"Gathering for Children: Commemorating 150 Years of Protestant Evangelism in Japan," an event sponsored by Tokyo District's Higashi Subdistrict, was held on the afternoon of Sept. 6, 2009 at Ginza Church and was attended by 308 people from 13 churches, including 120 children. The event was planned to commemorate 150 years of Protestant evangelism in Japan and to pass along to the children the task of evangelizing Japan for the next 200 years.
As the accompaniment to the opening hymn began the first part of the program, Hinohara Shigeaki appeared, and after directing the music with both hands, began a 50-minute lecture on the subject of "Life." Dr. Hinohara, whose 98th birthday was coming up in one month, drew attention to his own vitality. He stressed that what is important are the things that are unseen. For example, our lives, given by God, are unseen. He spoke directly to the children, calling on them to live for others and to make the world a peaceful place. He had the children answer questions, write on a blackboard, and do role-playing. He kept the children's attention with his skillful presentation. The adults, too, listened intently and sometimes laughed. All who were present learned from this "lecture on life."
The second part of the program featured the introduction of the members from each participating church, a magic performance by Itoigawa Hatsuho from Ginza Church, a handbell choir performance by eight members of Bancho Church, and a ventriloquism performance by Ms. Harukaze Miyako, from the Logos Ventriloquism Club. The spectators watched intently, cheered loudly, and by the time the program in the church sanctuary was over, everyone felt totally relaxed and at home.
For the third part of the program, the participants moved to the fifth and sixth floors, where each church group sat at a separate table and ate homemade snacks prepared by Ginza Church members. Shortly after four o'clock, they began to return home.
For the children, it was a valuable and enjoyable opportunity to learn that there are many other children (comrades) in the church. The children listened intently to Dr. Hinohara. Hopefully, his lesson, along with the other events of the day, will remain in their hearts for a long time.
Blessed by the Lord's protection and blessed by the cooperation of the people from each participating church who brought children to the event, the churches of the subdistrict were able to deepen their fellowship by focusing on the children. It was truly a suitable gathering to celebrate the 150th anniversary. For this, we are thankful. (Tr. KT)
Ginza Church, Higashi Subdistrict, Tokyo District
From Shinpo (Kyodan Times)
*Hinohara Shigeaki was born in 1911 in Yamaguchi Prefecture. He graduated from the Medical School of Kyoto University in 1937. In 1941, he began work as a doctor at the Internal Medicine Department of St. Luke's International Hospital. Since then, he has held positions as the head of the Internal Medicine Department, acting director, director, and at present serves as the chairperson of the Board of Directors and honorary director of St. Luke's International Hospital, chairperson of the Board of Trustees of St. Luke's Nursing School, and chairperson of the Board of Directors of Life Planning Center Foundation incorporated. In 1998, he was recognized as an honorary citizen of Tokyo metropolis. In 1999, he was recognized as a Person of Cultural Merit. In 2005, he was awarded a decoration in recognition of his contribution to culture. From an early stage, he pointed out the importance of preventive medicine, made efforts to promote terminal care, and made contributions to education in medicine and nursing. He invented the term seikatsu shukan byo (lifestyle diseases) to refer to diseases that were commonly known as seijin byo (adult diseases). He has always been a frontrunner in the medical field in Japan. Even now, at 98 years old, he continues to be active as a doctor. In September 2000, in pursuit of his goal of passing along to the next generation the experience that he has cultivated during his lifetime and the lessons of the past, he recruited people who were healthy and independent even after reaching 75 years of age and formed the group shinrojin no kai (New Organization For Elderly People). In the spring of the same year, he had begun to write a series of articles called ikikata jozu (How to Live Well) for the magazine Iki Iki. This series is still very popular. At this time, there are over 200 books.