August 30, 2014


INDIA (BP) -- Jeff Bourque made his way to India from Music City USA to share the basics of songwriting.

His mission: to help musicians from several churches in India write songs that speak to their highly diverse culture. In a nation where only one of every 70 people believes in Jesus, Indian Christians are surrounded by Hindu temples full of idols and such sounds as the Muslim call to prayer.

Ethan Leyton*, an ethnomusicologist, and Mani Dutta*, an Indian pastor, invited Bourque, worship leader for Grace Community Church in Nashville, to conduct a songwriting workshop for 18 young men and women from several Indian churches in urban settings.

Leyton and Dutta "dreamed and prayed," as Leyton put it, "that instead of [English-speaking] Indian believers singing Hillsong and Chris Tomlin songs all the time, perhaps they could begin writing their own English songs for worship."

These believers have much to offer Christian music, with their distinctive identity in living out their faith in India, Leyton said, voicing a hope that their songs also might be used in American churches one day.

Leyton has organized 20 songwriting workshops for believers around southern Asia during the last seven years. Bourque's workshop, however, is unique because it's the first one in English. In mega-cities where multiple languages are spoken, many Christians and young professionals are more comfortable communicating in English because it's the language they have in common.

Bible college student and church worship leader Amit Dhawan* had struggled to write songs long before the workshop, where he worked with three others to write the song "The Lord is Good."

"Many times I came to know the truth about God through worship songs, and it encouraged me to come closer to God," Dhawan said. "[As a songwriter,] I want people to understand that God still saves, heals and delivers people from darkness." Read More

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