349/7 Oct.

Japanese Pastor in Ministry
with Korean Congregation……………………….347/5 Apr.
JOCS Articles Feature Overseas Workers………346/3 Feb.
Kyodan Newsletter: Identifying Its
Purpose and Function……………………………….347/7 Apr.
Memorial Fund Aids Filipino Students…………..346/4 Feb.
Sign of Growing Relationship Between
Japanese and Korean Churches…………………349/1 Oct.

KYODAN
11th Kyodan-PCT Conference
Held in Taiwan…………………………………………346/1 Feb.
2007 Missional Planning Conference
Held in Tokyo………………………………………….348/1 June
Commemorative Events for the 150th
Year of Evangelism in Japan…………………….350/4 Dec.
First Christian Education Seminar
Held in Kochi………………………………………….348/3 June
General Secretary’s Diary……………………………..346/8 Feb.
General Secretary’s Diary……………………………..347/8 Apr.
General Secretary’s Diary……………………………..348/8 June
General Secretary’s Diary……………………………..350/8 Dec.
Kyodan Newsletter: Identifying Its
Purpose and Function……………………………….347/7 Apr.
Kyodan Representatives to Visit
Retired Missionaries…………………………………347/2 Apr.
Kyodan Women’s Federation Hosts
Japan-Germany “Youth Mission 2008″……..349/6 Oct.
Nine-day PCT-Kyodan “Youth Mission
2008″ Held in Japan…………………………………349/6 Oct.
Sign of Growing Relationship Between
Japanese and Korean Churches…………………349/1 Oct.

Kyodan: Executive Council & General Assembly
36th General Assembly Deliberates
Communion-related Issues……………………….350/2 Dec.
Executive Council Deliberates
Internal Church Issues………………………………347/1 Apr.
Executive Council Votes to Admonish
Pastor, Abolish Mission Commission………..349/2 Dec.

Kyodan: Districts & Subdistricts
Hokkai & Hyogo: Coffee Shop Evangelism
Enhances Local Churches’ Ministries……….350/7 Dec.
Kanto: Churches D
amaged by Chuetsu
Earth
quake Celebrate Reconstruction……….348/2 June
Kanto: Church’s Monthly Birthday Party
Celebrates God’s Gift of Life……………………348/3 June
Kanto: Day Sado Became Iona…………………….347/4 Apr.
Nishi Chugoku: Japanese Pastor in
Ministry with Korean Congregation………….347/5 Apr.
Ou: Morioka Holds Joint Church School
Apple-picking………………………………………….347/6 Apr.
Shikoku: First Christian Education Seminar
Held in Kochi………………………………………….348/3 June
Tokai: Local Church Program Features Haiku,
Sign Language & Finger Braille Classes…..348/7 June

Tokyo: Izu Island Churches Experience
Support Amidst Natural Disasters……………..347/3 Apr.
West Tokyo: West Tokyo District
Holds Church Council Seminar…………………347/6 Apr.

Kyodan: Mission Personnel & Events
Career Missionaries Retire……………………………348/7 June
Commemorative Events for the 150th
Year of Evangelism in Japan…………………….350/4 Dec.
Details of the Visit to Retired Missionaries…….349/3 Oct.

From Taiwan to Hokkaido:

A Missionary’s Story……………………………….346/2 Feb.
Japan Representatives Visit
Retired Missionaries in the USA………………349/2 Oct.
Kyodan Representatives to Visit
Retired Missionaries………………………………..347/2 Apr.
Reflection on Our Years in Japan………………….348/6 June

Kyodan: Other Featured People
Christian Composer Leaves Legacy of
“Tomi-songs”………………………………………….350/5 Dec.
Desire to Teach Faith to Children
Inspires Japanese Hymnist……………………….349/8 Oct.
Japanese Pastor in Ministry
with Korean Congregation……………………….347/5 Apr.
Marina and a Thousand Picture Books………….346/7 Feb.

SOCIAL AND SOCIOPOLITICAL CONCERNS
Catholic-Protestant Fellowship
Addresses Educational Issues…………………..348/4 June
Christian Events Marking the Year of
Japanese-Brazilian Exchange”………………….350/6 Dec.
JOCS Articles Feature Overseas Workers………346/3 Feb.
Memorial Fund Aids Filipino Students………….346/4 Feb.
Sign of Growing Relationship Between
Japanese and Korean Churches………………..349/1 Oct.

"Promotion Committee for the Movement to Support Retired Ministers"

The Promotion Committee for the Movement to Support Retired Ministers’
100-yen-offering campaign has continued for 35 years, with the prayer
that in some small way it might provide financial support for retired
pastors and their families who have given their lives in ministry.
Beginning in one church in Hokkaido in 1973, it became a movement of the
entire Hokkai District in 1976. Then, at the 20th Kyodan General
Assembly in November 1978, it was adopted as a movement of the entire
Kyodan. The national 100-yen-offering campaign sponsored by the
Promotion Committee for the Movement to Support Retired Ministers has
continued now for 30 years. I want to thank every church and preaching
point throughout Japan that has supported this movement.

