Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Bekwel Song Fellowship Testimonies

Hello friends! Most of my readers are also on my mailing list and in my recent newsletter I promised to report on my blog more of the results of the work I did in Ouesso. So here's me keeping my promise...

In follow up to the recent publication of portions of Luke in the Bekwel language, I facilitated a group of Bekwel people in a "song fellowship." Basically we did a Bible study and they wrote songs based on the passages. They did most of the composing on their own at home and then together as a group we'd look at the songs and make changes and additions. It was pretty much awesome.

I expected the result of this work to be obvious: a cassette with the texts and songs recorded for people to listen to. But there were a lot of good things that happened that I didn't necessarily forsee.

Excerpt from my newsletter (for those of you who don't get it): Before, many considered the booklet to be too difficult to read. The alphabet needed to write Bekwel is different than French and not many have had the opportunity to attend a Bekwel literacy class. Some of the participants had purchased booklets when they first came out, but they never learned to read them. But during our work together they easily picked it up! I was astonished because I wasn’t there to teach literacy, but just the fact of reading them aloud together and talking about the passages and having the motivation to understand them and repeating them several times led them to read with facility!

One important pastor who came to some of the sessions used to say that the alphabet was too hard to read and the translation was full of errors and from the wrong dialect. But whenever he heard someone read the texts outloud he was the first to say "But it's so clear! It's good!" By hearing it in his mother tongue, he even noticed things that he hadn't before (and this is a man of God who really studies and knows the Word!) For instance, it was the first time he really understood the concept of a "stable" in the story of Jesus' birth.

The participants and I marvelled at the fact that the group was composed of people of different churches who normally don't work together, yet they just came together like they'd known each other forever. There was unity, peace, and joy throughout the process.

Before we started the project they were begging me for more time. It didn't seem possible to record after just 3 weeks of song writing. But the songs came quickly and steadily and it was no problem to get 8 songs ready for the studio! They praised God for giving them strength and wisdom to accomplish what they thought was impossible.

One young man who did much of the composing said "I used to think that this language project was just an old people's thing. But now I see it's important for me to be involved too. Our language is for all of us." He has now been recruited to be a part of the language project team!

That same young man shared that he now reads the Bible passages out loud at home. He gathers the children around like it's story time. They listen attentively and ask questions. People at home have started calling him "The Pastor" :o)

Another young man whose mom is involved in Bekwel literacy said that it seemed so difficult to read before, even with his mom's help. But he found that the method of studying the passages together really helped him. He was excited about and dedicated to learning to read his language well. He practiced at home and his mom would call out to him from the other room if he made a mistake. He ended up being one of the best readers for the recording! He too has been asked to continue to participate on the language project team.

All of these positive results before the cassettes have even been produced! I'm excited that I get to go do this project with another group in April. This time it will be in the South in a town called Nkayi and with a language called Beembe. Pray I will find the same kind of quality participants!

1 comment:

erin said...

Jessica --

It has to be exciting to be involved in this part of the process -- to see people getting excited about their language and learning to read it.

I'm glad your trip went well and enjoy reading about your adventures.