Posts Tagged ‘Faith Comes By Hearing’

liffe Africa

Words and photo by Heather Pubols

Yonathan Zeamanuel explains to the Guji-Oromo team how to use Proclaimers* in listening group Bible studies. Yonathan and his wife, Tizita Zenebe (sitting to the right of him), are Wycliffe Africa members who are working to promote the use of Scriptures in the minority languages of Ethiopia.

*Faith Comes By Hearing works with language communities to produce dramatized audio Scriptures in local languages. These are played using a device called a Proclaimer. “Listening groups” are small groups that use the proclaimer to study the Bible together.

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By Melissa Chesnut

Juan* has lived a difficult life. As a child, he grew up in a home where his mother would vent her anger and frustration by hitting him, and his father was bound to alcohol. His parents separated when he was very young, and his mother left him in a neighboring community with his grandparents. After that, Juan never heard from his mother again.

Juan’s life didn’t get any easier over the years. “At six years of age … I became a practicing atheist,” Juan said.  With nothing and no one to believe in, he began to act out towards his grandparents and was drawn to alcohol himself. By thirty-two, Juan was an alcoholic.

“I was losing my family, my friends, their trust, my community work, everything, because I had begun stealing things,” Juan said.

But God had other plans for Juan.

The Scriptures had been recorded in Chipaya, Juan’s language. Faith Comes By Hearing, a partner organization of Wycliffe, and the Bible Society had brought devices called Proclaimers that would play the recorded Scripture. Juan knew of them, but chose to give them no importance. After all, he didn’t believe that God existed. Sometimes, though, he would pass the door of the church on his evening walk around the city and stand by the door of a church, listening to the recording for a while before going on his way.The Repentant Atheist

After several months of occasional listening, one night Juan heard something that really caught his attention. Afterwards, he went to talk to the pastor about it, sharing, “I heard some words that seemed so straightforward that it seemed like they were being spoken directly to me.”

The pastor told Juan that the verse played that night was 1 John 3:8. He showed him the verse in the Chipaya New Testament. It read, “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.”

Those words made an impact on Juan’s heart.

“I could not understand how God could speak to me so directly,” Juan reflected, “and how He could change my life that was so full of problems. I have to say that every time this device was turned on and sound came out, and when it proclaimed the Word, my body shook. Because of this, the next time I stopped by there, the pastor invited me to repent.”

So that day, Juan—an atheist for most of his life—believed in God.

“I didn’t know at the time what was happening,” Juan said, “but I remember being prostrate and crying like a child receiving God’s love in my life.”

Now Juan encourages other people to listen to this device. “…I have told the people they have to listen to this device because God is speaking to us in our language and He is speaking clearly so that we will understand Him,” Juan said.  Juan, a professed atheist, confessed that there was a God after he understood, and now he hopes that others too will surrender their lives to God and receive His love themselves.

*A pseudonym

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For the first time, Moise Yonta joyfully read aloud the Ngiemboon Scriptures on his smartphone. (Watch here.) Then he jumped up and delightedly shook hands with a colleague. “Wonderful! Wonderful!” he exclaimed.

It was indeed wonderful! Moise, who works with the Cameroon Association for Bible Translation and Literacy (CABTAL), was the coordinator for the Ngiemboon translation project. Since the New Testament was dedicated in 2007, he’s used both the printed and audio versions, but gaining access to the digital version took his experience to a whole new level!

“I was so happy that I couldn’t hide it!” he said. “Immediately I applied the lesson we learned by selecting a verse and sending it to my dear wife, and she was happy to receive it.”

MoiseNow when Moise travels, he carries Scripture with him on his phone. He loves helping others access God’s Word the same way, both digitally from YouVersion and audibly from Faith Comes By Hearing. At the request of his pastor and church elders, he is preparing a training course on how to use cell phones for evangelization.

