Posted by Kristy on June 4, 2015

John Benham's Brazil Project Begins

Work to bring worship music to the Kara tribe in Brazil is underway

Following up on his introductory research trip to Brazil last year, MIWC founder John Benham is back in the country this month beginning his work with members of the Kara tribe.

Benham will serve as the primary ethnomusicology consultant on a team that includes SIL's Isaac and Shirley de Souza (SIL is a faith-based language services non-profit) and Brazilian ethnomusicologist Heber Negrao. Ethnomusicology is the study of music from different cultures.

The team flew into Altamira, Brazil at the end of May and awaited word from the government on permission to enter the Kara village.

altamiramap.jpgThe Kara people had sent an official request to the Brazilian government asking for Benham’s group to visit. The well written document included three pages of signatures and one page of thumb prints.

When the team’s host took them to see if permission was granted for the visit, the host encountered a personal friend who works in the same government office. That friend immediately arranged with officials for trip approval. This was a major answer to prayer!

Before leaving to head up the Xingu River to the Kara’s land, the team went over Kara mythology, some recorded music and strategies for the project. Until now, the only use of music in the tribe has been in the worship of evil spirits. Benham said now that 30–40% of the Kara have become Christians, they have refused to participate in music because of its association with evil.

To combat this, the team plans to teach a biblical perspective of the use of indigenous music in worship with the hope that the Kara will make use of indigenous music to worship, disciple and evangelize and possibly include other arts such as dance, drama and visual arts.

With governmental permission secured, the team started the river journey to reach the Kara at the end of May. The village is 100 kilometers up river from Altamira and can take as long as 20 hours to get there depending on mode of travel. At last communication with Benham and his team, they were relieved to have secured a speedboat to transport them and their supplies.

As soon as the team arrives in the village, its members will focus on establishing trust with the Kara people as quickly as possible. From there, they will observe, interact and discuss the music history of Kara while teaching them biblical principles of music. The team hopes to facilitate song composition workshops to develop indigenous worship and discipleship music, with the hope that music for evangelism may eventually result.

Direct communication with team members will not resume until they return to Altamira.

Prayer Requests from John Benham

1.    Ask God to direct the Holy Spirit to so activate His indwelling within the believers that they might explode with a new song(s), leading to their use in worship, discipleship and evangelism.
2.    Ask that the new song(s) may overwhelm the perceived “powers” of the old music, providing testimony to the sovereignty of God.
3.    Pray for Merridee (his wife), at home, that she may have peace and protection during the times when communication from him is impossible.
4.    Pray for wisdom as he teaches that the power of God’s Word will resonate with the believers.
5.    Pray for safety in travel.
6.    Pray for good health and protection from the variety of diseases that seem to be prevalent in this area.