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 an enormous catalogue of 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 porches and the 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.
Thus a visual support of everyday life scenes helps the African catechist as he presents the gospels orally.
The Life of Jesus Mafa took a long time to produce. Vidil formed a team of local church leaders, theologians and a carefully selected artist. 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 sketched them. These sketches and photographs became the basis of the final paintings in this collection. What an amazing way to produce art for the sake of mission!
The collection includes more than 70 scenes, which covers pretty much every story from all four Gospels.