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A letter from Barbara Easton in Japan

AdvEnt 2010

“And the King will answer then, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’” (Matthew 25:40)

Dear Friends in Christ,

Thank you for all of your support for God’s mission work this year, and particularly for your prayerful concern for Japan.

In March I was selected to be the Representative Director of the Japan Mission of the PC(USA). One of my responsibilities is to serve on the Executive Board of Trustees of Yodogawa Christian Hospital in Osaka. In these months I have become more and more conscious of the importance of our connections with this hospital, founded 55 years ago by the PC(USA) when the Osaka region was mired in poverty. The monthly meetings always begin with acts of Christian worship: a hymn, reading of a key Bible verse (Matthew 25:40) and prayer. The Bible reading reminds us that we are called by Jesus Christ to serve people in need, and this has always been the purpose of this historic institution.

Christian faith has continued to be a strong motivating factor as the hospital has become a leading health institution in central Japan. Among other innovations, it has been a leader in developing hospice care here. Currently a new hospital building is being constructed to help lead the way in medical care for the next generation. Christian faith at the hospital is made evident not only by the quality of care offered to patients, but also in the many services of worship held there each week in the lovely chapel in the main building, in the branch hospital and in the health facility for elderly people. Each weekday begins with a service, and the main chapel has worship services on weekends, too. In addition there is a monthly evening service at the Ladies’ Hospital.

In recent months I have received the hospital’s weekly bulletins. The cover, with a simple drawing of something natural and peaceful, reminds us that Yodogawa Christian Hospital focuses on “Whole Person Healing” rooted in Christ’s love for the whole person: body, mind and spirit. Here’s my translation of an associated prayer: “God, today also, please protect and lead us in serving people by Christ’s love. By our acts of whole person healing, ease the physical pains of suffering people, give peace of mind and heart, and save their souls. We pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.” Included is a weekly schedule of “messengers” who speak in chapel services, including both Christians who are on staff and outside speakers and announcements of public service lectures or other events sponsored by the hospital. The text of a selected chapel “message” is provided. These are encouraging even for people not directly connected with the hospital. They inspire me to try to find new ways of sharing the joys of knowing Jesus Christ as Savior in the college setting in which I have been called to work in Nagasaki.

Often it seems that busy-ness wears people down to the point where our hope, peace and joy are hard to see.; How can we cultivate these signs in our own lives — despite our busy-ness — so we can more effectively witness to our faith in God in a world filled with troubles, sadness, fighting and hopelessness? In this season of Advent, let us remember to give thanks for the many blessings with which we are surrounded and encouraged. I am thankful to have grown up where many people know Jesus Christ personally. I wish to thank you again for praying for Christian mission work throughout the world and for your own witnessing to God’s love. Let us praise our heavenly Father with the help of the Holy Spirit, so that more and more people may come to realize that we all belong to one Family, as the Body of Christ Jesus. That will be a wonderful case of Whole Person Healing!

In joyful expectancy of the appearing of Christ our Redeemer, I wish you a blessed Christmas season.

Barbara Easton

The 2010 Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 141

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