USA (MNN) — They walk among us. They are the gadget junkies who are always trading in their widget-things for the smallest, thinnest, fastest, latest upgrade of a modern day Batman utility belt.
Yet, have you ever considered that ‘they’ might be missionaries? How do smart phones and digital media players translate to the Great Commission?
The world is getting smaller by the minute because of how the internet has created a new marketplace of ideas. It’s a brave new world of information, and the Christian community is trying to figure out how to respond to a brand-new medium that is unlike any other in the history of man.
Bill Lohr with Faith Comes By Hearing says offering every person on the planet equal access to the Bible requires meeting the unique needs of generations, technical societies, and fast-paced lifestyles.
One way to do that is through digital technology. At one time, getting the Gospel into people’s hands required boots on the ground. Bibles were passed hand to hand. Then audio technology allowed for cassettes to cover more people. Radio allowed for the Gospel to bypass closed borders and lack of access to equipment.
With the advent of Web browsing came the explosion of users engaging in Scripture use. For example, Lohr notes, on the bible.is Web site, “ you can listen to that and you can read right there on the site. We’ve had streaming widgets which means people can go right on a Web site, click on their language, and they can start listening. Podcasts: we’re talking in the millions that people are downloading these podcasts. [Through the] i-Tunes store and Amazon store…they can go in there and get these things for free.”
All of the translation work of the last 40 years means access now, Lohr adds. “They can do that on i-Tunes radio, we’re on Spotify we’re on X-Box Music, we’re on Rhapsody, we’re on e-Music, and it’s just incredible. In just the last year…we’ve seen 35-million streams. It’s just incredible the access that we’re allowed through technology.”
In countries where Bible distribution is illegal, the governments want to encourage progress, so often won’t stop technology, particularly with smart phones and mobile devices, Lohr notes. “That technology is fine coming in. Once people get that technology, then they have access to the apps, to the streaming, that sort of thing.”
He goes on to say that satellite television has been a huge help to their quest meeting the biblical needs of a complex world through modern technology. “We have a new partner with SAT-7, who is the largest Christian satellite broadcaster into the Middle East and North Africa. Now we’re on satellite TV, and it’s a 24-hour stream in Arabic, and we’re looking at including Dari, Farsi and Turkish.” What that means, Lohr explains, is that people have access to God’s Word immediately, in the privacy of their own homes.
What that means is Truth has multiple avenues to reach people. What’s the problem? Technology costs money. It costs in terms of ideas, time and other resources. To make sure that Scripture can get to the part of the world where people can’t/won’t/don’t read, someone has to pave the way. Lohr says, “Folks in North America, we really would like them to be ambassadors, to let people know that this exists.”
Is this a thinly-veiled ask for funds? No, and here’s why: “We want to cover the world with God’s Word, that it will be available 24/7, it will be available on multiple platforms,” says Lohr, adding, “It really is the body of Christ. It’s the Church coming together. Not all of us can go to other countries and actually travel there. Not all of us are translators, not all of us do recording. Not all of us build apps and software. We have to find where we can be part of this team.”
When you engage with Scripture and come alongside Faith Comes By Hearing, you may find yourself among the they who walk among us with a message to share. Click here for ways you can help.