日本基督教団 The United Church of Christ in Japan

【June 2016 No.388】Reflections on the 2016 Kyodan-related Missionary Conference


by Timothy Boyle, missionary

The 2016 Kyodan-related Missionary Conference was held March 28-30 at Emmaus Center in Sendai. Being shortly after the fifth anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami along the Tohoku coast, much of the conference focused on the aftermath of that great disaster. The conference theme was, in fact, “Emmaus—Walk along with the Wounded.” The “wounded” from that triple disaster were not only those directly assaulted by the quake and the giant tsunami that immediately followed but also those who suffered more “slowly” from the radiation spewed from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, which was disabled by the tsunami and later went into meltdown. As this is an ongoing issue that will continue to haunt the region long after the direct damage from the quake and tsunami has been repaired, it was this aspect that was the focus of study at the conference.


Kataoka Terumi, who heads the Aizu Radioactivity Information Center in Aizu Wakamatsu in Fukushima, gave a lecture on the problems faced by those affected by the greatly increased radiation. She described how these “wounded” face so many uncertainties from this invisible enemy and how the ongoing damage is not only the increased risk of cancer from direct radiation exposure but also the psychological strain it puts on people. The ministry of Emmaus Center was transformed by the needs of the “wounded” from a student ministry to one focused on relief and recovery, and so it has served as a coordinating center for volunteers to literally “walk along with the wounded.” It was thus a very appropriate location for this year’s missionary conference. And being the day after Easter Sunday, it was also a fitting time to commemorate that original encounter with the risen Christ on the road to Emmaus.


I was one of two retiring missionaries who were present at the conference. Both David Murchie and myself received recognition from the Kyodan for our years of service in Japan, along with our wives. I was also asked to give the message at the closing worship service, and so I would like to close this article with a brief synopsis of what I said. I entitled the message "Blessed To Be A Blessing," a concept that comes from God's calling of Abraham, as recorded in Genesis 12. God says to Abraham that he will be a blessing and that through him and his seed, all peoples on earth will be blessed. As missionaries called to Japan or as Japanese church leaders called to serve your people, that promise God made to Abraham some 4,000 years ago has been passed on to us and still applies. We have been blessed for a purpose, and that is to be a blessing in Christ's name to others.


This theme of the Abrahamic Covenant is the central theme of the entire Bible and is referred to in hundreds of passages throughout both the Old and New Testaments. This is particularly so in Paul’s letters, where he stresses that the blessings of Christ are an extension of the blessing given to Abraham. Paul summarizes this biblical basis for mission in his letter to the Galatians. “The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: ‘All nations will be blessed through you.’ So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.” (Gal. 3:8-9) Jumping a few verses ahead, verse 14 says, “He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.”


This all-important Galatians 3 ends with one of my favorite verses, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.” And what is this promise to which we are heirs? It is that we are blessed in order to be a blessing to others. In these verses, Paul is referring back to Genesis chapter 12, where the history of God’s chosen people begins. There were hints of what God was going to do to solve the dilemma of sin and evil described earlier in the text, but it is in this Abrahamic Covenant that God begins to make plain his great plan. This Abrahamic Covenant, then, forms the central theme that runs throughout the Scriptures from Genesis to Revelation. God blessed Abraham and then by extension, he also blesses all those who follow Abraham's lead and place their trust in God. But the purpose of that blessing is that we are to pass it on. We are blessed in order to be a blessing, and this is the essence of the purpose for which the church of Jesus Christ exists in the first place.


I also referred to another biblical theme, that of reconciliation, along with the need for civility in our dialog across theological divides, particularly that between social action/justice ministries and evangelism. Within the context of the Church, these two broad categories of social action and evangelism need each other and must be kept together. Most ministries will focus on one or the other, but whichever ministries we are involved in, we all need to work together instead of at cross-purposes. I am reminded of the illustration attributed to E. Stanley Jones, a well-known Methodist missionary to India. He said that the relationship between the two should be like that of the body and soul. Social action without evangelism is like a corpse, while evangelism divorced from social action ends up being a ghost. In order to have a living being, they have to go together.


So that is my appeal to all of you and particularly to our Japanese brothers and sisters in the Kyodan. Remember that you are to be ambassadors for Christ and are called to the ministry of reconciliation. Remember that you have been blessed for a purpose, and that is to be a blessing to others—even those you disagree with.


ティモシー ボイル宣教師










会議に出席した二人の退任宣教師の一人が、私でした。デビッド・マーチー(David Murchie)






此の全てが重要なガラテア書3章は、私の好きな聖句の一つで締めくくられています。「ユダヤ人もギリシャ人もなく、奴隷も自由な身分の者もなく、男も女もありません。あなたがたは皆、キリストにおいて一つだからです。あなたがたは、もしキリストのものだとするなら、とりもなおさず、アブラハムの子孫であり、約束による相続人です」。そして相続人である私たちへの約束とは何でしょうか? それは他の人たちの祝福となる為に私たちが祝福されているという事です。




私はもう一つの聖書のテーマ、“和解”について、特に社会的な行動や正義の宣教へのアプローチと、福音伝道との間の、神学的な溝を越える丁寧な対話の必要性と共に言及しました。教会と言う状況の中では、社会活動と伝道という二つの広いカテゴリーは、それぞれがお互いを必要とし、共に維持されねばなりません。殆どの宣教はどちらかに集中します、しかし何れに集中するにしろ、私たちは食い違ったままではなく、みんなで共に働く必要が有ります。私は有名なインドへのメソジスト派宣教師E.スタンレー ジョーンズの例を思い起こします。彼は、この二つの事柄の関係は、肉体と精神の関係の様でなければならないと言いました。伝道のない社会活動は亡骸の様なものであり、社会活動から乖離した伝道は幽霊として終わる。双方を生きたものとするためには、二つが共に進まなければならない、と。



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