Pastor

We are pleased to introduce Pastor Nobuaki Kadotani, who has been serving at Furukawa Evangelical Free Church since April 2012.

牧師 門谷信愛希

2010年撮影

Pastor Rev. Nobuaki Kadotani

Born in St. Paul, Minnesota, U.S.A. in 1976, he returned to Japan before the age of two and lived in Kawasaki City, then Atsugi City, Kanagawa Prefecture, until high school. In 1995, he entered the Faculty of Engineering at Tohoku University, where he attended the Sendai Evangelical Free Church, and in 1999, he graduated from the Department of Communications Engineering. In 2002, he finished his master’s degree in computer speech recognition. 2002, he was convinced of God’s calling and terminated his doctoral study. 2003, he started to study theology at the Japan Bible Seminary (4-year course). 2007, he graduated from the seminary and was assigned to Sendai Evangelical Free Church, where he served as an associate pastor until the end of March 2012. After the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011, he was involved in relief activities along the Sanriku coast, with support from all over Japan. About a year later, in April 2012, he became the pastor of Furukawa Evangelical Free Church, where he remains to this day. Married in September 2007 and a father of four children. Hobbies include mountaineering, auto-camping, watching movies, carpentry, creating websites, and playing guitar.

Pastor Q&A

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Q. What made you decide to become a pastor?
I was born to Christian parents and grew up in an environment where I naturally attended church from birth. Because of this, I did not feel much difficulty in believing in God the Creator. It was an impossible choice for me to believe that this world was created by chance and that there was no meaning or purpose to it. Such was my life, one might say, until I was baptized by an experience in high school, entered college, and was assigned to a research laboratory, where, in a sense, my life was going reasonably well.

The turning point came when I started working on my graduation thesis. At that time, I began to worry about the next academic year. Would I go on to graduate school to deepen my research? Would I go on to graduate school to deepen my research? I was not quite ready to make up my mind, and I ran into a big wall with my graduation thesis. I was too proud to humbly ask for advice from others, so I felt my research was at a standstill and developed severe atopic dermatitis due to the stress. I managed to pass the entrance exam for graduate school, but my thesis was so poorly written that I wished there was a hole in it.

Fortunately, my atopic dermatitis gradually got better, and my next goal after entering graduate school was to create a system to identify emotions using voice. I enjoyed my relationships in the laboratory. My research at the time consisted of processing recorded voices, creating a program, analyzing it, improving it, and analyzing it again. Basically, this was a repetitive process, and I spent many days sitting in front of the computer from morning to night. In the midst of all this, a question once again arose in my mind. I wondered if I would be able to live sitting in front of a screen all day long. I began to feel an indescribable thirst in my heart. My life’s work is not to live sitting in front of a machine. It should be to face people and serve them.” Such thoughts began to capture my heart. However, I could not believe that I, who was proud, had experienced several failures because I did not understand people’s feelings, and was not good at appearing in front of others, would be able to serve in such a position. The more I thought about it, the more I felt that way.

For four years, I kept this thought in my mind and tried to block it out, but it continued to grow and never went away. Finally, in my second year of the doctoral program, a word from the Bible pushed me to take the first step toward becoming a pastor. For the next four years, I studied at a seminary in Tokyo. I would like to say that it was the most joyful period of study in my life.

Q. Did anyone ever tell you that you were in the wrong field?
Surely they did! (Laughter). From the outside, it must have seemed like more than a 180-degree change for someone who specialized in computer science to be studying a foreign language such as Greek or Hebrew, the original languages in which the Bible was written. I am sure this must have seemed like more than a 180 degree change from the outside. In fact, my honest impression is that most of my friends who are pastors also have a liberal arts background, and very few pastors have a science background.

However, Japan is said to be an industrialized country, and I think it is no exaggeration to say that the country is supported by the power of engineering. In this context, I believe that the significance of the existence of “science pastors” is not light. Researchers in the sciences live under different pressures than those in the humanities. As a person with a science background, I think I can imagine the state of mind of such people, although it is only a little. I think this is meaningful.

And when I actually went to seminary to study the Bible professionally, I found that a “scientific background” was more important than I had imagined. It may be somewhat wild, but I think it is no exaggeration to say that “engineering” in the pure sense of the word was born after the invention of the steam engine in the 18th century. In that sense, “engineering is a discipline only a few hundred years old.

