International (MNN) — Worship music is an integral part of the Western church. In the past, Western missionaries have brought their own music with them to the people they reach with the Gospel.
Although these songs bring glory to God, they often do not appeal to the musical styles of other cultures, and occasionally cannot even be translated properly. But many believers in developing churches aren't sure how to write their own worship songs.
Heart Sounds International, a ministry of Operation Mobilization, has been addressing these very issues for the past ten years. Heart Sounds exists to help emerging churches create their own worship songs.
"Our desire is to connect people to their own melody, but to see songs emerge that are worship-oriented so that they can have a body of songs in their own language and culture and musical style," says Frank Fortunato, who has worked with Heart Sounds since its beginning. "Our strap line is that every people should worship our awesome God in an awesome way that reflects their own culture."
In order to accomplish this, Heart Sounds gathers musicians from the people group they're working with and encourages them to begin writing worship music. Heart Sounds guides them in how to put melody to words and how to integrate Scripture into their songs. Heart Sounds records the completed worship songs, makes CDs for church use, and also creates video projects–a necessary addition since many cultures worship with their full bodies. The ministry then does its best to get these songs on the radio so that listeners can worship and enjoy.
So far, Heart Sounds has completed over 50 projects. They work mainly in areas that have a majority of unreached people groups, such as Asia, North Africa and the Middle East. Finished projects have helped strengthen churches and reach out to nonbelievers. Fortunato says believers will occasionally pass projects on to unbelieving friends. This gives onlookers more insight into a believer's life, peaking interest at the intimate relationship portrayed between man and God.
"Someone who was a total non-Christian got to listen in on how a believer would pour out his or her heart through song to the Savior and Redeemer," says Fortunato of one project. "Even though it was a worship song, it did have an evangelistic component."
The projects have helped to draw believers closer to the Lord, to nudge nonbelievers, and to encourage church growth. Pray that Heart Sounds would continue to be a blessing to international churches and that the music would reach seekers. Pray that God would be glorified through songs reflecting His character and the cultures He created.