Report on visit to South Africa (October 2017) 日本語版あり


Report on visit to South Africa

June 29 to October 10, 2017


During the past three and a half months we had the privilege to visit our home country South Africa, from the end of June until middle October. The purpose of the visit was to thank our supporters and to give feedback about our life and work in Japan. This is a necessary event every three years, in order to sustain long-term support for our sending organization, Mission Japan.

The whole visit took almost nine months of in-between planning and organizing, before our departure. In general everything went very well. To speak freely (and preach) in our mother tongue, Afrikaans, felt like a fresh breath of air. To experience South Africa’s rich bio-diversity, vast landscapes and its diverse peoples, was once again invigorating. In the process we were also able to see our family and friends and deepen our relational ties. The fellowship and sense of belonging in our homeland was a true blessing to experience. There was also time and opportunities for some necessary rest.

We realized afresh that we, as missionary family, are but a “small cog in a large wheel”. Our life and work forms part of a huge network of supporters and leaders that each have their own roles and responsibilities within Mission Japan. We are very grateful to be part of such a team, which wholeheartedly supports the long-standing partnership with the Reformed Church in Japan (RCJ).

I would like to shortly report on the following four aspects of the visit:

  • Visits to congregations
  • Deputation from Japan
  • Academic interactions
  • Mission Japan meeting

Visits to congregations

We had more than 50 opportunities to visit supporters, mainly coming from churches of the Dutch Reformed family of South Africa. Sunday morning and evening worship services made up 20 of these opportunities. It included more than 3500 people who heard the message concerning our life and work in Japan. The video and powerpoint presentations I shared, focused on the Japanese context in general, as well as on Kobe Reformed Theological Seminary and our other church related ministries.

The other 30 meetings with supporters consisted of groups between 5-50 people at a time, during weekdays. It ranged from small rural towns to big inner cities, and stretched over six very diverse, main regions of the country. I travelled more than 8500km to these destinations by car, and many more by airplane, to make these visits. In the process I slept in 25 different beds, and received the warm hospitality of countless friends. Carina and our children were also part of some of these visits, in the regions closer to our basis, which was located in Still Bay.

Our experience of the past three months brought Paul’s words in Philippians 1:3-6 to mind:

I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

The keyword here is “partnership” (koinonia). Partnership for the sake of the gospel. The Philippians partnered with Paul on his missionary journey. No other church partnered with him when he left Macedonia. But the Philippians supported him consistently when he was in need, especially in tough and challenging times. Their concern for Paul was because they valued the truth of the gospel. And Paul himself ignited that attitude in them, fueled by the work of the Holy Spirit. This gave Paul much joy: that this wonderful, vulnerable group of people did so much good work. Their perseverance in partnership was a sure sign of God’s work in them.

We praise the Lord with deep joy and gratitude, for the big network of supporters that have been with us these past years. Some people whom I met while doing visits this time, have even been involved as supporters since more than 40 years ago. They possess a wealth of wisdom and depth of commitment that once again inspired us. On the other hand, many children and youth also became aware of Japan and its needs and realities. Their involvement adds a necessary dose of vitality to the partnership.

We are especially grateful for new individuals and congregations that have made fresh commitments to be with us on the long road ahead. Their prayers, involvement, encouragement and financial support, are indeed like a strong safety net for us. It gives us hope and new vision to continue with passion in the Japanese mission field, which is sometimes described as a marsh or a graveyard for missionaries.

One other meaningful dimension which was unique to this deputation visit, was the focus on diaconal partnerships. After the triple disaster (earthquake, tsunami and radio-active damage) that struck North-East Japan on 11 March, 2011, the RCJ got involved in various diaconal actions within various communities in Japan. Many valuable lessons were learned. The Dutch Reformed family of churches supported the RCJ in these efforts in various ways.

