by Yamasaki Mutsuko, pastor Ikoma Church, Nara Prefecture,Osaka District
At a time when it was unusual for a girl to study abroad, I studied in the US. Following my return to Japan, I spent my entire career in English education. Along the way, what has really directed my heart is the Morning Prayer Movement (Chotokai) , a nationwide ecumenical organization that meets weekly on Monday mornings for prayer and breakfast together. My life has been a life of prayer in the morning before being sent out to my work in the world. At age 60, when I was considering the next stage of my life, after completing many years of working as an English teacher, I felt that I was naturally being led to the path of sharing God’s word. I am so thankful that my experiences as a church school teacher and my study of counseling are being utilized in my work at a small church.
Born in the North Ward of Osaka in 1933, I was the fourth daughter of a wholesale clothing dealer. When I was two years old, we moved to Nigawa in Hyogo Prefecture. During World War II we had to leave Nigawa due to the fires caused by US bombing, then after the war made our home in Takarazuka. Our family was representative of the Jodo sect of Buddhism, but because of the wishes of my mother, who was a Christian, I went to a church-related kindergarten. When the war ended, it was time for me to enter junior high school, and I chose to attend Kobe Jogakuin Girls’ Junior High School, which was also a Christian school. This was because it seemed that I could clearly hear the words “Jesus Christ” coming from all directions.
While attending Koto Church, I felt strongly that since I had been welcomed into Jesus’ house I should become one of his disciples. During my first year of senior high school I was baptized and promptly became a church school teacher. That experience led me to an interest in childhood development. As a result I majored in psychology at Kwansei Gakuin University, a Kyodan-related school, and continued on to graduate school.
At that point, I was given an opportunity to study abroad and studied counseling in the US as a Fulbright Scholar. It was 1961 and a girl studying overseas was a rarity; so I felt disapproval even from the members of my church, although nothing was actually said. But my parents, who were merchants and enterprising, were very supportive.
Because I had been studying in a class that a US missionary taught only in English at Kobe Jogakuin, I thought I had a pretty good understanding of the language. But when I attended my first class in the US, I understood almost nothing the teacher said. I did not know what to do or to whom I could go for counseling. I still remember sitting alone in the cafeteria crying.
Fortunately, I was invited to attend a Japanese-language Methodist Church in Denver, Colorado where I was studying, and this was a great help. After receiving a master’s degree I returned to Japan, where an experience that would change my life was awaiting me. That was my introduction to the Morning Prayer Movement. One of the groups was meeting at the Osaka Christian Center. Because of my mother’s attendance there, I was given an opportunity to share my experience of studying in the US. That opportunity led to my continued attendance with my mother. It is not an exaggeration to say that this Morning Prayer Movement has been an anchor in my life ever since.
Every Monday morning from 7:00, there is a 30-minute period of worship and prayer followed by 30 minutes for breakfast and fellowship. Following breakfast, each of us leaves to go to our various paths of service. I feel strongly that my faith has been nurtured by this Morning Prayer Movement. Previously, my faith was more of a feeling that if I believed in God I could enjoy the benefits of being God’s child, and I did experience grace in this belief. However, it was after being a part of the Morning Prayer Movement and learning from the prayers and witness of various members that what I “believed” became a strong personal faith. (Tr. JS)
From Shinto no Tomo (Believers' Friend), Dec. 2016 issue
70歳で小さな働きに加えられる喜びを得て 山崎睦子やまさき むつこ奈良・生駒（伝道所牧師
甲 東(Koto)教 会に通う中、やがて、「
一 方、仕事は英語教師として、愛媛の松山東雲短期 大学設立、愛知の中京大学の心 理学科創設、大阪女学院短期大学設立 に関わり、大阪府の公立幼稚園、小・中学校、