March 11, 2019 marked eight years since Japan’s “Triple Disaster.” Communities and individuals are still marked by this disaster and continue the work of healing. Mission Co-worker in Japan, Jeffrey Mensendiek, shares some reflections from a recent trip he took to Fukushima with Derek Duncan, Area Executive for East Asia and the Pacific.Read more
2018 was a tumultuous year in many ways.
Personally, I had to say goodbye to several dear friends, one of whom was Teruko Enomoto, the founder of the Bazaar Café.Read more
Although I ate many and varied dishes during my stay, my hosts in Japan had never heard of kotsudan. According to Dave Barry it’s a dish made with dates although I suspect he got the name wrong. One of my favorite Japanese dishes was lamb grilled in the style of the Hokkaido Islanders. I watched my friends cook the lamb with cabbage and shallots on a small square grill on their living room table.Read more
J.F. Oberlin University is a private four-year university located in Machida, a suburb of Tokyo, Japan. Founded in 1946 by Reverend Yasuzo Shimizu, the university is comprised of a College of Arts and Sciences, a graduate division, and four professional colleges. In the late 1920s, Rev. Shimizu attended Oberlin College in Ohio, U.S.A., where he learned about the educational philosophy of Jean-Frédéric Oberlin, an 18th-century minister and educator in France. As a tribute to the educator whose ideas influenced Rev. Shimizu, in 2006 the English name of the school was changed to J. F. Oberlin University. With an enrollment of over 9,000 students, many of them from overseas, J. F. Oberlin University seeks to foster global citizens on the basis of Christian values. J. F. Oberlin University is affiliated with the United Church of Christ in Japan and all of its chaplains are ordained ministers in the UCCJ, including Rev. Jeffrey Mensendiek, who as a Global Ministries mission co-worker has taught and served as a chaplain at J. F. Oberlin University since April 2018.
Having grown up as an American in Japan, one of my great passions is to be a bridge for people who want to encounter new cultures. This month we had a group of ten people from Los Angeles, led by Mike Okamura of Altadena Community Church UCC. They visited our partner church, the Kyodan, to learn about issues facing the Japanese church, and to visit specific projects and ministries. Mike’s relatives live in Fukushima. He was particularly interested in taking the group to see the Tohoku region which had been devastated by the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster of 2011.Read more
In the third week of October, we can feel fall in the air here in Tochigi, Japan. Some days are still warm, but nights are pretty cool. We expected to see changing leaves, but they are still green, and the changes are in the mountains, we hear. September was busy with many visitors – university classes coming to gain experience in organic agriculture, Rotary clubs and women’s groups. Mealtimes were spent explaining to visitors our role as short term Global Mission Coworkers and why we are here!Read more
In September, 2018, Asian Rural Institute (ARI) life is as we remembered it from 2013 – welcoming smiles, camaraderie, hard work, learning by doing, and everything that comes with a community sharing a common life together. The special blessing of returning is renewing friendships and also meeting a whole new class of participants and volunteers. We are grateful to Global Ministries, an ARI partner for their support.Read more
One thing I like about late September in Japan are the Kin-moku-sei trees (osmanthus) in blossom. The flowers are small and hardly visible hidden amidst the dark green leaves. But the fragrance is so special that I find myself taking a deep breath to catch more of this seasonal blessing.Read more
Lectionary Selection: Mark 7 :24-37
Prayers for Japan:
Life giving God, we pray for your healing grace for people in Japan, where severe heat, torrential rains and landslides have taken precious lives and left people in despair.
For those who have lost loved ones, we ask for your comfort.
For those who have lost their homes and means of livelihood, we ask for your guidance. May they be given the assistance needed to restore their lives.
We pray also for the people in Fukushima, who suffer from health problems caused by the nuclear disaster and are still anxious about their future.
May the leaders of Japan make wise policy choices that are safe for the environment and future generations.
We pray for the people of Okinawa, who mourn the passing of Governor Onaga, a tireless leader standing up against the Japanese government in the pursuit of peace and justice for the people of those islands. We ask for your blessings on the upcoming elections and on the continued work for peace.
We pray for the Bazaar Café Ministry in Kyoto. May it continue to be a healing community grounded in your love.
We pray in the name of Jesus Christ, who brought healing to those he touched, and continues to be our inspiration for healing and peace.
This is part of the UCC's Getting to the Root of It series and was originally posted here.
August 6 and August 9 are the anniversaries of the only two instances where nuclear weapons were used as a tool of warfare. August 6, 1945 at 8:15am was when the first atomic bomb was dropped over Hiroshima and August 9, 1945 at 11:01am was when the second was dropped over Nagasaki. Both bombs leveled the cities and killed more than 150,000 people, half of whom were killed the day of the bombings from the explosion and ensuing fire, while the other half were killed in the days, weeks, months, and years that followed. The exact number of victims is still unknown.Read more