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By Kyoko Burger, Japan

The ACWC Day in Japan this year was somewhat different from previous years because the liturgy was prepared by the members of our ACWC-Japan, and the theme was “Seeking Christ’s Peace.”

The seminar in Kansai was held on October 12th, and 292 people attended. Rev. Chon Yon Won from the Osaka Korean Church in Japan gave a message on “People Who Make Peace and Reconciliation.” The referenced scripture was Ephesians 2:14-18.

There were two speakers in the seminar in Kansai. One was Dr. Yasuyo Matsumoto who works at Yodogawa Christian Hospital, which was built with donations from the Southern Presbyterian Church in America in 1955. Yodogawa was a very poor area in terms of medication and medical facilities immediately after World War II. But as Japan grew bigger economically, Yodogawa Christian Hospital also grew bigger. Thankfully, they received help when they were small, and now, thankfully also, they are big enough to help smaller hospitals in Bangladesh. They donate to Christian hospitals every year and help train doctors and nurses. Dr. Matsumoto, a gynecologist, actually worked in Bangladesh from 2000 to 2001, and, since that time, she has been back and helped people every year. Her work contribution is not huge, but she is thankful that she is able to work for her neighbors in Asia.

The other speaker was Mr. Hidesuke Kanda who works for Japan International Food for the Hungry (JIFH). He quoted 2 Chronicles 7:14, which says, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and restore their land.” He spoke of how sick society is nowadays. People want to fix blame; some blame terrorists; some blame politicians, some don’t know who to blame. What we need to know is who has the solution. According to 2 Chronicles 7:14, we are told that if we, God’s people--who are called by God’s name, Christians--will humble ourselves and pray and seek God’s face and turn from our sinful ways, then will God answer from heaven and heal our land. One sign of this sick and ailing world is the problem of starvation which is spreading all over the world. About 1 billion people suffer from hunger, and there are 17 people dying every minute; twelve of those are children. Starvation is not just because of lack of food, but also because of developed countries overeating and not sharing with needy/starving countries. Having been to Ethiopia to supply food to the poor, Mr. Kanda speaks from experience.

The seminar in Tokyo was held on November 9th, and 422 people attended. Rev. Kashiko Go gave a message on “Seeking Christ’s Peace.” She talked about how the members of ACWCJ enjoyed the testimony of Suzuko Numata, a Hiroshima storyteller, who has been telling people visiting Hiroshima about the importance of peace and the misery of war. She is an atomic bomb victim, but at the same time, by the fact that she is Japanese, she has recognized herself as a perpetrator of war. Accordingly, she has made apologies while on several international exchange trips to Okinawa, Korea, China, Malaysia and others. Rev. Go talked about the exchange trip which she and ACWCJ members made several years ago to Singapore, where she had found many scars left by the Japanese during the war. With tears in her eyes, she apologized to the church women for what Japan had done to their country. The following year at the 12th ACWC Assembly, she was relieved and happy to hear that the representative of Singapore said, “We have been reconciled through the interchanges.”

Rev. Kim Pilsun from the Korean Christian Church in Japan gave a message using Psalms 144:1-15. Toward the end of the message, she talked about an earlier experience of her father in Japan when he was discriminated against simply because he was Korean. Then she talked about who are our brothers and sisters. She said our brothers and sisters were also foreigners/strangers who live in a foreign country. She quoted Psalms 144:15 which says, “Happy is the nation of whom this is true; happy are the people whose God is the Lord!” She told us that there shouldn’t be any discrimination, any oppression or rejection in a rich country like Japan.

In the afternoon, we enjoyed a special Korean music and dance program. Then two more speakers shared their experiences. The first speaker was Ms. Kaoru Yoshida, a member of the Salvation Army, and also is a member of ACWC-Japan. Having visited and worked in 16 countries, she shared some of her experiences in a Power Point presentation about England, Australia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Myanmar, China, Papua New Guinea and North Korea. In closing, she talked about Japan and how that on the surface, Japan appears to be rich with high technology. And, while Japan supports other countries economically and with volunteer work, inside its own country, people are in disarray and are treated with indifference, accounting for over 30,000 suicides every year and about 200,000 reported cases of human trafficking.
How can we spread the good news in this country? Ms. Yoshida quoted Ephesians 2:14 which says, “For Christ himself is our peace, who has made the two one, and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility.”

The second speaker that afternoon was Ms. Naw Lee Myar from Myanmar Pekon Baptist Church, and she is a 1998 graduate of the Asian Rural Institute in Tochigi, Japan. Eighty-seven percent of the population is Buddhist and four percent are Christian in Myanmar. In 2001, there were 4313 male ministers; of those, 1794 were ordained. There were 1482 female ministers, but only 9 of them were ordained. There is discrimination against women ministers regarding their being ordained, and that may be because, particularly with young ministers who have menstruation periods, they are considered polluted or unclean during those times. For this reason, it is also true that some male members of their congregations don’t accept communion from female ministers. According to Ephesians, “At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ, everything in heaven and on earth, according to his plan.” Ms. Myar said that, since we are God’s people, we have a duty to bring about solidarity, cooperation and unity among churches, communities and even families to fulfill God’s will.At the closing of the meeting, we had a beautiful hymn sung by members of the Myanmar Revival Christian Fellowship. I’m thankful that we were able to hear from different countries and various denominations in these seminars. And I’m also thankful that we have ACWC Day every year where many church women get together and share our concerns, our hopes and our prayers.


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