The history of this movement is very personal to me. I have had
responsibility in this movement since October 1975, and I have now been
involved for 33 years. An article in Shinto no Tomo (Believers’ Friend)
that year prompted me to begin giving, and in April 1976 I sent the
first combined total of my offerings since the previous October. At that
time, this offering was being sent to the Promotion Committee for the
Movement to Support Retired Ministers. I was still immature, in my 30s
then, but the financial difficulties of retiring pastors was such that I
felt a keen desire to help in any way I could through prayer and giving.
When I had an opportunity, I encouraged others to participate in giving.
Since , this movement has been promoted by the Kyodan for 30 years, and
I give thanks that each year the number of participating churches has
increased. In 2007, 860 churches participated.
When the national movement started 30 years ago, a pension plan was
already in place, which had begun in 1964. However, pastors and families
who had retired before 1964 were not covered by that plan. These clergy
families received only a very small amount from shaonkin (“thank
offerings” or “gratitude giving”). Although the initial purpose of the
Promotion Committee for the Movement to Support Retired Ministers was to
support the funding of shaonkin, it’s purpose today is to support and
maintain the Kyodan Ministerial Pension Fund begun in 1964.

These pension funds are the main financial support for aging ministerial
retirees. Not only do they support retirees, the provision of pension
funds enables current pastors to give themselves completely to their
ministries without worrying about financial support following
retirement. For these purposes, I feel that it is extremely important
for every church and preaching point across the nation to continue its
support of the Promotion Committee for the Movement to Support Retired
Ministers’ 100-yen-offering and strongly urge continued participation
and support in this movement. Thank you. (Tr. JS)

─Okuno Kaneko, member
Zeze Church, Kyoto District
Shinpo (The Kyodan Times

2008 Christmas Offering Theme: "Living Together"

Every year during the Christmas season, the Kyodan’s Committee on
Education sponsors a Christmas Offering. This year’s theme was “Living
Together.” Japanese children strive to live with children of the world
in friendship — sharing joys as well as pain and suffering. Many
children participate in the “Living Together” Christmas Offering.

In 2007, the offering was given to mothers and children in Tanzania, for
the Ghana Youth Peace Project, and for Japanese children adversely
affected by two strong earthquakes in Japan.

The offerings from 2008 will be distributed among the following ministries.

1. To help the children of Bangladesh. The Asian Christian Education
Foundation (ACEF) is an organization that collects donations from all
over Japan and uses those contributions for the education of children in
Bangladesh. Bangladesh is one of the world’s younger nations, as it
became independent in 1971, and education is essential for building up a
new nation.

ACEF established private kindergartens and elementary schools for
children in areas without any public education and has supported such
schools for the past 18 years. ACEF has also established 73 vocational
training schools, making it possible for about 13,000 students to
enroll. However, last year Bangladesh was hit by a gigantic cyclone,
causing extensive damage and taking the lives of many persons.

Many of the schools that had been supported by ACEF were completely
destroyed. Some of the schools have been rebuilt, but there are still
many schools in need of repair. Our earnest desire is that as many
students as possible continue to go to school.
2. To help children in China. On May 12, 2008, our friends in the
central area of China’s Sichuan Province experienced an earthquake. The
damage caused by the earthquake was not confined to houses and other
buildings. Roads, water pipes, and electric power lines were also
severely damaged, and almost 15 million people fled from the area. In
addition, the number of persons known to have lost their lives reached
70 thousand.

The earthquake took place during classes and about 7 thousand school
buildings were severely damaged or collapsed. Several thousand students
and teachers lost their lives. Many Chinese friends mourned the loss of
family and friends, and even now there are some who are experiencing
difficulties.

When the Christmas Offering was collected in 2008, we remembered our
Chinese friends who had suffered loss and damage due to the earthquake.

3. To help Japanese churches and other institutions.
a. There is an institute called Hikari no Ie Gakuen (“House of Light”
School) in Yamanashi Prefecture, a place famous for its delicious fruit.
Thanks to the members of nearby Ichikawa Church, Hikari no Ie Gakuen was
established as a place for children who are still too young to attend
elementary school. Even small children sometimes have health problems ,
such as physical or emotional illnesses. Likewise, some children need
the assistance of adults, in addition to their parents. We remembered
Hikari no Ie Gakuen in our prayers, asking that those in need will be
able to send their children there confidently.

