Japanese Prayer Wall

Japanese Prayer Wall

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Lessons From The Best Teacher Ever (Hint: It's not me!)

One of the interesting parts of my job involves writing and presenting chapel speeches every 2 or 3 weeks.  I do my part in English, while the chaplain alternates with me and reads the Japanese translation.  The number one thing I try to focus on as I prepare a chapel speech is my audience.  I am speaking to junior high and high school students primarily, but the teachers are also listening.  The goal is to help students learn more about Christianity while also learning some English.  Most of the students are not Christian, so it is important for me to explain very basic Christian ideas while using very simple English.  I try to talk about issues that matter to teenagers and use examples that students can relate to.

Jesus understood how to connect with the crowds he taught.  He used words that people knew and understood, and he considered the background of his audience.  When possible, he used examples and analogies from people’s everyday lives.  Jesus could have tried to impress people with his vast intimate knowledge about God or used fancy words that a person could only decipher if they had a dictionary handy.  Instead, Jesus chose to teach ordinary people in a way that best showed just how extraordinary God is.

Some chapel speeches that I write are better than others, but it is still my hope that I can follow Jesus’s example of how to be a good teacher.  Here is just one of my recent chapel speeches, but I plan to post others in the future.  Enjoy!

Today’s Bible reading is from Ephesians 3:17b-19  “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

What is your dream for the future?  What do you want to be when you grow up?

Recently, I read a story about an amazing Japanese Christian named Shimeta Niishima*.  He was born in 1843, and he was the son of a samurai.  He studied hard to become a good samurai and a good scholar.  When he was 16 years old, his dream was to learn about the world.  He wanted to be a scholar-warrior.  Then, he could help Japan trade with other countries and understand ideas from all over the world.

Niishima secretly read books from other countries and studied the Bible.  At that time, signs said, “Reward for the capture of Christians!  Death to the followers of Jesus.”  Niishima knew it was dangerous, but he believed in God and became a Christian.

It was also illegal at that time to leave Japan, but Niishima wanted to learn more.  He secretly got on a ship and went to America.  In America, he studied very hard.  He went to a preparatory school, college, and then seminary to become a pastor.  Niishima’s new dream was to start a Christian university in Japan.

After ten years, Niishima returned to Japan.  In 1875, he built Doshisha Academy in Kyoto.  He was only 32 years old, but he had already accomplished many things.  Niishima wanted Doshisha to become a university to make Christian leaders for Japan: lawyers, professors, ministers, businessmen, and statesmen.  He devoted his life to making his dream come true.

In 1890, Niishima showed his strong faith as he said his last words, “Peace, joy, heaven!”  After he died, other people carried on this work. 

Today, Doshisha is a university with over 25,000 students.  It is a symbol of Niishima’s faith, hard work, and dreams.  I hope that all of us can follow Niishima’s example, and achieve great things in the future.

Let us pray.
Dear Lord,
Thank you for the chance to learn.  Help us to do our best and to work hard as we study.  Please guide us as we try to achieve our dreams.  In Your name we pray, amen.

* Information taken from the book Ten Against the Storm by Marianna Nugent Prichard and Norman Young Prichard.

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