Seeing Wycliffe In A Clear Light

Early in the missionary translation career of W. Cameron Townsend, founder of Wycliffe Bible Translators and related organizations (Summer Institute of Linguistics and JAARS, Wycliffe’s air and communications arm), a Cakchiquel tribesman of Guatemala said to him, “If your God is so great, why can’t he speak my language?”

Using that theme Wycliffe Bible Translators and Clear Light Productions developed a multimedia show, “If Your God Is So Great,” which had its premiere in Washington, D. C., last month during a celebration to honor Townsend, when he received the second annual Thomas Nelson Bible translators award.

Clear Light, which also produced CRY 3 (see November 24, 1972, issue, page 46), has blended the timeless message of the Gospel, and Wycliffe’s approach to preaching that message in an increasingly popular communications technique. God speaks, and throughout the thirty-minute production, his words are emphasized. From Apollo 8’s blastoff and the reading of Genesis from the spacecraft to the concluding words from the Book of Revelation, “And God said” reverberates in sight and sound.

Although the opening music by Richard Strauss, “Thus Spake Zarathustra,” seemed incongruous with the idea of God speaking, the movement of the music provided an appropriate climax to a three-screen spread of the earth as photographed from the moon by astronauts.

Modern technology plays a big part in how Wycliffe spreads the words of God. Bulldozers and computers, slide screens and projectors—all are part of the work of Wycliffe. A specially built mobile unit will carry “If Your God Is So Great” to schools and churches throughout the country.

Unlike some missionary films, this one avoids sentimentality. Humor and hard work show through. Sensitivity to the production as art as well as sincere belief in the message are evident. Melding such elements as “Jesus Loves Me”—in an updated folk version—with the faces and voices of other cultures serves to capture the universality of God’s call. The production also subtly shows Western man glutted by repetition of the gospel message. A blurred screen indicates the hurried movement of a man anxious to change a radio station from a sermon to secular music.

Wycliffe and Clear Light are to be congratulated for producing an effective combination of art and the Evangel, a rare achievement in evangelical circles.



Final Touch, Love Song (Myrrh, a division of Word, Waco, Texas 16703; GNR-08101). The final album by one of the most popular Jesus rock groups, now disbanded, mixes country blues and a soft, Lettermen-like vocal blend. The most successful cuts, such as “Since I Opened Up the Door,” which opens the album, are on the country side. “The Cossack Song,” based on Ezekiel 38–39—each song has a text—uses some interesting instrumentation, though the view of Armaggedon may offend some (“Now if I was in the Red Army/I think I’d take a permanent leave …”). On side two “Book of Life” stands out, with an authentic hillbilly sound and amusing lyrics: “I keep my thumb between the pages/And my heart in the book.”

Seeds, Barry McGuire (Myrrh, MST-6519). Released in 1973, this latest album of the former lead singer of the New Christy Minstrels is exceptional. All the cuts are good, but the upbeat numbers such as “Last Daze Waltz,” “Enter In,” and “Lear Jets/Father’s Song” have more impact than some of the ballads. McGuire’s instrumentalists provide good support, and Mike Omartian gives the final professional touch with his fine string and horn arrangements. The 2nd Chapter of Acts, backup group on this album, has a new album of its own on the Myrrh label.

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