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

【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


加藤 久雄











西 富三郎




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