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TECH SPOT: AUDIO BIBLES (1 / 2)
August 13, 2020

 

Welcome to the first post in our Tech Spot series! For the series explainer, click here.

We often mention that we are working with organisations that distribute audio Bibles. But what exactly do they look like, how are they distributed, and why are they needed?

 


 

What are they?

 

First up, what is an audio Bible? It is a device much like a sturdy MP3 player that makes it possible to listen to Scripture, and sometimes recorded Bible teachings as well. It might be a standalone device, integrated with another device such as a radio, or even include a small screen to watch the Jesus film! Other ways to hear the Bible are available online, through SD cards, or apps. This 2-part post series will focus on the hardware versions.

Audio Bibles come in many different models, formats, shapes, and sizes. They can look like this:

 


[Audio Bibles used by HFA. Image Source: HFA]

 

Or this:

 


[The ‘Treasure’ audio Bible in use. Image Source: Grace Ministries International]

 

Or this!

 


[An audio Bible advertised on Amazon. Image Source: Amazon]

 

In whatever form, the purpose is the same: to make it possible to access the Word of God by hearing.

Many are battery-powered and can be recharged with integrated solar cells, whereas older versions used to have a hand crank. They can be loaded with content in a huge variety of languages, depending on what is available.

We prefer models which are simple to operate and dust- and moisture-proof as much as possible. HFA has sometimes sourced audio Bibles from MegaVoice, commercial suppliers, or worked with our partners to create our own. These devices are then provided to our local partners or underground Christians who go and hand them to people in remote and isolated communities. Some are transported by foot, others by canoe, and some are flown in if necessary.

 

Why are they needed?

 

The most important question is: why?

 


 

“For, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? … Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.” Romans 10:13-14, 17

 


 

This verse explains it clearly – hearing the word of God, either literally or figuratively, is the way for people to understand the world, themselves, and what it is to be saved.

What about preaching then – isn’t that enough? Unfortunately not. Where we work in unreached and isolated places, there are often no preachers available at all – the audio Bible gives people access to the Gospel, even when no-one else is around!

But why specifically something you can listen to, rather than read? After all, organisations such as Wycliffe Bible Translators are working hard on providing not only oral but also written Scripture translations in every language, and are making constant progress towards that goal:

 

A graph of Bible translation progress over time. The graph is steady between 1800 and 1940, when it reaches approximately 200 languages with a full translation, and then increases steeply until 2020 where it reaches about 700 languages with a full translation.
[Bible translation progress over time. Image Source: unidentified]

 

The fact is that written Scriptures alone aren’t always the best option. For some people, audio Bibles might be useful or convenient if they have difficulty reading. In oral communication cultures, however, audio Bibles are much more than just convenient. Hearing Scripture is a much more natural way of encountering the Bible in these settings. Preaching is one thing, but direct access to the Word of God is incredibly important.

 

What’s the future of audio Bibles?

 

As long as people communicate with sound, it’s likely there’ll be a place for some kind of audio Bible in the world. As content in more languages and simpler and more reliable audio players become available, the opportunities for distribution continue to expand.

In the Amazon for instance, there are thousands of people spread over millions of square kilometres who have never heard of Jesus, but speak a common language that has already been translated! Enabling local South American believers to take the Word of God to them is just one opportunity that should not be missed. (Read more about this in our newsletters from 2018 and 2019.)

 


[The Amazon. Image Source: Google Earth]

 

The possibilities are almost limitless… for more, watch this space for part 2!


 

Thanks for reading! We hope you are as excited as we are about how technology can be used for God’s kingdom.

Feel free to share this blog post and use it to start a conversation about the need for everyone to be able to access God’s Word!

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“After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb.” 

- Revelation 7:9-10

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