By Landon Dickerson
MURFREESBORO — Eight students from Middle Tennessee State University recently traveled to Embera, Panama, to record Christian songs in order to spread the gospel to different areas around the country.
Though the team worked with local people in Embera who already had heard the gospel, the MTSU students were there to target surrounding areas of the city that have not heard the gospel, said Glenn Wallace, Baptist Collegiate Ministries director at MTSU.
Because it is hard to reach those people with traditional missions projects, the MTSU group came to “record the indigenous tribes singing praise and worship in their native language,” Wallace said.
“The idea was that we bring at least a couple of recording students to come down to Panama to record this indigenous tribe’s people singing praise and worship in their native language.”
Wallace said that they wanted to record the gospel music in the Panamanians’ native tongue and distribute in the areas that cannot be reached.
“The purpose was to mobilize the nationals and to go into these parts where missionaries can’t go,” he observed.
While they were there they were able to record many songs with limited time and resources. “We were in the village for five days total. What we did was we took all of our gear with us. It was a very stripped down recording studio that we took. We had four microphones, mic stands, cables, interface, and one computer and that was it. Everything was recorded right to the computer and put directly into digital format,” Wallace said.
The people who were being recorded were not a professional choir or any type of paid personnel. Rather, they were just various people from the village who wanted to share the gospel in a unique way with their local countrymen. “It was just a conglomeration of whomever could show up and sing. It was always about eight to 10 people. They knew we were coming,” Wallace said.
“They had a laundry list of songs that they had prepared prior to us being there,” Wallace said.
While there, the MTSU students recorded 34 songs including three children’s songs.
Wallace said that the locals were very musically talented even though they were limited in their options of instruments. “The only instruments they had were guitars,” he added.
The MTSU team included two video production majors and a photographer along with the five other students. “Because we knew that we were going to do the recording and we knew that this was going to be something different than had ever been done before, we wanted to document everything that happened during the week,” Wallace said.
The team is also producing a short documentary of what took place that week. Wallace stated that they interviewed different people about what it meant for their team to be there.
The total cost was about $950 per person. “The students raised their own money either through their jobs or churches or individual gifts,” Wallace said.
Through this experience, students were taught, shown, and encouraged to use their unique talents for kingdom work. “It was incredible to see students using their vocational calling and applying that to missions work,” Wallace stated.
While there, the students also were able to minister to the pastor of the local church with which they were working. “We did a bit of construction and worked on the house of the pastor who uses his house to host missions groups. We built him a new tin roof,” Wallace said.
They will not charge for the music that was put together. “We will be able to hand this flash drive to missionaries so they can use them however they need to use them,” Wallace said.