By Roger Marshall*
It may be all well and good for a Christian to write and sing good, serious social commentary in our calypso tradition if he/she thinks that they must. Nevertheless, those who think that they must enter calypso competitions and parade in a Kadooment band to reach the lost ought to take another look at the evangelism strategy employed by the Jesus himself and His apostles.
Jesus evangelised by teaching and preaching the word of God in the synagogues or at the temple courts where large crowds of the Jews would gather (Matt. 4: 23; 9: 35; 13: 54; 26: 55; Mk. 1: 21, 39; 12:35; Lk. 4: 14-15, 44; 21: 37; Jn. 6: 59; 7: 14, 28; 18: 20).
He also did His evangelistic work by teaching/ministering in homes (Matt.8: 14-16; 9: 10-12; 10: 11-14; Mk2: 1-2). Jesus had become so famous among the people from his powerful soul searching teaching/preaching and healing ministry that the crowds followed Him into the great outdoors, where again He took hold of the opportunity to teach them (Matt. 4: 23-5: 1-2; 13: 1-3).
When we turn to the Acts of the apostles we see that they, having been taught by the Master Himself, conducted a similar pattern of evangelistic ministry utilising the Jewish temple courts, the homes of people and the synagogues (Acts 2: 42-46; 9: 17-20; 13: 5, 14-44; 14: 1; 17: 1-2, 10, 17a; 18: 4, 7, 19; 19: 8).
It is significant to note that even in pagan cities the pattern was pretty much the same. In addition to teaching and preaching in the synagogues and peoples homes, the calm of a river bank and the open market place-a place generally for conducting business and open public debate- were also utilised (Acts 16: 11-15; 17: 17b). Lecture halls were also used to conduct discussions surrounding the teachings of the gospel (Acts 17: 19; 19: 9).
Of even greater significance is the fact that Paul (the mighty apostle to the pagan Gentiles) in all his zeal to get the gospel message out to the lost, did not go into any pagan temple or pagan street festival where large crowds would also have been gathered (for example the temple of Aphrodite at Corinth boasted more than 1000 sacred prostitutes alone), but where the atmosphere would not have been conducive to teaching, since the devotees minds would have been greatly distracted by the sights and sounds of pagan worship. This type of worship, which was engulfed with fertility rites, involved all types of lascivious dances and lude sexual acts (no doubt accompanied with pulsating music rhythms), as the priestess-prostitutes would sexually entice the worshippers into the worship of Aphrodite, the goddess of love/sexual passion. The atmosphere would have been much like that of our modern Barbadian carnival day celebrations, when and where the minds of the patrons are greatly distracted by the prevailing orgiastic, sexually explicit wukking-up sights and sounds of Grand Kadooment, which believe it or not, is really in honour of the pagan god Bacchus (the god of drunken revelry) and his female consort the goddess with many names one of which was Aphrodite!
In short, when we look at the evangelism strategy of our Lord and His apostles it appears that for all practical purposes they chose places that for the most part were conducive to giving and receiving godly religious instruction with minimum distraction. On another point of interest it is also noteworthy that neither Jesus nor his apostles used music and singing to proclaim the gospel message to unbelievers. The only method used was preaching/teaching. Singing was only used among believers (Matt. 26: 30; Mk. 14: 26; Acts 16: 25; 1 Cor. 14: 26; Eph. 5: 19; Col. 3; 16; Heb. 2: 10-12). For me this brings into serious question a large percentage of modern evangelical church strategies to reach the lost through music/entertainment.
In light of this I want to suggest that the way for us Christians to better reach many of the thousands of Barbadians who gather for Kadooment every year, is to reach them before they reach the Stadium and Spring Garden. The evangelical churches nation wide should be mobilised in a united evangelistic outreach programme to go through every village and household, even utilising Community centres etc. to preach and teach the gospel and its principals for living as they affect every sphere of life within our nation. As did the apostle Paul in confronting opposition to the gospel in his day, this kind of initiative should also involve reasoned debates at the community and even national level setting forth persuasive arguments in defence of and substantiating the truth of the gospel we preach. This kind of initiative would have to be a year round sustained effort much like what Paul did at Corinth (one of the most depraved cities of his day) and Ephesus (see Acts 18: 1-11; 19:1, 8-10).
By God’ grace, just like in Paul’s day this kind of dedicated, persistent, all year round effort should reap a harvest of souls which is the purported purpose of the Walk Holy outreach ministries and the Experience calypso tent. Think about it.
*Roger Marshall is executive director of Project PROBE Ministries a Barbadian Christian apologetics organisation.