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  • Writer's pictureTim Robinson

Language and Scripture - Ethnoarts

Ethnoarts teams in SIL help communities draw on their artistic forms of communication to create a better future. In 2020 while the world was gripped by the covid-19 pandemic, God was still at work. A key meeting took place between Matt Menger SIL’s global ethno-arts coordinator, staff from the Bible Translation centre in North Sulawesi, Pusat Penerjemahan Alkitab (PPA) and the synod leadership of the Evangelical Christian Church of Minhasa, Gereja Masehi Injili di Minahasa (GMIM). GMIM is a large denomination in North Sulawesi, with around 850,000 members and 1,100 congregations.

Traditionally Dressed Children from Indonesia

There were many conversations about the various ways PPA could serve GMIM and many opportunities to partner together were explored, especially regarding training future leaders. Several things came out of the meeting, but the pandemic made it hard to take the collaboration further but in 2022 there was a wonderful opportunity to work together for the first time on some Bible Translation workshops in 9 Sulawesi languages.


When the world began to open further, and travel became more possible, God ordained some amazing circumstances and interactions. Rev. Hein, the GMIM Synod president, Ayu Sowandi, the PPA director and Mr David, the head of the GMIM foundation were able to visit the USA and met many people at the Wycliffe offices, the Seed Company offices and the Dallas International University. Upon returning to Indonesia they were in touch with Matt to really solidify the partnership. Matt presented the idea of partnering together on a workshop called Arts for a Better Future (ABF).


Two potential locations had been identified in early January 2023, but once the synod president returned from his trip and learned about ABF, he quickly moved the workshop to a central, strategic congregation in the centre of Tomohon (the location of the synod offices). The ABF was heavily supported by local partners and local churches. It led many of the participants, as well as GMIM and PPA, to think more broadly about the arts and local culture in North Sulawesi. You can see a video of some highlights from this workshop in this video.


Even the process of building relationships and planning for this ABF had some significant outcomes. GMIM intends to send around ten theology professors from their seminary for intensive training at DIU in May-July 2023.


Another significant result is that PPA have been invited to help facilitate an ABF follow up workshop for 7 of the language communities that participated in February 2023. During this workshop participants will make plans for their own communities to engage with the arts. They will start to think strategically about how to help their communities use their languages. This could potentially lead into translation work for those communities where scripture isn’t available yet.


Traditional tunes played by participants.

The total budget for the workshop is $11,000 of which about $7,000 is needed to enable facilitators to travel to the workshop location and for various supplies, including printing manuals for participants. Please prayerfully consider supporting this project and click here ​​https://give.sil.org/ABF to go to the website where you can give.

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