When it comes to having conversation about faith with young people, it is usually easier if it is done by someone who is close to his/her age group.
However, I would also like their parents’ age group or someone who are little older than the parents’ age group to reach out to the students.
Here is why: From the viewpoint of the young people or students, they have so called vertical relationship with their parents or the head minister of the church they belong to. The words spoken from such people are important, and sometimes certain influences come into play.
On the contrary, the connections with other students or friends are seen as horizontal relationships. A horizontal relationship is easier to connect, but there is an aspect that such relationships tend to get disconnected no matter what.
What I would like to bring up today is not the vertical or horizontal relationship, but diagonal relationship.
For instance, uncles, aunties, ministers of sister church that belongs to the same supervising church, or adults who live in the same neighborhood—these people are not in a vertical relationship with the student. To put it in an extreme way, the vertical relationship is an absolute relationship that is solid and unwavering.
On one hand, with a diagonal relationship, you can preserve a moderate distance between you and other person. It is different, however, with a horizontal relationship. You are not in the same row, in the same generation.
This diagonal relationship supplements and supports the vertical and horizontal relationships. “This may be an unasked for action, but next time, I’ll try to talk to that boy about his grandfather and grandmother.” “Let me see if I can call on that young person as they haven’t made it to church, even if they live nearby.” I would like you to call on others like these.
The other person could be in their teens or twenties. When they are told by their parent or a church minister, they may respond with, “Be quiet” or “Stop bugging me.”
However, perhaps an adult other than their parents or church minister can call upon them. They may think, “Maybe this is something important. Maybe this may be pertinent to me.”
It is not necessary to try to adjust to young people. But try to walk a little in their shoes. It is okay to have this feeling. Even a small word from anyone can change a young person’s life.
A small word coming in from the side (diagonal), can connect to an impactful salvation. I believe in that possibility.
In this year’s New Year’s address from the Shinbashira, he says, “Let us think about how to implement what we have to do in the given conditions and fulfill our respective roles in light of the current season.
Even if we are under the conditions of the Corona virus, we have no choice but to do what we can.
Therefore, I would like to ask the families of each church to apply daily effort to get closer to their young people by reaching out to them.
For example, on occasions like a birthday or advancement to the next grade or level in their education, the church could send the young people and students a letter. There, for example, even if you are not able to meet them at their home monthly services, leave a message of a few words to them.
I feel, even if you are unable to promote large activities, with a little time and planning, you can assure the youth and children, “I am thinking about you,” displaying your effort to connect with them.
We live in a society which promotes feelings of loneliness. Therefore, I feel that each and every small act of care, can become a great foundation for needed support.
In the Divine Directions of October 10, 1896, we read:
If little were done about the seeds sown, someone would be crestfallen there and someone crestfallen here. It would not do if little were done about the seeds sown. I, therefore, do weeding after sowing seeds. You may nourish one person here, and another there, so that you will be tempted to ask where you have actually sown the seeds. From these efforts new sprouts will show. (from An Anthology of Osashizu Translations p.272) When one observes that path, one will see that that one seed will become ten thousandfold. (private translation)
When we put our hearts into our salvation work, there is no knowing where the blessings will manifest. I think these words teach us that speaking to and caring for people never goes to waste.
We are about to embark on pre-anniversary activities toward the 140th Anniversary of Oyasama. The Director-in-Chief of Administrative Affairs, however, has even spoken about the 150th Anniversary of Oyasama and the bicentennial anniversary of the Founding of the Teachings.
In 15 years, our present generation of Students Association and Boys and Girls Association members will become of an age when they will be at the core of churches, families and at work. In order to nurture this next generation, let us care for them vertically, horizontally, and further, diagonally; let us talk to these young people, these students, and do our best to nurture them every day.
Let us relay the good fortune of being in the faith, relay the joy of faith to the next generation. Let us, together, feel the joy and relay the teachings to others.
Thank you for your kind attention.
(Edited by Honjima Tsushin Editorial Staff)