On Dec. 4, 2017 I left for a seven-day journey to visit the headquarters of the Christian Evangelical Church in Minahasa, located on the northern tip of the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. I was accompanied by Rev. Akiyama Toru, chair of the Commission on Ecumenical Ministries, and Rev. Fukushima Sumio, chair of the Kanto District Commission on Ecumenical Ministries.
Due to a one-hour delay in our departure from Haneda Airport in Tokyo, we had very little time for the transfer to our domestic flight to Manado. Local staff of the airline were there to guide us, but we were told not to expect the transfer of our checked luggage. It was no joke. We told them that this was their responsibility, and after further deliberation they increased personnel, found our luggage, put it and us in a taxi, and we got to the domestic terminal. However, arriving at the terminal, we found that our gate was number 26 of 28 gates in the terminal. In other words, we walked–or rather half ran–at least one kilometer to our gate. When we finally arrived at the gate, we were exhausted.
The next day we left Manado and followed a mountain road about 25 kilometers north to the town of Tomohon. We were surprised at the number of churches we saw. In other words, most of the people living in the villages must be Christians. Even as we returned at the close of the day, we saw young people gathered at the various churches we passed, enjoying themselves. The church there is the center of community life.
Tomohon is a highland town. It is no surprise that there is only one hotel. However, there is a Bible School where 1,000 students are studying. The church also has a hospital as well as a factory for processing coconuts where 40 students are being trained. In short, the church is giving birth to industry there.
As we were returning to the hotel after a fruitful consultation at the CEC headquarters, the telephone rang. It was the travel agency, informing us that our original flight for the next day had been canceled and that the new flight would be at 11 a.m.
The next day, as we were riding the car that had been hired for our trip to the airport, we received another telephone call from the travel agency, informing us that the morning flight had also been canceled. As a result, we rushed through the lobby of the domestic flight terminal and waited in line for a taxi, where 100 taxis were lined up, to go to the international flight terminal. In the end, we were able to return to Haneda Airport as scheduled, but this was much more of an adventure than we had expected. (Tr. JS)
—Kato Makoto, executive secretary
From Niji no Tayori, Commission on Ecumenical Ministries