This summer, Ohio Christian University’s orchestra went on its third mission trip to Japan. From Jul. 29 to Aug. 17, students had the opportunity to share not only their musical talents but their passion for spreading the gospel.
The orchestra directors, Roger and Linda Stieg, completed their graduate work at the Talent Education Institute in Matsumoto, Japan. After graduation, the Steigs were asked to come back to play some concerts. They agreed to return, hoping to be an example of how God can use even musical talent to help fulfill the Great Commission. Found in Matthew 28, the Great Commission says that Christians are to share the gospel with all nations.
They began this series of trips taking professionals, however in recent years they started bringing orchestra students from Ohio Christian. “The other purpose of these trips is to expose young people to the mission field in the hopes that God will call them into full-time or part-time missions,” Roger said. “That’s why I take young people.”
At the start of the trip, the team split in half. Some of the team went to Matsumoto while others went to Karuizawa. Both groups performed concerts at churches during their Sunday morning services, which Linda said gave them a chance to experience the culture and connect with Japanese Christians. Later in the trip, the team reconnected in Matsumoto to perform at a local hospital. Overall, they played 20 concerts that were free and open to the public.
Karuizawa, where the team played at a historic Union Church, is a tourist area that attracts thousands of visitors every year. The orchestra’s sounds could be heard by these tourists as they gathered to observe the nearby Shinto Shrine, which opened the door for them to hear the gospel.
Through performance, individuals are drawn in that may not otherwise step foot in a church. This is significant for the culture, as 80% of the Japanese population has never been exposed to Christianity. “Students would plant seeds of Christianity in between the pieces we played,” Linda said. As the students shared their faith, the local missionaries handed out literature and prepared for long-term follow up with those in attendance.
These seeds took root in the testimony of one concert attendee. When she first arrived, she was still skeptical of Christianity. After the concert, she said that the music had touched her heart in places that words could not reach, and she wanted to become a Christian. They were then able to walk her through the steps of becoming a Christian.
“The Lord said to take the gospel to the whole world,” Roger said. This is the third time the orchestra has gone to Japan, which has given them the opportunity to build relationships in the area. It is the Steigs’ prayer that through these long-term investments and relationships, the tradition of this trip will continue for years to come.
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