Nonogaki Rpt – Aug ’15
A Teacher and Preacher Training Class (Aug 19)
I remember how the replacement of a minister took place in the states. In the states it is not so difficult to find a preacher, but maybe difficult to find a right one. Anyway many American men still want to work for the Lord. Here in Japan things are a little different. Many congregations do not have a hired minister. Therefore men in the congregations take the responsibilities of teaching and preaching while they work 6 days a week. That is not easy in their hectic schedule.
Therefore, I believe it is imperative to train men in the congregations to teach and preach. Life is fragile. Who knows I die tomorrow or next week or next year? I have decided to train men who are willing to teach and preach. Shuhei Hara wants to serve and work for the Lord. He and I have a Bible study session once a week. In the class we study how to read the Bible. He has homework and reading assignments in addition to the Bible. This is not an easy task because he has a full time job. This is a good discipleship class for both of us though. I hope we will continue this study at least for two years. After that we will see what steps we should take.
Yuji (Aug 17)
Six month has passed since Yuji got out of prison. He started a painting job as an assistant for his brother in law. That was a good start. They do not have a definite schedule. They work as jobs come to them. For example, they worked for 21 days without any day off. They paint from midnight to morning. This is a very tough schedule. Consequently he has not been able to attend the assembly and has gradually lost his interest in Christ and God. This was very discouraging to me for a while, but I have kept communicating with him and trying to share the Gospel with him.
Masashi and Chikako’s Moving Back Home (Aug 17)
We have had a privilege to have Masashi and Chikako in our congregation. Recently they have found out Chikako is expected a baby. They prayed about their future and decided to move back to their home town where Chikako’s parents are living. She quit working. Now Masashi changed his job too. We have already missed them very much.
A Memorial Service of Debbie May Carrell (Aug 17)
Debbie May Carrell passed away at 6:35 on August 12. She was the wife of Steve Carrell, my fellow missionary, for 35 years. A memorial service for her was held at Tachikawa Church of Christ on August 17. She fought a good fight and kept her faith in Christ. She exemplified Christian faith we ought to have. I knew her for a quite some time and learned many important lessons from her. She is now in the hand of God. I pray for her husband Steve Carrell. He is single again and will miss his dear wife Debbie. We will support him whatever is necessary to help him overcome this ordeal.
Thinking About Death (Aug 17)
Once a prime minister of Japan said about thirty years ago, “Nothing is more important than a human life.” This tells a general common idea of Japanese people about life and death. Although people know death is something they cannot control, they have a stronger attachment to the deceased than Americans, but it does not mean they worship the deceased as commonly believed. Many go to the tombs of the diseased (their parents, children, friends) three times a year. There are four occasions they can go to the tomb: in the end of March, in the middle of August, in the end of September, and on the anniversary of the deceased. Some make a perfect score by going four times a year. One Japanese lady said when she was interviewed, “I come here to see him.”
News on the memorial site of 9-11 makes me think that a similar concept may spread among Americans more than before. Humanism rather than Christianity permeates the Japanese society as well as (I guess) the American one. Humanism tells humans can set a standard for a human life. Humans are on the top of the world and have authority to decide what is right in the world. I often hear and watch American news. I am afraid God is more and more out of sight than ever in the US.
A man says to Jesus when he is told to follow Him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” Jesus replies, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” This is a very shocking statement to some people. Christians aren’t supposed to attend the funeral, are they? Jesus doesn’t mean it at all. We should be loving to and crying with those who lost their loved ones.
However, we cannot pray for the dead to live again. Death is the last enemy, but Jesus was raised from the dead. We will be raised on the final day which is our hope. Death will be eventually defeated. The Bible tells us, I believe, the way we live is much more important than life itself. Yes, life is very important to us because it is a gift of God, but I believe a physical life is not as important as many people think. Jesus Christ gives us life. Eventually we all will get old and pass on and return to dust. Jesus tells us those who believe in Him will never die. I believe His words.
Masa Nonogaki; Yokota, Tokyo