EthnoArts supports local scripture engagement
International (MNN) – If you have been a Christian for some time, you know that it is not enough to read only the Word of God. You also need to apply it to your life.
“The only thing Bible translators hate is producing a museum piece – something that stays on the shelf and doesn’t get used to,” Wycliffe United Statesexplains Chris Gassler.
“What we do in EthnoArts falls under the category of biblical engagement.”
The EthnoArts team is global and works hand in hand with communities that have just received the scriptures. They help believers find creative ways to express the truth from the Word of God, in whatever form is culturally relevant. Learn more about EthnoArts here.
“Communities are experts in their arts. We try to encourage them to use their local expressions, ”says Gassler.
“A lot of times that job is giving people permission because people looked at the western world and said, ‘Oh, that’s how you do church, that’s how you do Christianity. . ‘ I’m here to say, “No, no, no, you can be yourself!” “
Gassler relies on his career in professional music to lead songwriting workshops in countries across Africa. Each session balances biblical accuracy with cultural application.
“We do a devotion in the morning before we start; interacting with the text, talking about all the evangelical implications of it, because people in certain communities may or may not have heard the message accurately, ”says Gassler.
“Often in a workshop [on] on the first day, I’ll give them a passage and say, “I want you to quote this whole passage in a song,” something short, something simple; I will use often Philippians 2, somewhere between verses four and 11. ”
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The art may not seem like a natural “fit” with the translation of the Bible, but “[Bible] translators love the commitment to the scriptures. It is a natural extension of translation [because] you want it to be used, ”Gassler says.
“If you care about how people express themselves, the arts are at the heart of our concerns.”
The header image shows believers recording new Bible songs during a songwriting workshop. The group sings a new song based on Philippians chapter 2: 4-11 in the Baka language. (Photo, caption courtesy of Wycliffe USA)