Global Worship Report
Vol 1, No 5

Global Worship Report - Vol 1, No 5

September, 1998
Edited by Frank Fortunato
Coordinator, AD2000 Worship and Arts Network

  1. GHANA: Vernacular worship "resurrected" at funeral
  2. ISLAND BREEZE: Indigenous worship around the world
  3. COLOMBIA: Hymns comfort friends of martyred missionary
  4. BRAZIL: The very first Canela worship songs
  5. SOUTH AFRICA: Tom Ingles and Psalmody International
  8. DAVE HALL: worship and the role of worship/arts leaders on church planting teams

1. GHANA: Vernacular Worship Resurrected at Funeral

Pastor Emmanuel from the Bassari people in Kpandai village in Ghana tells the most amazing story about the power of a people's heart music: "At the funeral of a church member the non-Christians performed the traditional funeral rites. As the Christians came forward people started leaving as usual. But this time things were different. The believers started singing some of the new indigenous Christian songs, and the townspeople started coming back! At the sound of the traditional drumming people started running back from all directions! This was different from the days when we used translated hymns and choruses that did not reflect the Bassari musical system. The people came back to church services where new life was given to the traditional music. This music effectively proclaimed the gift of new life through Christ in a genre they understood.

For more information, contact Leticia Dzokotoe: c/o

3. Island Breeze - Indigenous Worship Around the World

For the last 17 years Island Breeze teams have captivated audiences and seen lives changed in over 30 nations by sharing the gospel through dynamic cultural expressions and personal testimony. Island Breeze has eleven teams of devoted musicians and dancers who come from various cultures, from Samoa, Hawaii, and Tahiti to South Africa. The teams have been especially effective in Native American and other minority cultures. Island Breeze also holds seminars and workshops on cross-cultural evangelism, cross-cultural worship, wholeness in a multicultural society, human potential and its culture, and more. As a ministry of YWAM, the International Headquarters is in Tampa, Florida where the team offer the six-month Discipleship Training School (DTS) as well as the 3-month Principles of Redeeming Cultures School (PRCS).

For more information:

4. Colombia: Hymns Comfort Friends of Martyred Missionary

Charles W. Hood Jr., a Southern Baptist missionary to Colombia, was shot and killed April 21 in front of his home in Bogota. Colombia's rate of assassinations is the highest in the world, and nine times that of the USA. "We were grieved and saddened at the news of Charley's death but we are deeply grateful for his life and ministry in Colombia," said IMB President Jerry Rankin. "Charley, however, did not die when he was gunned down in Bogota, Colombia, but years ago when he died to self and committed his life to follow Christ."

At the memorial service missionaries were present from almost every mission in Colombia. One of the missionaries writes: "The seriousness on everyone's faces make me realize that they too know that this could have been them. And the question that fills all our minds is, "who will be next?"

The singing starts, and we begin with "He leadeth me", one of Charley's favorites. The words are very hard to read, much less sing: 'Even death's cold wave I will not flee, since God through Jordan leadeth me..'

Words were spoken in love and kindness about Charley. More singing followed: 'Blessed Assurance', 'Amazing Grace', then a solo version of 'It is well with my soul'. We ended the time singing 'How great thou art'. Is it strange that I began to feel joy? No I think not. There is joy that we can be counted worthy to suffer for His sake. Joy that this life isn't the end of the chapter; joy that our little labor is not in vain and joy in thinking of what it will be like when thousands upon thousands of dear ones and martyred servants of God all bow in worship and praise around the throne room in heaven and we see the ONE who counted it all joy to be slain for us and to redeem us to Himself."

For the full report contact Deedee at

5. Brazil: The Very First Canela Worship Songs:

For nearly 20 years Jack and Jo Popjes, Canadian missionaries with Wycliffe, tried to learn the music of the Canela people of northeastern Brazil. Jack and Jo could not grasp the subtleties of Canela music. The Canelas showed little interest in writing any new music for themselves. Despite their love of music, the Canelas sang only ancient songs. They did not compose new music. Everyone was content to sing the old songs about ghosts and water monsters, just as their ancestors had done. It would have been easy for the Popjeses to simply translate hymns (using the Canela language and the original European/American music). "But this would have caused problems," they report. "Hymn translation can perpetuate the false idea that Christianity is a foreign religion."

Jack and Jo sought help from Dr. Tom Avery, a Wycliffe ethnomusicologist also working in Brazil at the time. Tom did extensive library research on the tribe. He then went with Jack and Jo and recorded Canela music so he could analyze it using a computer program he had written. After making recordings of Canela music Tom transcribed the music note by note, aided by computer-generated graphs of the melodies. Every part of the Canela music system was examined -- form, melody, rhythm, scale, and more. He discovered that the intervals between notes of the Canela scale differ from the European scale. Therefore, Canela music cannot be played on a piano, because some of the notes would "fall in the cracks."

