Edited by Frank Fortunato email@example.com
Coordinator, AD2000 Worship and Arts Network
Greetings, Worship and Arts Friends.
In a secret gathering in Morocco, Hassan combined elements of ancient and modern day life, playing the ageless lute, but teaching the young people present a new song he had just written. Here is yet one more example of a trend spreading across the planet -- people finding their own worship expression through their own musicians writing songs that come from their own culture.
Like most other mission areas, missionaries to Morocco over a century ago did what the could to help people worship. They took their familiar western hymns and translated them into Arabic. Amazingly, some of those hymns are still used in Moroccan churches. In the early 1970s Moroccan believers went to the Middle East to study and brought back some of the Arabic songs popular among Christians there. Since then, missionaries and believers imported songs from Egypt and other parts of the Middle East. But gradually the Moroccan believers started looking for something new. They wanted their own songs that more specifically reflected their background and heritage. A team understood this and began equipping Moroccans to write worship music. Their efforts are meeting with success. In December 1996 the first Christian Music Seminar took place with Moroccan musicians studying lyric writing, composition, vocal and instrumental skills and the biblical basis for worship. The fourteen men and women present wrote and recorded sixteen songs. Music seminars continued annually since then, resulting in more than 80 new worship songs.
Believers still meet mostly in secret and in homes. But neighbors can't help hearing the worship. One missionary working in the area described the reactions: "Singing the foreign music created suspicion with neighbors and discouraged the believers. Now, using local words and music the neighbors just realize we are having a good time."
At least one music group has formed with plans to record and visit cities throughout Morocco to introduce the new music to other believers. Developing the musical potential of Moroccan believers and building a uniquely Moroccan body of worship music will be an ongoing project. Plans are in the making to produce a book of 500 songs for use throughout North Africa. The Moroccan churches see this as a way to give back to their sister churches some of what they have received over the years.
(Adapted from an article in The Gospel Message, 1999, issue 3. The entire issue is dedicated to music and is titled: "The sound of music around the world, churches finding their own songs." Used by permission. For more information about obtaining a copy of this special issue email firstname.lastname@example.org)
After months of preparation for one of the first ever Christian Music Festivals in Turkey the unbelievable happened. Just around the time for this unprecedented event to begin in Izmir the gigantic earthquake hit the nation. Before long the government had declared a month of grief and discouraged all live music, especially in outside venues. Seven bands had come from various parts of the globe. Organizers decided not to send them all home, and sought other creative and practical ways to use the musicians. After conferring with pastors and other Christian leaders a plan emerged to send the teams out as servants to help hurting people. Instead of the concert venues the groups went to major cities to meet with Turkish believers to encourage them and provide teaching on worship. Rather than try to collect honoraria for themselves they used the opportunity to raise funding for disaster relief.
(As reported by Frank Fortunato in an interview with a Christian musician working in Turkey. Name withheld by request).
(One of the most unusual and creative forms of worship and intercession just took place in Pakistan, where there has been much persecution of believers over many years. As this story is so unprecedented, an entire upcoming issue of the Global Worship Report will be devoted to covering it in much greater detail).
A Pakistani Christian leader saw a TV news report of an Islamic Party that had hired a railway train to promote their cause throughout the country. The idea came to him: "If they can do such a thing for their cause, why can't we do a similar thing for Jesus." To his surprise, when he shared it with some close friends, they were positive. A whole train of eight carriages was then hired. One carriage was used as a book shop, one as a Bible exhibition. There were puppet shows, musical concerts and literature distribution. A prayer team used one carriage to intercede for Pakistan. The Jesus video was shown on the platform in places where the train stopped overnight. Fifty people from each city traveled on the train, stopping at various stations. The March for Jesus literally moved on the train from one end of the nation to the other.
In a report about this event the organizers shared: "We have had Marches for Jesus in various cities of Pakistan for the past five years. There have been many benefits for these public acts of witness:
(Adapted from "Call to Prayer-News from Bangladesh and Pakistan, November, 1999, a publicatioin of Operation Mobilization. Used by permission. For more information, email: email@example.com).
