Missionary Stories

Competing Ideologies

            Since February, I’ve been on home assignment in the United States, speaking about the work of Interfaith Cooperation Forum (ICF) in Asia and preaching in local churches. My travels have taken me to Ohio, Colorado, the state of Washington, Montana and Wyoming. I’ve also attended Global Ministries meetings in Cleveland and Indianapolis and took part in the annual Ecumenical Advocacy Days in Washington, D.C., where a focus of our advocacy with the Senate delegation from Ohio was the current immigration crisis in our country and the uncompassionate way it’s being addressed.

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Walking with Refugees

June 2018

Dear Friends,

What a difference two years make.

In 2016, the Hong Kong Refugee Ministry Group published its first refugee pastoral care handbook in Chinese and English. The aim was to get more churches interested in serving asylum seekers and refugees in the community. Since asylum seekers in Hong Kong come primarily from South and Southeast Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, the cultural gap with local Chinese presented a significant barrier.

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Winds of Change

It is winter in the south. Winter in the tropics is not decorated with snow or below-zero temperatures, but rather cool winds and beautiful sunshine graces the Pacific. For the people of the Pacific, especially in the south and central Pacific, winter is a time for celebration. This is because from November to April we have our cyclone season. During this time, we have excessive rainfall and floods, lots of landslides and rough seas resulting in many of our seafarers going missing at sea. In the month May our winter begins, and with it, gentle sunshine for cultivating new land and planting our yams and other root crops essential to the diet of Pacific islanders. It is also nice to have the cool breeze of the tropical Pacific lowering the heat.

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"Finishing the Work"

June 2018

Dear Family and Friends, new and old,

Time is moving quickly! In one month, I will leave the Philippines and return to the U.S. What an adventure it has been for me. Right now, I'm feeling a mixture of emotions including relief, fear, sadness, and nervousness about my next steps.

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Celebration of Life

Teruko’s funeral was like no other. She called it a “Celebration of Life” Her dream was to build a “blended community.” She wanted to bring people together from all walks of life, and to witness the birthing of something new. She had choreographed her own farewell party. She wanted us to wear bright dazzling colors, instead of the customary black mourning clothes. The rainbow was to be the symbol of our blended-ness. So there we were, all six-hundred of us, crammed into the limited space at the Aoi Church in Kyoto. We were there, not only to celebrate her life, but to celebrate life itself. At one point during the service, we joined in a responsive reading called “The Confession of Life." Death will not have the last word. Darkness cannot overcome the brightness of the love that we share. Pain, suffering and loss will not forever cloud the vision of hope that binds us. Together we declared our belief in LIFE, and the enduring power of God’s love for all living things.

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Learning in the Philippines

Dear Friends, new and old, and Family,

I hope that you are doing well! I'm Lauren and I would like to invite you to learn about my journey here in the Philippines.

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Eighty-eight Souls Lost in the Vast Pacific Ocean

The churches in the Pacific are standing beside the people of Kiribati (an island nation in the northern Pacific, south of Hawaii) in a very trying and painful moment in their maritime history. On January 18 the ferry MV Butiraoi (pronounce pushy-rah-o-ee) left the island of Nonouti (pronounce nor- nor –oush-ee) for the capital of Kiribati Tarawa. The ferry was carrying 72 adults, 13 high school students, and 10 elementary school children. None of the children survived the ordeal.

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Resilience from Within

I have completed four years at Kwansei Gakuin University (KG) in Kobe. It’s a rather large institution (23,000 students) established by Methodist missionaries in 1889. I had two roles. First, I was chaplain of the Center for Religious Activities where I coordinated programs with other chaplains; events, lectures, worship services, work camps, Christmas events, newsletters, and various other programs that help to enrich the learning environment for the students, and at the same time educate about the Christian values and identity that make KG such a special school. My second role was as associate professor of the School of Theology. I taught several classes, and contributed to the various programs being held within the department. KG also is committed to issues of human rights. The annual Rainbow Week is a chance to educate the student body regarding some of the issues facing the LGBTQ community. It is a time to celebrate the diversity of the human family present on campus. Human rights education is another strength of KG. There are many classes available to students to learn firsthand about the struggles that minorities face in society. In April, my assignment will change to serve at J.F. Oberlin University in Tokyo – named after Oberlin College in the state of Ohio. I will be serving as chaplain on their new campus in downtown Tokyo – an area known as the tenderloin district of Tokyo.

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We are not alone

Dear Friends,

I want to share with you some news from the Bazaar Café in Kyoto. (The Bazaar Café is our church’s coffee house ministry.) Among the many programs we have going on at the Café, last year we started what is called “Shaba Café.”  “Shaba” refers to the “outside world” as opposed to the world inside prison.

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My time in Dumaguete

It feels as though time is moving faster now, in the second half of my year of service. I reside in the Philippines, within the Visayas region in Dumaguete City. Dumaguete is a small yet bustling city and is well-known throughout the Philippines for Silliman University, a world-renowned University.

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