2024.04.11 Pre-departure Newsflash

Greetings from Kobe, where the Sakura (cherry blossoms) charmed us once again! The dawn of a bright spring was, as always, introduced by (Japanese) Nightingales’ energetic melodies all-around. Our long-awaited departure is coming up soon, so I share just a few snippets about our recent work. Please click on available links to read and see more. 

Great gathering in Okayama

The gathering of 250 Christian believers in Okayama—representing 54 RCJ congregations from the broader West Japan region—was a real privilege and joy to experience (20-21 March). After an inspiring time of worship and sharing eucharist, we were reminded (by our main speaker Prof. Takashi Yoshida) of the grace that we are created by God for embodied, in-person fellowship. So that Christ’s body can flourish, for the sake of the world. We discussed many topics, e.g. how to make the church a safe, welcoming space for everyone where people are cared for holistically, often starting from enjoying a meal together. A shared vision, which includes shared resources, vulnerabilities andknowledge/experience was also part of small group conversations. The church embodies the Kingdom of God in a unique way in (whatever) town/city. No other social organization can fulfill this calling!

Deeply encouraged by Hoopstad visit

We all need a healthy dose of encouragement, don’t we!? It’s exactly what we gratefully received through a blessed and strengthening time of fellowship with supporting friends—Johan and Elsabé du Plessis from Hoopstad—during the last few weeks. Together with co-missionaries Tobie and Annalie de Wet from RCJ Niihama, we shared our thoughts on Christ’s suffering from the Bible, sang, prayed, and enjoyed some delicious meals together. We also shared some tears and a lot of laughs. This was a very special (first ever Mission Japan) ‘Retreat’, made possible with NGK Hoopstad’s huge contributions and support. We experienced that the suffering and glory of Christ brings new hope in each of our unique situations while we celebrated Easter together.

Niihama ministry feedback

The ministry at RCJ Niihama has had its ups and downs since the De Wets started there a year ago. Keeping the focus on the basics of building community trust and evangelizing when opportunities arise, can be easier said than done. The recent visit of our Hoopstad supporting friends was a significant one at a challenging moment. Read more here and see photos of the events and interactions as Tobie and Annalie share about their experiences.

Graduation and Initiation @ KRTS

In Africa we say: you need a village to raise a child. Well, in Japan, at Kobe Reformed Theological Seminary (KRTS) it’s much the same: you need a faith community to raise and support a theological graduate. As we celebrated and congratuled those who graduated, we also recently welcomed a new team of four students who start a fresh journey to know God deeper and serve His Kingdom wholeheartedly.  Please pray for them to have a dynamic and meaningful start.

New book released about Mission Japan 

We are excited to share the good news about a new book that was recently published by CLF, coinciding with the 50th celebration of Mission Japan’s work. The book is titled: “Die liefde van Christus dring ons – Missie Japan”. The author of this book is dr. Pieter van Jaarsveld (previous Moderator of the DRC Free State), who serves on the management team of Mission Japan. Pieter visited Japan numerous times and, as pastor of DRC Bothaville congregation, received many guests from Japan. He continues to support Mission Japan as an enthusiastic, retired pastor. Click here to find our more about or, even better, to buy and read the book.

Earthquake disaster’s damage continues to challenge many

We stay involved, albeit more indirectly this time with the aftermath of the 7.6 magnitude earthquake that struck the Noto Peninsula on January 1. The disaster claimed 245 lives and injured 1,545 people; 27,661 houses were totally or partially destroyed and 7,484 people are still living in evacuation centers in Ishikawa Prefecture. Water supply is still cut off in many places and its restoration is still in progress, causing many challenges to those who have returned to their homes from the evacuation centres.

Mental health care for those affected by prolonged evacuation has become a major issue, with people experiencing sleep deprivation, fear of strong aftershocks, worsening dementia, and in some cases, suicidal thoughts. Several churches were in the worst affected areas. Two churches in Wajima, which were particularly close to the epicentre of the earthquake, were completely or partially destroyed. Worship services must be held at evacuation centres and other places. Many elderly members of these churches especially feel the deep loss of not having a place of worship. Please pray with us for God’s comfort and encouraging presence amidst their fear.

England and Scotland visit enroute to South Africa

I started teaching Missiology as a subject at KRTS in 2023, as part of our training of theological students for church ministry. Mission Japan, in collaboration with KRTS’s faculty in Kobe, approved a research opportunity (which already started in April 2022) to help me prepare a curriculum for this. During May I will visit the Oxford Center for Mission Studies (OCMS) for research (study leave), discussions and giving a lecture, as part of OCMS’s Guided Research Programme. This visit, and the three-year long research program, is primarily made financially possible by a generous scholarship from KRTS, as well as by my own research funds (through publications). It is also supplemented by contributions from Partners in Mission (DRC Free State Synod) and a benefactor friend. All the support is humbling and sincerely appreciated. 

This visit will happen along with Carina and our children and we’re looking forward to a unique educational and formational opportunity. We will also make a short stop in Scotland at the Edinburgh Theological Seminary to meet a colleague in Mission Studies. I am also very grateful to have received two preaching opportunities on the Isle of Arran, and a free manse to utilize as a family for a couple of days. 

Other ministries, encounters and events

The past month or so included quite a few other events, encounters and other work that I only briefly list here below. The photos tell the stories further.

l  I recently completed an article titled Proclaiming and Embodying Peace in Pacifist Japan. Click here to read about its background, and the article itself.

l  On Easter Sunday I preached at RCJ Shinko Church and I shared a Bible message about Christ’s resurrection on a Christian Radio Station.

l  Some of our Mission Japan leaders and RCJ Shikoku leaders discussed a review of the existing MOU which aligns our missionary partnership. 

l  We (as a family) received many other guests, from New Zealand, Netherlands and USA at different occasions (Carina’s plate was full with hospitality responsibilities over and above her work at RCJ Kita Kobe and as homeschooling teacher). 

l  I attended the RCJ Western Presbytery meeting (9-10 April) where many new church leaders were welcomed and reports on the presbytery’s relationship with churches in South Africa, South Korea, USA and Hungary were reported on.  

l  I joined the RCJ Diaconal Study Tour group members, who held a meeting in Takarazuku recently. We discussed and finalized some important issues, in preparation for our upcoming visit to South Africa at the end of August. I will introduce the group members in a next newsflash. 

l  Thankful for opportunities to preach at RCJ Niihama and Otokoyama (Kyoto) congregations in March. This weekend (14 April) a last opportunity awaits at RCJ Shiga-Setsuri.

l  We also shared the joy of Annlie’s ballet concert for which she trained very hard, as well as being part of two beloved (Japanese and Korean) KRTS students’ engagement ceremony.

