Edited by Frank Fortunato email@example.com
Coordinator, AD2000 Worship and Arts Network
[Here is an item that was covered a few issues back. As there are many new subscribers since then, we thought of running a slightly different version of the story.]
The spoken verse hung in the air like the dust raised by a passing truck. The men and women in the church in Ghana waited expectantly following the reading from the Vagla, (one of Ghana's tribes) New Testament.
Hesitantly at first, but with growing confidence, one old woman began to sing aloud the song in her heart: "He who is carrying a heavy load and is getting tired, bring it to Jesus. He will save you. You who labor hard, come to Jesus because he has peace."
The 2000-year-old words tumbled out of her mouth, carried by a new melody composed in a traditional Vagla song type. Immediately the other women responded with the chorus line. One of them grasped a rattle to provide the accompaniment. The Vaglas were becoming free to worship the true God through their own music became reality.
As the singer moved deeper into worship in her Lord she fell to her knees: "Let's give him glory because he is my Father." As she finished, another woman took up the theme in a different song style. Then it was the men's turn, and soon everyone was up on their feet, dancing in a circle or improvising an accompaniment on any rattles or drums available. They were so eager to sing and dance as people who were uniquely both Christians and Vaglas. Until that occasion their worship music had been borrowed from other ethnic groups and was not rooted in Vagla culture. Now the Vagla musical types of songs are communicating the gospel in a form that all Vagla people recognize as their own.
John 3:16 was accompanied by an ensemble of seven antelope horns played in intricate, interlocking patterns. To the uninitiated, it sounded more like a traffic jam. But to the Vagla people, it was one of the sweetest sounds on earth-especially when coupled with that life-changing verse.
(As reported by Paul Neeley and Sue Hall in the Evangelical Missions Quarterly, April 1999. For more information on the EMQ journal send email to: Emqjournal@aol.com). See other stories below from<> this special indigenous worship issue of EMQ.
In an unnamed nation near India 500 churches have been started, all by nationals. One of the tools used by the church planters is indigenous music. Songs in the local style and dialect have a major role in the life of these churches. Not one song has been imported by outside sources. All the songs have been written by new believers. But these are not the typical three-five minute songs aimed for radio air play. These are songs that go on for hours. In fact they are not considered legitimate songs unless they are at least three hours long and fully dramatized. There is a "new song" time in every service. The congregation learns the new melody and then spontaneously sings and worships the Lord hour after hour.
Artistic expressions also get full use in the initial evangelism stages of this church planting movement. Evangelists go out two by two to a circuit of five villages. Around evening they walk into the village and go to the place where the men gather for storytelling. They ask them about their local stories of creation and the origin of evil. After listening to their stories the evangelists ask permission to tell theirs. They trust the Lord for a contact, a "man of peace" who will show interest in them. Five nights later they return to the village, providing they have the "man of peace" contact and tell the second story. They work through the family network of their contact.
The stories are part of a powerful witnessing method developed by New Tribes Mission. (For more information contact New Tribes mission at ntm.org. Their web site is: www.ntm.org/books/video.html)
One of the Kazakh poets has written: "Kazakh people come to life with music and leave life with music." When a baby is born, they sing. When someone dies, they sing. At weddings they sing.
Through poetry and song, Kazakhs give expression to what's important to them. "Before, we composed songs devoted to the Communist Part," says a Kazakh man, recalling the 70 years of Soviet rule. "We forgot that someone exists above the party. We forgot God. Now we compose songs for the Living God." One of the important resources for new Kazakh song is the book of Psalms. Music and worship will have an important part in the growth of the emerging Kazakh church.
(As reported by Marti Smith in the Good Report, a publication ministry of Caleb Project. (For more information: email firstname.lastname@example.org).
Kirk Bullington develops evangelism strategies using music for the Baptist Spanish Publishing House. He has just developed a unique product that fits Latin culture perfectly: top ten Latino Pop music that communicates the Good News. It is intended to be the functional equivalent of a gospel tract to be bought by Christians and churches and given away as part of prayer walking.
(For more information, email: email@example.com)
Some years ago missionary Herbert Klem was working with the Yoruba people of Nigeria. He worked with local churches and composers to arrange the entire book of Hebrews to Yoruba styles of music. The songs were then recorded and distributed. The results were nothing less than fantastic. People were memorizing entire chapters, just by listening to the cassette over and over. The songs couldn't be contained within the church walls and were used by people walking to their farms, going to market, and simply going about their daily life. The cassettes were even played in the beer halls. The songs permeated the society enabling many Yoruba to be true worshipers of God.
