New project launch takes hope to war-torn East Africa

By March 21, 2012

Somalia (MNN) — Al Shabaab militants
attacked Somalia's presidential palace this week. 

The Somali government
tried to downplay the violence, describing
it as a militant fear tactic. The country
is largely considered a failed state and one that is extremely hostile to what it considers outside

Neighboring countries
that share Swahili are concerned that the insurgency could spread violence over
the borders. It is during this time
that Audio Scripture Ministries announces two new projects that could be
instrumental to bringing peace to the region.

ASM's Tom Dudenhofer
explains, "Our
partners have been able to obtain permission to do an Old Testament recording
of Swahili and Somali. These are both significant projects. The Old Testament
requires a lot of hard work and good readers."

Swahili is spoken as a major trade language in Kenya,
Tanzania, Zanzibar, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia, Mozambique,
Malawi, Rwanda and Burundi, Somalia, and the Comoro Islands. With the two language projects ready to
begin, the question is: who will benefit from them?  

The Somali Church was
driven underground in 1991 when a popular uprising swept out the dictatorial regime
of that day. Today, Christians are
forced to practice their faith in secret under extremely dangerous conditions.

Given the reputation of the region, there isn't much available to
encourage and ground the believers that do exist. No one is expected to be a Christian in
Somalia, so there is no organized church. Muslim converts exist as individual secret
believers. It is also possible that there are
expatriates who sought refuge elsewhere and
left their Bible behind.  

Dudenhofer says the diaspora effect
also plays a role in creating demand for these projects. "Sometimes we have underestimated the
power of the Old Testament to provide the background, the deeper appreciation
for all of the promises, for instance, that were fulfilled by Jesus. It's a
tremendous tool and provides a real deepening of discipleship."

Another problem that crops up is how to distribute the
finished product. "Our
partners will make the decision about where the recording will be made. After
that, it will be the process of lining up the right readers for the project, and
we're pretty confident that will take place, even if it has to take place out
of the country."

The Islamic extremists seek to impose a strict version of Sharia
(Islamic law), ridding the country of Christianity. The country's president,
Sheikh Sharif Sheik Ahmed, has embraced a version of Sharia that mandates the
death penalty for those who leave Islam. 

The murder of Christians–especially converts from Islam
to Christianity–is increasingly common, so why would anyone be interested in
hearing the Word of God? Dudenhofer
says, "They
realize everything around them is broken, and they're looking for hope. Perhaps
this is what God is going to use sometime in the future to open the hearts of
more people for His Word."

Persecution complicates everything. However, "The other side
of it is that our partners with Theovision are very good at this. They have
been doing this for a long time. They have gone into areas where it was unsafe
for anyone to go and have tremendous testimonies about how God has blessed and
protected their team."

Similar distinctives are found in other countries with militant groups
fighting to topple the governments. Even
while the wave of oppression seems like it would discourage people from seeking
out Christians, "Many times after some event like this takes place, or
even in the midst of it, people are very hungry for something that gives them
stability, for something that gives them hope, and God's Word does that."

Groundwork for the Swahili
project is underway. At the same time,
ASM's partners are carefully building the base of what will be the Somali
project. Dudenhofer says, "This would be a good time to begin to
pray that God would raise up the right people and lay the groundwork for
generations of people then that will be able to listen to the Old Testament and
everything that gives us a picture in the past of what Jesus is going to do in
the future."

Pray for funding that will be needed
to record the Swahili and Somali Old Testaments. These two projects require
more time and involve more expense than New Testament recordings. Pray, too, for freedom for believers to
worship and grow in their faith.


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