Robert (Bob) and Hazel Terhune, United Methodist missionaries, have completed 40 years of service and in March 2008 returned to the United States. Both had received the Lord's call to mission service while they were young: Hazel at age 9 and Bob at age 14. In God's mysterious plan they met and were married while studying at the same seminary, then joined their paths in preparation for pastoral and Christian educational ministries.
In 1968 they responded to the United Methodist Church's call for missionaries, and they were sent to Japan. After one-and-a-half years of language study, their first assignment was to Tottori Prefecture, where they worked hard doing evangelism for 14 years. At first they struggled with the language and with various local challenges, such as shoveling snow and cleaning ditches. Through their struggles, they met many people with whom they connected and made deep, abiding relationships. Later Bob even served as pastor of Aoya Church. They now recollect, "We became who we are through those 14 years in Tottori, which gave us a strong foundation for our mission service in Japan."
Subsequently, they served for almost nine years in evangelism at Nishi Arai Church in Tokyo, preaching sermons, leading Bible studies, and sharing with the youth and young adult groups. From 1993, Bob served as a missionary professor at Aoyama Women's Junior College teaching Christian studies. Through religious activities, Bob was able to strengthen and realize the purpose of the school, which is "a life based on the Christian faith." During those 15 years, the Terhunes also served at Tokyo Ikebukuro Church, preaching, helping with the children's ministry, guiding youth, and supporting the evangelistic outreach of the church. From 1988 Hazel served as the English secretary at the Kyodan General Office in Tokyo and for 15 years as the Kyodan Newsletter's editor and chair of the KNL Editorial Committee. Bob was also a committee member and translator for the newsletter. Later Hazel additionally served as the Mission Personnel Secretary of the Council on Cooperative Mission (CoC). Then, from 2004 until the end of their term in 2008, she served as treasurer and representative of the United Methodist Mission Office in Japan.
They mention their gratitude, saying: "For these 40 years God's deep love and guidance, as well as all of your friendship, has sustained us, so that all things worked together for good, and we could share God's Word and do His work here. For this we want to give thanks from the bottom of our hearts." Surely we, the church in Japan, shall never forget Bob and Hazel Terhune, their ever-welcoming smiles and their devotion to the practice of God's love. (Tr. NB)
Nishio Misao, member