Organizational Affiliation: Fuller Theological Seminary; Associate Professor of Communication & Ethnomusicology
How did you get started in ethnodoxology?
I left for Nairobi, Kenya in 1978 asking God if he could use me-a woman and a musician- in mission. This was highly unusual at that time. I love how the Lord said, "You asked, so let me show you." As I started out in Nairobi, I found myself making a series of radio programs for the National "Voice of Kenya" radio station, teaching evening classes in basic music, directing the Nairobi Baptist choir, and having choirs walk 30 minutes from the slum to have me coach them. There seemed to be no end to the possibilities for serving the Lord through music. I began noticing the stark difference between singing western hymns and local Kenyan hymns and choruses. It was striking . . . and I began asking questions and doing research in what is now called ethnodoxology.
What has been one of your favorite moments in ethnodoxology?
I'll never forget showing a video recording at a course in Nairobi, Kenya for church musicians. I had made the video in the Congo where the people were worshiping with a local large African harp. A Kenya choir director could not fathom that it was possible to use his own traditional instruments to praise God. As he watched the video, he kept repeating, "You mean, we can worship God with our own music and instruments?" He must have asked this question at least 6 times. I kept pointing out that they were worshiping in a church . . . and he just continued on. Its always my delight to see the 'ethnodoxology lightbulb' turn on when people realize that God is for them and he loves to receive their praise in their own musical languages.