Sharing Lyrics of the Heart

By Rebe McReynolds, Jun 8, 2015

Learning to live in the village requires us to take notice of what is happening with our neighbors, the life of their community, and the rhythm of their responsibilities.

Our first week in Nosy Be, Madagascar, we met “The Band,” a group of incredibly talented local musicians (and fishermen) whom God had strategically placed in our lives. With an old, worn out guitar, a few handmade percussion instruments, and voices that evoke emotion, they sang out their stories with all their souls. We quickly bonded through a love for music, and our relationship grew as we became increasingly interested in learning more about one another’s stories. But God was up to something much greater than we could have hoped for or imagined.

Our quaint fishing village sits on a small island off the northwest coast of Madagascar. The Sakalava people spend their days farming rice, raising livestock, and fishing the waters of the Indian Ocean. We arrived here two years ago, on a team committed to learning the local language and culture, creatively seeking ways to plant seeds of the gospel in a place that has not yet heard.

Scripture songs
The Band members Ladis, Matis, and Edme increasingly began visiting our home. Ladis delighted in sharing with us the lyrics of a new song he had recently written, and after plucking away a few chords and tuning up weathered instruments, The Band would sing traditional harmonies that left us eager for more. As we sat watching them write and compose these songs, the Lord put it in our hearts to ask if they would be willing to create songs from Scripture. I remember my husband Bryan saying, “Imagine giving them newly translated Scripture from Genesis, the full account of Creation, and having them put it to Sakalava rhythms and tones.” Our hearts were stirring within us— this was the Holy Spirit’s work.

During this time, a team of translators had formed and was working through the Old Testament, which meant that we could easily obtain Genesis in the Sakalava dialect. We gathered the Sakalava words of the Creation account in Genesis 1–2 and were ready to offer them to our friends. We weren’t sure how The Band would react and had doubts about whether they would agree to the idea, but we were hopeful. Bryan sat down and began to talk with them about creating a song from the Bible, and to our delight they were interested. Bryan then began to share the story of the beginning of the world as it is written in Genesis. All ears were tuned in, eyes were wide, and minds were engaged as the account unfolded in their heart language.

Time to tell the people
One year passed. We were growing in our language abilities, a network of relationships had been established, and our team was ready to begin organized ministry. It was time to tell the Sakalava people God’s beautiful love story in their heart language. What did that mean? How would we do it? We decided to start with “The Gathering,” a plan that would bring our Sakalava neighbors together to hear the stories of the Bible.

As we journeyed across the humid, jungle terrain to our first gathering place, we saw the familiar faces of friends and neighbors coming to find out what stories we had to tell. Steadily, the group grew from 20 to 50 until more than 100 of our friends were gathered together. Our hearts were bubbling up inside, a feeling of unknown adventure was on the horizon, and our plans were being piloted.

In the dirt, under mango trees, we laid out traditional grass mats where everyone gathered, placed a basket of fresh bananas in the center, and began. The Band came prepared to share the “Genesis Scripture Song,” and together we sang the words from the Bible accompanied by a traditional tune created by The Band. The full story of Creation was told that day, including a dramatic reading and concluding with this challenge: This week, as you are busy with your lives, cooking, cleaning, going to the rice fields, and fishing, think about this world we live in. God created it and said it was very good. In what ways is that still true? In what ways has our world become not good? Why?

Taking it to the streets
Last night The Band came over and we all sat under the stars as they practiced their songs in preparation for a concert on the other side of the island. They’ve now created 11 songs from Scripture, and are becoming popular across the island. Their songs are now being played on a local radio station. The band members increasingly want to know more about the God we love and serve and have said, “Since we began creating songs from Scripture, we have noticed changes in our lives. We want to do what is good and right.”

The Gatherings continue, and together with our team and The Band, we are experiencing the joy of scattering gospel seeds and the beginnings of what we pray will grow into a thriving, Sakalava church plant.

Watch a video of The Band playing their Genesis song at

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On Mission Leadership Summit | October 31–Nov 1
Youth Ministry Leaders
Member Care Coordinator: Americas

The Sakalava Church Matured Before My Eyes

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In the jungles of Nosy Be, Madagascar, a young Sakalava believer discovers the power of prayer.


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Give thanks for the maturing of the Sakalava church in Madagascar. Pray for the Sakalava believers who are now leading a congregation of people once steeped in ancestor worship and spirit possession.

Pray for the Sakalava in Nosy Be, Madagascar. Islanders have been hard hit by the shutdown of the tourisim industry. Many are new to faith. 

Pray for a band of young Sakalava men in Madagascar who have come to faith and are writing and recording songs from Scripture.

Pray today for Alexi and Mbotizara, new Sakalava believers in Madagascar. Pray they will grow in their faith and lead others to faith in Christ. 

Pray for women of the Mama Vao Vao sewing business in Madagascar. It's helping keep Sakalava women out of prostitution and introducing them to Christ. 

Pray for the Sakalava people of Nosy Be, Madagascar as they deal with harsh realities of death and poverty, and give thanks that many are coming to faith. 

Pray for the Church in Africa to deepen and for African believers to live holy lives in accordance with God's Word.  

Pray for a sewing ministry in Madagascar as it transforms into a business providing resources to a community plagued with sexual oppression.

Pray for missionaries adjusting to new cultures and new norms, forcing them to surrender the comforts they once considered non-negotiable. 

Pray that we would become more proficient at ministering to oral learners—those in cultures that learn best through the spoken word and storytelling.


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