Complete Strangers

By Rachel Greco

Sometimes God laces the lives of people together in ways we never would have predicted. Jim and Yasuf* were complete strangers God used to extend his message of hope and love to those who had yet to learn of him.

The app Jim created for the
North African language group

They met several months ago via an unexpected email. Jim, who works for a media organization supported by JAARS, received an email from Yasuf, who serves a language group in North Africa. Yasuf had received Jim’s name from an acquaintance.

Yasuf asked Jim to build a Scripture app that could be downloaded to a mobile device for his language group. Jim’s organization specializes in apps for language teams, so he agreed to help Yasuf. He and Yasuf worked on the app, talking back and forth on WhatsApp. According to Jim, “the app depicts a picture, while an audio of [related] Scripture plays for about five minutes. Then it shows another picture, while [the viewer] continues listening to the person reading Scripture.”

The slides displayed by the app follow the arc of the Bible, from creation to Jesus’ resurrection. Jim explains that although Yasuf’s language group already has the Scriptures, “most of them don’t read or write; they prefer audio.” The audio of the Scripture app is recorded in their language, giving them the opportunity to hear and respond to the gospel.

In this culture, people will often sit in a public area, whip out their phones, and say, “Guess what I have?” They might show their friends or the people gathered nearby some silly video they found on the internet. But then, they can show the Scripture app. The app will draw a crowd because it’s in their language and possesses culturally appropriate pictures.

After a few weeks, Jim finished the app and sent it to Yasuf, who received it with great excitement. Two weeks later, at the Eurasian Media and Distribution Conference in the Netherlands, Jim showed the app to a fellow attendee who works in North Africa. The man started laughing. “I’ve already seen that app,” he said.

“You couldn’t have seen this app,” Jim replied. “I just built it about two weeks ago and sent it off.”

“No, I’ve seen this app before,” the man insisted. “And I can tell you about the guy who’s promoting it.” So he introduced him to John, who was working with Yasuf.

John said, “Yasuf and I have been working on this app and going back and forth with you about it.”

Can you guess who this is?

After talking with the two men, Jim returned home and made some minor changes on the app and sent it back to Yasuf. He was happy with the changes, but he told Jim of another project he was having trouble with. “We’ve been trying to get access to another dialect in our country. But we haven’t been able to. They won’t give us their copyrights to their Scripture to make an app for them.”

In some countries, this is a common practice that occurs for monetary or other reasons. It can be a major issue for Jim’s organization. “We’ve been praying about this for several years,” Jim says, “and more and more, we’re seeing places open up to let us use their translated Scripture.”

That happened with Yasuf and the neighboring dialect. He showed the app to the people who possessed the copyrights. When they saw the app—how it worked and its usefulness—they immediately said, “Yes, build us an app! We’ll release the copyrights to you.”

Only God could have intertwined the lives of Jim and Yasuf, two strangers, to extend his message of hope and love deeper into North Africa. Consider giving to our Media Solutions to extend that message to those who are still waiting!

*Names have been changed for security purposes.