On November 30, a ceremony was held at Saitama Diocese Administration Office to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Saitama Missionary House. Honored by the presence of the former Shinbashira, this ceremony was attended by residents and former residents of the missionary house as well as concerned parties from within the diocese. The participants took advantage of the occasion to reflect upon the purpose for which the missionary house had been established as well as to commit themselves to accelerating their pace during this special season leading up the 120th Anniversary of Oyasama.
Missionary houses, such as this one, provide accommodation for followers aspiring to do missionary work away from their churches and homes. These missionaries spend a year devoting themselves to full-time missionary activities, which usually center around door-to-door missionary work.
Located within the Saitama Diocese Administration Office in Saitama City, 20 miles north of Tokyo, Saitama Missionary House has nurtured 128 residents during the two decades since its establishment. So far, the residents have visited homes in the district on a total of 558,000 occasions and have administered the Sazuke as many as 176,000 times.
The ceremony to commemorate the 20th anniversary began with a report given by Missionary House Director Setsuro Suga and two speeches in which former residents recounted their personal experiences at the missionary house.
The former Shinbashira then addressed the gathering. “Spreading the teachings,” he said, “is a task that ought to be embraced not only by you residents of missionary houses but also by everyone who has ever been taught by Oyasama. Most people, however, find themselves saddled with so many miscellaneous tasks and responsibilities in the course of their daily lives that it is not always possible to devote themselves full-time to spreading the teachings, however much they may wish to do so. This is the advantage of staying in a missionary house–it allows you to spend your days focused solely on sprinkling the fragrance of the teachings and working to save others. Moreover, it offers an environment where you can practice mutual help with the other residents and make spiritual growth together.”
He told the missionaries that, in the course of their salvation work, they are striving to help people receive blessings that will free them from illness or other problems, but he asked them to bear in mind that true salvation only occurs when those people who were shown blessings attain spiritual growth themselves and take it upon themselves to join in sprinkling the fragrance of the teachings on others.
After explaining that Oyasama had gone through many difficulties in order to demonstrate a model path we could follow, he told the listeners: “It goes without saying that your efforts to spread the teachings will not always turn out as you wish. At such times, I would encourage you to be patient and continue making sure and steady efforts, because the day will assuredly come when those efforts will blossom and bear fruit.”
The former Shinbashira went on to say: “We are now in the midst of conducting our pre-anniversary activities. Oyasama’s anniversaries are regarded as being special seasons for attaining spiritual growth, but we can hardly expect to grow spiritually unless we really want to. The key to making the most of this season, therefore, is to stay keenly aware that our priority is to attain spiritual growth, and then put forth the effort required to accomplish that.”
Following his address, one of the residents made a pledge on behalf of all the missionaries residing in the missionary house, and Diocese Superintendent Yoshinobu Takahashi gave a short talk in which he encouraged the residents to take the former Shinbashira’s advice to heart and do their best to sprinkle the fragrance of the teachings and save others during this important season leading up to the 120th Anniversary of Oyasama.