Sunday, 24 February 2013

Yujiro, Bibles, & Friends

Last weekend I went to Tokyo for a young adults gathering of the Anglican Church in Japan. Like the church in the US, Japan is rapidly losing members. The young people in Japan want to be more involved and have more of a voice in the church. Therefor last year many young members met up and created “Yujiro” (Somehow it means “under 26 years old” I was a little lost in the explanation). This group has met two times since. They gather together to talk about activities in their home churches and dioceses, to talk about what they would like to see happen in the church, and to have a Bible study.

It was interesting to hear their thoughts and ideas. The concept of young adult's gatherings is a rather new thing for them so they are still working out the kinks. That also means they are open to anything, which is great. You could tell by the way that they talked that they are passionate about God and the church.

During the Bible study (or Bible sharing as they called it) I was blown away by how intensely they poured over the reading. We spent several hours discussing the meaning of the verse and looking at other passages for reference. I only understood about half of it but I am ok with that. I asked one of my friends if they have Bible studies at their church. She told me that it is very rare to study the bible as a group outside of Sunday worship. Because of this weekend and the bible study they had, many want to start a regular bible study in their home churches. In fact we are going to start one here in Sendai as well.

This was my first time to be around so many young people in the church in Japan and it was great. I don’t think I have laughed so much during a weekend in a long time. I love meeting new people but it is really frustrating to do so in Japan. I never know when/if I will see them again. But of course this means that I have people to visit all over Japan and they all have a place to stay in Texas whenever they visit. FYI Mom I offered our house to any/every one that comes...hope you don't mind!

 Thanks for tuning in!
        Katie Young

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Slides, Lanterns, and Martyrs

This past Sunday three friends and I drove out to Yonezawa to “dig” a church out from under the snow. One of the sweet men, Mr. Onuki, who volunteers for the Diocese, invited us out to his church. Another fellow staffer was already there when we arrived. While the boys worked on the front of the church we three girls worked on the back of it. I promise we really did clear a lot of the snow off the church but we also managed to make an igloo and a slide from the top of the roof to the ground. It was AWESOME.

In Yonezawa this past weekend there was a Lantern festival going on. So some of my friends decided we would join in on the festivities. They built several snow lanterns in the wall of snow by the church. So incredibly beautiful!

During the Edo period, Christianity was banned from Japan. During the banishment many Christians were martyred because of their faith. In Yonezawa, 53 Christians were killed. The thing that was different about Yonezawa is that these 53 people walked to their death voluntarily. Because of their kindness and love that they gave to others in the village they were respected. Non-Christians lined the streets to honor these men and women as they walked to their death. It wasn’t until 300 years later that they were officially recognized for the sacrifice they made. Now in Yunozawa there is a memorial to honor these men, women, and children that died for their faith. Once we finished making our own lanterns we went to this memorial. It was dark out and there was too much snow for us to actually walk up to the memorial. But the story of these people and examples they left were not lost on us. We walked back to the car in silence, maybe all pondering the same thought “if we were them what would we have done?”

We finished out the night by walking around the actual festival and then eating a delicious meal at the church. It was a perfect end to a perfect day. 

Thanks for tuning in!