News Release

Okinawa Youth Share Testimonies of Christ through Music

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The Japan Okinawa Military District youth gathered for a “Musical Witness of Christ” festival in June, to share their testimonies of the Savior through music.

Young men and women from four branches sang, danced, played instruments, and spoke about their love of Jesus Christ.

“Playing the piano increases my faith in Christ because I feel the spirit when I play, and others can feel it too,” shared Corey Anderson, 12, from the Gushikawa Branch, before playing “I Stand All Amazed” on the piano.

The evening was emceed by Jake Halle, 13, and Caroline Trowbridge, 18, from the Kadena Branch, who shared questions, jokes, and personal stories between performances.

A video production, with faith-building stories from the older youth, opened the evening. Then youth took to the stage to share their talents.

Young men and women shared piano pieces, solos, group numbers, instrumental music, and even dances. The variety of performances was inspiring.

Liberty Black from the Kadena Branch, and Naomi Baumgartner from the Gushikawa Branch sang, “Priceless,” and testified, “As children of God our worth is decided before we came to earth. It’s more than diamonds or rubies or anything we can comprehend. We chose this song to testify that we are all priceless.”

Julia Hunt played the piano and shared, “Playing the piano brings me so much peace, and when I play I can feel Christ’s love for me.”

Reverent songs weren’t the only type of music shared. Miles Trowbridge performed on a drum set while Joseph Beck vigorously played the piano and Baden Francis joined with additional percussion.

And another song, sung by Sterling Beck, even included back-up dancers.

Musical dances were another venue as youth shared testimony. Ivy Trowbridge performed an Irish Dance to a favorite youth song, and later Anabel Salgado danced a hula. “This song talks about how God watches over our families,” she said at the beginning of her performance.

“The Musical Witness of Christ is an opportunity for participants and audience members alike to strengthen their testimonies of Christ,” explained Shaela Beck, district music specialist. “Youth are invited to share numbers that are not usually appropriate for Sacrament meeting, but are moving to the soul through word, rhythm, and tune.”

“This Christ-centered music of all genres allows our youth who play a variety of instruments. We have had drums, saxophone, electric guitar, and more,” added Stephanie Black, also a district music specialist. “It brings them into the church to play their music and they get to invite their friends to perform with them.”

“It’s been said that a testimony can be gained in the bearing of it and for some of our youth, music is the most meaningful avenue to do that,” continued Sister Beck. “One of the most rewarding aspects of this event is watching the youngest youth gain confidence and increase in performing ability. They start timid and hesitant in a safe environment and then start to be able to perform incredible musical numbers.”

Due to the transient nature of the military district, most families live in Okinawa between two and five years, so change is common. This is the third summer of the musical witness event, and it’s becoming a favorite district tradition.

“We always end the musical evening with the year’s youth theme song and the youth all sing together,” explained Sister Black. “For some, it’s their final opportunity to testify of Christ through music here in Okinawa.”

Before the finale, Joseph Beck, 16, from the Kadena Branch expressed mutual feelings of many of the youth, who were moving away during the following weeks.

“Moving isn’t about separating from people we love, but about moving on to share what you’ve learned from your friends to make the world better. We aren’t splitting up, we are just spreading out.”

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