When South Africa experienced a similar crisis in terms of the recent fire disaster in Knysna (June 2017), our RCJ brothers and sisters assisted with financial aid. In these ways we are mutually supporting and learning from each other, in terms of relief care and diaconal work in terms of natural disasters and more. I was privileged to share discussion about such issues with the Diaconia team leaders (of the DRC and URCSA) in the Western Cape Synod. We look forward to deepen these discussions and involvements in the future.

Deputation from Japan

From August 29 to September 5, a delegation from the RCJ visited South Africa. Two pastors (Revv. Hirotsugu Mochida and Makio Nishi) as well as an elder (Dr. Shin Toyokawa) represented the RCJ Synod Diaconal Action Commission (RCJ DAC). The main purpose of their short visit was to deepen their involvement with a specific diaconal project in Botshabelo township, outside Bloemfontein. Furthermore, they were involved in visits to various congregations and church related events. This was done under the auspices of the DRC Free State Synod, and specifically its organization called “Partners in Mission”, led by Dr. Gideon Van der Watt.

The Botshabelo community is experiencing many difficulties due to extreme poverty, unemployment, disintegrating family life, the challenge of HIV and Aids, etc. There is a relatively high percentage of vulnerable and orphaned children – children at risk – in the Boshabelo area.

The RCJ DAC entered into a formal partnership with the Setshabelo Family & Child Services (SFCS). It is a registered welfare organisation (NPO) and designated Child Protection Organisation. SFCS has been working since 2014 in partnership with the Department of Social Development, local churches and communities, as well as international partners. It is currently receiving no grants from government and is dependent on donations, fund raising, sponsorships, etc. SFCS renders the following services: Adoption; Foster Care Services; Family Interventions / Family preservation services; Church Engagement, Parental Training and Screening; The Child and Youth Care Centre (CYCC); Administrative Support etc.

A Memorandum of Agreement was proposed, in which he RCJ intends to assist SFCS in the following ways:

  • Financial assistance (as and when possible), for specific projects as mutually agreed upon.
  • The focus of the assistance will be on: enhancing CYCC and assisting/corresponding with selected adoptive families.
  • When possible, the RCJ DAC will send volunteers for periods to assist with certain mutually agreed upon projects.

The visit of our three brothers from Japan was truly meaningful and inspiring in many ways. I was privileged to share many deep and hopeful experiences with them, as we travelled to many different places. We were constantly in conversation, trying to translate and make sense of a diversity of meetings with people from different backgrounds and cultures. Between Japanese, SeSotho, Afrikaans and English expressions, we enjoyed an overabundance of possible interpretations. It led to a rich experience of newfound relationships, and a shared vision for future partnerships, for the sake of God’s Kingdom.

The delegation’s visit also included the following visits / interactions:

  • a macro congregation (DRC Pellissier)
  • a church (DRC Towers of Hope) working with the homeless and poorest of the poor.
  • a Reformation 500 gathering where dr. Shin Toyokawa presented an excellent lecture on being Reformed in Japan
  • meetings and events in Botshabelo community, including homestay opportunities in the township
  • attendance of a meeting called the Reformed Initiative for Community Development
  • a safari trip in Brandfort area
  • social gatherings at Dr. Gideon Van der Watt’s home as well as with Rev. Yoshitsugu Onishi (theological exchange student at Free State Faculty of Theology) and his family
  • various church worship services and gatherings, including a ministry to the Chinese people at DRC Hugenoot
  • academic lectures which I presented at Free State Faculty of Theology

All in all, this RCJ delegation’s visit was really significant. To view South Africa and its people, the relations between church and community etc. through our Japanese brothers’ eyes, was truly meaningful and enriching. Once again our partnership – as brothers and sisters in Christ from radically different contexts – was deepened and strengthened. Indeed we need each other as members of one Body of Christ, albeit from different corners of the globe.

Academic interactions

During our visit I had the privilege of presenting academic lectures at two Faculties of Theology, at Stellenbosch University, as well as at Free State University (in Bloemfontein).

In light of this year’s Reformation 500 celebrations, I focused these lectures on the historical development of Pastoral Theology and Pastoral Care, from a Reformed perspective. The aim was to explore its significance and meaning today. I informed this topic from my experiences in pastoral ministries, both in South Africa and Japan.

