Praise is rising! This is the message that kept coming to the Heart Sounds International team, even as they prepared to travel to Tanzania. The group felt that they should continue in this attitude of praise, and that they would be breaking up ground for seeds that would grow and bear fruit in HIS time. Farmers know this breaking up ground or ‘tilling’ is essential for a fruitful crop.
The Swahili Coast from Mombasa to Mozambique is historically Muslim, and most native inhabitants mix Islam with traditional religious beliefs. In Tanzania, Christians are usually from another part the country, and traditional arts are associated with actions and beliefs that do not reflect belief in the true and living God.
The HSI team went to support a still forming group of church planters by equipping them with ways to research their community in order to understand what that area lacked of the kingdom of heaven, what messages would help bring those things and what art forms would best communicate those messages. New, groundbreaking ideas!
During the week, the team heard stories about traditional drums used to wake up spirits, and people seeking answers to life’s problems from spirits in small structures near homes. More stories said that Christian leaders thought God could only be worshipped in Swahili, Tanzanian’s national language. Spiritual warfare was strong in the area, and there was resistance to some of the ideas the team brought. Many participants also left on day three to serve at an outreach in a different village.
Even before trip dates were solidified, HSI leaders and the team were praying for this trip. The group was blessed with an experienced intercessor on the team, who started praying from the day she agreed to come. They could feel God’s presence throughout the whole week, giving wisdom, strength, understanding and everything else needed in unending supply.
A handful of songs were composed, each with a message that community should hear. One had a melody typically heard where answers were sought from spirits. Another was written in two different Tanzanian languages, besides Swahili. Others praised and thanked God for His protection and holiness. By the end of the week, participants learned they could worship God in their local languages even without sound systems, but more importantly that they too could research their community and write songs that would bring things of heaven, to earth.
This is our God at work.
PRAISE IS RISING.
Written by Stephanie Biggs, East Africa Regional Coordinator for Heart Sounds International, a ministry of OM Arts