The General Secretary's Diary
On Saturday morning, Dec. 5. 2009, representatives of the mission boards of the former Japan-North American Commission on Cooperative Mission (JNAC)-member churches visited my office in Tokyo, and we had a pleasant conversation. The representatives, as pictured in the accompanying photograph are Xiaoling Zhu, Common Global Ministries Board (CGMB) of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)/United Church of Christ; David Hudson, Presbyterian Church USA PCUSA); Jhonny Baez and Barbara Boers (financial officer). Reformed Chruch in America; Rebecca Asedillo,United Methodist Church; and Bern Jagunos, United Church of Canada (UCC). I would like to report on one aspect of the discussion we had at that time.
These mission board representatives raised the question: "In light of the religious solidarity that has united the Japan mission over the last 150 years, what does the future hold for us as we move towards 200 years?" In reply, I gave the following responses.
1. As we look back on the past 150 years of Protestant mission work in Japan, there are five areas in which the gospel message of Christ has been spread. They are as follows:
(1) Salvation from sin: the establishment of local churches
(This has been the primary work).
(2) Salvation from poverty: social work (ministries of mercy)
(3) Salvation from sickness: hospital evangelism
(including ministering to victims of Hansen's Disease)
(4) Salvation from ignorance: educational evangelism
(mission schools, which overlaps extensively with youth
(5) Salvation from broken human relationships: family ministries
During these 150 years, missionaries have engaged in all these areas of Christian mission with great zeal and sincerity. Through these efforts,the Christian churches and their related facilities, along with mission schools, etc., have gained the recognition and trust of Japanese society, and this has continued to the present time.
2. With respect to the future strategy of the Kyodan, we want to focus particularly on the following areas included in the previously mentioned categories:
(1) Youth Evangelism. We particularly want to work closely with
Christian mission schools (junior high, senior high, and university).Beyond the transmission of knowledge, we aim also for the development of personality and the nourishment of the spirit. This is an area in which there can be strong cooperation between the schools and the churches, and there are many ways that missionaries can contribute meaningfully in this endeavor.
(2) Family Ministries. We have made it a practice to send our very best evangelists to key churches in outlying regions so that they can be a catalyst in helping surrounding churches revitalize their churches and associated kindergartens and welfare facilities. These outlying churches and the people they serve have a deep respect for missionaries, and so I believe that God wants us to continue to provide such mission personnel for the furtherance of this work.
3. Additionally, it has been reported that social problems influenced by the use of drugs is on the rise. Presently, this is a very difficult problem for us to deal with, as we don't have the necessary resources. Nevertheless, some of our larger churches as well as cooperative arrangements of groups of churches, are making efforts to deal with this problem. (Tr. TG & TB)
―Naito Tomeyuki, general secretary