When I’ve traveled in Africa, I’ve often found better service there than I get in my own home in Orlando, Florida. In fact, Moise is one of more than 650 million cell phone subscribers in Africa, where cell phone service is far more available than landlines. I have no doubt that God is behind the development of digital technology, and while cell phones are used worldwide for communications, financial transactions, healthcare, and much more, I believe that God also intended this technology to support the distribution of His Word.

The Every Tribe Every Nation (ETEN) alliance has helped facilitate increased access to digital Scripture. Mart Green (founder of Mardel Christian and Education Supply and Every Tribe Entertainment) started ETEN by bringing together a group of philanthropic investors/donors and three Bible agencies—the American Bible Society (representing the United Bible Societies), Biblica, and Wycliffe Bible Translators USA (representing SIL International and The Seed Company). ETEN’s primary focus is the development of the Digital Bible Library (DBL) which currently holds 535 texts—including the Ngiemboon Bible that Moise reads.

YouVersion is one of the first organizations to utilize the DBL and make the texts available to smartphone users. Other organizations share them on websites or use them for purposes like e-books and print-on-demand.

If you haven’t already downloaded the YouVersion application to your phone, I’d encourage you to try it!

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By Matt Petersen, Wycliffe USA senior editor

“As pressure and stress bear down on me, I find joy in your commands.” –Psalm 119:143 (NLT)

“I’m very concerned for your safety right now,” said Abdiel, our host and self-assigned bodyguard during our stay in Guatemala. I glanced at Cyndy who was seated beside me, gingerly cradling her video camera against the jarring of the truck.

“Why are you concerned?” she asked.

“You know those guys who came over to greet us a minute ago, right before we left?” Abdiel questioned. “They were drug traffickers. That’s why we needed to leave so quickly.” Apparently traffickers don’t like Americans on their turf, especially ones carrying cameras.

This wasn’t our first dangerous encounter. Just the day before, we’d visited one of many new home churches. Few people in these villages are able to read. Instead churches gather together and listen to Scripture on a digital audio player called a Proclaimer, which is provided by Faith Comes By Hearing, one of Wycliffe’s partners.

Upon entering the tiny, crowded one-room house where this church meets, I could sense tension as several people began talking excitedly. I didn’t know what they were saying, but something was obviously wrong. The group leader spoke for a couple of minutes and soon everyone settled down, but an uncomfortable feeling remained.

It wasn’t until we had safely left the area that Abdiel was able to explain what had happened. He told us some foreigners had recently stirred up trouble in the village by starting mining operations. When the people saw our white skin, they thought we were associated with the miners. Also, although Abdiel wasn’t aware of it in advance, when we arrived someone told him we had entered the hometown of a powerful drug lord.

We faced other challenges in Guatemala as well. There was the threat of thieves, malaria, dengue fever, parasites, dangerous road conditions, spiritual opposition from traditional religions, and more.

In spite of these concerns, God protected us. Yet I know that Christians aren’t immune to suffering and death. What amazed me was the joy I saw in so many of these Christians in spite of difficult circumstances. Time after time they shared joyful stories about God and His Word at work in their lives.

One interviewee told about a pastor who shepherded his church for sixteen years using a Spanish Bible, since the Word wasn’t yet available in the local language. Unfortunately everyone—including the pastor himself—struggled to understand the Scriptures in Spanish. But when the pastor listened to the Proclaimer and finally heard the message of salvation in a language he could understand clearly, he accepted Christ as his personal savior.

Many people we interviewed shared their joy at being released from an oppressive false religion, others from severe alcohol addiction. All were excited about the freedom that God’s Word has brought.

Working with Wycliffe, I’ve traveled to many places and met many people who have been transformed by the Bible in their heart language. Each time I’ve been impressed by the spiritual and physical hardships many Christians face, but even more so the incredible joy and peace they experience because they rely on the Bible for strength and comfort. These testimonies challenge me to treasure the Scriptures more seriously myself. And like the Christians in Guatemala, I’ve found that through His Word, God brings me joy in the trials.

Translated Scripture changes lives. Don’t underestimate the power of a gift in support of Bible translation.

Have you experienced God’s peace and joy in the midst of trials?

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