  We deeply appreciate your ongoing support and involvement and eagerly look forward to meeting you in South Africa (from 24 May) or elsewhere in person soon. We request and value your prayers for the ministry opportunities mentioned, for God’s grace, protection and blessing in everything.

May the joy and peace of Christ direct your every step.

Stéphan, Carina, Annlie, Cornelius, Lodewyk, Stephan

2024.04.09 Peace and Pacifism article

I recently completed an article titled Proclaiming and Embodying Peace in Pacifist Japan: a Reformed Church Perspective (accepted to be published in the peer-reviewed journal Ecclesial Futures in June 2024). The article can be downloaded here below.

The article focusses on participating in God’s shalom and covers public witness as an integral part of the church’s mission, reflected by the recently released Peace Declaration by the Reformed Church in Japan (RCJ). The importance of the discourse on world peace, pacifism and shalom is self-evident in the light of growing global tensions and a massive change in Japanese policy regarding peace and pacifism.

The research finds itself in the middle of very important international issues, i.e. world peace, global conflict, Christian witness in a world of growing tension. The article highlights the significance of the public witness of the Christian church and a theological foundation for pacifism. Given the fact that the original declaration was written in Japanese, this reflection on the origin and theological foundation of the Peace Declaration gives a readable insight in the theological background of the declaration.

See also the following link to a related article I wrote in this blog (in December 2023).http://www.missiejapan.co.za/algemeen/2023-12-01-vrede-opnuut-bely-en-beliggaam/

2024.04.04 Niihama Nuusbrokkie

Liewe Vriende

Sedert ons laaste kommunikasie (19 Februarie!!), het mooi positiewe dinge hier gebeur:

Alhoewel die nie-Christen dame nog nie weer kerk toe gekom het nie (ons hou wel kontak met haar), het die lidmaat wat haar met haar negatiewe opmerking weggejaag het en klaarblyklik sleg en skaam gevoel het en gesê het dat sy vir eers nie eredienste sal bywoon nie, amper dadelik weer kerk toe gekom (natuurlik na talle reguit en openlike pastorale gesprekke). Ons glo sy en ons almal het ‘n goeie les uit dit geleer. Kan amper sê dat dit nogal nodig was om almal se oë oop te maak vir die primêre rede waarom die kerk hier is! Alhoewel die opmerking van die lidmaat ons op daardie oomblik diep geskok en ontstel en ontmoedig het.

In my prediking en ons gesprekke word die hooftaak van die kerk, van elke gemeente en van elke gelowige voortdurend beklemtoon: volg en gehoorsaam Jesus om die buitenstaanders en verlorenes te soek en te bedien. “Die hooftaak van die Kerk is die evangelisering van die wêreld!” 
Al is RCJ Niihama ‘n piepklein sendingpossie met meestal ouer dames, is dit ook ons en elkeen se hooftaak — nie na binne nie, maar na buite gerig. Ons is almal sendelinge!

In hierdie maand het ons twee Annalie se verjaardag (12 Maart) gevier en op Saterdag 30 Maart ons 50ste Huweliksherdenking. ‘n Groep jonger lidmate van Tokushima gemeente het ‘n tyd voor die geleenthede vir ons al die pad kom haal om in ‘n luukse hotel beide geleenthede saam te vier.
Dit is 50 jaar gelede dat ons huweliks bevestiging in PE-Wes NG kerk niks anders was as ‘n “Uitstuurdiens as sendelinge na Japan.” Wat ‘n genade-voorreg om dit 50 jaar later weer terug in Japan te kan vier.

Die hoogtepunt van die afgelope tyd is definitief die besoek van Elsabé en Johan du Plessis, afgevaardig deur Hoopstad NGK gemeente om ons sendelinge hier op die veld te bemoedig en aan te moedig (sendelinge versorging). Ons het eers ‘n twee-dae retreate in Kobe saam met die Van der Watt-gesin gehad wat deur Elsabe en Johan gelei is.

Daarna is hulle twee saam met ons hier na Niihama waar hulle ons die Saterdag vergesel het met die viering van ons huweliksherdenking, die Sondag die erediens bygewoon en ‘n goeie tyd met die lidmate kon deurbring.

Maandag het ons toe, met Johan en Elsabé hier, weer ‘n spesiale Afrika Dag gereel met ‘n tipiese Afrika-braai en ‘n verskeidenheid Afrikaanse geregte, krummelpap, KWV wyn ens. Ons was altesaam 21 mense waarvan 16 uit die omgewing van buite die kerk was. Dit was regtig ‘n mooi gesellige geleentheid wat hopelik die mense ‘n positiewe ervaring van die kerk en Christene gegee het.

Nogmaals dankie vir elkeen se biddende meelewing met die kerk en werk ook hier in Japan.


Tobie en Annalie

2024.03.06 SA besoek oppad

By KRTS leer ons nie net oor teologie in klaskamers nie,
maar ook daarbuite deur saam-skoonmaak én saam-sorg vir ons omgewing.  

‘n Laaste paar verdwaalde sneeuvlokkies word die afgelope dae rondgeslinger deur die winde van verandering. Vroeg-oggend hoor ek reeds (‘n paar weke vroeër as gewoonlik) die Japannese nagtegaal sing. Duidelike en helder tekens van die lente wat oppad is in Kobe. Hoe draai die seisoen aan jou kant, terwyl Lydenstyd verdiep?

Deputasie op die horison

Daar’s ‘n ellelange lys van onlangse ontmoetings en gebeure uit ons bediening, maar terugvoer daaroor sal moet oorstaan tot ‘n volgende nuusflits. Dan vertel ek in detail meer. Hierdie keer fokus ek net op ons opkomende deputasie besoek aan Suid-Afrika: 24 Mei tot 7 September. 

