Missionary Stories

Prayer of Intercession Trinity Sunday May 31, 2015

As we come before you today, Lord, our problems in the world are many, and our solutions seem to be few. In our world of violence, discrimination and exploitation, you have become the Forgotten One. We search for answers to the problems we have created, but we forget to turn to you and the wisdom of your teachings. If we would only remember your lessons of love, humility and respect for life, our world and its problems would be much different.

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Muslim and Christian Youth Want Peace in Indonesia

Hong_Kong_-_Bruce_May_2015.jpg“People want to forgive, but not forget,” said a villager in a community in the Indonesian province of Central Sulawesi in which Muslims and Christians are learning to live in peace again after years of periodic violence between these two faith communities since 1998.

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I Lift Up Mine Eyes

Japan_-_J_Mensendiek_Spr_2015_pic1.jpg“I lift up my eyes to the hills, from where will my help come?”  Psalm 121

The beautiful campus of Kwansei Gakuin University (KGU) has captured my heart ever since I started working here in the spring of 2014. The landscaping is exquisite. There is a Japanese garden hidden between classroom buildings and walkways which allow passersby to enjoy the beauty of each season of the year. Most impressive, however, is the open field at the center of the campus where the clock tower stands with Mt. Kabuto and the Rokko mountain range in the background. When the campus was relocated to the present site in 1929, the leaders recited Psalm 121 as they envisioned an educational institution that would enable students to learn and reflect on the true source from which all blessings flow.

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Search for Peace

Japan_-_M_Mensendiek_2015_pic1.jpgJapan’s peace constitution is in danger! The Abe administration has been making steps toward revising Article 9 of its constitution – the article that stipulates that Japan revokes military force.

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Spring is Here!

Chan__Year_of_the_Sheep.jpgEvery year between late January and February, Chinese around the world celebrate the “Spring Festival” or what is known as the Lunar New Year. In 2015, the first day of the Chinese New Year of the Sheep fell on February 19th. I grew up with this custom with my family in Mississippi. We cleaned house, put out fresh flowers and got red packets (lucky money) from our parents. I even recall my happy father lighting a few firecrackers in the backyard. Now living in Hong Kong, I still celebrate the festival as it’s the biggest and longest holiday of the year. We try to clean house, buy traditional daffodils (narcissus) from the flower market and delight our children with red packets. Fireworks are a 20-minute pyrotechnic extravaganza over the Hong Kong harbor (which you can watch live on television with synchronized music).

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Serving in Relief Projects, Domestically and Abroad

Matt Fehse serves with the UCC Disaster Ministries.  Previously he served as a Global Mission Intern with the United Church of Christ in the Philippines.  His work with Disaster Ministries is supported by your gifts to One Great Hour of Sharing.

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Missionary Report from Daniel Lee in South Korea

South_Korea_-_Daniel_Lee_pic1_Feb_2015.jpgThe two-year masters program “Studies of Ecumenism and Social Transformation” (SEST) at the Graduate School of Theology of Hanshin University in Korea, began on January 19, 2015.  Four out of nine students were in attendance and enrolled in the 7 week-long intensive Korean language course during this past winter. Other students are scheduled to arrive before the spring semester officially begins on March 1. Those students will join the class at a later time due to visa issues or miscellaneous family situations in their respective countries. We pray that all the students will be able to meet together on campus with no difficulties. It is amazing that two students from Africa joined our program for the first time. Although the program originally centers on the context of Asia, it is now broadening its focus toward African countries. There are students from Ghana, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malawi, and Myanmar. They will reside on campus for two years and volunteer at local churches during the weekends in order to acquire Korean language skills as well as to become acquainted with Korean culture.

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Lessons on Human Rights in the Deep South of Thailand

Hong_Kong_-_Halima_Abdullah__a_resource_person_for_the_human_rights.jpgThis year began like much of last year with a lot of traveling. Shortly after the new year began, I flew to the Cambodian city of Siem Reap in January for a meeting of the working committee of Interfaith Cooperation Forum (ICF) to review last year’s work and to make plans for 2015.  A few weeks later I was facilitating a human rights workshop in February in southern Thailand for almost 20 of our School of Peace (SOP) alumni and others in Southeast Asia from Cambodia, East Timor, Indonesia, Laos, the Philippines and the host country. The February workshop was the first time that the SOP alumni that have been training since September 2012 to be human rights resource people conducted part of the program with me.  They did a great job of sharing the knowledge they have attained as well as insights gained from their experiences of living and working in Sri Lanka and the Philippines—countries that have witnessed decades of human rights violations.

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Aizu Radiation Information Center: A Place to Cry, Laugh and Ponder Together

UCCJ.jpgThe "Shintono Tomo" (The Believer's Friend) Magazine is familiar all over Japan for Kyodan related church folk. The reader can find news about what is going on all around Japan in our churches. It also introduces new books, has pictures of new churches being built, and includes essays and Bible studies by some of the leading Japanese Christians. For the last five issues I have been following a series of essays on Fukushima.

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Returning to the Roots with a New Mission

Philippines_-_Niko_Jan_2015_pic1.jpgThe Fiji Council of Churches and the Pacific Conference of Churches facilitated a church leader’s workshop at Nadave. It is a beautiful campus that overlooks the ocean. In the distance across the ocean are the islands of Bau and Viwa. When Christianity arrived in Fiji, the island of Viwa was used by the missionaries to pray and plan their mission. A few hundred meters from Viwa is the island of Bau, where the King of Fiji lived. Whenever the missionaries saw smoke rising from Bau, they knew cannibalism was taking place. So they would pray for Bau and in less than 5 years King Cakobau, who resided in Bau, accepted Christianity. His men, who were once fierce warriors and cannibals, helped the missionaries to penetrate into the interior of the main islands of Fiji, only this time without war clubs and spears.

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