Reconciliation is JoyMarch 28, 2006
Jeffrey Mensendiek - Japan
Have you ever been invited to a charity concert sponsored by local pastors, in which the pastor's themselves were the ones singing?
If one member suffers, all suffer together, if one member is honored, all rejoice together.
1 Corinthians 12:26
It was a miracle of sorts for our local district in Sendai, Japan. A joyous occasion for the 150 people who gathered for the concert. I’ll have to tell you why this was a miracle, and a bit about the background to this event held in December of 2005.
First I must mention the Kyodan (the United Church of Christ in Japan) is a deeply divided church. The Kyodan was a forced merger of various protestant denominations in 1941, a measure taken by the Japanese government to control Christians during the war. When the war was over the various denominations were free to leave, but the majority remained as one. They were convinced that God works in mysterious ways to lead Christians toward unity. However, for the past 65 years the Kyodan has been deeply split by theological, political, and ethical divisions.
Though Christians are a small minority in this country, the divisions of the Kyodan have made it difficult to build a common witness to the saving presence of Christ.
In May 2005 a young pastor in a rural church in northern Japan died at the age of 34 leaving his wife and small child. He had had a heart condition for which no health insurance would cover. Those closest to Rev. Fujii were deeply affected by his death and immediately called for donations from around Japan. Their aim was to raise $100,000 to help support the Fujii family.
Later that year in October we were having one of our local pastor’s meetings in Sendai when one of the pastors mentioned his concern for the Fujii family. Each pastor present could identify deeply with the situation of the widow and child. Before we knew it we were starting to plan for a charity concert to benefit the Fujii family. We got together twice a week for practice, and each of our nine churches were swept up in this miracle of unity. Pastors had never come together like this in a spirit of solidarity.
On December 11 there was spirit of joy in the Aobaso Church as pastors sang various hymns of praise. There was also a children’s choir, and a youth group that sang a few African freedom songs. None of us were
professionals, but those in attendance were filled with the joy that God had brought us together in this new way. The offering taken up that day was $4000. Rev. Fujii’s death had brought new life.
Reconciliation is joy. May the church be a sign of the reconciling spirit of Christ.
Jeffrey Mensendiek (Sendai, Japan)
Jeffrey Mensendiek serves with the Council on Cooperative Mission, assigned to the Gakusei (Student) Center in Japan. He serves as Director of Gakusei (Student) Center in Sendai, Japan.
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