Welcome to Kids Song Circle (KSC), our house church’s musical outreach ministry. Would you like to try some Japanese tongue twisters?
Banana no nazo wa mada nazo na no da zo (The mystery of the banana is still a mystery, you know.)
Namamugi namagome namatamago (raw wheat, raw rice, raw egg)
Sumomo mo momo mo momo no uchi (plums and peaches are both in the peach family)
The English versions of these tongue twisters may trip off the teeth, but in Japanese they’ll tie your tongue in knots! That makes them perfect for warming up lips and laughing muscles as we begin each gathering of KSC.
Sliding sirens, scales, and staccato syllables then round out vocal warm ups. Then we move on to games like Simon Says, Bubblegum Man, and imagination fireworks. We’re moving our bodies and our faces and getting comfortable with making sounds and music together.
Every KSC gathering includes learning and singing praise songs. We always talk about the meaning of the songs, end our time together in prayer, and send the kids home with a handout of the lyrics and where they’re found in Scripture.
This musical ministry has also proven to be a great avenue for getting to know families. Kids who are older and/or who live close to us can come on their own, but parents of younger ones often stay and participate along with their children. Afterwards, we chat with parents and invite them to other events or to our house church’s Sunday Bible gathering.
This kind of close contact is crucial for sharing the gospel. One of the moms from our first season of KSC ended up studying the Bible with me for nearly six months. Although good contacts can be made through one-off outreach events, we’ve found that regular, ongoing time together is what builds relationships where spiritual conversations can happen.
Music’s secret power
Songs are sticky. You might walk around with an earworm for a week or more, the same small song snippet playing on repeat in your head. You finally put it out of your mind, only to have it come back months or even years later when a few notes of background music or an advertising jingle remind you of the tune.
This quirky connection between melody and memory can create lifelong impressions of spiritual significance.
A Japanese Christian friend recently shared a story about her father, who passed away after dealing with dementia for a time. For his whole life, he was not a Christian. Toward the end, he heard someone singing “Jesus loves me,” and he said “Amen! Amen!”
My friend asked, “Why did you say that?”
And he replied, “I went to a church when I was a boy, and I heard that song.”
So next time you get a song stuck in your head or find yourself drumming your fingers along to a tune at the grocery store, thank God for music! It’s a really joy to get to share God’s love in Japan through Creative Arts ministry.
by Audrey, an OMF Missionary