【February 2019 No.401】Retired Kyodan Pastors Reflect on their Calling & Experience

The following reflections are excerpted from the newsletter Yorokobi (Joy), Sept. 20, 2018 issue, which was published by the Kyodan Board of Pensions’ Program to Support Retired Ministers.

 

In God’s Grace

                                 by Kato Hisao

                                      (On his service in Aichi Prefecture)

 On Aug. 15, 1945, I experienced defeat in war at the Kakogawa Air Station in Hyogo Prefecture. At that time, at the age of 20, I was training on a single-seater fighter plane. Upon returning to Nagoya, I found that my hometown had become a scorched battlefield. People were focused on little more than simply trying to get food. I sensed an emptiness in the city; people were losing their incentive to live. In a letter I received from a friend one day in the midst of all this, I read the following words: “These three remain: faith, hope, and love; and the greatest of these is love.” (I Cor. 13:13). Previously, any “faith” I possessed had been associated with my country and had disappeared when the war was lost. I thought of love as little more than self-love. As for hope—quite simply, I had none. As I read this Bible verse, it resonated in me as a sound from a world about which I knew nothing. Following this experience, I was led to Atsuta Church and was baptized on Easter Sunday, 1947.

 

Two friends from my church who were about my own age, Yamada Tadashi and Shinoda Kiyoshi, dedicated themselves to God and went to seminary. After looking into my own heart, I also experienced a reconfirmation of my decision to follow the Lord and went on to seminary. I am truly thankful to Pastor Takahashi Shuzo at Atsuta Church, who led me to meet and fellowship with Yamada and Shinoda.

 

After graduating from seminary in 1956, I was invited to serve at Atsuta Church, my home church, where I worked for 35 years. During this time, I served as the principal of Kakiwashinsei Kindergarten and as a teacher in the Bible department of Kinjo Gakuin. I truly enjoyed the time I was able to share with the kindergarten children and the students.

 

At the age of 65, I was invited to Tahara Yoshigo Church on Atsumi Peninsula, where I served for 19 years and retired.  After becoming a Christian, I spent my time at Kyodan churches in Chubu District, pastoring churches in Aichi Prefecture. I was assigned to Chubu District during a difficult time for the Kyodan, but I was able to carry out my work, thanks to the many skilled colleagues and wonderful friends by whose lives and fellowship I was deeply blessed.

 

I am now 93 years old. My wife and I have been blessed with good health and are enjoying a very happy time in this latter stage of our life together. We continue to enjoy the warm fellowship and opportunities for worship provided by our home church.

 

I was born during a turbulent time. Through my faith, however, I was given hope. God called me to serve as an evangelist, and for 54 years God has used me, a broken instrument, to perform his work. I have experienced the joy of many valuable encounters and the wonderful fellowship of God’s people. Life is “wondrous,” and by this I mean that life is both mysterious and beautiful. I am deeply grateful for the blessed time I have been given, by God’s grace.

 

     *    *     *

 

The Rock from which I Came

 

                                   by Nishi Tomisaburo

                                        (On his service in Oita Prefecture)

 I will be 94 years old in October 2018. Though I have undergone several surgeries and hospitalizations, God has protected me; I now live in Okinawa Prefecture.

 

On March 10, 1945, the day following the massive air raids in Tokyo, I went to Fukagawa in Koto district, to look for my colleague who had not shown up at work that day. Subsequently, as I witnessed the disastrous situation, I became overwhelmed by the deeply serious human problems with which I had come face-to-face.

 

After a great deal of consideration, on the night of May 24, I accompanied the head nurse from the hospital to the church, where I met a pastor who had just been released from the police detention center [following his imprisonment during the wartime suppression of Christianity].  He was gaunt and thin. In a room darkened due to the blackout, the pastor read to me from the Gospel of John: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him, should not perish but have everlasting life” (3:16). The pastor then prayed for me and taught me that regardless of any situation in which we may find ourselves, “God is love.”

 

After Japan surrendered on Aug. 15, however, I severed my ties with the church and dropped out of church life completely. But the Lord prepared a way for me in fulfillment of the following promise: “I am the Lord’s servant,” said Mary. “May it happen to me as you have said. And the angel left her.” (Luke 1:38) I entered a seminary of a different denomination, though I later transferred to the Kyodan. My first assignment was to Higashi-iida Church (now Kusu Church) in Oita Prefecture, then to Mie Church, and next to Amakusa Heian Church. I worked in these churches for a total of 40 years.

 

In recent years, I have seen various acquaintances, friends, and colleagues transported to heaven, just as expressed in the poem, “One more in Heaven,” [by Sarah Geraldina Stock]. In October 2017, with the help of two canes and my wife, I visited the churches where I had worked in Oita and Kumamoto on the island of Kyushu. I was delighted and grateful to see so much good work being done at these churches. I will continue to live as God’s witness for the remaining days of my life.