It was an enriching experience to share ideas with under-graduate and post-graduate students, as well as with lecturers and pastors at these two faculties of theology. As a research fellow of the department of Practical Theology and Missiology, at Stellenbosch University, this kind of interaction is necessary and significant. The meaningful conversations that ensued, and the contacts made, will surely inform and enhance the content of my teaching at Kobe Reformed Theological Seminary.

Mission Japan meeting

From September 25-27, we have had a blessed meeting of Mission Japan’s general committee, gathering at Still Bay. We recommitted ourselves to our calling to be disciples of Jesus Christ in Japan. We built new relationships and reaffirmed our vision and mission. Mission Japan was also restructured to function more effectively and to strengthen our current support network.

The group of six pastors from the Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa, that visited Japan in April 2017, participated in a special conference hosted by DRC Still Bay congregation. Rev. Tobie de Wet and his wife Annalie, together with the local church leaders, led and hosted us all with warm hospitality. Many church leaders from surrounding towns also participated, and the group of six pastors shared various, very inspiring experiences from their visit to Japan.

After the conference, Mission Japan’s general committee continued discussions on numerous important issues concerning the future of our work. A decision was made to start a process to enlarge our involvement with the Reformed Church in Japan, by recruiting new missionaries. This process may still take some time, but we trust that God will provide in the need for new and able candidate missionaries. Mission Japan is also excited about the possibility that the Reformed Church in South Africa (our sister church) might join us, as an official partner in this venture. Discussions about these developments will in due course continue with the relevant RCJ representatives.

Furthermore, the management committee had a special pastoral conversation with myself and Carina. Their loving care and earnest concern for us was, as always, evident. We could share our honest feelings and experiences in the safe space of their empathetic listening. In hindsight these past three months were truly blessed, but also quite disruptive for our family at times. Carina had to continue with homeschooling in various new settings, and amidst the fact that I was away with church visitations for long periods of time. The consistent involvement and care of Tobie and Annalie made this bearable and meaningful.

During our meeting we could celebrate and bring thanks to God for the blessings bestowed upon Mission Japan – in multiple ways. Relationships between us as members of the Mission Japan team, were deepened. We were inspired to utilize our God-given gifts to the best of our abilities, for the purposes which God calls each of us to do.

Carina and I and our children were once again filled with gratitude and appreciation for such a compassionate and concerned team that support us. We praise God for a very blessed time of deputation. Soli Deo Gloria!





6月末から10月中旬まで3ヶ月半、母国南アフリカを訪問することができました。 訪問の目的は、私たちの働きを支援してくれるサポーターに感謝を伝え、日本での生活や仕事についての報告をすることです。これは、私たちを送り出しているミッション・ジャパンが長期的な支援を続けるため、三年に一度行うように義務づけられているものです。

今回の訪問には、出発前の計画と日程調整を含め、ほぼ9ヶ月間を費やしました。 全体的に、すべて順調でした。 母国語のアフリカーンス語で自由に話せる(そして説教できる)ことは、新鮮な息吹のように感じました。 南アフリカの、いろいろな生物がたくさんいる環境、広大な景色、多様な人種の人々との交わりを体験することで、再び元気づけられました。滞在中、家族や友人に会い、きずなを深めることもできました。故郷での交わり・帰属感を体験したことは、本当の祝福でした。 また、休息のために必要な時間と機会も与えられました。

私たちは、宣教師家族として、「大きな歯車の小さな歯」であることに改めて気づかされました。 私たちの生活や働きは、ミッション・ジャパンのなかでそれぞれ役割と責任を負っているサポーターとリーダーたちからなる巨大ネットワークの一部を成しています。 日本キリスト改革派教会(RCJ)との長年のパートナーシップを全面的に支えているこのようなチームの一員であることに非常に感謝しています。


