The 2011 English edition of Arakitoryo recently came out and it contains a special feature detailing some Young Men’s Association (Seinenkai) activities in South Korea. We at Tenrikyo Resource have decided to pick it up here as well. Hit the jump for the entire article.
Special Contribution: Activities of Young Men’s Association in South Korea
On July 1, 2007, the inauguration ceremony of the South Korea chapter of Tenrikyo Young Men’s Association was conducted in the presence of the association’s president. It has been only three years since our chapter was formed, but Oyasama has shown us more blessings than we deserve. We are so thankful for this.
Soon after the South Korea chapter was formed, we encountered various difficulties. Some of these were related to the very problems Tenrikyo has traditionally faced as a whole in South Korea. It also proved to be a great challenge to seek understanding and support from existing Young Men’s Association groups from each district and each church. As a result, only 47 members attended the special convention conducted two months after the establishment of our chapter.
Despite our unceasing efforts, we weren’t able to convince people to work with us. In the midst of this situation, we nevertheless continued our association activities with a resolution to bring joy to Oyasama without fail and make the Young Men’s Association of South Korea become the sort of chapter She would love to see. Even today, we continue to make a point of asking ourselves first and foremost whether or not we are bringing joy to Oyasama in every activity our chapter engages in.
Although we only had 47 participants for the special convention held in the year the Young Men’s Association of South Korea was formed, thanks to the blessings of God the Parent the number increased to 127 for our first convention held the following year, 450 for our second convention conducted last year, and 460 for our third convention. By our second convention, the number of participants had grown almost 10 times from the special convention. This was not necessarily a result of passionately holding activities on our part, but rather because members had gathered to perform the service.
For the special convention, we performed a practice service including the Twelve Songs in three shifts. Yet we increased the service practice to seven shifts at our first convention and to 14 at our second convention. Some people had misgivings about increasing the shifts to seven and then 14 when we originally didn’t even have enough people for three shifts. However, since the Service was taught by Oyasama and it would bring Her much joy to see many young members get together and perform it, we pushed the idea ahead without any hesitation. We were convinced we would be granted a blessing so long as we kept our minds from erring.
Today, three years since our chapter was founded, the Young Men’s Association of South Korea carries out various activities.
We conducted a “Let’s Read the Ofudesaki 10 Times in 100 Days Rally” on nine occasions. The slogan for each rally was, “Let’s Read the Ofudesaki 100 Times in Three Years, One Thousand Days!” At the rally, we listen to a lecture by Bishop Terada on the Ofudesaki and each member makes a resolution to read the Ofudesaki so many times until the next rally. Now only the 10th and last rally remains.
Among other activities, we conduct a Heart-Clean Campaign once a year. We also promote friendships through hiking and proactively engage in nature conservation and other activities where we sprinkle the fragrance of the teachings.
We work as staff members or offer our hinokishin once or twice a month at events sponsored by the Nurturing Department of the mission headquarters, the Boys and Girls Association, and the Women’s Association. We also offer our hinokishin once or twice a month at churches and mission stations. We especially make it a point to proactively ask to participate in hinokishin whenever a church or a mission station begins a construction project or conducts a dedication service. We find that such hinokishin allows us to strengthen our ties with head ministers, mission station heads, followers, and Young Men’s Association members, thus becoming a significant foundation for our other activities.
Furthermore, we conduct our monthly meetings and have two-night sleepovers at the mission headquarters on days that include its monthly service day. We not only plan for future Young Men’s Association’s activities during those events, but we also make pamphlets for missionary work, study their contents with Young Women’s Group members, and have doctrinal study sessions. On the day of the monthly service, we participate in hinokishin to clean up the sanctuary, serve tea and coffee, help people with their shoes, and direct traffic.
We put our efforts into publishing activities as well. For instance, members who have studied at Jiba express their gratitude for the opportunity by pouring their hearts into the translation and publication of one doctrinal book a year, which in turn becomes a commemorative gift at our convention.
Above all, however, the core of the Young Men’s Association is the direct implementation of missionary work.
That we belong to the faith in difficult circumstances like today means that Oyasama is confident that we as Yoboku can overcome such obstacles. As long as Oyasama has such high expectations for us, we have a mission to unerringly convey the teachings to the next generation. With this in mind, we began a monthly activity where we engage in missionary work across two nights and three days while sleeping outdoors. We have completed 17 of these activities so far.
When we sleep under a bridge to take shelter from rain, we think of Oyasama’s hardships and find ourselves close to tears. When we sleep outdoors on a cold winter day, we can truly be grateful for the warmth of the sun that rises in the morning. We put ourselves through these hardships in order to feel the Divine Model of Oyasama. Further, by dancing the Twelve Songs, engaging in roadside speeches, visiting people door-to-door, and conducting similar activities, we can cultivate the spirit of saving others.
This summer, we had our first missionary caravan, drawing on our experience of missionary work that involves sleeping outdoors. We visited each diocese and church, listened to the stories of our older peers, engaged in hinokishin, and sprinkled the fragrance of the teachings. We believe that the deep emotion and the memories the 22 participants gained through this activity will become a seed that helps us unite our minds in the future.
Currently, the South Korea chapter emphasizes frequent small-scale activities in which we camp together rather than activities that simply gather many people. Though this is time-consuming, we can feel that the number of members who share a conviction for the faith is steadily increasing through these activities.
Above all, it is most important that we bring joy to Oyasama. This is precisely what the South Korea chapter must accomplish now and be continuously mindful of even in the future. The accumulation of merit, which endures as a foundation for eternity, can only be provided by the everliving Oyasama. We would like to engrave this deep in our hearts and make continuous progress on the path with “minds like clear skies” while sowing the seeds of future delight in unity of mind.
Is it just me, or are our South Korean brethren making us look like chumps?
In any case, I feel the following sentence is worth quoting once more:
Currently, the South Korea chapter emphasizes frequent small-scale activities in which we camp together rather than activities that simply gather many people.
It’s interesting to see this recognition that the one-size-fits-all mentality you may see at many Tenrikyo activities may need some reconsideration. It surely made me pause and think so.