Helping Artists Proclaim the Truths of God
While serving as a church music director in Paterson, NJ, Elsen, his wife Michelle and their children, lived in a multi-cultural, multi-linguistic community. God stirred Elsen’s heart with the need to share the Good News and showed him how He had been preparing him to work cross-culturally all along. Consequently, Elsen and Michelle followed the Lord to serve in Germany. After many years, God brought them back to the U.S., where Elsen continued to take short-term trips to Costa Rica, Brazil, and Honduras. Then, while completing his master’s in music, Elsen attended Wycliffe’s TOTAL It Up course, where he learned about ethnoarts and GIAL.
Elsen had previously received a master’s in piano performance and one in missions, so at GIAL, before leaving for the mission field, he needed only to complete training required to work as an arts consultant, which he finished in December 2013. Now, he is working on his Worship and Mission Ph.D. at B. H. Carroll Theological Institute.
Elsen works as an ethnoarts consultant and Liaison for SIL Brazil and is currently involved in projects among the Xerente people. He has observed how the Lord has given them a hunger “to cultivate and actively use their cultural arts to proclaim the truth of God among their people.” Elsen shared, “Of their own volition (moved by God, not coerced by ‘us’), they are committing their instruments and voices to the Lord. We see that interest growing in various people groups and hope to be able to partner with them to see their arts powerfully affecting their people for the glory of God.”
When in the U.S. (AR), Elsen serves as assistant to the president for Champion Christian College and as Collaborative Pianist at Ouachita Baptist University and First Presbyterian Church in Hot Springs. He is also a volunteer on the Brazilian Baptist National Mission Board.
Elsen said that his Expressive Form Analysis and Research Methods classes at GIAL were especially crucial in preparing him for ethnoarts work. His friendships with GIAL’s World Arts department members, particularly Robin Harris and Brian Schrag, have greatly impacted him in his current ministry. He has also been encouraged by the “dedication, constancy in the difficult work, and attention to detail” of the current and retired missionaries on the GIAL campus.
Elsen and Michelle plan to spend a portion of this summer in Brazil, helping teach ethnoarts workshops, attending an SIL conference, and assisting the Xerente Christian musicians. Elsen said, “My interaction with the Xerente is going to potentially develop into a research project for my Ph.D., which will hopefully be useful for work among indigenous peoples in Brazil (and anywhere else it may be relevant).”
Let’s pray that the Lord will keep giving Elsen opportunities to share about and train people in ethnoarts ministry in both Brazil and the U.S., so that many more souls may experience Jesus through their “heart arts”!
Helping Translate Life Changing Words
God gave Lynette a heart for nonbelievers and languages, even from an early age. Later, as a high school student, she remembered hearing about Bible translation from missionaries at her church, then thought of a fellow student who was an atheist. “My heart broke for him,” she recalled. “I knew then that I wanted to use my love of languages to share Christ with others.”
After completing her B.A. in math and Spanish, Lynette studied linguistics with SIL at the University of North Dakota. When she joined Wycliffe, her supervisor encouraged her to go to GIAL. In December 2010, Lynette graduated from GIAL with her M.A. in Applied Linguistics. About her training here, Lynette said, “I can’t think of a class that did not help prepare me for this work.”
Now Lynette works as a translation assistant in Northern Territory, Australia. There, she serves with Aboriginal translators in a cluster of related languages called Yolŋu Matha. After the translators draft their work, Lynette helps them edit it and organize community checks for it. She also trains people to produce back translations, find uninitiated native speakers (people unfamiliar with scripture) for consultant checks, and provide linguistic input throughout the entire process. This past year, she worked with four of the Yolŋu languages on the Gospel of Mark.
Malŋgi, a woman on the community checking team for the Dhuwaya Mark translation, told Lynette and her colleagues, “When we were reading those words in my language, they went straight to my soul. I didn’t even eat any food for the rest of the day.”
The translation of Mark in Dhuwa Dhaŋu’mi, another language from the Yolŋu Matha cluster, combines four clans that have had conflict with each other. In November 2017, each clan sent representatives to the dedication of this translation! A pastor from one of them, Dr. Reverend Djiniyini, said, “Now with this translation of Mark into Dhuwa Dhaŋu’mi, reading it for the first time in my own dialect, it is like bringing it home. It just opens up the whole thing. This is mine! . . . I pray to God in this language. This is the language through which I hear Him speak. So this translation has convinced me, ‘Yes, God, you speak Dhaŋu too.’” Praise the Lord!
Please pray for God’s continued wisdom and power over Lynette and Michael and their team. Also, let’s ask Him to draw many more Yolŋu speakers to Himself through His Word!
Most schools approach their alumni to help fund the cost of educating the next generation. Of the alumni we are in contact with, 85% are serving cross-culturally. They don’t generally have the means to help. We depend on people who have a passion for training men and women to cross language and culture barriers with the Word of God, people like you. As you pray for GIAL, would you ask God if He would have you partner with us? If so, please mark your gift “where needed most”. Thank you!
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The Graduate Institute of Applied Linguistics is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award baccalaureate and masters degrees. Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of The Graduate Institute of Applied Linguistics.