Die doel is hoofsaaklik: besoeke / terugvoer aan (soveel as moontlik) ondersteunende gemeentes en individue, strategiese beplanning en visionering saam met Missie Japan leiers, asook broodnodige rus en kuiertyd saam met familie en vriende. Tussen 22 Aug en 2 Sept sluit ‘n groep van ses Japannese besoekers uit die RCJ ook by ons aan vir ‘n diakonale studietoer. Ons besoek word voorafgegaan deur ‘n tyd van studieverlof en preekbeurte, onderskeidelik in Engeland (by OCMS) en Skotland. Meer daaroor ook volgende keer.

Voorlopige besoek skedule

Die besoekpunte / afsprake wat al vasgeknoop is in SA, is soos volg:  

Vr. 24 Mei: Land in Kaapstad

So. 2 Jun: George

Do. 6 Jun: Vanstadensrivier/ Gqeberha

So. 9 Jun: Humansdorp

Di. 11 Jun: Worcester

Wo. 12 Jun: Op die Berg (Ceres)

Do. 13 Jun: Bonnievale 

So. 16 Jun: Stilbaai

So. 23 Jun: Riversdal 

So. 30 Jun: Albertinia

So. 7 Jul: Stellenbosch-Wes

Do. 11 Jul: Graaff-Reinet en Aliwal-Noord

Vr. 12 Jul: Bloemfontein (Pellissier Sending-konferensie)

Sa. 13 Jul: Bloemfontein (Pellissier) en Hoopstad

So. 14 Jul: Hoopstad en Bloemfontein 

So. 21 Jul: Bredasdorp

So. 28 Jul: Swellendam

Di. 30 Jul: Missie Japan AGM (Stilbaai)

Wo. 31 Jul: Missie Japan AGM (Stilbaai)

Do. 1 Aug: Missie Japan AGM (Stilbaai)

So. 4 Aug: Stellenbosch (Moederkerk) en La Rochelle

So. 11 Aug: Groot Brakrivier

So. 18 Aug: Welgemoed

Do. 22 Aug: Heroldsbaai (ontvang groep uit Japan)

Vr. 23 Aug: Heroldsbaai en George

Sat. 24 Aug: Buffeljagsrivier en Swellendam

Son. 25 Aug: Buffeljagsrivier, Swellendam en Stellenbosch (Kruiskerk)

Ma. 26 Aug: Wellington (Kaapkerk Diaconia by AMSS)

Di. 27 Aug: Wellington (Kaapkerk Diaconia by AMSS) 

Wo. 28 Aug: Pretoria Univ. (Konferensie oor Diakonaat)

Do. 29 Aug: Pretoria Univ. (Konferensie) en Drie Riviere

Vr. 30 Aug: Bothaville en Hoopstad

Sa. 31 Aug: Botshabelo Diakonale Projek

So. 1 Sep: Bloemfontein (Berg-en-Dal en Pellissier)

Sa. 7 Sep: Vertrek na Japan (uit Kaapstad)

Ons sien uit om jou iewers by een/meer van die bg. geleenthede te sien! Ons basis is op Stilbaai te danke aan Carina se ouers wat hulle huis vir ons beskikbaar stel. Wat ons wel nog oor kopkrap is vervoer. Kan jy dalk help? (lees verder)

Bid asb. saam met ons vir als wat voorlê (meer gebedsversoeke hieronder).

Vrede en vreugde,
Stéphan, Carina, Annlie, Cornelius, Lodewyk en Stephan


Ons gaan ‘n groot motor moet huur in SA om as gesin saam te kan reis.

Daarom neem ons vrymoedigheid om te vra of daar dalk individue / kleingroepe / gemeentes is, wat hierdie uitgawes as spesiale projek wil aanneem voor ons koms.

As jy / julle ‘n bydrae wil maak, kontak my @ jsvdwatt@gmail.com of

Sanet Annandale by die Missie Japan kantoor @ sanet@ngkvs.co.za  

*** Missie Japan bankbesonderhede ***

Rekeningnaam | Missie Japan

Bank | ABSA

Takkode | 632005

Rekeningnommer | 4049690248

Verwysing | Eie Naam & Van + DEPUTASIE


  • Vier nuwe studente wat in April deel word van KRTS, en hulle gesinne.
  • Johan en Elsabé du Plessis wat ons einde Maart namens NG Kerk Hoopstad en Missie Japan besoek t.w.v. ons emosioneel-geestelike ondersteuning.
  • Heropbou en ondersteuningswerk in aardbewing rampgebied.
  • Tobie en Annalie de Wet se bediening by RCJ Niihama – vir die Here se leiding en sorg in alles.
  • Ons gesondheid en voorbereiding vir deputasie en ander besoeke.
  • Stéphan se preekbeurte en seminare by RCJ Otokoyama (Kyoto), RCJ Shinkō (Kobe) en RCJ Shiga-Setsuri (Shiga) in die komende weke

2024.01.16 Earthquake Disaster News

‘NOTO HELP’ volunteers getting ready to distribute relief supplies in Ishikawa Prefecture
(Photo Credit: https://www.facebook.com/notohelp)

The RCJ Diaconal Action Comitee (representing the Reformed Church in Japan) on which I serve, keep on supporting and are raising funds for long-term support, in close cooperation our local leaders at RCJ Kanazawa church (as mentioned in my previous newsflash).

Primary relief efforts are ongoing amid snowy weather and includes the distribution of gasoline/kerosene oil cans, water, heaters, clothes, etc. Rev. Hideyuki Urushizaki and his wife regularly visit evacuation centres close to their church with supplies, and are also trying hard to reach the worst hit areas in Wajima.

This relief work is done alongside Japan’s Self-Defence Force initiatives, as well as the newly established Christian (inter-denominational) organisation called ‘NOTO HELP’ (https://www.facebook.com/notohelp ). At its second meeting para-church support groups like Crash Japan, Hunger Zero and other organisations, that have been supporting the affected areas, also attended. With their experience and knowledge, cooperation to set up a coordinated support system was rapidly strengthened. Rev. Urushizaki also fulfills a strategic role (finance secretary) on the steering committee of NOTO HELP (能登ヘルプ).

