USA (MNN) — Jesus told us to take the Good News of salvation to the ends of the earth. Some people have translated it. Others have printed it. Others are recording it. Still others are distributing it.
Over the last 40 years, one ministry has been intimately involved in seeing God's Word explode around the world physically and electronically.
Originally known as Hosanna, Faith Comes By Hearing began as a small tape-lending library in the fall of 1972. Prior to establishing the Albuquerque-based ministry, founders Jerry and Annette Jackson had done missionary work across the desert southwest, traveling with their four children in a 1954 GMC school bus.
Always faithful to God's calling to "bring My church together and make disciples," the Jacksons have experienced the highs and lows of a ministry that came from humble beginnings and is now the largest producer of foreign language Audio Bibles in the world.
"We never could have imagined the direction the Lord would take this ministry when we first got started," states Jerry Jackson, founder and president of FCBH. "We simply have done our best to allow Him to work through us — even our weakness and imperfection, and He has been faithful."
This sort of willingness to follow the path God laid out before the ministry is illustrated by their move in the mid-80s to start producing dramatized Bible recordings in what they refer to as "heart languages" — the language you grew up with, speak in the home, and pray in. This decision has led to God's Word being freely available to the more than half of the world that is illiterate or living in a predominately oral culture.
The method of distribution has dramatically changed over 4 decades as well. The ministry originally used cassette tapes as their primary vehicle for providing audio. The move to CDs provided a better sound quality, but like cassettes, multiple CDs (16) were required to provide the entire New Testament.
Next came the Proclaimer, a solar-powered digital unit capable of being heard by groups as large as several hundred. When MP3 technology arrived, the ministry could fit the New Testament on one disc. As digital technology advanced and direct downloads across multiple platforms became a reality, Faith Comes By Hearing was able to realize one of their longtime dreams: to easily provide God's Word free of charge.
During their first 37 years in ministry, FCBH estimates they reached some 50 million people with Audio Scripture. In the last two and half years — through what is now the Digital Bible Platform — FCBH has monitored Bible engagement by more than 93 million people, including connections originating from 92% of the countries on the planet.
In addition to these online platforms, the ministry also provides free access through digital playback devices. More than 320,000 Proclaimers are literally proclaiming the Gospel to the world's poor and illiterate population. More than 230,000 Military BibleSticks–pocket-sized, digital players–have been distributed through chaplains to troops in every branch of America's military. Also, their Bibles.is app for Iphone and Android make accessing Scripture even easier. "One person with a cell phone can demonstrate Bible.is, and there could be hundreds of people suddenly accessing the Scripture because through Bible.is, you can access all 683 languages on your smart-phone or computer."
As they celebrate their 40th anniversary this month, Faith Comes By Hearing (FCBH) isn't done. "We're adding 100 a year. And we're going to announce something this next weekend at our celebration that is going to accelerate that beyond imagination because of the technology."
So what is in store for the next 40 years?
Jackson says, "I have a dream that in 2016 we'll have all these languages recorded — 97% of the earth will have God's Word in the language they pray in." He hopes that will be the time where Jesus will return for His Church.
Pray that God would give FCBH knowledge to be able to use the new technology to reach even more of the world for Christ. Pray that funding would also be available to help pay for it.