A letter from Bill and Ann Moore in Japan
The coming of Christmas to Nishitani, where we are planting a new congregation of the Reformed Church in Japan, is heralded in a rather unexpected way. In our rural community on the outskirts of the Osaka-Kobe metropolitan area, the celebration of Christ’s birth is first announced by an elaborate Christmas lighting display. By the beginning of November this extravaganza is lit nightly and people come from far and wide to take it in. I would like to think that our church, the first and only Christian church in the village of Nishitani, had something to do with this, but it fact the Christmas display predates our coming by a number of years. I would like to think that it was a Christian family that had lit up its property to share the joy of Christmas with their non-Christian friends and neighbors, but that is not the case. Before we and our partners in this church-planting venture, Dr. and Mrs. Haruki Kondo, came to Nishtani there were no Christians in the community. Amazingly, this annual Christmas display is the handiwork of a local Buddhist priest who sells and installs Christmas lighting as a sideline. Every year he travels to a Christmas lighting trade show in Los Angeles to discover the latest products on the market and bring them back to Japan, where they are snapped up by enthusiasts who want to outdo their neighbors in spreading Christmas cheer.
How amazing it is that even before there was a Christian presence in Nishitani, God was using this Buddhist priest to announce Noel, the birth of His only Son. The words of the prophet Isaiah come to mind. “A voice cries out: 'In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.'”
The Sunday School of the Nishitani Chapel has also been preparing the way of the Lord as it gets ready for the celebration of Christmas. This year the children, along with their mothers, have been working on a media presentation of the Christmas story that will debut during our congregational Christmas celebration. They have been photographed in Christmas pageant costume and the various scenes will be projected on a screen as the story of Christ’s birth is retold. Except for one member, all the children in our Sunday School are from non-Christian homes, so this is a wonderful opportunity to share the real meaning of Christmas.
It is a privilege and blessing to be able to sow seeds of faith among the people of Nishitani. We have witnessed how seeds planted many years ago by others have come to fruition in our time, so in faith we also sow knowing that God will bring growth and harvest.
In addition to our church planting and evangelism efforts at Nishitani, we both have been given additional opportunities for ministry. Ann will complete her third year as president of the Kobe YWCA in March of next year. During her tenure she has been mostly concerned with maintaining the Christian character and witness of the YWCA. In addition, through the Y she has been involved in earthquake and radiation relief in the northern part of Japan and cooperative programs with the Seoul, Korea, YWCA as well as providing counseling and assistance to foreigners in Japan who are in difficulty. Ann is anticipating her March 2013 “graduation” from the presidency of the Kobe Y and is looking forward to becoming more active on the national level of the Japan YWCA.
Bill is increasingly involved with the administration of the chaplaincy program of our Japan Mission’s Yodogawa Christian Hospital in the nearby city of Osaka. Previously operated directly by the Hospital, this program is now under the direct administration of Japan Mission. This transition has been a challenge, but the five staff chaplains are doing an amazing job of ministering to the needs of patients, staff, and Bill.
This past summer Yodogawa Christian Hospital moved into a brand-new state-of-the- art facility to replace the former one nearby. With over 600 beds and 1,600 employees, it is one of the larger hospitals in western Japan. At the same time, YCH opened the first children’s hospice in Japan to stand beside the already existing hospice for adults. In November the moderator of the General Assembly, Rev. Neal D. Presa, came to help Japan Mission and YCH celebrate the completion of these new facilities.
Bill is also increasingly involved with the Japan Mission Corporation, which oversees the activities of the Mission as well as holds its assets. We are striving to become a more effective agent of mission not only in Japan but also in Asia.
Both of us are looking forward to returning to the U.S. for the second half of 2013. We hope to visit as many of our supporting churches as we can so that we may share firsthand with you what God is doing in Japan.
We thank you for your prayer and support as we witness to the love of God and saving grace of Jesus Christ in Japan. Especially during the Christmas season we are grateful for your gifts that make our service possible in this land. May the Lord give you a blessed Christmas!
Peace and Grace,
Bill and Ann
The 2012 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 200
The 2013 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 208
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