 

I would like to close this message with a Bible passage that has penetrated my heart throughout my entire life. The Lord says, “ Think of the rock from which you came, the quarry from which you were cut.” (Isaiah 51:1) (Tr. DM)

 

隠退教師の、共に93歳のお二人の証しです。 「よろこび」2018.9.20年金局・「隠退教師を支える運動」通信より

 恵みの中で

加藤 久雄

 1945年8月15日、私は兵庫県の加古川飛行場で敗戦を迎えました。当時20歳、単坐戦闘機の訓練中でした。郷里の名古屋に帰りましたが、町は焦土と化し、人びとは食べることに懸命でした。空虚でした。生きる目標を失っていました。そのような状況の中で、友人からきた手紙に「愛と希望と信仰は、限りなく世に残らん」(コリント前13・13)と記されていました。私の信仰は、国家と結びつき、敗戦で消滅しました。愛は、皆、自己愛と感じていました。希望はありませんでした。この句は私の知らない世界からの響きとして迫りました。熱田教会に導かれ、1947年の復活祭に受洗しました。

 熱田教会の同世代の友人、山田忠君と篠田潔君が献身し、神学校に進みました。私も鋭く内面を問われ、主に従う決意を新たにして神学校に入りました。熱田教会で高橋秋蔵牧師に導かれ、山田忠、篠田潔両氏に出会い、深い交わりを得たことは、恵みであったと感謝しております。

 1956年、神学校を卒業し、母教会の熱田教会に招かれ、35年間在任しました。この間、堅磐信誠幼稚園園長や金城学院聖書科講師を勤め、幼い園児や学生、生徒に接したことは深い喜びでした。

 65歳で熱田教会を辞任し、渥美半島の田原吉胡伝道所に招かれ、19年間在任し、隠退教師となりました。

 入信以来、日本基督教団中部教区の教会で過ごし、愛知県の教会で伝道牧師の任に当たりました。教団の酷しい状況の中で、中部教区の責任も負いましたが、優れた先輩がたや、良い教友に恵まれ、任を終えることができ、感謝しております。

 現在93歳、夫婦とも健康長寿を与えられ、母教会の熱田教会の、温かい交わりの中で礼拝を守り、幸いな晩年を過ごしております。

 激動の時代に生を受けましたが、信仰に導かれて、希望を与えられました。伝道者として使命を与えられ、54年間、欠けた器が、尊い業に用いられました。そして、貴重な出会い、良い交わりを経験しました。人生は〝妙〟と思います。不思議さと、美しさとの二つの意味をこめて。

 恵みの中で誠に幸いな時を過ごさせていただき、深く感謝しております。

 

証詞

西 富三郎

 10月になると94歳になります。入院や手術を何回かいたしましたが、主に守られ沖縄で過ごしています。私は1945年3月10日の東京大空襲の後、出勤しない同僚を探しに、翌11日江東地区深川に行き、その惨状を見て人間の問題に突き当りました。その後、考え抜いて5月24日夜、病院の看護婦長に連れられて教会に行きました。警察の留置所から出てきたばかりの、青白く痩せ細った牧師に会いました。灯火管制下の薄暗い部屋で牧師は、聖書の「それ神はその獨子を賜ふほどに世を愛し給へり、すべて彼を信ずる者の亡びずして、永遠の生命を得んためなり」(ヨハネ3・16大正改訳)を読み、どんな時でも「神さまは愛ですよ」と、私のために祈ってくださいました。しかし、8月15日敗戦の後、教会からまったく離れ、教会生活から脱落してしまいました。

 しかし、主は約束の言葉である「視よ、われは主の婢女なり。汝の言のごとく、我に成れかし」(ルカ1・38大正改訳)と道を備えてくださいました。そして、他教派の神学校に入学し、その後転入して教団に所属するものとなりました。最初の任地は大分県の東飯田教会(現在の玖珠教会)、そして、三重教会、天草平安教会に約40年にわたって仕えてまいりました。

 近年は知人友人同労者の皆さまがたが、「天に一人を増しぬ」の詩の通り、天つ御国に移されています。そこで、昨年10月九州の大分や熊本で仕えた教会を、杖2本と家内に助けられながら、お訪ねしてまいりました。よき働きをしているのを見て、とてもうれしく感謝でありました。残された時間の終わりまで、キリストの証人としての生活を過ごしてまいります。最後に、私の全生涯を貫く聖書の言葉を記します。「あなたがたの切り出された岩と、あなたがたの掘り出された穴とを思いみよ」(イザヤ書51・1口語訳)

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