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

Honoring the Name of Mary Isabella Lambuth


by Komi Nozomi, religious director
Seiwa Junior College, Kwansei Gakuin
During the time I was a student in the department of Christian Education at Seiwa College, we learned about the founding of the three schools that came together as Seiwa (Holy Union). I was especially impressed with one of the narratives. It is the story of one of the founders, Mary Isabella Lambuth (12.17.1832 - 6.26.1904) who, when she heard the appeal of a missionary to China at a meeting in her teens, is reported to have said, "I'll give five dollars and myself." These simple, passionate words affected not only a student like me, who heard them 120 years later, but also struck the heart of a young man there at that time, James William Lambuth, who was also aspiring to become a missionary to China. He asked to meet the young lady who had said these words, Mary Isabella McClellen. That was in October 1853. The two were married, and then in May of the following year, they departed on a ship from New York as missionaries of the Southern Methodist Church. After a voyage of four months, they arrived in China. Only two months later, on November 10, their first son, Walter Russell, was born in Shanghai. Walter Russell was later to become the founder of Kwansei Gakuin University in western Japan.
I imagine that it was no easy matter for the twenty-one-year-old Mary Isabella to experience her first pregnancy during the long sea voyage and her first trip to a foreign country, then to give birth in China. While James William was spending two weeks a month living with Chinese people, traveling by ship on journeys of evangelism, Mary, far from home and carrying a nursing baby, kept house. She gathered women and children, taught them jobs, evangelized them and cared for them. Writing to friends in America, she reported that "one month ago there was delivered into my hands and heart a darling boy. He is as cute as can be and our hearts are filled with thanksgiving to God. We are praying from our hearts that he will grow well and become a fine person who will faithfully follow Jesus." Here we can see Mary's strong faith that everything she had, her own life and the new life given to her, were gifts from God and should gladly be yielded to Jesus. This faith and Mary's obedience to God remained throughout her life. Mary traveled back and forth between China and America many times. For a while, she left her young children in America. Even after she experienced the loss of her six-year-old daughter to scarlet fever, she continued to give her all to the evangelization of China.
In 1876, when Walter was fourteen, Mary sent an unusual letter to the foreign mission office in the U.S. "We think that Japan is where we ought to go. Sometimes Walter feels that Japan would be a good place to work.....'It is the right time and the right place.' I think that this is a good watchword and one which I don't want to forget." The quiet acceptance of this vision, although there was still no possibility of planning to act on it, must have come from the love of a mother with deep faith.
Ten years later, after 32 years of mission work spent in medical evangelism in China, the Lambuths resigned. Mary was 53 and James 56. Both were fluent in the Chinese language, but they left China for Japan and arrived in Kobe on July 29, 1885. Three months later, the young Walter Lambuth arrived and two days later opened a reading room, which became the roots of Palmore Institute and Keimei Gakuin Junior and Senior High Schools. The family opened its doors, and thus the Kobe mission began.
In 1887, Mary moved from the foreign compound in Kobe to Yama 2-ban (now Nakayamate) in the city of Kobe proper. There, in a large room on the first floor of her home, she opened a home school for young girls. Besides teaching knitting, English, Western cooking and the Bible, she traveled to Hiroshima to assist Nancy Gaines and the Hiroshima Girls' School and energetically supported mission in West Japan.
