Sunday, September 21, 2014
The typhoon is gone. Almost no damage in Taipei, but other areas of the island were affected.
This morning we had three presentations on the challenge of doing ministry in areas where Christianity is being challenged.
The first speaker was the Primate of Japan, Nathaniel Uematsu. I met Nathaniel many years ago when Diana and I were invited to visit and preach for a month to the Holy Catholic Church of Japan (NSSK) as their Anglican Church is called. Nathaniel was a recently ordained priest and he was assigned to take us around – today he is the Primate of Japan. Maybe I’m getting old. Nippon Sei Ko Kai (NSSK) was founded in 1859 when the Rev. Channing Moor Williams arrived in Nagasaki as a missionary of the Episcopal Church to start proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Today they have 280 churches in 11 dioceses with 57,000 members and 230 clergy.
One interesting historical fact was that Japan ruled Taiwan as one of their provinces from 1895 until 1945. The Japanese Anglicans (NSSK) had Episcopal churches in Taiwan during that time but after the defeat of the Empire of Japan they left. Unfortunately for us, Chang Kai-shek confiscated the Anglican churches and gave them to the Presbyterians and other Protestant denominations. The Episcopal Church opted not to sue to recover the stolen churches in order not to give a bad witness and not to get on the wrong side of Chang Kai-shek. The end result was that the Episcopal Church in Taiwan had to start from scratch having no buildings.
The witness of the Japanese Episcopalians has been one of reconciliation with the countries they invaded during the II World War and they apologized for all the atrocities committed by their Imperial army. Today NSSK ministers not only to the Japanese but also to the Korean and Philippine immigrant that are discriminated and many times abused.
I was impressed by the words of Nathaniel when he shared what he tells his people. “Even if we are only 1% of the population of Japan, that means that we are 1 out of 100 people in Japan that Christ has chosen for us to be his vessels and carry his message of redemption. What a great privilege we have to have been chosen out of 100 to serve our Christ.”
He also explained to me that the reason that only 1% of the Japanese is Christian is not that they oppose or persecute Christianity like it happens in Muslim countries, but it is because to be a Christian demanded exclusivity if you accept Christ.
Japanese on the other hand believe they can be Buddhists, Shinto and Christians at the same time with no problems. They are people where faith is important to them so the more faiths the better.
The second presentation came from the Primate of Korea by Archbishop Paul S. Kim. I will be leaving on Wednesday to be with him and other Bishops, clergy and laity. I’ll share more after I get there. I am looking forward to learn more on their efforts on reconciliation between South and North Korea.
The last of the morning speakers was Archbishop Edward Malecdan, the Primate of PEC – the Philippine Episcopal Church. He just arrived from a devastated country due to the wind and rain caused by the same typhoon that we suffered yesterday. PEC became a missionary diocese in 1901 and was part of our church until they became self-supporting in 1991. Even though the Philippines is the fourth poorest country of Asia their church continues growing and supporting their church financially. They have 170,000 members in 70 dioceses. Their ministry is with the poor and they are also able to assist the Anglican Church in Myanmar (Burma).