The Rev. Bob Byrne has returned home to St. Paul Lutheran Church after a six-month stay in the Far East.
Byrne and his wife Chris left Aiken on Oct. 1 bound for Japan, where they spent six months working as missionaries through the Japan Evangelical Lutheran Church, headquartered in Tokyo. The Byrnes returned home on March 31.
The couple were the first missionaries to serve in all five of the Japan Evangelical Lutheran Church's districts, spending two months in the Tokyo area, a month on the island of Kyushu, a month in the Kamagasaki slum district of Osaka, a month in Nagoya and the final month on the island of Hokkaido.
Byrne said his most profound experiences on the trip came while working with the homeless, alcoholics and drug addicts in the Kamagasaki slum, which is reputed to be the worst slum district in Japan. The couple, their translators and Japan Evangelical Lutheran Church pastors went out on night patrols from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. each night.
"We'd be checking on the homeless sleeping on the streets, basically checking to see if they were still alive," he said. "We'd be pulling a cart with pieces of cardboard, donated blankets, tea, soup and onigiri - rice balls - which we'd made that afternoon. We'd go through the district and make a note of where the homeless were; if they were awake, we'd make a note of what they already had. If they were asleep, we'd wake them, ask them if they were not sleeping on cardboard and give them some if not, ask if they needed medical attention and take them to where they could get some."
"It's impossible to tell about the impact that experience has on your life and your theology," he continued. "It's beyond description, but it changes your outlook. What got my attention was that the first thing we'd do when we came in after night patrol was gargle with a strong antiviral mouthwash - it tastes horrible, it's like iodine - to prevent contraction of TB, which is very much alive and well in the slums."
Living in the slum with those to whom they were ministering was essential, he said. It gave them a chance to get to know their neighbors and a basis on which to build trust.
Byrne said he delivered approximately 45 sermons and presentations in 21 weeks, all through a translator, at churches and social organizations with ties to the Japan Evangelical Lutheran Church such as schools, orphanages, senior homes, homes for the abused and homes for children with disabilities. Most of his audiences were made up of non-Christians; less than 1 percent of Japan's population is Christian, and all are converts from Japan's cultural religions, mainly Shintoism and a Japanese variant of Buddhism.
"There was no recognition of Jesus, of course; Shinto is a belief system of purity and nature, and Buddhism generally involves ancestor worship, in many different versions. Within both, there are literally thousands of gods - the idea of one God in Jesus Christ is a totally foreign concept," Byrne said.
The experience has had, what Byrne thinks, will have a lasting effect upon his preaching style.
"When you're not fluent in a foreign language, no matter how many degrees you have, you're illiterate. You have to listen more than you ever do in your own culture," he said. "It's very humbling. So I'm bringing back an expanded sense of humility. Because I preached with translators, it demanded a great clarity of thought and imagery, and the sermons had to be shorter. I learned to preach with the same or greater clarity in 10 minutes, because however much time you're given, you need half that for translating. It caused me to relearn what is most crucial in parish ministry, the Bible and clearly proclaiming its truth to people."
This was Byrne's third and longest trip to Japan. He spent six months prior to the trip immersed in study of the language and culture.
"All the study was useful, especially the cultural study. What was wide of the mark was the idea that any level of study would be enough to speak the language. They say it takes two years of intensive study to hold even simple conversations," he said.
"I would do this again, but I don't know if the experience could ever be repeated," Byrne said of the extended mission trip. "But given the right set of circumstances and the feeling of God's calling to me, I would do it again."
By SUZANNE R. STONE
10 ways to control your anger - Professional expert’s advice
I am really emotional and excitable person. I think that there are two types of anger: constructive anger and a destructive one. In order to understand the anger phenomenon I decided to investigate the nature of anger, reasons of its appearing, key factors and anger management.
What does it mean this anger? Anger is a strong indignation feeling of our emotional sphere that is attended by self-control losing. Anger is a signal of our state. Glands produce an array of hormones that have a great and deep effect on all our body. The main participants of this process are adrenaline and cortisol. They activate cardiovascular system and consequently all organs. Adrenalin causes fast heart beating, rising blood pressure. These rich oxygenated blood streams to the places are responsible for reaction. Thus some extra energy is released.
There are 4 basic ways of anger expressions:
1. Straight and immediately (verbally or nonverbally) to show your anger. It gives an opportunity to free from the negative emotions.
2. To express anger in an indirect way. In this case usually suffer persons that are weaker, not dangerous and those ones who “come to hand”, usually they are our family and close relatives. Thus we hurt our dear ones. One of the best ways is to express your anger to the person who is the source of this very anger. If it is impossible- better find some compromise.
3. Restraining anger you “drive” it deep inside. So, negative emotions store will provoke a big stress sooner or later.
4. You may foresee situation of anger feeling, try not to expand this feeling but get to know the reason, understand and solve it. A Roman philosopher Seneca said: “When you are feeling of ascending “volcano”- stand still, not doing anything- not speaking, not moving.”
Anger is a normal and natural human feeling, especially nowadays as life is really fast and we have a huge amount of information to accumulate (in comparison with our previous generations). The range of anger is rather wide: from a slight annoyance to impetuous fury. Anger can be quick and long, lasting for years in form of bitterness, vengeance or hate. Anger can lead to health issues like depression, high blood pressure, hearth diseases, stresses, alcohol dependence and obesity. If you are anger- express it. If you feel discomfort from these “negative splashes”- then we can give some techniques how to manage your emotional anger:
- 1. Take a deep and continuous breath. Count up to 50 or imagine your aggressor just naked, only in socks. This will help you to calm and smile.
- 2. Have a walk. Look at high sky. Continue to breathe deep and easily. So you appraise the situation and calm down.
- 3. Do some physical exercises. When you are angry- your body is very tensed and tough. If you stretch your muscles it will relax your body, as you will spill out all your negative energy into action. Your brains will get more oxygen and it assists to clear your thoughts.
- 4. Write down all your thoughts. Write down that you are mad and why. Avoid being rational, logical or laconic. Write on paper all you are feeling this moment. Try to write all in details. The function of this technique is to shift all your anger out of your head on paper.
- 5. Be grateful. Find someone to thank. Do you not forget about yourself. Thank that you have woken up today, thank that that the Sun is shining for you, that the sky is blue and the grass is green.
- 6. Prayer. Ask God to be with you during this anger moment and lead you.
- 7. Meditation. Close your eyes, look into solar plexus, and be all your anger, breathing deeply.
- 8. Change of places. Move yourself on your enemy’s place. And look at situation from his point of view. Better look at the situation from the ceiling. Focus on details, especially on funny and absurd ones. Strive to forgive your enemy as well as forgive truly yourself.
- 9. Go back to your childhood memories. Recollect state when you were angry. Hug this child and say: “All is ok. I am here. You are good child. I love you and I will not leave you.”
- 10. Your values. What is the most significant thing in your life? Who are the most important people in your life? What kind of person do you want to be? Think and accept that point that you are living your life, and you are living your values. There is a good man inside you that wants to help you. I wish you good luck!
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