In 1888, Mary's classroom added an assistant, Okajima Hatsune, and the Board of Evangelism (of the Southern Methodist Church) in the U.S. approved the change of name of the Kobe Girls' School to the Lambuth Memorial Girls' School. Mary's husband James died in Kobe in 1892, and Mary returned to America for a time, but she returned to Soshu, China, where her daughter Nora and her husband were serving in mission. There, she died at the age of 71 and was buried in Shanghai.
Her work in Japan lasted only seven years, and it also included supporting her son Walter, who was weakened by sickness, as well as his wife Daisy and their children. However, in 1921, it was decided to join together the Hiroshima Girls' School, the Nursery School Teacher Training Department, and the Kobe Lambuth Memorial Girls' School, and a beautiful new school for the training of kindergarten teachers and women evangelists was built in Osaka on a 3,300-square-meter piece of land. According to a newspaper report at the time, this school was to be named Mary Lambuth Girls' School in honor of this unique person.
The newspaper report read, "Mrs. J. W. Lambuth, who was sent by the Southern Methodist Church, U.S.A. in 1885, was an exceptional woman who, with a baby in one arm and a Bible in the other, proclaimed Christ and educated people. That this fine school could be built is due to her. It is in her memory and to honor her that this school is named."
It was this school, named for Mary, which later became Seiwa Joshi (women's) Gakuin and grew to be Seiwa College. In April 2009 it was combined with the school founded by Walter Lambuth, Kwansei Gakuin. Seiwa College continues to be a training place for child care professionals and educators. I believe that the faith, determination and youthful devotion of Mary has borne fruit that can be seen today. Joshua declared so resolutely, "As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord." (Joshua 24:15), but to me this could be Mary's voice speaking. My plea is that history will continue to honor her name. (Tr. GM)
 わたしが聖和大学(Seiwa College)のキリスト教教育学科の学生だったころ、聖和(Holy Union)の源流となる3つの学校の創設について聞いた中で、特に印象深い話がありました。創立者の一人であるMary Isabella Lambuth(1832.12.17~1904.6.26)が、10代の若い日に、中国宣教へのアピールがなされた集会で、"I give five dollars and myself"と語ったという話です。
 この一途で情熱的な言葉は、120年以上経ってそれを聞いた学生であるわたしだけでなく、語られた当時、同じく中国への伝道を志していたJames William Lambuthの心を強くうったのでしょう。彼は、それを語った女性、Mary Isabella McClellanに会いたいと願います。それがきっかけとなり、1853年10月、二人は結婚し、南メソジスト教会の宣教師として翌年5月にニューヨークを出航、4ヶ月の船旅の末9月18日に中国到着します。そのわずか2ヵ月後、11月10日に上海(しゃんはい)(Shanghai)で、後に関西(かんせい)学院(がくいん)(Kwansei Gakuin University)の創立者となる長男Walter Russellが誕生します。
 21歳の若いMary Isabellaにとって、初めての赤ちゃんをお腹に宿しての長い船旅、そしてはじめての異国、中国での出産は並大抵のことではなかったと想像します。その頃James Williamは、月のうち2週間は船に乗り、中国人と生活を共にして伝道の旅をしていました。メアリーは、異郷にあって乳飲み子を抱えて家を守り、その間に女性や子どもたちをあつめて仕事を教え、伝道し、世話をしました。そして彼女は米国の友人へこのように書き送っているのです。「一月ほど前に、わたしたちの心と手の中に、可愛い男の子を与えられました。とてもかわいくて、わたしたちは神様への感謝の心に満ちています。この子が立派に成長してイエスに従う忠実な僕になることが出来るよう心から祈っています。」ここには、彼女自身とそこから生まれた命、それらはすべて与えられたものであり、イエスに従うために喜んでささげたものであるという強い信仰が表されています。そしてこの信仰とイエスへの従順は、メアリーの生涯一貫して変わらないものでした。
 その後も、数度、米国と中国を行き来し、幼い子どもたちを一時米国に預けたり、6歳の娘を猩紅熱(scarlet fever)で亡くすという経験をしながらも、彼女は中国伝道にすべてを捧げていきます。しかしウォルターが14歳になった1876年、メアリーは外国伝道局に不思議な言葉を送ります。「日本はわたしたちの行くべき所のように思います。時々日本は、ウォルターにとってよい働き場所だろうと思います<略>『万事は適時に適所で』というのがよい標語で、これを私は忘れたくないと思います。」 まだ何の計画も到底考えられないときに静かに抱かれた幻であり、信仰深い母の愛の洞察だったのかもしれません。
 それから約十年がたち、実に32年間の中国での医療伝道を含めた宣教を突如辞任し、中国語も堪能だった二人(メアリー53歳とJW:老ランバス56歳)はそれらを捨てて日本に向かい、1885年7月29日に神戸に到着します。3ヶ月遅れてウォルター(若ランバス)が着き、2日後には後のパルモア学院 (Palmore Institute)や啓(けい)明女(めいじょ)学院(がくいん) (Keimei Gakuin Junior and Senior High School) のルーツともなる、読書館を開室し、家族あげての神戸での宣教が始まります。
 1887年、メアリーは神戸居留地から神戸市内の山二番(現在の中山手)に転居し、自宅の1階応接間で若い女性たちのための家庭塾を開き、編み物や英語、西洋料理、聖書を教え始めるほか、広島女学校(Hiroshima Girl's school)のゲインズ(Nancy Gaines)を応援するため広島に向かうなど、精力的に西日本での宣教に取り組みます。1888年、メアリーの神戸の教室は、岡島(おかじま)初音(はつね)を補助者として与えられ、本国伝道局に認められて、神戸女子学校Kobe Girl's school(神戸婦人伝道学校)のちにランバス記念伝道女学校と呼ばれるこことなります。メアリーは、その後1892年、夫JWを神戸で亡くし、米国へいったん帰国しますが、娘ノラ夫妻が宣教を続ける中国へ再度渡り、最後は中国蘇州で71歳で召天、上海に葬られたのでした。
 *(この学院は1885年に米国南メソジスト教会から派遣されたMrs. J. W.Lambuth ―彼女は片手に赤ちゃんを抱いて、もう片方に聖書を持って、キリストを伝え、教えた人で、このように立派な学院が建てられるに至ったのは、ひとえにこの人によるものであり、彼女の名を記念し、冠として、この学校は名付けられている。)
 こうしてメアリーの名前(ランバス)をつけた学校は、後に聖和(せいわ)女子(じょし)学院(がくいん) (Seiwa Joshigakuin)、聖和大学へと発展し、昨2009年4月にはウォルターの建てた関西学院と合併して、保育者と教員養成の場として、これからも歩いていくことになりました。メアリーの信仰と決意、若い日のあの献身が結んだ実の今日の姿だと思います。ヨシュアが決然と語った、「ただし、わたしとわたしの家は主に仕えます。」(ヨシュア24:15)の言葉が彼女の声として聞こえてくるようです。その名を冠した歴史を受け継いでいけるようにと願っています。
学校法人関西学院 聖和短期大学・宗教主事  小見(こみ)のぞみ

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