Please pray with us for these efforts, and for our brothers and sisters on the frontline who make the light and compassion of Christ shine in the aftermath of the recent earthquake. The recovery process is tough and there is a long, challenging road ahead. 

May God’s grace and peace sustain all involved!


Photo Credit: https://www.facebook.com/notohelp

2024.01.06 Ramp-flits

Aardskuddende afskop in 2024

‘Ramspoedige Nuwejaar!’, is nié wat jy wil hoor op die eerste dag van Januarie nie. Nuwejaarsdag is normaalweg ‘n feestelike dag om iets te doen wat jy elke jaar geniet. Vir miljoene mense in Japan is die eerste drie dae van Januarie gewoonlike ‘n sonderlinge kans om saam met familie deur te bring. En om saam spesiale disse te geniet en laaaang verkeersknope rondom winkel- en tempelbesoeke te trotseer. Rituele wat oudergewoonte vir Japannese ‘n voorspelbare ritme tuisbring.  

Maar 2024 het vir duisende mense in die Ishikawa en Niigata provinsies (Noto skiereiland en verder) op ‘n onvoorspelbare, aardskuddende noot begin. Meer rampspoedig as voorspoedig. Traumaties, ontwrig en gevul met verlies. Soektogte vir oorlewendes gaan voort, maar meer as 80 mense is reeds dood en meer as 500 beseer. Duisende huise en ander geboue het inmekaar getuimel en baie paaie is oopgeskeur en omgedolwe, wat reddingswerkers se pogings bemoeilik. Onsself is ongedeerd en ver van die gebied waar die aardbewing se oorsprong was, maar nie onaangeraak nie. Ons is diep bewus van die nood en in solidariteit met dié wat daaronder ly. Herinneringe van soortgelyke rampe (20112016 en 2018) waarby ons betrokke was, is nog vars in ons geheue. 

Daar is twee RCJ gemeentes by wie ons—as deel van die RCJ sinode se diakonale aksie komitee—betrokke is. Deur middel van twee plaaslike leraars in die rampgebied, is ons ore op die grond om te hoor waar ondersteuning benodig word. In die snerpende winterkoue het ds. Hideyuki Urushizaki (RCJ Kanazawa gemeente) byvoorbeeld die afgelope week deurentyd komberse, flitse, water, kos asook ander middele vanuit die gemeente help uitdeel waar nodig. Hy is ook besig om op allerhande maniere die veiligheid en versorging van veral ouer lidmate en andere te probeer verseker, terwyl Japannese weermag personeel en ander reddingswerkers onverpoos help. Sommige ander kerke in die Wajima gebied is ook erg beskadig en heelwat lidmate se huise is vernietig. Ons diakonale komitee is besig om volgende stappe van ondersteuning te ondersoek.   

Dubbele ramp lê ons weerloosheid bloot

Vanjaar se begin het my opnuut laat besef daar is baie tipes rampe in ons lewens. Daar is gebeure waarvoor ons onsself kan probeer gereedmaak en voorberei, deur paraat en weerbaar te probeer wees. Tot ‘n mate. En dan is daar dié rampe wat ons menslike grense totaal oorweldig en ons ongevraagd meesleur.

Een dag ná Maandag se aardbewing was daar ‘n seldsame vliegtuig ramp in Tokio. Alle ondersoeke dui op iemand se nalatigheid. ‘n Kommunikasie gaping tussen Haneda lughawe se terminaal toring en die loods van ‘n klein reddingsvliegtuig het ‘n botsing veroorsaak tussen dié een en ‘n inkomende vliegtuig. Japannese vlugpersoneel (op die inkomende vliegtuig) se kalmte en fokus in die (letterlike) hitte van die oomblik, het ‘n wonderbaarlike noue ontkoming moontlik gemaak. Die haarfyn lyn tussen lewe en dood, vir 379 mense aanboord die brandende vliegtuig, is bepaal deur die foutlose ontruiming. Vyf kuswag reddingswerkers—wat oppad was na die aardbewing rampgebied vir noodlenigingswerk in die kleiner vliegtuig—het ongelukkig nie die dood ontsnap nie. 

Ondersteuning, hoop en gebed

Die nagevolge van hierdie rampe is verreikend en uiteenlopend. Bid asb. saam vir die geteisterdes, veral vir die mees brose slagoffers: bejaardes, gestremde persone, baba’s en geïsoleerdes. Meer as 32000 mense is in tydelike skuilings in Ishikawa provinsie en die ergste winterkoue en sneeu is oppad. Die trauma en skok laat diep wonde, psigies-emosioneel en fisies. Bid ook vir reddingswerkers vir krag en wysheid, en vir Christene se getuienis in woord en daad. 

Ons is in die tyd van Epifanie. Die Lig, wat opnuut onder ons kom woon het die afgelope Kersfees, (ver)skyn helder in die donkerste nag. Selfs die diepste, oënskynlik hopelose verwoesting wat rampe voor ons slinger, kan Christus se Lig nie uitdoof nie. Psalm 46 se woorde weerklink ook in ons gedagtes: God is vir ons ‘n toevlug en ‘n beskerming; Hy was nog altyd bereid om te help in nood. Daarom is ons nie bang nie, al gee die aarde pad, al skuif die berge tot in die dieptes van die see, al druis en skuim die waters van die see, al skud die berge deur sy onstuimigheid.

Mag die Here jou vanjaar omvou met Sy genaderyke teenwoordigheid in alles, tydig en ontydig, rampspoedig en voorspoedig.


Stéphan, Carina en gesin (ook namens ds. Tobie en Annalie de Wet in Niihama)

2023-12-01 VREDE: opnuut bely en beliggaam

Japan se self-verdedigingsmag se werwings-advertensie
(Foto krediet: https://www.mod.go.jp/gsdf/jieikanbosyu/)

VREDE. ‘n Gesogte woord in vandag se wêreld vol haat en konflik. Jesus het vredemakers as geseënde kinders van God beskryf (Matt. 5), maar deesdae word hulle soms geïgnoreer of gekritiseer as romantiese dromers wat uit voeling is met realiteit.  

