International (MNN) — For anyone reading this, it's probably hard to imagine not being able to open a Bible and read wherever you choose. But half of the world's population couldn't read a Bible if they had one. And millions of others can read, but simply have no access to a hard copy of the Scriptures.
In this day of technology, printing and distributing Bibles for each person who cannot afford one is not the most efficient way of spreading the Word. Not to mention for those who are illiterate, these hard copies would only have so much impact.
About two years ago, Faith Comes By Hearing launched their Bible.is app. The app not only erases the need for hard copies of the Word, but it provides access to the New Testament for millions of people who cannot read it on their own. The app has the New Testament in audio in over 600 languages and written text in almost as many.
When the app first came out, users had to have a basic knowledge of English to use it. The navigation tools were all in English. The app was soon available in Spanish as well, so those who understood Spanish basics could also navigate.
In a matter of months, though, the app has expanded to include navigation abilities for 2.65 billion people. Faith Comes By Hearing just announced that the Bible app is now localized in twelve of the world's largest languages.
The app now operates on the iPhone, iPad, and all mobile Android devices in Arabic, Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional), Dutch, English, French, Indonesian, Italian, Javanese, Latin, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Urdu and Vietnamese. Combined, these languages represent a third of the world's population. Of course, every localized version also offers access to Bibles in over 600 languages, which are spoken by over five billion people in more than 185 countries.
The strides Faith Comes By Hearing has made in online Bible technology have the potential to reach the globe fast. Many mostly-illiterate communities already have access to the internet or smart phones.
"In the next few years, there won't be anywhere on earth that doesn't have some level of (Internet) access," says Faith Comes By Hearing's vice president, Troy Carl. "This means they will have access to the life-changing Word of God — and most likely in their own heart language."
As greater worldwide connectivity is being created and more people are gaining access to smartphones and similar mobile devices, the ministry sees this technology as a path to completing the Great Commission, potentially within this generation.