Vie de Jesus Mafa (Life of Jesus Mafa) was an initiative undertaken in the 1970s to help teach the gospel in Northern Cameroon. French Catholic missionary François Vidil worked with Mafa Christian communities in Cameroon to create a catalog of 70 paintings depicting the life of Jesus as an African man. The plan was to build a resource that would help Mafa people to teach from the Bible in a way that connects with their community.
As in the church stained-glass windows in the European medieval cathedrals, where the environment and characters shown belong to the medieval society, likewise in Jesus Mafa paintings the characters and the environment belong to Africa. This visual support of everyday life helps the African believer as he presents the gospels orally.
Vidil formed a team of local church leaders, theologians and carefully selected artists. The team would spend time in Mafa communities, reading Bible passages and getting people to reenact them. Vidil and his team would photograph their reenactments as the artist sketched them. These sketches and photographs became the basis of the final paintings in this collection.
Prayer for peace for the children, their families, and the Body of Christ in Palestine.
There will be no Christmas in Bethlehem this year. At least not any large festivities. The tree in Manger Square will not be decorated. In one church nativity, the baby Jesus lies in a pile of rubble.
We celebrate Emmanuel – God with us – Jesus, the Prince of Peace. We are sincerely grateful for his presence with us even until today. In Palestine, at the location of Jesus’ birth, there is war.
The situation in Gaza is catastrophic. In retribution for the horrific October. 7th Hamas attacks in Israel that claimed the lives of more than 1,100 people plus hostages, the Israeli military unleashed a firestorm on the people of Gaza. In the first month alone, more than 25,000 tons of explosives fell in densely populated residential areas, equivalent to the two nuclear bombs dropped on Japan at the end of World War II. According to UNICEF by early November, 4,000 children, over 130 a day, were killed.
In October, Munther Isaac, pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church in Bethlehem and academic dean at Bethlehem Bible College, posted a sermon, “God Is Under the Rubble in Gaza,” where he challenged the global church to speak out:
“There is no mercy. Humanity is gone. . . . There is no one to stop this war machine because we are not from a certain people, religion, or race. . . . We were broken and are broken again every day by the images of death, especially when it comes close to us — our families, our sisters, our relatives and loved ones to whom we spoke daily. We are all broken.”
“World political powers . . . say our annihilation is needed to keep the people of Israel safe. They offer us as sacrifices on the altar of atonement, as we pay the price for their sins with our lives. We want to think that there must be other ways. Killing children like this can never bring peace.”
Join us as we pray for children, their families and our brothers and sisters.
Attribution: JESUS MAFA. The birth of Jesus with shepherds, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. https://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=48387 [retrieved November 13, 2023]. Original source: http://www.librairie-emmanuel.fr (contact page: https://www.librairie-emmanuel.fr/contact).