Die versugting na vrede: wêreldwyd, verál ook in Japan

Miljoene mense smag na vrede terwyl die skrikwekkende vernietiging van ‘n toenemende aantal outoritêre owerhede wêreldwyd onverpoosd voortsleep. Huidige oorlogsituasies wys vir ons dat diegene wat doelbewus in die pad staan van vreedsame transformasie, dikwels gewelddadige verandering onvermydelik maak. Globale gewapende konflikte—huidiglik ongeveer 110 in totaal—dien as ‘n waarskuwing vir ons, om nie die komplekse stryd tussen goed en kwaad te oorvereenvoudig nie. Ons kan nie sondermeer kant kies en die wêreld verdeel in ‘onderdrukker’ en ‘onderdrukte’, óf ‘koloniseerder’ en ‘gekoloniseerde’ nie. As ons sulke rigiede standpunte inneem, lei dit dikwels tot vreemde gevolgtrekkings, soos tot die idee dat onskuldige burgerlikes wat vermoor word, dit op een of ander manier verdien. Wat glashelder is vandag, is dat die verwonde wêreld waarin ons leef desperaat is vir vrede.

Wanneer ons oor oorlog vanuit die Verre Ooste gesels, is dit belangrik om te onthou dat Japan beide ‘n verslane aggresor en ‘n verwoeste slagoffer in die Tweede Wêreldoorlog (WOII) was. Nietemin is vrede in Japan sedert 1947—kort ná die einde van WOII, met die aanvaarding ‘n nuwe, pasifistiese grondwet—hoog op dié land se agenda. Maar vrede is veel meer as ‘n agendapunt; dis die fondament waarop Japan gebou is ná WOII. ‘Wat het Japan se grondwet met my te doen?’, sou jy kon vra. Gegewe die reikwydte (globale invloed) van Japan se sosio-ekonomiese, politieke en militêre potensiaal, moet jy dalk nie te gou ‘niks’ antwoord nie.

Die afgelope dekades is ‘n meer outoritêre en regs-gesinde regering merkbaar aan die groei in Japan. Soos voor WOII klink nationalistiese stemme helderder op en vind Staat-Shinto weer ‘n vaster plek aan die samelewing se (godsdiens)tafel. Inisiatiewe om die grondwet (artikel 9) te wysig ten einde Japan opnuut weerbaar en oorlogs-magtig te maak, kring uit en word versterk. As die grondwet wysiging inwerking gestel word, kan dit moontlik reusagtige rampspoedige gevolge hê, wat almal op aarde se lewens ingrypend kan raak.

Ons sien ook ‘n beduidende toename in die vlak van sekuriteit-samewerking in Oos-Asië die afgelope tyd. Suid-Korea, VSA en Japan het onlangs hul eerste gesamentlike lugmag oefeninge uitgevoer, wat ‘n kernkrag-magtige B-52 strategiese bomwerper vliegtuig van die VSA ingesluit het. Japan se ministerie van verdediging het die afgelope paar maande ‘n rekordbegroting van ¥7,7 triljoen goedgekeur om die selfverdedigingsmagte (SDF) te herstruktureer en hulle toe te rus met ‘n enorme arsenaal van wapens asook met ‘n nuwe gesamentlike hoofkwartier, wat Japan in staat sal stel om betrokke te raak in langtermyn konflikte in die Indiese/Stille oseaan streek. Die afgelope maande het werwingsadvertensies vir die Japannese SDF landwyd selfs in supermarkte verskyn. Vlakke van waaksaamheid en angstige onsekerheid in die samelewing neem aansienlik toe.

Vredesverklaring: Reformed Church in Japan (RCJ)

In die lig van hierdie realiteite, het die RCJ—amptelike susterskerk van die NG Kerk-familie met wie ons al langer as vyf dekades saam getuieniswerk doen in die Verre Ooste— die afgelope tyd opnuut en dieper oor vrede nagedink. Die uitvloeisel van RCJ se nadenke en studie is ‘n Vredesverklaring wat, in ‘n sekere sin, geïnisieer as ‘n reaksie op die Japannese regering se voorgestelde Grondwet verandering. Die verklaring is by die pas afgelope RCJ sinode in Oktober aanvaar en uitgereik.

Die Vredesverklaring spreek egter nie net profeties tot / lewer kritiek op belangrike besluite wat tydens oorlogtye geneem word nie, maar lei ook die Kerk in haar getuienis buite oorlogstye. Bybels-gebaseerde vrede strek immers veel wyer en dieper as die blote afwesigheid van oorlog. Die vrede wat Christus gee is anders as ons menslike vrede (Joh. 14:27) en is verknoop aan God se geregtigheid en troue liefde (barmhartigheid). Die vraag, ‘Hoe behoort ons nou te lewe om God se shalom te realiseer?’ moet voortdurend beantwoord word. As die liggaam van Christus in Japan, word die RCJ gerig deur Christus-gesentreerde Bybelse teologie, wat ons aanspoor om op dieper geestelike realiteite te fokus sonder om onbetrokke te wees by die onbeskryflike lyding rondom ons.

Hierdie Vredesverklaring kan dien as ‘n gedeelde grondslag vir nadenke oor ‘n komplekse verskeidenheid kwessies, vanuit die perspektief van vrede. Byvoorbeeld, in mense se daaglikse lewens waar strukturele geweld—sigbaar in sosiale onreg, armoede, diskriminasie, menseregteskendings en omgewingsvernietiging—toenemend die reg om in vrede te lewe ondermyn, kan hierdie verklaring die volgende generasie vredemakers help kweek.

Deel van die breër liggaam van Christus se inisiatiewe 

Die RCJ, ‘n klein maar lewenskragtige kerk in ‘n 99% nie-Christelike land, word geroep om ‘n sterk en geloofwaardige getuie van God se vrede en geregtigheid te wees. Die RCJ se Vredesverklaring is ‘n getuienis, in aksie, as deel van die globale Christelike geloofsgemeenskap. Kerke oraloor word byvoorbeeld deur die Wêreldraad van Kerke (WRK) aangemoedig om op hul geloofspad hand-in-hand te loop saam met medemense op ‘n pelgrimstog van geregtigheid en vrede. Om saam met ander pro-aktief te streef om ongeregtighede en geweld te transformeer.