"Last February a team of missionaries working with Pioneers Mission in Indonesia made a simple purchase that changed the face of their ministry. They bought a set of traditional local music instruments called "degung". They hoped it would be a way to have interested neighbors in their home, and it immediately opened the floodgates! Every day for the next two weeks, their home was the local meeting place of numerous neighborhood ladies. Opportunities to love and bear witness to these neighbors sprung up. They enjoyed hearing and singing praise songs in their own language, and hearing abut church activities. One young woman expressed her desire to join the church. Another older woman had an amazing dream that she herself interpreted that she could go to heaven only if she became a Christian. The Pioneers missionary wrote: "We've sensed for quite some time that the Lord was moving us in the direction of the arts in order to facilitate something much larger. We've received approval to open a "sanggar", a community center for the arts, where our Muslim neighbors and our Christian friends and family could come together in a friendly setting. We're now negotiating the price of the building and are also talking with a team of national Christians to begin a large-scale cultural arts center that would be openly Christian-the first of its kind."
(As reported in Pioneers Newsletter Vol. 3 No 3, 1999. Used by permission)
Christian radio continues to be one of the mighty tools that God uses in restricted areas of the world. In one Central Asian country that prohibits much Christian activity a colleague of FEBC radio reported that forty people came to Christ in just one week. FEBC uses indigenous music as part of its broadcasts. FEBC and other groups demonstrate how this honors the local cultures that were severely suppressed during the Soviet era. Many FM stations are now springing up in Central Asia providing unprecedented opportunities to use local Christian music to build bridges into a culture.
(As reported in Global Prayer Digest, October, 1999).
"Our songs have been our weapons, Song Festivals our victories," stated Estonian president Lennart Meri in his opening remarks for the twenty- third National Estonian Song Festival this past July, attended by more than 100,000. Moravian missionaries sparked a revival in the eighteenth century that musicologists confirm spread through choral singing more than by preaching. Estonian Evangelical Fellowship President Meego Remmel confirms that the methodology has not changed. One choral conductor noted, "Music is the first pulpit here in Estonia-the sermon is the second."
The singing culture celebrated especially through Song Festivals provided a means for a peaceful, yet effective resistance, nurturing a renewed national community. One choral conductor noted: "We sang ourselves free." When glasnost made real change a possibility in the 1980s, organizers who were gathered for a "Singing Revolution" at the Song Festival grounds in late 1988 inserted political speeches between concerts. Soon afterward concrete steps were taken to separate Estonia from the USSR.
Estonia accurately represents many nations living under repression whose people turn to the arts-and music in particular-as a means of preserving ethnic and religious identity. But when political threats are removed, art styles and content often are influenced by market trends and economic demands rather than prophetic urgency. Recognizing this new danger President Meri implored his nation to continue to support this uniquely national art form and its deeply spiritual roots.
(As reported by Steven J. Pierson in Christianity Today, October 26, 1999. Used by permission).
"I hear so many saying of my years in prison, "This poor Wurmbrand. He has suffered so much." There was suffering, but in truth there was also such joy to be with Christ. We sang in prison because Christ was alive in us. Many Christians sing once a week. We sang in prison every day. We sang accompanied by musical instruments. The Communists in our Romanian prison...gave every Christian a musical instrument. They did not give us violins or mandolins...Instead they put chains on our hands and feet. We discovered that chains are splendid musical instruments...
Not only did we sing, but we also danced in prison. The guards looked through a peephole so they could see what was happening. When they saw me dancing they were sure that I had gone mad. They were ordered to treat madmen very well because madmen would bang on the door and shout, destroying the order in prison. Immediately the guard opened the door, entered, patted me on the shirt and said, "I'll bring you something good, only behave yourself, sit quietly and I will bring it to you." He brought back a loaf of bread and a piece of cheese...Jesus says that when you are oppressed, rejoice and leap for joy! I leaped for joy and He brought me all these things, a big loaf of bread and even cheese and sugar...When anything troubles you, sing a song. It is written in Hebrews 2:12 that Jesus will sing together with us. Your voice is needed in the choir.
(As reported by Richard Wurmbrand in The Voice of the Martyrs, May 1999. Used by permission).
