In the Trenches!
After working as a college professor for 13 years, Chris Gassler began to ask what the eternal value of his work was. Toward the end of his teaching career he found himself falling in love with teaching a class called World Music and Culture at Longwood University in Virginia. At the same time, he and his wife, Lori, became more involved in their church and were growing significantly in their faith.
Later, while doing research for their church’s missions committee, Chris discovered a listing of job needs in ethnomusicology. “Wow, I teach a class in that field,” he thought, “but I had no idea it could be used in cross-cultural [service].” Soon afterward, he and Lori contacted Brian Schrag, founder of GIAL’s Center for Excellence in World Arts, a connection that eventually led them to attend GIAL. Now, Chris is studying for the M.A. in World Arts, planning to complete it in the next few years.
Currently, Chris lives with his family in Cameroon serving as an Arts Specialist and Scripture Engagement Coordinator. As an Arts Specialist, he coaches local artists in creating local worship expressions using their own “heart music” (their culture’s music styles and instruments). He conducts scripture songwriting workshops and is finishing a research project for the Cameroonian government regarding an ancient method of drummed messaging. Chris also facilitates a course called “Arts for a Better Future” at All Nations Christian College near London and is overseeing a French translation of the course so that it can be taught in French–speaking Africa, beginning in 2018.
Chris’s newest role is as the Scripture Engagement Coordinator for SIL Cameroon. Describing the connection between Bible translation and scripture engagement (SE), he explained, “Belief is a fantastic and necessary step. But Jesus called us to make disciples. Similarly, having the Bible is absolutely essential. But we’re leaving the task incomplete if people are not being engaged by what is produced—if they are not using, consuming, and being affected by what has been brought.”
Chris shared an example of SE from his own ministry: “I enjoy seeing people’s reactions when I talk about worshipping God while being fully whom they are. Using local arts tells people that they can be fully Iyasa, fully Makaa, fully Batanga, fully whomever and fully in the body of Christ, just the same as I can be fully American and fully in the body of Christ.”
Join us in praying for Chris and Lori and their children, Noah, Kristin, and Ben, as they encounter the struggles of living cross-culturally. Also, please pray for Chris and his colleagues as they train local believers as leaders in these ministries. Finally, pray that God will preserve the peace in Cameroon and make it a thriving training ground for Christian leaders.
YOU DID IT!
Because of your participation in the Strike A Match campaign we have reached the goal of $40,000.
Your generous contributions have been matched and are having double the impact. This helps GIAL continue to offer exceptional training to our students who cross language and culture barriers with the Word of God.
PAY IT FORWARD
Two donors have generously presented GIAL with a scholarship challenge grant that will DOUBLE ALL GIFTS up to $14,000 received for scholarships through December 31, 2017!
You can multiply your gift, thereby multiplying the opportunity for more students to be trained. We ask you to join us during this exciting time by prayerfully considering a special contribution to meet the $14,000 PAY IT FORWARD challenge grant. Any amount you contribute will be greatly appreciated.
LEADING THE WAY
When Wayne was only eight years old, two of his uncles were killed while bringing the Gospel to a fierce Amazonian tribe. Six years later, God called Wayne himself into missions while he was helping another uncle and aunt tell their missionary story.
Wayne received an M.A. in Anthropology from the University of Michigan and a Ph.D. in Intercultural Studies from Fuller Seminary. In 1960, he and his wife, Sally, joined Wycliffe and SIL and were first assigned to serve as Bible translators for the Bahinemo people in Papua New Guinea. God transformed many Bahinemos with the Gospel, with scriptural music that the Dyes encouraged locals to compose and with audio Bible recordings they helped develop—a story you can read in a book by their son Jamey Dye, From Fear to Freedom.
Later, Wayne and Sally became the first people in the Bible translation movement to research and teach strategies for helping people interact with God’s Word in transformative ways, leading to the development of what is now called Scripture Engagement (SE). “Scripture engagement is about people meeting God through the Bible,” Wayne explained. “Scripture engagement work is doing whatever is necessary to enable and encourage people to engage with the Bible.” Types of SE work include ministries in scripture and art-based trauma healing, oral Bible storying, as well as scripture-based radio dramas.
Wayne shared some examples of the life-changing impact of SE ministry: “People tell me that as God spoke to them through the Bible, they were able to overcome alcoholism. Others overcame fear, got their marriages back in order, or began to feel good enough about themselves and their language community to work hard and effectively and drastically improve their daily lives.”
Another example of God’s powerful work through SE happened in Australia on Elcho Island. Many Aborigines there were suffering from poverty, low self-image, and alcoholism. They were being taught scripture using Western cultural methods, but without much impact. “Then they worked with the few Christian Aborigines to retell the Bible stories in the Aboriginal way, using symbolic dance dramas outside at sunset,” Wayne said. “Within a year, many people on Elcho had been transformed, as they discovered in this way that God was their God too; He understood and accepted the Aborigine way to engage with Him.”
Wayne has written many articles about SE and a book full of additional invaluable insights on SE called The Bible Translation Strategy: An Analysis of Its Spiritual Impact. He is now an assistant professor of SE classes at GIAL and an international SE consultant. Currently, he is leading a team in developing a training course at GIAL for medical personnel preparing for cross-cultural work. Also, he is part of another group developing an online training package for teams preparing for short-term service. Let’s pray for God’s wisdom for them in these projects, for strength for Wayne in all his other work, and for His hand in drawing many more to join in SE ministry worldwide.
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