A Band of New Brothers
Celebrate with us that we now have 5 new brothers in Christ in northern Madagascar – a band of new brothers, literally. When the TIMO Team (including 3 Canadian adults and 3 children) arrived on Nosy Be, an island off the north tip of Madagascar, they spent some time living with local families as a way to be immersed in the new culture and language. One of the new AIM families spent time in the home of a family which included a young man who was part of a band of 5 musicians who enjoyed playing the music of the Sakalava people. The TIMO Team began to build a relationship the members of the band which led to a unique ministry opportunity.
In order to communicate the Gospel clearly in a cultural context cross cultural workers need to learn the new language. Over time, they learn to communicate in culturally relevant ways so that there is a greater chance that people will understand and respond to the message. A key medium through which the Gospel becomes relevant and meaningful to people is when they hear music in their own language and cultural style.
The new missionaries had an idea. They invited the 5 man band to put scripture verses to music. The first step was to translate key passages into the Sakalava language (there was no translation of the Bible into Sakalava when the team first arrived). Then they would commission the group to create a song which would capture the words in a musical style the Sakalava would embrace. The band was excited to get started. One song led to many more as they put straight scripture to music. None of the members of the band were followers of Jesus yet but they were hearing, memorizing and communicating scripture whenever they performed the songs which they had written.
The young men were involved with the TIMO Team whenever they did local outreach events or had worship times together. They grew closer to the team … and closer to Jesus. Sakalava people loved the music and learned to sing along with the songs as they, too, proclaimed scripture together.
Too soon the 2.5 year team came to an end. The team said their good-byes and left Nosy Be. They had seen some people in their villages declare themselves as followers of Jesus and begin to gather for worship, fellowship and Bible teaching. The foundation of a new church was established. However, it was only after the team left Nosy Be that they heard the news. The 5 band members had all openly declared themselves to be followers of Jesus as well – a band of new brothers in Christ! Now the band continues to lead music in the worship services of the small group which meets. And their music will continue to ring out as others enjoy the words of scripture put to music in the style of the Sakalava!