Niger (MNN) — Despite the extremely low presence of Christians in Niger, a pilot program to send out audio Old Testaments is expected to go forward without interference–and maybe even welcomed.
The Christian population in Niger is only 0.3%, according to the Joshua Project. True evangelicals make up only 0.1% of the African nation.
Yet even that small number may have enough dedication to grow the church. Upon discovering that Audio Scripture Ministries had recorded the Old Testament in Hausa, a group of local believers immediately contacted the ministry for help.
"The Hausa Bible has been printed and published since 1932, but according to those in the country, literacy rates are among the lowest in the world–perhaps less than 15% of the people can really read and write in their own language," explains Tom Dudenhofer, executive director of ASM. "So in order to reach the Hausa, they need to be able to listen."
ASM has digital audio players with the Hausa Old Testament loaded on them. They will be distributed in country by local believers, pastors, Bible college students, and more, within the evangelical church there.
You might be thinking: Why the Old Testament? It's not exactly a common place for most churches to start when it comes to evangelistic outreach.
For one thing, there are already some audio New Testaments in some villages of Niger. They have been around since the 70s. But the Old Testament is of particular interest to those of the national religion in the country.
"They like to learn about the Old Testament. They like the Old Testament stories: it fits them in many different ways. They've just never been able to hear the details," explains Dudenhofer. "So this is a tremendous opportunity to begin a religious conversation using the historical context of the Old Testament. And that material begins to prepare the way for the claims of Jesus."
Beyond the people's general familiarity with Bible figures like Adam, Noah, Abraham, and Moses, many Hausa proverbs sound similar to Biblical poems and proverbs, making the poetry books of the Bible of particular interest to Hausa speakers.
The door is wide open for the Old Testament to come into Niger. And despite a surface hostility toward Christianity throughout the nation, believers who will distribute the digital players do not anticipate any major challenges as long as they hand out the players in a non-confrontational way.
Dudenhofer adds, "Frankly, the only problem that we are running into is the scarcity of players."
Pray for funding to provide more audio players so that many Hausa can hear the Word of God. If you'd like to give, click here, and specify that you'd like to give your gift to the project in Niger.