Reconciliation the theme of East Asian graduates gathering
Christian Shimbun, August 25, 2019 Translated by Grace Koshino
The East Asia Graduate Conference (EAGC) took place at the National Youth Center in Tokyo from August 9 to 13, where 364 university graduates from across East Asia gathered to consider the theme of reconciliation through Biblical teachings and hands-on experience.
EAGC began in 1985 and takes place every three years. Graduates in various countries have hosted it over the years.
While looking to the hope of reconciliation in Jesus Christ, attendees discussed topics such as “defeat” and “conflict” on a personal level, within society, and between nations. The head of the conference’s organizing committee said, “In this time of turmoil in East Asia, the role [of Christians] is the ‘ministry of reconciliation’ (2 Cor. 5:18 NIV).” Leading up to the conference, there were a number of conflicts within and between countries in East Asia, including political rifts between Japan and South Korea. The conference also focused on the importance of sorrow and “the journey”; the process of reconciliation; as well as discussing various types of reconciliation, such as between people and God, at work, home, and church. Those attending were reminded that we are to transcend borders and race and to be “new beings” redeemed by God.
In the opening session, Shigenori Ōshima (head of KGK, an evangelical ministry for university students in Japan) spoke of how “man had cut off their relationship with God [at the Fall], . . . and instead of seeking God’s kingdom, they started seeking their own, and this is how conflict came about.” Through Jesus Christ, the reconciliation between God and man was completed, “and although this world is still broken, man can once again take part in building God’s kingdom.”
On the second morning, Shoichiro Sugaya of OMF International touched on topics such as the importance of understanding each other’s culture and background, caring for the environment and all creation, the pain within the church, and the need for repentance. He encouraged people by saying, “God has called us all to be part of the ministry of reconciliation.”
As the conference neared the end, Chris Rice, a Christian author, encouraged attendees with the hope that reconciliation brings. He reminded everyone that we are all ambassadors of reconciliation.
During the closing session on the last evening, Barry Cheung, Director of Graduates Christian Fellowship of Hong Kong, asked attendees to pray for the current situation in Hong Kong, appealing for “the total withdrawal of the 2019 Hong Kong extradition bill, and that the Hong Kong government would humbly accept the current situation and repent. That the demonstrations would be carried out peacefully and without casualties.” In response they prayed for a solution “regarding the extradition bill and for healing for the people . . . and that Jesus’ name would be exalted and many will come to know him. They prayed that churches in Hong Kong would be able to proclaim the truth, and that they can be the light in the darkness.”