The Power of Sound

By Rachel Greco

What does the cassowary—a bird found in Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Australia—say? Someone who has never seen or heard the cassowary might have a difficult time imagining its sounds.

A cassowary

Most people in PNG have this same problem imagining the sounds of the Bible. That is why David Lamb collects sound effects and audio samples for use in Bible stories. David, a media specialist trained at JAARS by one of our partner organizations, serves in the recording studio that YOU helped expand.

After a book of the Bible is translated into a local language and recorded as an audio Bible, David and his team can add sounds which help the listener imagine the time and space where the events happened. As people in PNG hear about smartphones and know relatives who have them, they are beginning to want background music and sound effects for dramatized versions of Scripture recordings. In recent years, the recording team in PNG has had many requests for background music and sound effects, but nothing to offer them.

David is currently amassing sounds for the book of Revelation, the hardest book to tackle. He needs to create 185 different sound effects!

David and a language team working together to record Scripture

Sound effects for Chapters 16 and 17 in Revelation, where the seven angels pour out God’s wrath on the earth, require screaming and other horrible sounds. “Sometimes,” David admits, “I feel like I’m collecting sound effects for a horror film.” Once he had two actors come into the studio and yell, cry, and act silly in front of the microphone to create background effects for these portions of Scripture.

He has also taken a portable recorder around Ukarumpa to collect animal sounds. Birds are excellent for background ambience and creating a place in the listener’s mind. For other animal sounds, he can slow down the audio, dropping the pitch to create noises for the beasts, the dragon, and other horrific occurrences in Revelation.

David’s work on collecting and creating these sounds has expanded his understanding of the Bible: “Revelation has become more visceral and God’s judgement more nearby in my thoughts.”

Most people in the U.S. have never seen a cassowary before. But it’s a real animal that makes a real noise. David and the other media specialists hope the sound effects that accompany God’s Word make the stories feel real.  Because they are real.

Please pray with us that God will use these sound effects to make his Word come alive for people in Papua New Guinea.