The Last 12 Years
Back in 2008, Rick*, a staff member for the JAARS partner SIL, gave a presentation on the value of publishing Scripture on the internet.
He had realized that most members of minority language communities have little to no access to Scripture in their main language. “Speakers of most minority languages do not know that Scripture products and dictionaries even exist in their language, much less how to access them,” Rick said.
People in these language communities lack knowledge of and access to Scripture for several reasons, including restrictions on selling and distributing printed Scripture. Or, in some countries, on selling or distributing anything printed in a minority language.
After listening to Rick’s presentation, a committee agreed to make the development of digital publishing a priority. A board of directors was formed, and the Scripture Website organization** that JAARS helps fund through your generosity was created. After it was officially approved as a new organization in 2010, Alan* assumed responsibility as its managing director.
In 2011, the organization’s primary purpose was to teach Bible translation teams how to build their own websites using the organization’s website-building software. They taught these skills via workshops.
During the first year, the workshop training was offered only remotely. “Over the course of that first year,” Alan explained, “we learned that there was a real need for the workshop training to be conducted in-country, in-person, with all the trainees in attendance for a 10-day workshop.” When they moved to an in-country model the number of live Scripture websites grew significantly.
With support through our Media Solutions fund, the organization hosts websites for those that are built using its software.
The organization’s next goal was to develop a way to efficiently create Scripture apps for mobile devices. Because building customized mobile apps was very labor-intensive, in 2016 the organization partnered with an SIL software developer who had created a standardized mobile-app-building program that supports the efficient creation of Scripture apps.
One ministry worker who uses this organization’s tools to build apps said, “The publishing tasks that [this organization] takes on free up app builders like me to focus on the apps and not get caught up in the weeds of publishing details. Many times, [this organization’s employees] have brought up things about my apps that I never thought of or noticed, like new features, or they see problem areas. They’ve helped make my apps much better and inspired me towards excellence in my app-building work. [They] display professionalism in both their work and desire to continue to improve their products and services.”
In 2020, COVID-19 forced the Scripture Website organization to re-evaluate its in-country website-building model and think about ways to work around the new travel constraints. As a result, it created a set of 32 training videos and a virtual workshop model that includes live lectures over the internet that are supplemented by one-on-one video conference sessions.
After a recent virtual Scripture website workshop, one member of a ministry in Southeast Asia who created a spiritual wellness website said, “Key takeaways from the training included ease of use, new skills, confidence, perseverance, willingness to try, content planning, and the value of distribution strategies.” The team also learned about teamwork, roles, and coordination.
Today, the organization stands on the cusp of passing 1,000 live websites and 3,000 apps! The staff is amazed to observe what the Lord has done over the last 12 years. “We are also most thankful for those whose support has enabled this ministry to flourish,” Alan said.
Thank you for giving to Media Solutions so that many people in minority language communities can have access to God’s Word! Join us in praying that God would continue to bless this organization’s efforts to grow his kingdom.
*Last names removed for security reasons
**Name omitted for security reasons