This is Us!

By Rachel Greco

Colombia’s vast eastern plains are home to more than anteaters, anacondas, and jaguars. They’re also home to about 20,000 Guahibo people, who are also scattered across the border into southern Venezuela.

The Guahibo people now have access to God’s word in their own language for the first time! And not just in print form, but in digital format too, thanks in part from people like you who give to JAARS Media Solutions

The Guahibo have recently been able to read the New Testament in their language on their phones. Sandra, a media consultant for the Foundation for the Development of Marginalized Peoples (FDPM) in Colombia, created the app with the help of Dan who works with the JAARS-funded Scripture website partner*. 

A Guahibo man uses the new app.

Sandra had built apps before, but while working on the one for the Guahibo, she wanted to create an app that belonged more to the people. So she asked them to provide an image for the menu that was representative of the people—something that said, “This is Guahibo.”

Some of the Guahibo discussed what image from their culture might represent each New Testament book. Then, instead of just handing one sketch over to Sandra and the graphic artist, they handed over 27—one for each New Testament book. For example, the image they chose for Romans was an image of a woven item they use to wring out the poison found in their main food staple—cassava. The Guahibo chose this image because Romans also is a staple and helps people remove the heresies; it’s true, pure doctrine.

The home screen for the Guahibo NT app with the local images.

Once the images and text were complete, Sandra sent the app to Dan. He went through it, making sure everything looked like it should before enabling them to upload the app to his organization’s digital library. 

When Dan first worked with Sandra, he was intimidated because he didn’t speak Spanish—the only language Sandra spoke. “There was a little bit of an initial dance at first, making sure that we understood each other or understood when we didn’t understand each other,” Dan said. 

But with help from some translation software and a Spanish-speaking friend, Dan was able to communicate with Sandra about the important edits that needed to be made on the app. It has now been published and is available on the Google Play store and the FDPM website that our Scripture website partner helped Sandra create. 

The first few verses of Matthew chapter one in Guahibo.

Even in its first days of being published, the app has connected with the Guahibo! When some of them came to the office to record the audio of the New Testament not long after the first version of the app was finished, Sandra’s team showed them the app. As soon as the people saw the images, they said, “This is us.” 

Within five minutes with the app installed on their phones, they were already sending it out to people in Venezuela and other places in Colombia. From the FDPM office, it would have taken about 48 hours driving to reach these places. Instead, these people had the app—the entire New Testament in their language—in 10 or 15 seconds! 

Sandra hopes God will use the app to reach the youth—nearly all of whom have smartphones. “Young people don’t care to read a book of the Bible, but when they find a type of technology that already [has] a Bible translated into Scripture, we can connect to them out of curiosity,” Sandra said. 

And that connection is already happening! After the app was published, FDPM went to the Guahibo area to record the small parts of the New Testament. An 11-year-old boy showed up to play the voice of young Jesus. When they tried to hand him a script, he refused and pulled his phone out. “What’s the reference?” he asked. He looked the passage up on the app and read his part directly from his phone. 

Praise the Lord for how he’s already using the Guahibo New Testament app to saturate his people with his Word. 

Pray that the Lord’s digital Word would reach many more people in South America. 

*Name not given for security reasons