(As reported by Paul Neeley and Sue Hall in the Evangelical Missions Quarterly, April 1999. For more information on the EMQ journal send email to: Emqjournal@aol.com)
"The converted Muslim leader (imam) closed all the windows, dropped the shades, and quietly, cautiously played the forbidden tape -- an ancient psalm of David in the style of the minaret so familiar to him. With an exhilarating mixture of fear and joy he allowed the missionary to share this unique and wonderful moment with him. How he loved the beauty and truth of God's Word, especially nestled within the music that he loved."
This true story comes from a special issue of the Evangelical Missions Quarterly that recently featured the role of ethnomusicology in missions. One article by missionary musician David Nelson presented a scenario to help readers grasp the importance of indigenous thinking about music and worship and the arts: "Imagine your family's home and then the church where you habitually go for instruction, fellowship, worship, and ministry. Now imagine that the musical instrument of choice in the church service isn't a piano, organ, or guitar, but rather a whining Indian sitar accompanied perhaps by hollow-sounding bamboo flutes. Or imagine an unaccompanied array of varying sized drums, or a tune (not in 4/4 time but) in a 44/16 rhythm. If you've succeeded in visualizing that, go one step further and put meaningful words of adoration or evangelization to the odd sounds, rhythms, and beats. Now extend this scene from just one special meeting to all of your private devotion, church worship, and outreaches and ask yourself, "Am I comfortable in this setting!" Most likely your answer will be No. (By implication, neither would these people be comfortable trying to handle the musical and artistic expressions of another culture).
Nelson continues, "Ethnomusicology is a tool, made marvelously efficacious by God's design and initiative. More and more Christian colleges offer ethnomusicology courses."
As God raises up an army of worship musicians ready to lay their lives down to see churches planted in unreached people group areas, especially in the 10/40 window, the use of ethnomusicology principles, and sensitivity to indigenous music and arts can be an amazing bridge reaching into a people's culture.
(As reported in the April 99 issue of Evangelical Missions Quarterly. For more information on this article by David Nelson, send email to: Emqjournal@aol.com)
On 10 June 2000 Jesus Day will take place. It will probably be the largest millennium celebration of the Christian world. The day will mark the 2000th anniversary of Jesus. As a global act of unity people will kneel before him on that day to declare that "He is our God and we are the people of his pasture." The Jesus Day Dedication prayer will state that Jesus is Lord and that we offer ourselves to work with him until the whole earth is full of the knowledge of his glory. The day will also include a statement on the progress of the Great Commission from the AD2000 and Beyond Movement to help focus prayer for the nations of the world. Graham Kendrick has written a millennium chorus that will be broadcast on television across the world over New Year 2000 and also used in the June 2000 Jesus Day. The 22 May 1999 marches again cover the planet with marches on every continent.
(From the Global March for Jesus Update. For more information email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Christians in the Visual Arts (CIVA), a vibrant international organization with 1500 members, celebrates twenty years of ministry. CIVA's stated purposes are "1) to encourage Christians in the visual arts to develop their particular callings to the highest professional level possible 2) to learn how to deal with specific problems in the field without compromising our faith and our standard of artistic endeavor, 3) to provide opportunities for sharing work and ideas, 4) to foster intelligent understanding, a spirit of trust, and a cooperative relationship between those in the arts, the church, and society, and 5) ultimately, to establish a Christian presence within the secular art world." In short, CIVA exists to explore and nurture the relationship between the visual arts and the Christian faith.
CIVA's newsletter reaches 7000 readers, and includes 700 examples of members' work, perhaps one of the best available resources for contemporary religious art.
(From Christianity Today, May 24, 1999, and the CIVA web site. For more information, email: email@example.com.<> Web site: www.civa.org).
While the Olympics will dominate the international gathering of people to Australia next year, another significant global gathering will take place 15-24 January 2000 in Sydney. This will be the third World Christian Gathering of Indigenous People. The aim of the conference is to celebrate legitimate indigenous cultural expressions of worship and praise, to discuss ways of developing missions to the world from an indigenous perspective and to celebrate the start of the new millennium.
(For more information, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or TeHouOra.Aotearoa@xtra.co.nz)
On Friday evening, December 31, 1999, there will be a HUGE celebration in hundreds of churches and ministries in at least 30 countries around the world. People in these groups will be celebrating 2,000 years of Christian experience. In music, in story, in drama, and in prayer, the highlights, (and low points), in Christian experience will be remembered. The focus of this project will be twofold: 1) glorifying God for His Son, and for His faithfulness over 2,000 years, and 2) ministering to the unreached, throughout the world. In total this will be a celebration lasting up to three hours, featuring drama, music, stories and prayer, ending in a service of worldwide communion.
The celebration actually kicks off September 1, 1999 as local participating churches and groups around the world will meet to initiate prayer for the project which will continue through mid-2000 with follow-up discipling for those who have made commitments to Christ as a result of this project. This special celebration can be planned both in large and small churches.
(For more information, especially how your church or group could be involved, email: DramaShare@xc.org)
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