“After this, I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb”... (Revelation 7:9).
God desires that people from every tongue, tribe, and nation should worship Him. In order to fulfil this great task, He has chosen us as worthy instruments, as well as partners, in to His ministry. The task of world evangelization will be completed only when the Gospel is proclaimed to every single people and language group. But how can we take the message of hope and salvation to the 1.2 billion men, women, and children of this South Asian nation—people who are lost and blinded by traditional faiths and unbelief? Today, more than half the world has still not heard the gospel, and half of those cannot read or write and remain lost without Christ.
The Bihar State Network for Linguistic and Church Planting Initiatives (BSN-LCI), a loose network of different Churches and Mission agencies, serves Bihar’s 100 million people by providing a variety of tools and resources to advance God’s Kingdom. It is heart-warming to know today that in Bihar, hundreds of churches prefer to use the native heart language in their Church services and ministry activities over a preference to the state language. This intentional shift has caused the message of Christ to be incarnated among the people so that they can hear Jesus speaking their own heart language.
As a typical agricultural laborer, Sikander had to work extra hard to feed his family. Having epilepsy didn’t help much. With frequent attacks, he felt tired, weak, and often confused. “Was this all about life?” he repeatedly asked himself, being a man who was over 60. And so, one day when he heard about Jesus and that HE was the healer of sicknesses and the forgiver of sins, he was interested and prayed. The story is amazing in the context of Bihar’s 0.5% Christian population and oft encountered tyranny of landlords against poor agricultural house-holds. In nothing short of a miracle, Sikander received back his own land from a wealthy landlord who had stolen it about fifty years ago – all through listening to God’s Word on the AUDI-BIBLE listening device!
Oral cultures are those who choose to or can only use non-literate methods of communication for learning. Estimates say that two-thirds of the world is like this, and in Bihar the statistics are similar. About 60% are illiterate. Therefore, communicating Scripture truth and holistic community development material on audio devices is strategic. When the platform to distribute this is the heart language, then a very strategic plan is in place and captures the attention of potentially 500 users per listening device.
On a typical AUDI-BIBLE device (about US$20 per device), the type that Sikander heard the Gospel on, there are about 20 hours of Scripture content and community development content including health related information, counseling for families, information about common disease and general information. The dissemination of information of each theme in narrative format and in song has caused multiple communities to not only learn, but also sing new information and newly acquired knowledge.
Serving in a largely under-developed part of India, transformation is what we seek. Transformation is the progressive and ongoing measurable supernatural impact of the presence and power of God working in, through, and apart from the Church on human society and structures. It addresses the plea “Lord, may your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.”
To date, over 1600 listening devices have been distributed in six language communities of Bihar! The result? Over 125,000 people have heard the Gospel in their own heart language and are experiencing the transforming power of Jesus Christ! Sikander is one among the thousands who have found Christ through committed evangelists who are bringing the voice of the Savior, closer to the hearts of the last, least, and the lost! We are now praying towards distributing another 5000 such devices so that half a million people of Bihar’s 100 million will hear and respond to the Gospel.
Video Audio Strategy for Translation (V.A.S.T.) is a new method in Scripture translation that helps languages without a written script to have access to God’s Word at an accelerated pace. Using the same robust steps as in print translation, VAST uses audio and video files to assist in translation, especially so for oral cultures. There are many applications for the VAST technology including the translation and production of audio Scriptures, the translation and production of the Jesus film and the dubbing of video content of Scripture.
Operation Snap Dragon (OSD) represents a partnership between The JESUS Film Project and Contexture International and national mission organizations. It is based on words from Psalms 91:13, “Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.” Operation Snap Dragon is focused on accelerating script translation and production of The JESUS Film into the heart-languages of people who need it. Providing this powerful ministry empowers those who are sharing Jesus to plant vibrant churches.
ORIYA LEADERS RECORD ORAL BIBLE STORIES
JESUS FILM IN BIHARI LANGUAGES
(Angika, Surjapuri, and Panchpargania)
As part of the ongoing service to reach language communities in Odisha state of Eastern India (42 million population), a team of four key leaders were recently at the NIEA recording facility in Bihar. Thirty-six Bible stories were recorded by a group of mother tongue translators who have been coached in this skill for the past two years.
This assumes great significance, since these stories will be used widely by the church, especially in areas where oral cultures exist (upwards of 30% of Odisha is illiterate) and where the state language, Odiya, is used to minister. Nayak, Maher, Digal, and Pranav are part of the team that has been working to bring oral Scriptures to their people. These Bible stories are edited and then placed on solar-powered listening devices for pastors, lay evangelists, and Christian folk to use.
Religion Percentages in Orissa
Hinduism - 94.35%
Christianity - 2.44%
Islam - 2.07%
Others - 1.14%
The JESUS Film Project is an evangelistic initiative founded in 1981 by ‘Campus Crusade for Christ’ - Founder Dr. Bill Bright, with the stated goal of reaching every nation, tribe, people and tongue and helping them see and hear the story of Jesus in a language they can understand. This project seeks to give everyone in the world at least one chance to hear the gospel in their own language. The Jesus Film has been serving as an effective tool in reaching the illiterate masses of India for several years.But how can any single film reach so many people and touch so many lives?
It is the power of the Word of God in their heart language.Once completed, this film will bring the Angika, Surjapuri, and Panchpargania language speaking communities of Bihar state an opportunity to hear and respond to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Bihar has a total literacy rate of 63%today while total rural literacy rate is as low as 43% - it remains the least literate state among the Indian states. The majority of the unreached people groups are illiterate and live within cultures that are oral in tradition.
In partnership with the JESUS Film project, NIEA is facilitating with a team of translators, recording and technical staff, and mother tongue native speakers. Recording is currently complete in each of these languages and the final audio and video files are being edited into Master files before being released. Once completed, thousands of unbelievers will have an opportunity to see these films and respond to God’s love.
It is likely that Bihar will see a revival soon as the message of the Cross is presented to the people from within their culture in the common language of the recipients. A renewal of the culture by transformation of the people of God for His glory is being attempted. Pray for David Acharya, Sunu Daniel, and Matt T as they provide strategic leadership to this partnership project. God is using this film in powerful ways to reach people and build His church worldwide. Of the 1 million churches planted in the last 10 years, 75% have begun using the JESUS film. And yet, so much of the world remains in spiritual darkness. Billions of people have never had the opportunity to hear God’s message of salvation and say "yes" to Christ.