Lifting Survivors' Spirits Through Music

Michtam Records, a Christian music company in Japan, has been partnering with CRASH's Mobile Café program and provided concerts for the survivors who visit the café. In their quarterly publication, Tambourine, musician Migiwa and CRASH Japan's Nasu base volunteer Sousuke Noda share their experiences with music at the mobile café.

Testimony by Migiwa

I started volunteering with CRASH's Ichinoseki and Sendai bases this year. I started participating in concerts last year, but I'd always have to leave right after and never had time to talk and spend time with the people who came. After the concert at this temporary housing, I was able to make time to talk with many people, sing with them, and do crafts with them. I was very thankful for this time. At first we would make small talk but little by little the survivors shared their stories of sorrow with me. It moves me to hear that through all the obstacles, they remain strong. It's hard to think of truly encouraging things to say, but I want to continue to be close to them and listen.

Coming up with a repertoire for the concerts, I think about what kinds of stories and songs the audience will love. I try to implement songs that people will know, and will not tire of. There are many elderly people in most temporary housing communities, and so I get a lot of requests to perform enka songs. So I've practiced some enka songs and they enjoy that so much. I'm always delighted when they recognize a song and sing along and clap their hands to the rythm. At the end I give a testimony or sing a song with a message. As I sing I pray that they will be filled with God's love. At the end of the concert, the audience always expresses their appreciation, and I realize although I went to encourage them, I often end up being encouraged as well. Every time, I am struck with the warmth of the people of Tohoku.

Testimony by Sousuke Noda, Crash Nasu base staff

For the past six months I have been involved with CRASH's mobile café outreach. The mobile cafés open up at the temporary housing communities to serve tea and perform hand massages to the people, and listen to their stories. However, I always felt there was something missing in this outreach. As I volunteered in Fukushima prefecture, I have been hearing over and over again, people's stories about how they fled with only the clothes on their back after the nuclear power plant accident, and how they couldn't go back home because of it. We are not permitted to share openly about faith in the temporary housing communities and therefore I could not respond with words from the Bible. I listen wholeheartedly, in hopes that that will help to ease their stress, but often times the conversation just ends on a sad note.

However, since the arrival of the Michtam team and their music programs, the mobile cafés have become a brighter place. At first I thought Pastor Chu Kosaka was just going to perform his songs but he mixed in magic tricks and stories, so it created such a great atmosphere. The show was really the work of a professional. God gave us music. This time, more than ever, we need to bring that praise and music to people who are suffering. Singing along with the people at temporary housing is something everyone can do, whether it's someone who isn't a conversationalist, or can't speak Japanese. I hope that through this ministry, more people will come to Fukushima.

Tambourine, June 2012 Issue, Published by Michtam Records

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