  • 教会訪問
  • 日本からの代表団
  • 学術交流
  • ミッション・ジャパンのミーティング







この数年間、私たちを支援してくれた人々の大きなネットワークを覚えて、喜びと感謝の気持ちをもって主をたたえます。今回の訪問で出会った何人かの人々は、40年以上前からサポーターとして関わってこられました。 彼らは豊かな知恵と深い献身の心を持っていて、私たちは新たな気づきを与えられました。 他方、多くの子どもや青年も、日本と、日本のニーズと現実に関心を持つようになりました。 彼らが加わってくれることで、パートナーシップに必要な活力が増すことと思います。

私たちは、これからの長い道のりを私たちと一緒に歩もう、と新しい気持ちで約束してくれた新しい個人や教会に特に感謝をしています。 彼らの祈り、関わり、励まし、経済的支援は、確かに私たちのための強力な安全網のようなものです。しばしば宣教師にとっての沼地だの墓場だのと言われてしまう日本という土地に情熱を持ち続けるための希望と新たなビジョンを、(この安全網は)私たちに与えてくれます。


8月29日から9月5日までの間、RCJの代表団が南アフリカを訪問しました。 二人の牧師(持田浩次牧師と西牧夫牧師)と長老(豊川慎博士)が大会執事活動委員会を代表して訪問してくださいました。 彼らの短期訪問の主な目的は、ブルームフォンテーンの外にあるBotshabeloタウンシップの特定の執事活動との関わりを深めることです。その他様々な集会や教会関連のイベントへの訪問にも同行しました。 これはDRC Free State Synodの後援、特に、ギデオン・ファン・デア・ヴァット博士が率いる 「パートナーズ・イン・ミッション」と呼ばれる団体による後援で行われました。

Botshabeloコミュニティは、極度の貧困、失業、家庭の崩壊、HIV/エイズの挑戦などにより多くの困難を経験しています。Boshabelo地区は、脆弱な子どもや孤児 – 危険にさらされている子ども – の割合が比較的高いです。

大会執事活動委員会は、Setshabelo Family&Child Services(SFCS)と正式に提携を結びました。SFCSは、登録された福祉組織(NPO)であり、児童保護組織として指定されています。2014年以来SFCSは、社会開発省、地元の教会や地域社会、国際的なパートナーと協力して活動しています。現在、政府からの助成金は得られず、寄付、資金調達、スポンサーシップなどに依存しています。SFCSは、養子縁組、里親ケア、家族介入/家族保護、教会への仲介、保護者の訓練と審査、子どもと青少年ケアセンター(CYCC)、行政支援などを行っています。


  • 相互に合意された特定のプロジェクトのための資金援助(可能な場合)
  • 援助の焦点は、CYCCの強化と、選ばれた養子縁組を支援/対応すること
  • 可能なときは、大会執事活動委員会が相互に合意した特定のプロジェクトを支援するためのボランティアを派遣する



  • 大規模な教会 (DRC Pellissier教会)
  • ホームレスや貧困層の中でも最も貧しい人たちのために働いている教会(DRCタワーズオブホープ教会)
  • 宗教改革500年集会 (ここで豊川慎博士が日本において改革派でいることに関する優れた講演を行った)
  • Botshabeloコミュニティでのミーティングやイベント(地区でのホームステイを含む)
  • 地域開発のための改革派イニシアティブ(Reformed Initiative)と呼ばれる会議への出席
  • Brandfort地区のサファリ旅行
  • ギデオン・ファン・デル・ワット博士宅での、大西良嗣牧師(フリーステート大学の神学部の交換神学生)とその家族との交わり
  • DRC Hugenootでの中国人への奉仕を含む様々な教会礼拝や集会
  • 私がフリーステート大学の神学部で発表した学術講演





この2つの神学部の教員や牧師と同様に、大学生や大学院生ともアイデアを共有することは豊かな経験でした。 ステレンボッシュ大学の実践神学・伝道学部門の研究員として、この種の交流は必要かつ重要です。その後の有意義な会話や出会った人々は、神戸改革派神学校での私の授業内容をさらに深め向上させるでしょう。