Investing your talents
Tokyo church helps Congolese refugees: your chance to act on the parable of the talents
Greetings from Tokyo.
As you might have noticed from my last post, which was perhaps packed a little too full, I found last Sunday’s gospel reading quite a mine of symbolism. Even after I had stripped it down somewhat before translating into Japanese to preach on Sunday, I’m not quite sure that it worked as a sermon: it was too abstract and probably too busy with information, as well. Suddenly, on Sunday evening, I came face to face with the parable enacted in a concrete situation.
Thomas Ash’s email had been buried in my inbox since Thursday. I wish I had read it sooner, but it got lost amid the usual pile of work emails. In case you don’t know, Thomas Ash is a film director who works tirelessly - and I’m not using that word lightly - for refugees and asylum seekers, as well as serving as a churchwarden at St Alban’s Anglican Church in Tokyo.
If only I had read that email before I preached on Sunday morning. It transpired that Thomas and other Christians from St Alban’s had found sixteen Congolese men living rough for two months in a park. They had been allowed entry to Japan as asylum seekers, but were still in the process of being housed. They had got themselves organised, but as you can imagine, were cold and hungry.
I’m not sure how much detail I can go into, so suffice it say that Ash and his colleagues got in touch with the Anglican Bishop of Tokyo for help, and by the grace of God, he was able immediately to offer short-term accommodation for all the men until they are housed. Ash and other volunteers from the St Alban’s Church Deeper Service Group (DSG) are taking it in turns to live in with the men and help them in their interactions with Japanese refugee authorities.
On Monday, I dropped in to see how they were getting on. The men now have clean shelter, ablutions and cooking facilities. They organise themselves with the help of DSG volunteers and members of the local church where they are staying. Volunteers are sleeping over, giving up their time and money to help. Others are providing food. One is giving Japanese lessons. An elderly Japanese lady who speaks French comes to visit. The Bishop, visiting the church, described the men in his sermons as “a Christmas gift come early.”
The DSG does not have much, but the “two talents” it and its volunteers are investing - in some cases, at real personal cost - are yielding interest that cannot be counted in numbers. If you can help, even if only by investing a little, please do.