As ‘n konkrete voorbeeld van hierdie pelgrimstog het die WRK ook onlangs ‘n Emerging Peacemakers Forum vir jong leiers geïnisieer. By ‘n internasionale vergadering vir vrede, wat in September 2023 in Berlyn gehou is, het WRK Algemene Sekretaris, Jerry Pillay kragtig aangevoer: ‘Indeed, it takes courage to choose peace as it often implies taking risks, pushing boundaries, and daring to be different, to be disliked, to be criticized and even to be condemned. In today’s complex world, achieving and maintaining peace is perhaps one of the most audacious acts imaginable.’

In ander globale kerkkringe het die World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) ook haar stem gevoeg by die ‘New Agenda for Peace’ wat in Julie 2023 deur die Verenigde Nasies (VN) bekendgestel is. Die WEA streef daarna om aktief deel te neem aan Christus se oproep tot vredemaking en die skepping van samelewings wat gekenmerk word deur ‘positiewe vrede‘. Daarom het die WEA se Vrede en Versoeningsnetwerk by die wêreldwye gesprek aangesluit deur hul bydrae by die VN in te dien. Die RCJ se Vredesverklaring kan tereg beskou word as ‘n relevante, plaaslike uitdrukking van só ‘n begeerte om by te dra tot die breër public good, of in Bybelse terme: tot God se shalom op aarde.

Uitnodiging tot gesprek en aksie

Die Vredesklaring is gemik op ‘n wyer gehoor as net Japan. Daar is verskeie redes waarom dit belangrik is vir diegene buite die RCJ om met die Vredesverklaring se inhoud in gesprek te tree. Eerstens kan so ‘n gesprek alle deelnemers verryk en verruim. Ons Christelike geloof neem vorm aan en groei dieper en wyer oor politieke, kulturele en taalgrense heen. Die Kerk van Jesus Christus is tegelyk universeel en plaaslik van aard. Ons het nodig om gereeld herinner te word aan die groter werklikheid van God se werk regoor die wêreld.

Tweedens moet die tema van vrede opsigself deurentyd blootgestel word aan hernude verkenning en gesprek onder Christene in die algemeen. In oorlogstye behoort ons verlange na vrede sterker te groei. Ander items op ons sosio-politieke agenda kan kwalik nou meer dringend wees. ‘n Veranderende post-Covid-wêreldorde dwing ons om vars aandag te skenk aan die dringende realisering van God drie-enig se vrede en geregtigheid.

Derdens bied die RCJ se Vredesverklaring ‘n unieke perspektief van (gereformeerde) Christene in Japan: die enigste nasie in die wêreld wat die onuitwisbare verwoesting van atoombomme deurleef het. Jou susters en broers in Japan het iets om te deel wat ter harte geneem moet word. Jou insette en deelname kan uiters waardevol wees. Daar is immers, ten spyte van ons radikale verskille, ‘net één liggaam en net één Gees, soos daar net één hoop is waartoe God julle geroep het.’ (Efes. 4:4)

Mag jy in hierdie Advent- en Kersfeestyd die Prins van Vrede opnuut ontmoet en Sy vrede ondervind en deel.



RCJ Sinode in Kobe (19 Oktober 2023), waarby die Vredesverklaring aanvaar is.

Aanbieding in Manila

Dit was ‘n voorreg om verlede week die Asië konferensie van die International Association of Mission Studies (IAMS) by te woon wat in die Filippyne (Manila) gehou is. Ek is baie dankbaar vir Kobe Reformed Theological Seminary (KRTS) wat my deelname geborg het. Die referaat wat ek gelewer het, was getiteld ‘Proclaiming and Embodying Peace in Japan: a Reformed Church Perspective’. Die agtergrond van die aanbieding was die bg. RCJ Vredesverklaring.

Die konferensie was ‘n unieke geleentheid om baie ander deelnemers van regoor die wêreld te ontmoet, veral uit die breër Asië-streek. Ek kon nuwe netwerke vorm in die vakgebied van Missiologie om sodoende beter toegerus te wees vir my onderrigwerk by KRTS. Maar meer nog, dis ‘n voorreg om deel te wees van ‘n groep mense wat vredemakers is in hulle onderskeie kontekste en meewerk aan sosiale transformasie deur Christelike getuienis. Die foto’s en video hieronder vertel meer …

2023.11.09 Suid-Afrika besoek

“Gaan jou hele gesin saam?”, vra die student my nou die dag verbaas toe ek vertel van ons beoogde besoek aan Suid-Afrika in 2024. Vir hom—wat in sy 50’s by KRTS kom studeer het, sonder sy gesin vir ‘n volle 4 jaar—is dit nie ‘n gegewe (soos vir ons Westerlinge) dat ek nie alleen vir ‘n paar maande die groot uittog sal aanpak nie …

Nietemin, ek is bly en dankbaar om te deel dat Missie Japan se leierskap onlangs ons planne goedgekeur het vir ons volgende deputasie na Suid-Afrika, en ja … as gesin!

Ná ‘n vyfde termyn van werk in Japan, is ons planne om 24 Mei tot 7 September 2024 in SA te wees vir terugvoer aan ondersteuners, besoeke, verlof/rus en meer. Ons is opgewonde oor die vooruitsig en tref reeds aktief reëlings vir vele ontmoetings. Ons besoek sal hierdie rondte ook ‘n groep Japannese besoekers uit die RCJ insluit, wat op ‘n diakonale studietoer by ons sal aansluit einde Augustus.

Twee dinge is veral uitdagend i.t.v. logistiek en finansies:

l  Ons gaan ‘n (groot) motor benodig vir die drie en ‘n half maande. 

l  Vlugkostes is hoog en ‘n buitengewone item op Missie Japan se begroting. 

Daarom neem ons vrymoedigheid om te vra of daar dalk individue / kleingroepe / gemeentes is wat hierdie uitgawes as spesiale projek wil aanneem voor ons koms?

Baie dankie dat jy saam met ons sal bid en vertrou vir wat nodig is in 2024. Die Here gaan ons vooruit, daarvan is ons seker en dit gee ons vrede.

Sterkte en seën met dié besige tyd van die jaar!

Stéphan, Carina en gesin

NS: Hieronder is ‘n paar grepies (foto’s) uit ons afgelope maand se bedieninge / interaksies.

