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Making Japanese Friends with African Drums

The first step to introducing people to Jesus is to meet people. But how do you do that in a country as private as Japan?

Japan is a nation of people who take their hobbies very seriously. But if you have something you’re keen about, you can almost be sure that there is some club or ‘circle’ in Japan pursuing it with intense passion.

For me I’ve always been interested in music. More recently I had dabbled in playing the djembe (a West African drum). So, I typed “djembe” and “Sendai” (where I live) into Google, and to my surprise there was a Facebook event advertising an African drumming class only a short distance from where I lived.

Nervously I turned up to the class, startling everyone as a brand-new student. Not only that: I was a foreigner! Being fresh out of language school, my nervousness did me no favours as I stumbled through a basic self-introduction. As the teacher began explaining the song, I could barely understand what he was talking about. “What have I gotten myself into?” I wondered.

But music is the great universal language. I couldn’t always understand the verbal instructions (and there were a surprising amount of them), but once the teacher began to play I was quickly able to pick things up.

​​​​​​​The class has helped me make Japanese friends, including, to my surprise, a Buddhist priest who attends.

I am most probably the first Christian any of the class attendees have ever become friends with. I’ve been able to clear up some questions they’ve had about religion such as, “Are you a Mormon?” and, “Are Islam, Judaism, and Christianity really just the same thing?” I’ve invited some over for dinner or to church events, opening up a window into our lives which is completely new for them.

Where will this lead to next? I don’t know, but I am praying that I may be faithful in pointing new Japanese friends to Jesus.

Written by Andrew


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