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

【December 2021 No.409】The Life and Faith of Dr. Nakamura Tetsu


The Life and Faith of Dr. Nakamura Tetsu

by Numa Shinji, Cooperating Pastor

Futsukaichi Eiko Christ Church

Peshawar-Society director

I first met Dr. Nakamura Tetsu during my college days, while he was a middle school student at Seinan Gakuin. Charlie Fenner, the missionary serving at Kashii Church (now Kasumigaoka Baptist Church), took six or seven middle school students, including Nakamura Tetsu, to the church in his large car.

At church, Nakamura was called “Tecchan,” a name of endearment. He was baptized at Christmas during his second year of middle school and served diligently as chair of the boys’ and girls’ group, editing the journal and creating an atmosphere of good fellowship. He attended church each Sunday, carrying a Bible and hymnal in a furoshiki (Japanese wrapping cloth) in one hand and wearing his disheveled school uniform and tall geta (wooden clogs), which echoed their “click-clack” on the gravel slope.

He humorously named Fenner, his honored teacher, “Strange (henna) Teacher,” making a pun with the words “henna” and “Fenna” (the Japanese pronunciation of Fenner) because they sound similar. It seems that he was a nephew of the Akutagawa Award writer Hino Ashihei and was himself a boy with literary talent who thought of pursuing a career as a writer. Usually quiet, he was the type of person who thought about the essence of things. He was well liked and trusted by everyone. It is correct to say that Dr. Nakamura Tetsu’s beginning point of faith was the time he spent at Kasumigaoka Church’s worship services and the afternoon activities of the boys’ and girls’ group during his middle, high school, and college years.

Aid Begun by Christians

After completing his studies at Kyushu University’s Medical Department, Nakamura demonstrated the spirit of a doctor and the spirit of a Christian as he undertook the treatment of disease in the border areas in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Before long, as a result of experiencing severe droughts, he began to dig wells, thinking that food and water could restore the wretched health of the people. Thus, he began river basin construction on a large scale, and his sacrificial work became well known to the Afghan people.

From 1983, when it was decided to send him as a doctor by the Japan Overseas Christian Medical Cooperative Service (JOCS) to Peshawar, Pakistan, a supporting organization was formed at Kasumigaoka Church to sustain his work. This was the start of the Peshawar Society. Organized through the appeal of Rev. Fujii Kenji, the pastor who had led him to be baptized, the main members at that time were the church members and his Kyushu University colleagues.

Participation expanded to the Japan Baptist Association, to which the church belonged, and like wildfire, further expanded as well to Christians in other denominations. Of course, as an international NGO, the Peshawar Society does not question donors’ thoughts and beliefs for the very reason that it includes many supporters from outside the church. Even now it is carrying out significant activities because of its many supporters outside the church.

The Peshawar Society was saddened by Dr. Nakamura’s death in December 2019 and selected a successor representative. The board of trustees, the executive office, and the executive office in Peshawar joined hands in cooperation and, without interruption, Nakamura’s dying wish is being honored, and the work is progressing smoothly. Support is also continuing to ensure no interruption of the irrigation and related river basin work. So those of us from many churches and other Christians are continuing to maintain the work on the field that Nakamura left behind.

As a Grain of Wheat

An “Emmanuel faith” is always highlighted throughout the many books Nakamura left behind. In his book “Ten, Tomo Ni Ari” (Invisible God always with us), he explains that this is how he was paraphrasing the Hebrew word “Emmanuel” and expresses the true meaning of the Bible. With this word as the foundation of understanding, “‘trust’ is not something that is built in a short time. What really touches the hearts of people is a faithfulness that overcomes self-interest through patience and does not respond in kind when it is betrayed.” “Ten, Tomo Ni Ari — this is the steadfast truth that supports us from our foundation. Eventually, the isolation of the Tower of Babel from nature will collapse.”

“We will not despair, for there is hope as we bask in the warm gaze of nature.” “‘Look at the lilies of the field. Solomon in all his glory was not dressed like a flower’ is the most beautiful verse in the New Testament. In a place unrelated to national good, righteous war, increase of the military, there is a road to living in peace.” (Kibo no Itteki [One Drop of Hope])

These very quotations, express Nakamura’s Christian spirit, his testimony of faith. He truly became a “grain of wheat” by crossing national borders, serving many people in the midst of the very sphere of Islamic culture, testifying to the Christ living and working within him.                      (Tr. RT)

From Shinto no Tomo (Believers’ Friend), August 2021























Kyodan News
〒169-0051 東京都新宿区西早稲田2-3-18-31
Copyright (c) 2007-2024
The United Church of Christ in Japan