As jy / julle kleingroep of gemeente miskien ‘n bydrae wil maak, 
kontak my @ jsvdwatt@gmail.com of 
Sanet Annandale by die Missie Japan kantoor @ sanet@ngkvs.co.za

*** Missie Japan bankbesonderhede ***
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2023-10-19 RCJ Peace Declaration


(Original Japanese version follows here below)



As we approach the 80th commemoration of the end of the Second World War, our world is now amid new international political tensions. In particular, the political and military tensions in East Asia that have manifested since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine at the beginning of 2022, foreshadow the advent of another ‘age of war’, in which even the use of nuclear weapons is increasingly becoming a reality.

In the context of these circumstances, we, the Reformed Church in Japan, as a church living from the ‘Gospel of Peace’ realised by the Lord Jesus Christ, hereby declare our calling and responsibility for peace in this country and in the world. 

In our founding declaration and in our 30th anniversary ‘Declaration of Faith Concerning Church and State’, we confessed the sins of Japanese Christian churches committed against God and our neighbours during WWII. Such sins include that they did not resist the military-led government’s policy of church unification, and that, except for a handful of witnesses, they did not boldly assert the Biblical truth nor fulfil their prophetic duty of being a watchful guard against the state. In addition, they even indulged in state Shinto rituals that deified the emperor and furthermore refused to identify with their brothers and sisters in (neighbouring) Asian countries, thereby actively cooperating in the aggressive invasions that were waged in the name of holy war.

We, the Reformed Church in Japan, confess that we bear joint responsibility for the sins committed before the eyes of the Lord by the Japanese churches during the war. At the same time, and under the grace of religious freedom granted after the war, we founded our Reformed Church on the Word of God and on a theistic (Christian) world view. We have worked hard for mission and church formation, asserting the autonomy of the Church over the State. However, when we reconsider our history, we acknowledge that we have lacked the strength and zeal to respond to our mission as a church living from the gospel of peace. We admit that we have not truly expressed enough empathy and awareness, especially towards those who have suffered social or ethnic discrimination within and outside the church, and for this we beg for forgiveness before the Lord.

After its defeat, Japan reflected on the war and pledged in its Constitution (Preamble and Article 9) never to wage war again, thereby renouncing war itself. This pacifism and renunciation of war are the starting points of post-war Japan and the origin to which the Japanese people should return again and again. On the other hand—as is clear in cases like the Korean people in Japan and the Okinawa issue—we must not forget that the post-war period was built on the sacrifice of those who were deprived of their basic human rights because they were ousted for being different, to maintain the Japanese state system centered on the emperor.

Today, as the memories of the disastrous war fade, legislation is being developed to make it possible to wage war again without questioning its consistency with the Constitution. Defense spending is being increased and the installation of offensive weapons are being pushed ahead. Moreover, the justice administration is abandoning the state’s violation of the separation of religion/church and politics/state, while the movement to restore the power of state Shinto and to revise the constitution has not abated. Furthermore, it is impossible to overlook the fact that the power of ‘structural violence’ is continually expanding in the actual lives of the people living in this country. This power devalues the weak in favour of economic efficiency, including poverty, discrimination, human rights violations, and environmental destruction, which undermines the right to live in peace.

Amid these realities we pledge our commitment to the realisation of Christ’s peace, as we pray for the Lord’s mercy and sense that now is the time to respond to his words, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Mat 5:9), and as we clarify our responsibility to the Church today and to the future Church: not to repeat past mistakes.


‘All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation’ (2 Cor 5:18).

‘Peace’ (shalom), as the Bible describes it, means not only the absence of war or strife, but above all freedom and happiness in a spiritual relationship with God, physical wellbeing, and material contentment, as well as harmony and joy in human relationships. Peace is nothing less than the ‘very good’ world given to us by God the Creator (Gen 1:31). However, us humans, because of our own desires and self-centredness, have destroyed and corrupted this peace, bringing about a world full of violence and chaos that is hostile to God and indifferent to our neighbours. Nevertheless, the God of peace loves humanity and sent his Son to restore true peace to this world. Jesus Christ, Son of God, not only healed those who were vulnerable and sick, nor only satisfied the hungry and gave joy to their hearts, but he also broke down the dividing wall of hostility by his suffering and death on the cross, thereby establishing eternal peace.

The Lord Jesus Christ himself is our peace (Eph 2:14). The Church of Christ is therefore a community that worships God in unity and joy in the Holy Spirit of the Lord, that respects all people, that embodies the peace of Christ towards its neighbour, and that lives in the ‘Gospel of Peace’, which brings about true reconciliation and blessing in this world. The peace of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit has already been realised in Christ but is not yet complete. Until the end of the world, hatred, and conflict—rooted in human sin—will never cease. Yet, as those who live from the peace of Christ, which this world can neither give nor guarantee, we continue to preach the gospel of reconciliation, pray for peace, and participate in every work that brings true peace to the world.


The peace of God and the peace of this world cannot be equated, but neither can they be separated. This is because the world belongs to God. The human world, which is full of sin and misery, overflows with violence. In particular wars, conflicts and terrorism, which involve large numbers of people, have killed countless people in every age, and the trauma of those caught up in it never fades away. No war in this world can absolve us of guilt before God.

What God is ultimately trying to teach us through the biblical accounts of war in the ancient world is the truth that ‘all who draw the sword will die by the sword‘ (Mt 26:52), so that his people will trust in him as their Lord rather than in their own military power. So-called ‘just wars’ or ‘lawful wars’ in Christian history were also originally condoned as a last resort to deter war and maintain justice and peace, let alone the claim of ‘holy wars’ to actively promote war in the name of God, which is a fundamental error. Therefore, the Lord’s Church should not justify war as a means of settling disputes, much less affirm contemporary wars that use weapons of mass destruction.

We call for the defense of all human life—created in the image of God—to be the path to peace, without being deceived by national politicians and the mass media, who create enemies and try to replace peace issues with military security issues. Therefore, we actively cooperate in all non-military work to avert war and create peace among nations, and more particularly, as the Church in the only country to have experienced the devastation caused by nuclear weapons, we demand the abolition of all weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons.