Christian theology, on the other hand, has 2,000 years of accumulation. The fact that the world’s first university was a place to study Christian theology and medicine shows that it has a vast history. It was only after studying Christianity that I came to understand that Christianity is not an emotional thing, as people generally say, “In faith, it is important to have the ‘feeling’ to believe anyway,” but that it has come to the present day through the accumulation of a great number of academic examinations, such as logic, rhetoric, linguistics, and history. In that sense, I am grateful to God that I was led to the path of a pastor from a position with a science background.

Q. What is your greatest joy as a pastor?
The answer to this question is always a given. It is when I am able to stand beside people who have lost sight of life because of their troubles, pain, and suffering from sin, and see their lives transformed as they find hope in Jesus Christ. There are many processes to get there. Birthplace, relationship with parents, financial situation, illness, relationships at work, exhaustion from raising children, various dependencies…. The situation is truly unique to each person.

As a pastor, the required response is completely different for each person. In such a situation, we open the Bible together, sing praises with guitar in hand, and pray together with our hearts to God. As we went through this process with each person, we saw their hearts gradually being changed, sometimes over several months, sometimes over several years. I have seen people who thought to themselves, “I can’t change. Even the person himself thought, “I can’t change anymore,” but the power and hope of Christ’s transformation gradually seeped in, and the person was changed. I watched from the side and supported him. This is the true meaning of being a pastor.

Q. What do pastors usually do? You seem to have a lot of free time...
It is true that most pastors work at their churches on weekdays as full-time workers, so it is understandable for office workers and farm workers to feel that way.

However, the work of a pastor is much more diverse than you might imagine. The most important work is to prepare messages from the Bible for Sunday worship services and Thursday prayer meetings. In my case, I prepare a manuscript of 8,000 to 9,000 words for the worship service. This is the amount of 6 to 7 sheets of A4 paper. For prayer meetings, it is about 2/3 of that amount. In the style of a college class, this means that I am preparing a report of 10-15 A4 pages every week. Unlike scientific experiments, the Bible was written more than 2,000 years ago, so we have to carefully examine the background of the times, history, people’s lifestyles, maps, and, above all, the differences in “language,” including the Greek and Hebrew languages in which the original text was written. The preparation of the Bible requires a considerable amount of time alone. This alone requires a considerable amount of time. Also, unlike a research presentation, the message must appeal to people’s “hearts. For this reason, the pastor himself needs to be prepared.

A pastor is also like a sole proprietor, and his work is very diverse, including preparation of printed materials such as weekly bulletins, preparation of flyers for events, preparation and management of financial reports and annual reports, repair and maintenance of the church building, pruning of plants, cleaning, trash disposal, etc. In addition to these clerical tasks, the pastor is also responsible for the church’s administrative work. In addition to these clerical tasks, there is also the work of “spiritual care,” which is unique to the church, such as visiting the church without an appointment and providing counseling for various problems. In addition to this, there is the aspect of “working without regard to time,” as the pastor is regularly required to go on business trips and attend meetings with outside organizations until late at night.

As you can see, the work of a pastor is much more diverse than it appears from the outside.

Q. I don't feel comfortable talking to pastors...
My apologies. Actually, I have been told by many people, “I thought you were a “serious” kind of person until I talked to you, but you are quite funny when you talk to me! I have often been told that I’m funny. I am trying to change their first impression, but… (Pastors are still in the process of developing). Incidentally, since “speaking” is an important part of a pastor’s job, I tend to be told that I talk too long. Is that another reason why they are “hard to talk about”?

But another important function of a pastor is “listening. People need to be listened to, and to be heard. Just by doing that, the heart is lightened considerably. A pastor aims to be a person with whom you can talk freely about anything. Even a casual chat is welcome. We would be happy to hear from you.

Pastors are obligated to maintain confidentiality in the course of their duties, so we will not divulge anything we hear to a third party without permission. We will never try to persuade or coerce you, nor will we use coercive language. Please rest assured.

You may feel intimidated at first to talk to a pastor, but please be courageous and tell your story. You may be surprised at how easy it is to talk to a pastor. I think you will be surprised at how easy it is to talk to a pastor. Whether it is at a worship service, a meeting, on a weekday, by phone, by e-mail, or by any other means you prefer, please “talk” to your pastor.

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