India (MNN) — Counterpoint Research recently announced that India has now surpassed the United States as the second-largest smartphone market in the world with over 220 million active smartphone users. However, the percentage of the Indian population that uses smartphones is still below 30 percent, so the potential for continued growth in India’s smartphone marketplace is exponential.
These latest smartphone stats also have unique implications for how ministries share the Gospel in India, and Audio Scripture Ministries is choosing to be proactive.
JP Sundararajan with ASM shares, “We believe in three years, most of the people we work with will have smartphones. Even if they are still nonliterate, they will have access to smartphones. So I keep thinking, if we know that as a fact now, what are we doing today to prepare for that eventuality? So one of the things we’ve been talking about is maybe what if we could create an app that could stream the recordings of what we’ve done so far of God’s Word in people’s heart languages into their communities?”
ASM hit the ground running with the idea of a smartphone app to stream God’s Word in India, and are currently in the development process. They hope to release this new app come fall or early winter this year.
However, Sundararajan says they want the app to do more than just act as a one-way audio streamer of the Bible. Currently, ASM has solar-powered digital audio Bibles they distribute in communities that often have no church or Christian presence. These audio Bibles have been helpful when reaching communities that are unreached by the Gospel, but the discipleship element can be lacking.
“I was thinking, well, what if we create an app where as people are listening to it, [you can ask] questions that come up. For example, you’re dealing with a drought in your community and then Jesus talks about being the Living Water and you somehow can’t reconcile those two, but you don’t know who to talk to. Our app should have the option where you could just press a little microphone icon and ask those questions,” he says.
“Now those questions will then be sent back to our offices in Bangalore where they’ll be processed, and we’ll know where exactly people are asking these questions from, and what they were listening to in Scripture when these questions came up. We’ll collect those questions and work with local Christian leaders and pastors and kind of answer those questions in the form of a podcast that will then get sent back to these communities. So our one-way communication now becomes a two-way street. And kind of a wonderful way of looking at it, the way I see it is we’re kind of creating a virtual church of sorts for people who don’t really feel like they belong to the larger Body.”
The first version of the app should have around 100 Indian languages available with Scripture. And, says Sundararajan, “we want to bundle it in with other Christian messages from radio stations, etc. that we have worked with over the years.”
While we wait for this Gospel-sharing app’s release? Please pray.
“Pray for this team. It is not something we’re doing in-house. We have outsourced this to a very well-established and reputable company based in Milwaukee that is going to be building this app for us. They are working very hard at making sure they provide us a quality product. So pray for the team that’s doing this, pray for our team in India and for me as we kind of communicate to this team in Milwaukee how we want to see this developed.”
Sundararajan goes on to ask, “Pray also for the funding. I mean, this is a $200,000 project, and praise be to God over half the funding has come in…. We’re excited about the possibilities, but we still have a bit of a way to go to get there. So we would appreciate your prayers and I hope you would get excited about this too, because I think one of the wonderful things we have is God’s Word that we so easily have access to, and we now have this incredible thirst in India, and how cool it is to build a quality device or tool that will help us access that!”