On behalf of Kinki Evangelical Lutheran Church, I send friendly greetings to you in the Name of Christ our Lord! I am very much grateful and would like to express my sincere thanks for the Lutheran Church of Australia to send Rev Paul Kerber as a lecturer for our special seminars to teach us “Biblical […]
On behalf of Kinki Evangelical Lutheran Church, I send friendly greetings to you in the Name of Christ our Lord!
I am very much grateful and would like to express my sincere thanks for the Lutheran Church of Australia to send Rev Paul Kerber as a lecturer for our special seminars to teach us “Biblical Reconciliation”.
Rev Paul gave us wonderful lectures across three days through which we received great joy and hope in Christ.
We, the Kinki Evangelical Lutheran Church, had no experience nor knowledge about Biblical Reconciliation until LCA International Mission invited our church to send a person to participate in a six week Reconciliation Ministry scholarship in Australia. By God’s grace I was a participant in the first scholarship in August and September 2017.
When I received Reconciliation Ministry course under the guidance of Rev Paul, I gradually started to understand the reconciliation which we need to know is not the general meaning of reconciliation, nor the political meaning of reconciliation, but the reconciliation of faith which is grounded on the Biblical understanding of Lutheran theology.
I was very much stirred and excited by learning this very basic and important teaching. After I came back to Japan, we started to study Biblical Reconciliation in the Theological Committee. Finally, we were able to welcome Rev Paul as our lecturer. It was such a blessing for our church.
One of our pastors, Rev Charles Klingensmith, assisted as a translator, for Rev Paul to give us three days of sessions. The first day was for the members of the Theological Committee. We learnt the atonement of the Cross of Jesus, the basic of Biblical Reconciliation and the relation between Biblical Reconciliation and Lutheran Theology regarding the Law and Gospel. We also had opportunities to share some situations in our church and ministry in Japanese culture. An amazing blessing was how this interactive time gave us more understanding about each other.
The second day was for all our pastors and evangelists of our church. The topic was “Confession and Forgiveness in my life as a pastor”. We used Proclaiming God’s Forgiveness, translated by Rev Naoki Sugioka, as one of the teaching materials. We reflected on our own faith and attitude toward God and people, it was then that we could receive great encouragement about church ministry in both pastoral care and preaching God’s Word and proclaiming the Gospel. In this session, we were repeatedly pointed back to Jesus and that our motivation and strength is coming only from the joy as a sinner who is forgiven by the cross and resurrection of Christ. We were also taught how we can remind each other of our happiness of new life as children of God which embodies naturally in the area of Gospel, not of Law.
The third day was the seminar for church members. The participants learnt a clear understanding of Law and Gospel from Scripture and how this is lived out in their life as a Christian. We often misunderstand and are confused about the difference between Law and Gospel, but we could be led to true understanding through the study of the Scripture by Rev. Paul. We learned that the very basic meaning of the Gospel is God’s forgiveness of sin and that those who are given the forgiveness of sin can forward that forgiveness to their neighbors in their human relationships. Many of the participants were aroused by this teaching and filled with joy and hope which has given them the courage to confess their own sin and receive forgiveness. They also have courage to forgive other’s sin.
One of the participants who is a mother of a daughter had struggled many years about a wrong way of raising her daughter. She had a deep guilty feeling every time when she remember her nasty words and strict attitude which hurt her daughter’s heart. Her daughter is already an adult, but she wished to apologize to her for the many years this has happened in their relationship. In the lecture, she felt God’s guidance and after she returned home, she confessed her guilty feeling to her daughter and asked for forgiveness. Then that mother and daughter came to a true reconciliation, breaking down in tears in the peace of God.
One of the pastors who attended the seminar was also set free to confess his boast and hateful feeling against one fellow pastor. They made time to talk and they both proclaimed forgiveness of sin to each other. Their relationship was recovered by Christ and turned out to be a new relationship in God’s peace.
Add to these personal experiences, many pastors received encouragement in the area of their pastoral care. It is now coming from their own hearts because in the lectures Rev Paul ministered with the law like a mirror and he proclaimed forgiveness of sin, failure, guilt and shame. They could realize the forgiveness of sin is truly for themselves.
In Japanese culture, people are bound by shame because of the strong influence of the fusion of Buddhism, Confucianism, and Shintoism. Church members are no exception. But through the seminars, many people were released from the bondage of shame, focusing on Christ on the Cross who carried all the sin of the world. This great joy also filled the people through Rev Paul’s sermon in the Sunday service in Sanda Lutheran Church.
In the sight of Christian culture, Japan is a pagan culture and it is not easy to lead people to Christ. We, Kinki Evangelical Lutheran Church, stand on the theology of the Cross, not on the theology of prosperity which many people are looking for. So we face many difficulties in our church life and the center of Gospel often becomes unclear. We also have to fight against temptations which lead us to be like charismatic churches who gain many people and bigger money. So we always have to come back to learn what the true identity of the church is.
Through the three days of seminars in Biblical Reconciliation, we could affirm again the identity of the church as a Lutheran Church. We could regain the joy of the true Gospel. We have just started by this elementary part of the teaching of Biblical Reconciliation, but we want to practice what we have learned, and repeatedly come back to this basic teaching in order to expand and reach out with the Joy of Salvation.
We thank our God who led the seminars and gave us great hope. I pray God’s blessing over brothers and sisters in the Lutheran Church of Australia. “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthian 1:3
This story was also published in the August 2019 edition of Border Crossings, the magazine of LCA International Mission.
Many of our partner churches are working in new territory for the kingdom of God; therefore, spiritual attack is their everyday reality. As a member of a congregation, school, or family, or a couple or individual, you are invited to commit to praying for our partners in mission. For regular prayer point updates, go to www.lca.org.au/international-mission/act-now/pray
Read more stories about our partner church in Japan at http://www.lcamission.org.au/category/stories/international-partners/japan/