Seed Company partners with organizations all over the world that continually innovate to accelerate Bible translation. Below are just a few of the technologies that are enabling God’s Word to reach people faster than ever in their heart languages.
1. The Proclaimer
The Proclaimer, an audio player developed by Faith Comes By Hearing, allows groups both large and small to listen to the Bible together. Depending on the device’s size and type, it can be charged through a solar panel, a hand crank on the side, or a USB port. The largest Proclaimer can hold complete New Testament audio files in up to four different languages and reach a few hundred listeners at a time.
Many Seed Company projects have seen lives transformed through God’s Word on Proclaimers, especially in primarily oral communities where literacy may be limited. Now, a Mamara translator’s father in Mali can listen to Scripture. So can an entire Aringa-speaking church in Uganda. Others in a highly sensitive region of Asia have even started a weekly listening group after hearing the New Testament in their own language for the first time.
Carmen, a member of the Amoshanamukon community in the Americas, remembers the moment she was introduced to the Proclaimer. “Now, I can hear the Word of God. I have had the opportunity to hold it in my hands, and I have been able to share the message in my own language with my brothers, sisters, relatives, and neighbors when we meet in homes for coffee.”
Proclaimers enable both individuals and large groups to hear God’s Word in their heart language, often for the very first time.
2. The Lightstream Pocket
Developed by Renew World Outreach, the Lightstream Pocket is a mobile distribution center that allows gospel media to be downloaded on cell phones in places where internet is limited, restricted, or nonexistent.
In October 2019, Seed Company used the Pocket during the Alis I Ron New Testament dedication in Nigeria. Immediately following the ceremony, large groups gathered outside the church doors in anticipation of holding God’s Word in their hands. Although the Pocket manages 15 connections at a time, young guards who had already received the apps enthusiastically shared them with those waiting. Each user received a Bible storybook and a hymnal.
The Alis I Ron language represents over 400,000 speakers. Having their mother tongue represented in the format they use most raises the perceived value of the Alis I Ron language.
3. The Village Radio
People in Nigeria can buy a village radio for the equivalent of five US dollars. These radios not only have AM/FM capabilities but also have slots for micro SD cards and USB sticks to play MP3 files.
When a Nigerian translation team recorded Scripture, exported it to an MP3, put it on an SD card, and inserted it into a village radio, a local believer named Mary had the opportunity to hear Scripture in her heart language for the very first time. As she listened to the radio, a big smile spread across her face.
She said, “This is amazing!” She excitedly pointed to her friend and said, “You have to hear this!”
Mary then fell prostrate outside of her church with the radio in front of her, thanking God that she could finally hear his Word in her mother tongue. The translators gave Mary the radio, and she urged them to record more Scriptures.
Later, they learned Mary was going to the town square, sitting on the curb, and playing all of the Scripture portions the team had translated. Day after day, she drew crowds of people who came to listen to Scripture in their language. She returned again and again to the team, asking for more.
Just a few years ago, Render, a widely used translation software, released an editing tool that prevents Oral Bible Translation teams from unnecessarily re-recording entire passages when only one small section needs to be corrected. It was a game-changer! With this audio slicing tool, a team can take out a segment as short as 10 seconds, re-record it, and insert it back into the passage.
Oral Bible Translation trainer Nathan Richey believes this feature, which is available at the final consultant checking and revision stages, is extremely beneficial for teams that are close to finishing their translations. Mistakes happen, but up until now, they haven’t been easy to fix.
“When the Skala team was recording a chapter in Ruth, the last word they needed to record was ‘Ruth,’” Nathan remembers. “They had already been recording for over an hour, so they were tired. Only one person’s voice can be used for the recording of a whole passage. Unfortunately, instead of the speaker saying ‘Ruth,’ she said ‘Rachel.’ The whole team was so defeated. They had to start all over.”
The chance for mistakes is even greater when you consider that passages in an oral culture are typically memorized and recited over and over again to prepare for a recording. Where once it might have taken a whole day to produce a perfect two-minute recording, now a team can correct small mistakes easily and move on to the next passage. “It saves a ton of time and frustration for the team,” Nathan says.
5. Scripture Apps
In 2011, when Charles joined CAPRO Ministries—an indigenous, interdenominational, cross-cultural missions agency in Nigeria—they asked what he brought to the organization.
“God wants me to do talking Bibles….talking books for our field,” he said, “for more than 36 language groups.”
After eight years in the making, Charles’ vision became a reality. Utilizing the Scripture App Builder and another tool known as Bloom, both developed by SIL International, Seed Company and CAPRO provided him with valuable training. Now Charles is able to share the gospel and deliver what God put in his heart.
“This training has made my dream come true!” Charles explains.
The app presents Scripture in combined audio and written formats. As the user listens, the spoken text is simultaneously highlighted. This tool can be used for literacy as well as for Scripture distribution, thus broadening people’s ability to engage with God’s Word on their own.
LUMO is the producer of Hollywood-quality movies based on the four Gospels–movies that change the way people engage with God’s Word. To make the videos even more realistic, LUMO filmed onsite in Morocco, using Middle Eastern actors.
Currently available in more than 1,000 languages, LUMO videos are opening doors to heart language Scripture across the globe. Today, more than 163 organizations are using these videos to reach the nations! The exciting visual content facilitates group discussion and discipleship.
LUMO movies offer the ability to incorporate audio versions of translated Scripture without the need for script translation, voice actor training, or dubbing. According to John Lamphear, Seed Company’s director of field technology, “The LUMO gospel films are created with a voiceover in the mother tongue, instead of lip-syncing, so it’s easier to produce. We are able to engage language communities more quickly and more effectively.”