Then Tom Avery and Jack Popjes teamed up to create 23 Canela songs with Christian lyrics, most of which were direct quotations from Scripture. With lyric sheets in hand and a tape recording of themselves singing the songs, Avery and the Popjeses arrived in the main villages. The moment they started playing the tape, the Canelas became very excited. Within minutes, the Canela men started to join in. Soon the women added a high-pitched harmony part. "I just stood there and bawled. It was so perfect," Jack remembers.

Over the next few nights, hundreds of villagers gathered to learn the new songs. One Canela song leader told the Popjeses, "I never realized we could make up our own songs." Another Canela told them: "You have been here all these years and gave us writing. Your friend Tom has only been here a little while, and he taught us how to sing to God." Jack estimates that between 5 and 10 percent of the tribe have now placed their faith in Jesus Christ. New Christians enjoy freedom from the fear of ghosts and evil spirits. Looking back on their whole ministry, Jack says providing the songs may have been their most important contribution. "While the Bible translation was essential, the Scripture in those songs did more for them than the Bible translation."

Excerpted from Christian Reader, July/August, 1998. Used by permission

7. South African Tom Ingles and Psalmody International

The teaching and singing ministry of South African Christian Artist Tom Inglis continues to impact many. Tom was worship pastor at one of the fastest growing churches in the world, located in South Africa. He has appeared on numerous radio and TV programs where he shares about worship as a lifestyle. Shortly after he led the Hosanna Integrity recording and video "We are One" in South Africa in 1993 Tom relocated to the United States. He now resides with his family in the San Diego area. Tom heads Psalmody International with the objective of starting schools of worship in local churches where believers can be taught the principles of worship as a lifestyle. "It is not the act of worship that God seeks but the life of worship. This begins in the life of the believer and then extends to his home, his local church and the world," Tom says. He feels evangelism and the ministry of reconciliation must be priorities along with worship, and "for us to effectively reconcile we must first be worshipers. Our greatest witness to the world is our love for God. The end time worshiping church will be a witnessing church."

For more information on Tom and his ministry, email: or

8. New World Music Band:

Thirteen members of Wycliffe Bible Translators and friends recently inaugurated the Wycliffe World Music Band (WWMB) to perform at large Christian music festivals. Specializing in diversity, WWMB features traditional ethnic music and instruments from around the world. In all 150 different instruments will be played. The lyrics are primarily Scripture based. In addition to performing, the team will conduct workshops, and promote missions opportunities. Wycliffe ethnomusicologists study the music of the people around the world and encourage people to develop their indigenous music as an expression of their faith. Wycliffe ethnomusicologists train musicians at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Forth Worth.

For more information contact

9. Music and Missions Resources:

Canadian Grace Wiebe has a huge computerized library of music and missions materials that she is happy to share. There are about 400 pages of resources, available in 41 emails. Grace writes: "Initially I send you a one email intro with instructions and table of contents of what is available. Then you request specific sections. Then I send you what you want." Grace continues: "because of the nature of the materials, those in restricted access countries should not ask for these things. Feel free to request materials only when in a 'safe' country."

Contact info for Grace:

10. Dave Hall on Worship and the Role of Worship-Arts Leaders on Church Planting Teams.

Worship is both an event and a lifestyle in which believers, by grace, center their mind's attention and their heart's affection on the Lord, humbly glorifying God in response to His greatness, His mighty acts, and His Word.

A worship-arts leader is one who is uniquely gifted and called and trained to lead the people of God into the presence of God. Both historically and biblically, all the arts played a major role in corporate worship. They should, therefore, continue to have a major role, especially in the cross-cultural church planting context.

(Dave then continues with ten reasons why every church planting team needs a worship-arts leader. See below for information on getting the entire article. What follows are some excerpts)

#9 Worshiping churches worship best in the heart language of the people. This is culturally relevant worship that is intelligible to the people, incorporating their music, arts, and means of expressing truth.

#8 Worship in a people's heart language requires worship leadership. Facilitating the release of people from diverse cultures into worship in spirit and truth is both an art and a science. I call it "ethnodoxology", the study of how and why people of diverse cultures glorify the true and living God.

#5 Missionaries who are fired up about God will be more effective witnesses for His glory. John Piper has said, "you can't commend what you don't cherish." Our evangelism and discipleship of the nations must flow out of our passion for God and His glory, or it will be shallow at best, or man-centered and self-glorifying at worst.

#4 Culturally relevant musical and artistic worship is a powerful evangelistic tool inside and outside the church. Numerous case studies show that stereotypes of Jesus being the foreign God of a foreign religion are removed simply by relating the gospel and facilitating worship in culturally relevant forms. Showing interest in their music and arts validates them as a people and opens great opportunities for building relationships and sharing the gospel.

#2 It provides unique opportunities for creative access. One missionary learned to sing in the style of the people she is attempting to reach with the gospel. This opened up opportunity to record. She is now nationally known and has many opportunities to sensitively share her faith.

For the full article: information on subscribing to the Global<> Worship Report.

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