Missionary Stories

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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Your Right Hand, O Lord, Glorious in Power

Dear Friends,

Hong Kong . . . the Caribbean . . . the Philippines

What do these three places have in common? On January 24, churches in Hong Kong gathered together for an evening Unity Service with liturgy from the Caribbean and a sermon by a Filipino missionary priest.

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World Day of Prayer in Hong Kong

In early March, hundreds of women (and some men) will gather at the Chinese Rhenish Church Hong Kong for the 2018 World Day of Prayer Service. This global ecumenical movement is celebrated in over 170 countries, and Hong Kong is an active member of this international Christian women’s prayer initiative.

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Century and a Decade for Union Theological Seminary

Union Theological Seminary (UTS-Phils) celebrated its 110th Anniversary. I took the opportunity to invite stakeholders to journey with UTS in the spirit of remembrance, celebration, and anticipation. One cannot celebrate and be grateful without remembering. Only those who can remember can truly celebrate. In like manner, only those who remember and celebrate can live in the spirit of anticipation.

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Blind Justice?

 

Hong_Kong_Fall_2017_(4).jpgOn August 17, three young Hong Kong student protest leaders were sent to jail with terms ranging fromsix to eight months. Nathan Law, Joshua Wong, and Alex Chow had been given community service or a suspended sentence last year for their part in the 2014 pro-democracy demonstrations known as the “Occupy/Umbrella Movement”. However, the Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen asked the Hong Kong Court of Appeal to review the earlier sentences, stating that the students’ actions in storming the government headquarters compound and inciting others to join them warranted a harsher punishment. This time the Court agreed and ordered custodial sentences for all three young men. The activists indicated they would take their cases to the Hong Kong’s Court of Final Appeal.

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Glory to God

Hong_Kong_Fall_2017.jpgThe 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation was not forgotten in Hong Kong. Asian Christians may seem far removed from the events of Europe in 1517, yet churches of every background marked the anniversary year with worship services, theological discussions, seminars, publications, and even an overseas trip for unity. Let me highlight three events of the Hong Kong Christian Council that took place in 2017. 

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Biblical Themes Run Through It

2017_Sept_newsletter_Small_Souichi_1.pngI want to introduce you to some paintings by Soichi Watanabe, one of Japan’s most internationally known Christian artists. I happen to know him from thirty years ago when we met through a Bible study held at the house of a Christian professor in the city of Sendai. Watanabe’s paintings are special in many ways. First, his paintings are mostly based on biblical themes. Second, you will notice that the contours are quite simple, and there are no facial features depicted. And third, most of his paintings depict human figures who are in relationship to one another. When I first saw his artwork, I wondered why he paints in such abstract form. The expression seemed somewhat detached from real life. But now I have come to appreciate his soft tones and the detached simplicity of expression.

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Shining Ever Brighter

Hong_Kong_-_Carrie_Lam_wins_election.JPGOn March 26th, Mrs. Carrie Lam was elected as the new Chief Executive of Hong Kong. She will assume office on July 1, 2017. Her win was no surprise. The former Chief Secretary was the overwhelming favorite among the 1200-member Selection Committee. Although many community and Christian groups supported another candidate, Mr. John Tsang, it was apparent that Mrs. Lam would emerge victorious with the support of powerful business and political sectors.

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