b. Located along the banks of the Shimanto River in Kochi Prefecture,
“Wakakusaen” (literally, “Young Grass Garden”) is an institution for
children 18 years old or under. This home has traditionally had a strong
and deep relationship with the church. For a variety of reasons, 47
children, of ages varying from infancy to 18 years old, are living
together. Many of these children have had very difficult and trying
experiences. However, at the children’s home, they live together as a
new family. Their lives show enthusiasm and a positive attitude. So, we
remembered our friends at the Young Grass Home.

c. When children read the Bible together in church, they come to
understand God better. When they sing songs from the children’s hymnal
and when they see Bible story picture books or paper theater stories,
they become even more enthusiastic. Nevertheless, when churches want to
begin such a children’s program, some of them do not have the financial
resources needed to put together all of the necessary materials, and so
we remembered these churches in our offering as well. (Tr. WGK)

─Katsuyama Ken’ichiro, executive secretary

Kyodan Signs Mission Covenants with 2 North American Churches

Following the adoption of Proposals #37 and #38 on Oct. 22, 2008, the
second day of the 36th Kyodan General Assembly, an Agreement Ceremony
was conducted to establish a Cooperative Mission Covenant between the
Kyodan and the Presbyterian Church (USA) and a Cooperative Mission
Covenant between the Kyodan and the Reformed Church in America.
Representatives from both overseas partner churches signed the covenant,
as stated in the related proposals, and a new era following the
dissolution of the Japan-North American Council on Cooperative Mission
(JNAC) began. Among the signators, Moderator Yamakita Nobuhisa and
General Secretary Naito Tomeyuki represented the Kyodan; Moderator Bruce
Reyes-Chow and World Mission Ministries Director Hunter Farrell
represented the Presbyterian Church (USA); and General Synod President
Carol Bechtel and General Secretary Wesley Gandberg-Michaelson
represented the Reformed Church in America.

After the signing, the various documents were exchanged, and Moderator
Yamakita responded with enthusiastic applause. As commemorative gifts,
the Kyodan presented each church representative with a framed
cloisonne’* picture of Mt. Fuji reddened by the sun’s rays and the pens
they had used to sign the documents. In return, the Presbyterian Church
(USA) presented the Kyodan with commemorative books, as pictured in
several of the photographs taken that day. (RT)
─Katsuyama Ken’ichiro, executive secretary Shinpo (The Kyodan Times)

*Aka-fuji done in shippo-yaki (enameled metal)

——————————————————————————————————
The Cooperative Mission Covenant with the Presbyterian Church (USA)
(excerpts)

Our reciprocal ministry and mission will be carried out in accordance
with the basic principles guided by the mission policies of our
respective churches, especially the following:

1. We will promote mission-partner relationships and the sharing of
people so as to provide opportunities for participation in the lives of
ministries of our respective churches, as our two churches will mutually
acknowledge each other’s Confession of faith and Church Order.
2. Our partnership in mission will be holistic. That is, as we seek the
spiritual, psychological, physical, and social liberation and salvation
of all people in our specific contexts, we will endeavor to embody the
whole Gospel in our mutual words and actions, with focus on evangelism,
church development, education, and social welfare ministries.
3. We will further seek to realize our vision for mission through the
visits of church representatives or volunteers, various exchanges, and
the sending of mission personnel. As a way of strengthening our
fellowship, the United Church of Christ in Japan will invite leaders of
the PC (USA) to its General Assemblies, District Assemblies, and other
church meetings involving pastors, youth, women, and men, and the
PC(USA) will invite representatives of the Kyodan to its General
Assembly and other national and local church events.
4. All communication in carrying out the partner relationship shall take
place between the office of the General Assembly of the United Church of
Christ in Japan and World Mission of the General Assembly Council of the
PC (USA).
5. We agree to review and evaluate this partner relationship
periodically, trusting God will lead us into a deeper mutual
understanding and relationship in mission.
——————————————————————————————————
The Cooperative Mission Covenant with the Reformed Church in America
(excerpts)

We agree first and foremost that our ministry together will be guided by
the principles which provide the foundation for both of our mission
programs, especially these:

1. That our mission together will be HOLISTIC, that is, that we will
seek to bring the whole gospel, in word and deed, through our mutual
endeavor, ministering to the spiritual, physical, intellectual,
emotional, and relational needs of those with whom we interact.
2. That our PARTNERSHIP in mission will be reciprocal, both in our
relationship with one another, and with the Christians with whom we
share ministry, and further, that as the church in Japan further
develops and our relationship deepens, we will seek to strengthen our
partnership through different expressions of ministry and fellowship.
3. That we will seek out opportunities by which the churches in Japan
can minister to and strengthen the RCA through visits, exchanges, or
actual placement of mission personnel in North America.
4. That our mutual goal is to strengthen the UCCJ in its mission and
vision. As the number of Christians in Japan is extremely low,
evangelism and church formation are the most important issues.
5. In order to accomplish the above objectives, both the RCA and the
UCCJ must mutually acknowledge each other’s confession, ordination,
ministry, and polity.


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