To the Remote Corners

By Rachel Greco

The country of Vanuatu—a chain of rugged volcanic islands—lies about 500 miles west of Fiji and 1,000 miles east of Australia. 

The people love to tell stories and socialize. Many struggle with reading and have few written materials besides a Bible in their second or third language. Casey and Valerie Ellis serve in Scripture Engagement efforts among the North Ambrym people in Vanuatu. As the local-language Bible translation progresses, they are encouraging and promoting literacy.

The Ellises are also tapping into the power of the spoken word. “We have seen people respond very well so far to hearing God’s Word spoken to them through audio recordings,” Casey said. 

The Ellises have used solar-powered MegaVoices to distribute recorded portions of Scripture to the North Ambrym people in the past and more recently. 

SIL* Vanuatu has also used the 480 devices they recently acquired with funding from JAARS Media Solutions to distribute Scripture and Scripture materials to other language groups in this island chain. “We continue to upload New Testaments that SIL has previously completed onto the MegaVoice players when Scripture Engagement activities [occur] in these language communities,” the manager of SIL Vanuatu said. 

SIL Vanuatu also puts Bible study materials, stories, and songs on the devices in some of the nation’s many local languages plus materials in one of the national languages, Bislama. Whenever teams visit churches to raise awareness or are asked to share about their work in a public setting, they bring samples of the various languages on the MegaVoices, which they sell at a subsidized rate.

Valerie and Casey are working on a multi-voice, dramatized version of the Gospel of Matthew in the North Ambrym language. They have recorded many hours’ worth of audio Scripture in the local language, but distribution is often slow and difficult work. 

Sharing via Bluetooth phone apps has worked well, but that allows only one person at a time to receive the audio. The Bible Box—a self-contained Wi-Fi distribution device—isn’t ideal in their location because people have little experience navigating websites and therefore need individual help to connect. The Bible Box also requires people to access materials from a central location, and on Ambrym, people are spread out in small family clusters in remote villages. 

Casey and Valerie hope to increase the reach of the gospel on Ambrym with an FM radio broadcast. They believe it will enable them to provide audio Scripture and Bible teaching content on an ongoing basis for anyone to access, at almost any time, from the FM receiver in their phones, radios, and MegaVoice players. 

With these devices, people could listen to audio Scripture materials, plus health messages, public service announcements, and local news, regardless of how high the creeks are or how bad the roads are. 

A faint AM radio signal is sometimes available, and many local people try to tune into it. “This has shown us that if a clear broadcast were available locally, there is a good chance that it will be well-received,” Casey explained. 

The Ellises were excited when they heard that MegaVoice produces a model with a built-in FM receiver. The couple will experiment with the model to see if it will work for their purposes, and they will install the broadcasting equipment once they return from furlough to begin the first broadcast on the island of Ambrym for God’s glory! 

“We hope to see FM radio waves carry recorded audio Scripture and Bible teaching to the remote corners of our island. We want to see people have the chance to clearly hear the wonderful works of God in this generation.”

Join us in praying that the radio equipment will work and that God will use it to reach many people in Vanuatu with his life-changing Word. 

*A partner of JAARS