The Esther Initiative: Impacting 26 unique languages and 107 million people
In too many cultures around the world, it’s common for women to experience abuse and oppression. But today, in those same cultures, women are using their voices to transform their communities. Through the Esther Initiative, women are being trained and engaged in Bible translation using Oral Bible Storytelling methods. As a result, hope and value are being restored in the lives of many!
Esther Oral Bible Storytelling (OBS) projects are successful, in part, because they are operated by women, for women. They are flourishing in areas of the world where women are often considered possessions.
The first Esther project started in South Asia in 2014, and its accomplishments led to the launch of Esther Project Ethiopia. Two more Esther OBS projects have begun in South Asia: Esther Coronation Cluster and Esther Hope Cluster. Four projects active from 2014 to 2020 are impacting 26 unique languages and nearly 107 million people.
Listening to God’s Story
*Penny expected that her marriage would be arranged. That is common practice for young girls in her South Asian culture. But she was surprised at the outcome. Penny followed the majority religion, and she assumed that her husband did too. But her husband was a secret Jesus follower.
Penny was angry at this revelation, and she consistently threatened to run away. Her husband was forced to lock her in the house when he went to work so she would be there when he came home. She had contact with only two people–her husband and her mother-in-law. Over time, Penny became curious about his beliefs, and she even accompanied him to church. But she remained angry, and most people left her alone.
One day Penny was asked to join the Esther Oral Bible Storytelling project. She agreed, but her anger kept her quiet; she sat apart from the team. But as she learned the Bible stories, she discovered that God loved her.
“He took my anger away,” Penny says.
Penny was brought up to pray for only herself and her immediate family. But she noticed that Jesus followers prayed for people in their community too. So, as she learned to pray for others, she found that she began to take a genuine interest in them.
Living in a community where everyone else believes differently might be difficult for some believers, but Penny has become salt and light in her area. Even her neighbors ask what has happened to give her such peace and happiness, giving Penny an opportunity to share with them the Bible stories that she is learning.
The Esther Cluster
Anjana’s sister-in-law is a staunch Brahmin lady who follows the majority religion. In the past, she often cursed and was cross with Anjana for following the Lord. Recently this lady fell off a three-story building while offering water to the sun god. Now she wants Anjana to pray and tell Bible stories. She is listening to God’s story and wants to follow the Lord.
One day Martha, a storyteller from the Gofa language team, was telling the story of Jairus’ daughter. This story of Jesus’ power to raise the dead is found in Mark 5:35-43 and Luke 8:49-56.
One of the women listening to the Bible story suffered from bleeding in her mouth and nose. While Martha told the story, she suddenly shouted out loudly, blessing the Lord! She knew God had healed her through this Bible story.
A storyteller named Christina visited the home of a believing couple. They were doing ministry independently with the Surjapuri people group. But their efforts were fruitless.
The wife started visiting house to house, telling Bible stories she learned at an Esther workshop. These stories touched people’s hearts, and they accepted Jesus as their Savior. Recently, two were baptized, and they now attend fellowship every Sunday!
When storyteller Sunita visited one family’s house, an elderly woman there would not allow her to sit and tell the Bible story. “Go to another house to tell a story,” she said. But the woman’s two daughters-in-law listened as Sunita told the Parable of the Lost Sheep. The old woman was very angry and told her to “get out.”
Undaunted, Sunita returned to this house a week later and discovered that the elderly woman was ill. She prayed for her and left.
To Sunita’s amazement, when she again returned to the same home, the found out that the this woman had been completely transformed. Before, she was not talking to others, but now she is telling everybody about Jesus Christ!
There are around 1,800 people groups representing hundreds of millions of people that still do not have a single verse of Scripture in their heart language. Seed Company exists to come alongside these people groups, to help resource the Bible translation process. We invite families and churches to partner with us through prayer and financial investments.