1959–1961 LWML Mission Grant: HANNO HOLY HOPE HIGH SCHOOL (SEIBO GAKUEN), $60,000 and 1967–1969 LWML Mission Grant: $79,638.68
Holy Hope Lutheran School: The LWML’s Lasting Contribution
by Timothy Drawbaugh, August 2018
Holy Hope Lutheran Junior & Senior High School: The LWML’s Role
Hanno, Saitama, Japan 1950s — Classrooms
In the early 1950s the LCMS missionary in Hanno, Saitama, Japan was approached by a local Japanese pastor of another denomination who was in need of dire help. This pastor, Rev. Fujiwara, had taken over the management of a local school that had been an agricultural vocational school. It was his vision to run it as a Christian school as there were none in the area. However, after taking it over, the school was more than he could manage. It was heavily in debt, in disrepair and run down, so he was looking for alternatives.
At that time LCMS missionary, Rev. Paul Kreyling, had founded a church in Hanno and was approached by Rev. Fujiwara who desperately asked if he or the LCMS could take over the school so that the area would not lose the Christian school. Rev. Kreyling replied that he himself could not, but that the LCMS might be able to help. The LCMS mission took over management of the school, but it badly needed funds for rebuilding. The LWML took up a building project for the school, providing funds for a new building. Had it not been for the LWML initiative in the late 1950s, the school may not have succeeded and there would be no Lutheran junior and senior high school in Hanno.1
“This Building was Donated by The Lutheran Women’s Missionary League of The Lutheran Church — Missouri Synod 1961.”
Classroom building showing location of the dedication plaque at its base, honoring the contribution of the LWML.
Current day view of the classroom building provided by LWML funds.
View of classroom building in the year of its completion and dedication, 1961.
1960s — Chapel
A decade later in the late 1960s, the LWML once again came to the aid of Holy Hope. At the time, the number of students had increased and the school was in need of a chapel as there was no suitable place to have students worship. With pledged funds from the LWML in 1968-1969, a new chapel was erected and dedicated in 1972.2
Dedication plaque upon entering the front entrance to the chapel: “FUNDS FOR THIS BUILDING WERE PROVIDED IN PART BY THE INTERNATIONAL LUTHERAN WOMEN’S MISSIONARY LEAGUE OF THE LUTHERAN CHURCH — MISSOURI SYNOD, 1972”
The chapel can accommodate just over 300 students at one time. Chapel services are conducted during the first school period, four mornings a week: Monday, grades 7-9; Tuesday, grade 10; Wednesday, grade 11; and Thursday, grade 12.
Engraved Japanese calligraphy artwork adorns an outside wall under the eve of the chapel, quoting Proverbs 9:10, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.”
2018 — Holy Hope Lutheran School (Seibo Gakuen)
The school now averages a yearly enrollment of around 1200 students in grades 7-12. When the LCMS took over the school in 1951, there were less than 150 students. Currently in the 2018 academic year, a total of 1,156 students are enrolled (junior high, 135; senior high 1,021). Since its founding in 1951, Holy Hope Junior and Senior High School has graduated a combined total of 20,494 Japanese youth. While this figure may seem impressive, the daunting fact is that less than 1% of the Japanese population is Christian. Japan has a culture that is highly resistant to the Gospel. However, God has graciously given the opportunity for seeds to be sown over the years at Holy Hope in cooperation with the LWML. We have God’s own promise that His word does not return empty but accomplishes its own purpose (Isaiah 55:10-11). Had it not been for the early support of the LWML, Holy Hope would not be the school that it is today and thousands of Japanese may not have had the opportunity to hear the Gospel.
1 The background story as to how the LCMS obtained Holy Hope is from a piece of oral history related by Rev. James Wiese in 2008 when he visited Japan. Rev. Wiese was an LCMS missionary to Japan and served first as the school’s religious advisor (1964-1969), then as principal (1969-1977), and finally as Chairman of the School Board (1977-1980).
Additional information is found in “A History of the Japan Mission—LCMS,” a personal account by Rev. Richard Meyer who was an LCMS missionary to Japan (1948-1971).
2 Sources for the chapel construction include the above-cited Meyer memoir, common knowledge on site at the school, and the LWML publication, “Mission Grants Resume 1943-2015,” found online at: https://unite-production.s3.amazonaws.com/tenants/lwml/ attachments/66383/1943_2015HistoricalMissionGrantsResumeFinal20160330.pdf
For more information about this mission grant, view the mission grant history page here.