Peace in this world is indeed temporary. Nevertheless, we pray that national administrators will rightly exercise the authority entrusted to them by Christ for the realisation of peace and justice in the world. However, when they absolutise their own power and abuse their authority from Christ, thereby threatening the lives and human rights of people, we stand firm and protest by declaring the will of the Lord. Moreover, prompted by the Holy Spirit, we will resist state coercion to obey God rather than humans, and in the case of forced conscription, we stand in solidarity with those who refuse military service as a matter of conscience.


‘I will listen to what God the Lord says; he promises peace to his people, his faithful servants—but let them not turn to folly … Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other. Faithfulness springs forth from the earth, and righteousness looks down from heaven.’ (Ps 85:8, 10-11).

God’s peace, justice, and faithful love (mercy) cannot be separated. The Commandments of the God who delivered Israel from hardship and oppression, demands that His people live in justice and mercy. Just as the Old Testament prophets harshly criticised societies that lacked justice and mercy as societies without peace, so the Church, living the gospel of peace, cannot remain indifferent to the injustices that human societies generate. For it is the Lord’s will that ‘justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!’ (Amos 5:24).

The God of justice is above all a God of love who has compassion on those who fall victim to unjust societies. The loving deeds (diakonia) of Jesus Christ, who bore the woes of human sin, indeed concretely manifest God’s peace in this world. For true peace is created not by forceful domination, but by justice, fairness, and neighbourly love. Loved by Christ, we choose to remain close to the victims of discrimination, violence and injustice that fill the world, and to be neighbours to those who are distressed and terrified. We also actively search for ways to make peace through forgiving love, humbly remembering that we are sinners ourselves, even if we hold perpetrators accountable. For the Church that upholds the Cross of Christ can no longer live in hostility and hatred.

We are entrusted with the responsibility to seek peace and justice in God’s created world and to govern it well (stewardship). Therefore, we also remain concerned with peace and justice with respect to the environment, including ecological destruction and nuclear power plant issues that threaten the lives of all human beings, as we strive for the preservation and restoration of creation.


‘If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.’ (Rom 12:18).

‘All your children will be taught by the Lord, and great will be their peace.’ (Isa 54:13).

Loving fellowship in the Lord Jesus Christ is the foundation of God’s peace. We cooperate and stand in solidarity with all Christians, across ethnic and national borders and beyond denominations, to establish peace. For the unity of God’s children in Christ is the most vivid proof of God’s peace in the world. Creating peace in a world of sin, filled with all kinds of contradictions, requires patience, wisdom and faith discernment based on the Bible. We work together for the realisation of peace and justice in the world, holding fast to our convictions, while at the same time respecting all people across all differences of thought, creed, religion, ethnicity, race and gender / sexual orientation. We humbly engage in dialogue and work together through the ministries and relationships given to everyone. For it is the will of the Lord that we live in peace with all people.

Peace in this world will be lost if it is not continually generated. Hence, peace education for the next generation, who will learn from the mistakes of the past and shape the future, is an important responsibility and task of the Church. We rejoice in God’s peace with the next generation of young people and raise up peacemakers through concrete projects of mutual learning, speaking and labouring in church, family and society.


“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33).

At the end of time, God will bring perfect peace to this world. Until that day, we must still contend with the reality of sin, in ourselves and in the world. But our Lord has already accomplished the victory. First and foremost, we build the peace of Christ in our own hearts, we overcome hatred and despair by the power of rejoicing in this peace, and we continue to seek peaceful ways without ever giving up.

We stand armed with the armour of God against the evil spiritual powers of this world, and as we await the coming of the Lord of Peace, we lift our hearts high in prayer:

O God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Prince of Peace, 

In a world of hatred and conflict, help us to live by the way of peace that you have given us through your Son. 

Cleanse us of our sins and use us as instruments of your peace. 

Let us not end up with peace in words only but grant us, by the Holy Spirit, the wisdom and power we need to bring about peace. 

May the rulers who have been assigned by you be given the courage to ‘beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks’ and may they work for peace. 

Above all, may the Lord Himself speedily bring about the coming of his kingdom of love, justice and peace. 

We pray this in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

19 October 2023 

Officially adopted at the 78th Regular Assembly of the Reformed Church in Japan

(All Bible quotes are from the New International Version)









  • 神の平和と世界の平和






  • 戦争と平和と国家










  • 平和と正義と愛の業







神の平和と正義と慈しみは、切り離すことができません。イスラエルを苦難と抑圧から解放された神の律法は、ご自分の民が正義と慈しみに生きることを求めます。旧約預言者たちが、正義と慈しみの欠如した社会を平和なき社会として厳しく批判したように、平和の福音に生きる教会もまた人間社会が生み出す不正義に無関心ではいられません。「正義を洪水のように 恵みの業を大河のように 尽きることなく流れさせ」るのが、主の御心だからです(アモ5:24)。



  • 平和のための協働と連帯







  • 終末における平和の希望と祈り













「剣を打ち直して鋤とし 槍を打ち直して鎌とする」勇気を与えられ、





主の二〇二三年一〇月一九日 日本キリスト改革派教会第七十八回定期大会


2023.10.08 RSG Onderhoud

Groete uit Kobe, waar die herfs kleurvol en koel deurbreek. 

Net ‘n kort nota om te noem: eerskomende Sondag 8 Oktober op RSG (100-104 FM of www.rsg.co.za) se radioprogram ‘Binnekamer’ net 07h10-08h00, word ‘n kort onderhoud uitgesaai oor ons werk, as deel van Missie Japan. Kliek hieronder om na die onderhoud te luister.
Maandag (9 Okt) is ek en Carina verantwoordelik om ‘n (Suid-Afrikaanse) braaigereed te hê vir 50 mense (hoofsaaklik tieners). Ds. Tobie en Annalie de Wet ontvang en bedien ‘n groep werkende jongmense in Niihama op dieselfde (vakansie)dag. Ons is geseēnd met baie geleenthede vir betekenisvolle interaksies.

Baie dankie vir elkeen wat saam bid en ondersteun in hierdie dae! Ons vra veral ook vir jou gebede vir ‘n belangrike Missie Japan bestuursvergadering (11 Okt), vir die opkomende sinode van die Reformed Church in Japan in Kobe (17-19 Okt), asook verskeie preke en seminare later die maand in Kobe en Tokushima.

Vrede en Vreugde, 
Stéphan, Carina en kinders