Thursday, August 2, 2018

A War Song Revisited

The leader for the translation project walked up to me beaming, “This activity has accomplished everything I wanted to say.  I can put my computer in my bag and go home now.” We were only an hour into the four hour program.  Praise God for meeting the felt needs of this tireless worker who is striving to see his people reached through understanding the Gospel.

Presenting their finds on language use in the church and what needs to change. 

Zach led an audio Bible studies for the pastors who weren't from the area. The feedback was very encouraging as they saw the need and importance of audio Bible studies. 

Thankfully, the meeting arranged to help the local Pastors know how they could use the translated Scripture had even more in store.  Four men worked together before the meeting began that morning. Even the busy chairman of the District Church Counsel was involved.  I had asked them to sing me a traditional mourning song.  I hoped they could sing the beautiful words from 1 Peter 5:10 about suffering to the tune of a traditional mourning song.  One of the men, Mr. Peter, who is known as a great musician said, “I don’t think I know one.”  I wasn’t sure if it was because mourning songs were considered something Christian’s shouldn’t sing, he wasn’t old enough to know them or some other cultural reason, but I did know that if Mr. Peter didn’t know it, there was little hope I was going to get a mourning song in time for the meeting.  He said, “Let me go and talk with the chairman,” and as he went to discuss with the chairman, someone else told me, “Only women sing mourning songs, and the men just come and comfort, men can’t cry.” He helped me understand the women sing and cry at the same time, singing of heroes that have died, as they grieve this new loss.  OK.  New plan.
 I walked in the room where they were having a lively discussion in their language about singing the mourning songs and questioned, “Do men sing war songs?”
 “Yes!” they answered.
“Ok, let’s make it a war song, then.” In two minutes the chairman was singing a war song, everyone repeating the resounding “Oooohhhh, Ooooohhh” in between every line.  Their bodies swaying slightly. 
“Is there a dance to this?”
“No, because the men sing it when they are returning from war or from hunting. They just walk.”
Then Mr. Peter inserted the new verse from 1 Peter 5:8, just two verses before the one about suffering which we had originally planned to set to a mourning song tune,
 “Your enemy prowls like a roaring lion” 
“Ohhhh, Ohhhh”, the men chanted deeply in harmony,
“Seeking who he can devour,” Mr. Peter sang
“Ohhhhh, Ohhhhh”  came the answer. As they sang, they got louder, their smiles broader, their faces more radiant.

Two hours later I introduced the song to the group, and then Mr. Peter and the others stood up to sing.  They began, and a beautiful thing happened.  All the 70 men present responded with “Ohhhhh, Ohhhhh”, phones came out to record, the room came alive, and when I said, “Stand up!” They all stood enthusiastically, in unison, swaying, left arms raised…”Ohhhh, Ohhhh.”  The song ended with,
“Remember our brothers around the world are suffering”
“Ohhhh, Ohhhhh,”
“Just as we are suffering”
“Ohhhhh, Ohhhhhh”
“So stand firm.”

Everyone applauded.  They had acknowledged the grief through a war song, that they are suffering but they should stand strong.
Mr. Peter said, “We should do this with all our traditional songs that our people sing!”
Ah, yes, the vision was cast and caught, felt and experienced.

Please pray for the Rigwe people, especially these pastors, as they consider how they can use the translated Scripture to impact their language community with the wonderful Gospel that speaks to people in any circumstance, through the ages!

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