Just in Time

By Rachel Greco

Apps on mobile phones make Scripture available to more people.

What may seem like an obstacle to us—whether it’s the inability to read or other challenges—may just be the opportunity God uses to reveal himself in a creative new way.

Several months ago, a translation team working on a language in Southeast Asia that has no writing system decided to record the Bible. They asked the Scripture Website partner of JAARS if they could digitally publish the translation via a website and a phone app. The website would use the national language, but the app would be oral—an important means of communication for a language that is oral.

Usually the apps that our partner creates for translation teams contain the text of Scripture with an audio recording. Since this language doesn’t have a writing system, our Scripture Website partner had to figure out how to make the Scripture app work with only an audio recording. But the team, led by Jim, was undaunted.

By the time the first book—the Gospel of Luke—was recorded, our Scripture Website partner had adapted their technology to enable creation of an audio-only phone app. They also made it available on a website—run by gifts from people like you. Thank you!

Shortly after making the website and app available to the public, the translation team leader conversed with a stranger from his language community. The leader told him about the new Scripture app. In response, the stranger pulled out his phone and said he was aware of the app and had already downloaded it.

Helping a different language group in Southeast Asia, Dan, a member of the Scripture Website team, encountered similar obstacles. Dan struggled to make a Scripture app cooperate. The text wasn’t highlighting in sync with the audio, prohibiting the listener from following along easily. This new feature would open the door for the oral-only members of the language community to access Scripture in their language.

Not only did Dan wish to make the app work, but he wanted to do so quickly. One of the translation team members, Sunda*, was coming to the U.S. for a short time and wanted to show the completed app at a meeting of refugees from their home country in Southeast Asia.

After two days of not getting the app to work, with the clock ticking down his remaining minutes, Dan became frustrated. He wasn’t making any progress, so on Friday—the day of the meeting—he dropped the project and focused on other work.

But that evening, unease bubbled inside him, so he returned to the app for one more try.

This time, he got the app to work! And just in time, too.

Dan’s and Sunda’s texted conversation after the refugee meeting.

Sunda was already at the meeting with the refugees, who waited in excited anticipation of listening to the Scripture.

When Dan told Sunda the app was ready, she eagerly played it for the refugees. She shared about one of their experiences listening to Scripture for the first time: “The old lady who only understands [our local language] and can’t read is sooo happy.”

Later that night, Sunda could hear this woman listening to the Scripture. And the next morning, she was listening to it when Sunda came down to breakfast.

Praise the Lord for overcoming and turning potential obstacles into opportunities for the people in Southeast Asia to receive Scripture in the way they best understand it.

Your gifts to Media Solutions make the creation of these Scripture apps and websites possible. Thank you!

*Name changed for security reasons