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

【February 2020 No.406】Hamamatsu Social Welfare Institution


On Easter Sunday in 1926, Christian young adults desiring to live like Jesus, who washed the feet of His disciples, began a laundry shop called the “Seirei (Holy Servant) Company.” Later they met a young man who was suffering with tuberculosis and were deeply moved. At that time, the Lord entrusted them with the work they are now continuing, and all the related institutions are based on the spirit of Christianity: the principle of “love for our neighbor.”


Seirei Mikatahara Hospital is located in Hamamatsu City, Shizuoka Prefecture. It gave birth to the first hospice in Japan in 1981. Construction of the present Seirei Hospice Wing began in 1997. The 27 rooms are all private and spacious so that families can live together. The flowers, small birds, and cats in the garden provide a peaceful setting. Next to the chapel is a plaque with a carved inscription of the Bible verse “the night will shine like the day,” from Psalm 139:12. Hasegawa Tamotsu, the first chair of Seirei Social Welfare Community’s Board of Trustees, chose these words in his younger days because after that young man’s death, his father requested the construction of this memorial.


Worship services are held in the chapel on weekday mornings from 8:40 to 9:00 a.m. and consist of hymns, a scripture reading, a message, prayer, and the Lord’s Prayer. Hospice care patients and their families, patients from other wings, neighbors, and students from various medical hospitals attend the services. Pastors and believers from various neighboring churches, as well as retired pastors, assist or give the message. The forgiveness of sins and eternal life through the cross of Jesus and His resurrection are proclaimed. Those entering the hospice anticipate the worship services and share about others who have gone through pain and suffering and know the blessing of being with the Lord. TV service is also provided in each room to make the blessings of the worship service available to everyone.


During the year, approximately 300 people pass through the hospice; among them, 3 to 5 are Christians and look forward to the worship services from the time they enter the facility. Almost everyone entering the hospice hears scripture and hymns for the first time and with peaceful expressions say, “I was comforted”; “God loves me as well!” There are individuals and also families who, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, are led to a believing faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and receive the blessing of baptism.


Besides relieving bodily pain, a central part of what has been entrusted to the hospice are prayers and support for living daily in the peace of the Lord. Enthusiastic volunteers help achieve that purpose. Upon request, I, as a chaplain visit a room, read the Bible, and offer prayer, making it a priority to take time to listen. I also visit other wings and related institutions as well. Occasionally, while listening to a scripture reading, some whose faces had looked sad and downcast would get up with a vivid facial expression. The power of the Word is surprising.

(Tr. RT)


From Kyodan Shinpo (The Kyodan Times), No. 4915

             —Sato Shinobu, chaplain

                Seirei Mikatahara Hospital, Tokai District



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