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Looking Back on 2009

December 15, 2009

After my home assignment in the United States, I am now back in Japan and catching up on things here. First I want to thank all of you who warmly welcomed me into your churches and homes. I had a wonderful experience visiting churches and sharing about the Christian witness in Japan and my perspective on what it means to be in mission in the world today! The time in the United States was also a time for me to learn from you about your churches and issues in US society. I was also able to attend the General Synod of the UCC, which was a stimulating experience for me. These experiences strengthened my call to be in mission and to continue be a representative of our church in Japan.

While I was away, the Japanese people elected new leadership, voting out the "Liberal Democratic Party" which had been in power for 50 years. The new cabinet includes legislators who have been advocates for peace and social justice, and many of us are hopeful that there will be some changes that will promote peace as well as policies that help the vulnerable. One of the big issues in the news these days has to do with Okinawa and the US military bases there. The Okinawa people bear the brunt of US military presence in the Far East, and the government is in the midst of negotiations to determine the future of the US military presence in Japan.

In early December, I participated (as interpreter) in a peace conference in Seoul Korea. This was the 2nd Inter-religious Conference on Article 9. (Article 9 is the part of the Japanese Constitution renouncing war. The Japanese government, with pressure from the US has been moving forward to revise Article 9). Leaders from Christian, Buddhist, and Muslim organizations attended this conference to consolidate an inter-faith network for peace and non-violence in the spirit of Article 9. Global Ministries and our partner churches in Japan, Korea and the Philippines are committed to being active in this inter-faith peace network. There is a feeling that with the advent of the new administration in Japan, it is a good opportunity to raise consciousness among the public about the value of the peace constitution.

It is Advent season as I write this letter. As we prepare for the birth of the 'Prince of Peace', please include in your prayers the people of Okinawa – that their islands will be returned to peace. And pray for the leaders and the people of Japan, that they will keep their peace constitution and promote it for true peace and prosperity in the world.

With prayers for a blessed Christmas and peace in the New Year,

Martha Mensendiek

PS. The Bazaar Café, the coffee house ministry that our church runs in Kyoto, continues to be active in its various ways. At the end of November, we had our annual Fiesta, with hundreds of people gathering for good food, music, and fellowship. We are now preparing for Christmas. In my next letter, I will share more news from the Café.

Martha serves at Doshisha University, Kyoto, Japan through the Council on Cooperative Mission.  Martha is a Teacher of social welfare.


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