Evangelist and musician Dan McCraw preached at the Yamato Calvary Chapel in Tokyo, Japan in October, 1999. Dan reports: "As we were preparing to close, I started singing some songs in Japanese. That is when I noticed a young woman who I thought was probably in her early twenties. She was in a wheel chair where, we found out later, she had been confined for many years. When we started to sing 'How Great Thou Art' she lifted her hands. Suddenly she leaped to her feet. She was completely and instantly healed! Her father was so deeply moved by what he saw he ran forward asking about salvation." Dan continues: "Later, this same young lady pushed her wheel chair around, and then stood in the back to greet people as they came by. You could see the glow of the Lord upon her as well as the new life that was being pumped into her body by his power!"
(As reported by Alice Smith in the U.S. Prayer Track newsletter).
(John Benham grew up as a preacher's kid with a heart for missions. He was also a musician with a PhD in instrumental conducting. The following story with brief snapshots from the life and career of John Benham represents the potential of how God can creatively merge music and missions).
It all began in a jungle of Indonesia, on an island and among a people called the Taliabo. Missionaries brought the gospel to them and had the joy of seeing many come to Christ. The new believers were encouraged to sing using their vernacular music. Original songs were birthed-prayers from the hearts of the new believers. Missionaries realized the music should be preserved and shared. They invited John to visit the Taliabo. John began to record the local worship songs with the intention of getting them written down in a form of music notation. Why bother, he reasoned?? They can barely read, let along read music! He moved ahead, recording, then transcribing the songs. Before long a book of new worship songs was produced. So that local people could take advantage of the music materials John then developed music literacy materials so they could read, write and preserve their worship songs for their children and grand-children.
From that beginning invitations came to work with other tribes? The concept of Music In World Cultures, Inc. was born. Before long MIWC had a seven-station midi-computer lab to help train musicians to use the latest technology to transcribe non-western music. A resource center followed, with 1500 volumes and 400 audio and videotapes from around the world. Crown College and MIWC established a partnership and the MIWC Ethnomusicology Training Center was set up through the college. The curriculum for the MA in Ethnomusicology soon developed and received accreditation. Students started to enroll. Soon the graduates moved out around the world with projects in Indonesia, Ukraine, India and the US.
(Excerpted from MIWC Newsletter, September, 1999. For more information on MIWC visit their web site at www.miwc.org)
One of the most well-known pictures of worship that has inspired God's people for many decades is the five-part definition penned by William Temple, when he writes that worship is:
|1. a quickening of||the conscience||by the holiness of God|
|2. a feeding of||the mind||by the truth of God|
|3. an inspiring of||the imagination||by the beauty of god|
|4. an opening of||the heart||to the love of God|
|5. a devoting of||the will||to the purpose of God|
A three-week adventure into the world of cultural arts and music has commenced at the La Mirada, California campus of Biola University in January, 2000. One of the outcomes of the course is to expand an understanding of ways to contextualize the Gospel in non-western cultures, and see the ways that arts are keys to communication and understanding. The arts are presented as vehicles of social interaction, a kind of "cultural glue" that helps hold values and traditions in place. The course is helping participants see metaphors in all art forms and look for their meanings. The course helps students see how Jesus was a poet-communicator. People are learning methods of researching ethnic art forms with the overall goal of reaching into the hearts of people with the good news of Jesus. The course is particularly insightful for missions research and anthropological studies, for teachers and social workers, worship leaders and church planters.
(As reported by Fellowship of Artists for Cultural Evangelism (FACE). For more information email FACE at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Interested in effectively using music in your cross-cultural work? Take a week of training in Applied Ethnomusicology through the Center for Intercultural Training International in N. Carolina. The course provides the philosophy and tools for cross-cultural music ministry and can be taken by anyone interested in music and missions, even without formal musical training. Topics to be covered include research, planning and strategies for music ministry; music workshops; strategies for developing and disseminating indigenous Christian music; and more. The second part of the week will focus on the specific areas of the world that the students are interested in, so some of the content will be "tailor-made" to the needs of each student. The course will be offered twice this year through CITI, March 27-31 and October 23-27. The teacher is Paul Neeley, ethnomusicology consultant within the International Worship & Arts Network (AD2000 & Beyond Movement). For examples of what will be discussed in class, and to see case studies that demonstrate the power of indigenous Christian music in evangelism and worship, look under "Ethnic Music" at the Network's website: www.worship-arts-network.com.<> For further information on the class, go to www.citi.org.<>
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