Naito Tomeyuki was born in Yokosuka (Kanagawa Prefecture) in 1929. After attending a naval academy, he went on to study philosophy at Gakushuin University. Following graduation from Tokyo Union Theological Seminary in 1958, he became the pastor at Kochi Church (Kochi) then at Zentsuji Church (Kagawa), Banzancho Church (Okayama), Kanazawa Church (Ishikawa), Nogatamachi Church (Tokyo), and Takaido Church (Tokyo). He was general secretary of the Kyodan from 2007 until 2012. During that time, he also served as acting pastor at various churches. He passed away at age 87 on June 30, 2017.
A DAUGHTER’S MEMORIES
by Tsunakawa Megumi, Rev. Naito’s oldest daughter Member, Kyodokita Church, Tokyo
As a small child, I really loved my father because he was so sweet. He was always busy in his study, so having meals together with him was a special time. Before eating, we would all recite together the “scripture of the month” that he had selected. I remember such scriptures as “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for that is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (I Thess. 5:16-18) After all these years, I still remember such scriptures, which have now become a spiritual support for us.
My father didn’t drink or smoke; he didn’t even drive a car. The only TV channel he watched was NHK, the national public television station.* I remember him playing “ping-pong baseball” with my brother in the yard sometimes, but that’s about the only special amusement I remember as a child. My father’s interest was his work; ministry was his life.
In their later years, my parents and I lived in the same apartment building, although on different floors. I helped care for my mother, who was beginning to experience dementia, and through this I had more opportunity for time with my father. He and I shared this pain and distress together and experienced the added bond of comrades who were sharing a common mission.
Several years ago my father was diagnosed with cancer, but the cancer was not aggressive, so tranquil days continued. During that time, he began writing for Shinto no Tomo (Believers’ Friend), and I believe that was a great joy for him. Because he wrote of his own sickness and my mother's care, many readers responded. There was a response from someone whom he had baptized many years earlier, and some people visited him from far away. I believe this was a saving grace for him in the midst of his battle with cancer.
About two weeks before my father died, he began to receive medical care at home. He would ask the doctors and nurses for their names and try to remember them. His pastoral care began with remembering people’s names, and I felt that he continued that care to the very last.
A CHURCH MEMBER’S MEMORIES
by Yachie Junko, member Kanazawa Church, Ishikawa Prefecture
Just a few weeks before his death, Rev. Naito said to me in a telephone conversation, “Ms. Junko, pray for me.” After saying that, he hung up, and those were his last words to me.
Rev. Naito came to serve at Kanazawa Church when he was 41 years old. My husband was drawn to the church, and when he was a university freshman he was baptized. Our wedding followed, and then the infant baptism of our two children. Our family was nurtured in the fellowship of the church and the counsel of Rev. Naito.
Right after coming to our church, Rev. Naito spoke of the importance of laity training and planned a seminar for laity. The first seminar was entitled “Principles of a Life of Faith.” With his husky voice and smiling face, he spoke to us individually and often wrote cards and letters, urging us to attend worship and various meetings of the church. He visited church members so often that his wife Michiko commented that he would wear out a pair of shoes in just a few months. In comforting us, in his sermons, and in his prayers, we would often hear, “It is written in the Bible,” followed by appropriate scripture.
However, there were times before his sermons when we could glimpse his own distress. “Lord, you know that in my prayers I have fervently asked you to speak through me.” That is the image of him that really stays with me. Rev. Naito was known for his memory and ability to remember names. But added to this God-given talent was his love for each individual, concern for each family, and constant prayer that made it all possible.
What I learned from Rev. Naito was to trust the Lord from my heart, to never give up, to persevere, and to pray fervently. As one who showed great concern for the future of the church, this is the message that he leaves for all of us. In spite of his own weaknesses, he continued to pray and serve as a messenger of the Gospel. I can hear Rev. Naito, with his voice raised saying, “Let us pray!” (Tr. JS)
—From Shinto no Tomo (Believers’ Friend), October 2017 issue Summarized by KNL Editor Kawakami Yoshiko
*NHK, Nippon Hoso Kyokai (Japan Broadcasting Corporation), is Japan’s only public broadcasting corporation. As a public broadcaster, it is funded by fees received from TV viewers,
“内 藤留幸牧師を天に送る 内藤留幸
綱 川めぐみ つなか わ めぐみ 内藤留 幸氏長女、東京・経堂北教会員
小さいころ、私は優しい 父が大好きでした。一日中書斎で仕事をして いる人でしたので、
谷内江潤子やち え じゅんこ 石川・金沢教会員