I really wrestled with what to post today. After becoming violently ill on Saturday night, I had some catching up to do this morning, and kept shelving today’s article later and later into the morning. Often I’ll go through articles in the same month, previous years and look for ideas or items to reprint.
When I found this article on Megavoice in my March, 2011 archives, the thing that amazed me was that I haven’t re-posted it since. Megavoice is one of a number of new Christian organizations that are leveraging technology for the spread of the Gospel. Sadly, much of the philanthropy that takes place among Christians involves what I would call old-order Christian charities. The same is true for the missions budget of most local churches; most Missions Committee members simply renew the budget of the previous year.
I think this is so vital, so exciting. This is an organization you should want to come alongside of and be spreading the word about…
I’m a bit of a Bible bigot.
My prejudices have nothing to do with a particular translation. No, we don’t more of those people running around. My bias has to do with the form the finished Bible takes.
I asked someone recently what they think the Bible translation process involves. They gave me the answer I expected, the answer I would have given until just days ago:
- Missionary translators learn the local language
- The language is put it written form
- The native people are taught how to read their own language
- The New Testament (usually beginning with John’s gospel) is translated into that written language
- Printed copies of the completed books are given out
Great concept. Sometimes, that’s how it’s done. But overall this view has one problem: It doesn’t match the experience of many people working to bring the story of Jesus to remote tribes.
The problem is with the words: “Read,” “books,” “printed,” “written.”
Many of the world’s peoples are not readers. It’s not that they are illiterate in the sense that a young man living on the streets of Detroit is not able to read in the middle of a culture full of literates. It’s not that they are illiterate in the sense of a woman in Atlanta whose makeshift home is insulated with newspapers containing words she cannot understand.
Rather, it’s because, half a world away, theirs is a culture of orality. No, I’d never heard the word before, either. Simply put, they are oral learners.
We’re talking about people who would benefit much more from an audio Bible than one bound in bonded leather with gold edged pages. Think about it: Once translators had acquired the language verbally, they could immediately produce a verbal (spoken) translation of the Bible, and then disseminate it using some kind of playback device.
Enter mp3 technology. The time is right. The time is now.
And that’s the theory behind MegaVoice. The term describes
- a team of people assembling a library currently consisting of 8,400 Scripture-based audio titles in 4,600 languages and dialects (see below), including languages and dialects you’ve never heard of.
- the playback devices themselves: a solar powered mp3 player that has no moving parts and never needs batteries.
- the organization itself that oversees this, and liaises with other mission agencies and Bible translation ministries.
For me, learning about MegaVoice has been a paradigm-shattering experience that has changed everything I’ve believed about how the translation process and the evangelization process works. I live in a world of text, a world of print media, and the possibility of such a widespread population of oral communicators simply never occurred to me.
If you’re one of the blessed people who is always looking for a project worthy of financial support, consider directly supporting this ministry. Whether in print copies or audio copies, the Word of God is still powerful, and doesn’t just “bounce off the walls,” but will accomplish great things in peoples’ lives. (Isaiah 55:11)