Mennonite World Conference regional representative visits churches in Japan

Oct 10, 2016 by and

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It was a great privilege to visit churches in Japan as a Mennonite World Conference regional representative.

KyongJung Kim, seated second from right, visits Bethel Mennonite Church members in Sapporo, Japan. — Mennonite World Conference

KyongJung Kim, seated second from right, visits Bethel Mennonite Church members in Sapporo, Japan. — Mennonite World Conference

In Japan, there are 73 congregations and 2,801 members. The purpose of my visit was to introduce MWC and its relationship with national member churches. The theme I prepared was “we need each other to grow together in the body of Christ.”

I noticed the Korean national flower as the cover image of the church bulletin on July 3 at Minami Mennonite Church in Miyazaki. Korea had a painful history with Japan’s colonization from 1910 to 1945. I felt that our relationship had already been transformed to friendship in the Lord.

Pastor Syozo Satou’s sister said she had attended the 1990 MWC assembly in Winnipeg, Man., identifying herself with the MWC family. She apologized for what Japanese ancestors had done to Koreans during the Japanese colonization. I appreciated her honest sharing.

I attended the Hokkaido conference leaders’ meeting July 9, where I talked about MWC and its member church relationships. I saw great potential among young people. Some young adults participated in the MWC assembly last year in Pennsylvania. They were interested in exchange programs.

On July 10, I worshiped at Bethel Mennonite Church, a house church in downtown Sapporo. I found most churches are too small to offer full financial support to their pastors. This is similar to my congregation in ChunCheon, South Korea. Everyone is a minister, doing what they can according to their gifts.

On July 11-13, I visited Osaka, where there are lots of Mennonite Brethren congregations and one seminary. Japanese MBs make up 63 percent of Anabaptists in Japan but are not members of MWC.

One pastor asked me about conscientious objection to military service in Korea. I answered that not everyone in my congregation would agree with the peace position. We have our weaknesses as well as strengths. That’s why we need each other.

I met brothers and sisters in the Tokyo area July 14-17, and they were very open to developing relationships with other churches.

What would make such relationship-building possible? We discussed a number of things, including YAMEN, a joint exchange program of Mennonite Central Committee and MWC.

It is our duty to walk with God together with brothers and sisters around the world. Thanks be to God, who renewed our relationships through Christ.

KyongJung Kim is Northeast Asia regional representative for Mennonite World Conference.

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