On May 31, the former Shinbashira visited the Ishikawa Diocese Administration Office to attend a ceremony commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Ishikawa Missionary House. The ceremony drew 150 participants, including residents and former residents of the missionary house.
At present, there are 16 missionary houses in Japan, three of which are for women. These missionary houses provide accommodation for followers aspiring to engage in independent missionary work away from their churches and homes. Residents spend a period of one year devoting themselves to full-time missionary activities, which usually center on sprinkling the fragrance of the teachings from door to door.
Ishikawa Missionary House, located in Kanazawa City, Ishikawa Prefecture, has nurtured 141 residents during the two decades since its establishment in April 1986, and it is presently accommodating 13 residents who entered the program in April this year.
After opening remarks from Ishikawa Missionary House Director Masao Muramoto, the former Shinbashira addressed the participants. “The most important location for spreading the teachings,” he said, “is your own community–the place where you will spend your lifetime. Why, then, do people temporarily uproot themselves from their communities to come stay at a missionary house for a year? Well, people trying to spread the teachings in their communities often find themselves saddled with so many responsibilities and miscellaneous tasks in the course of their daily lives that they cannot give priority to spreading the teachings. So, the advantage of staying at a missionary house is that it allows you to spend your days focused on sprinkling the fragrance of the teachings and working to save others without having to worry about other things. Moreover, it provides an environment where you can practice mutual help with the other residents and make spiritual growth together.”
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 produce immediate results. At such times, I would encourage you to be patient and continue making steady efforts, because the day will surely come when the seeds of sincerity you have sown will blossom and bear fruit.”
Reminding the listeners that they had only a little over half a year to complete their pre-anniversary activities, the former Shinbashira said: “Oyasama’s anniversaries are special seasons for spiritual growth, but we can hardly expect to grow spiritually unless we really want to. I encourage you, therefore, to focus your attention on making headway in your spiritual growth while serving in the tasks of single-hearted salvation. I am certain that such an effort will bear fruit.” He closed his address by asking the participants to summon up every last ounce of courage and fortitude during these final months leading up to the 120th Anniversary of Oyasama so that their missionary activities would show concrete results.
Following the former Shinbashira’s address, Ishikawa Diocese Superintendent Kiyoharu Yasuda gave a speech and two former residents recounted their personal experiences at the missionary house. The ceremony was brought to a close with the performance of the Yorozuyo, for which the former Shinbashira served as the singer and all the participants danced.