The Bible is a pretty amazing book by any standards – as a collection of historical writings, a bestseller, a book of wisdom or poetry, the revealed word of God – whatever you think it is, it’s fascinating. Don’t get me wrong, I struggle to read it at times and find puzzles within its pages, but I also find life there as well. That’s why I have been so excited about SAT-7’s recent partnership with Faith Comes By Hearing (FCBH) which is making the Bible available in audio form all over the world.
Literature for the Illiterate?
It’s easy to forget sometimes that many in the world cannot read – even as you read this, you’ve probably ceased to even think of it as a skill – it’s second nature to you. But to many, reading is a mystery and words on a page intimidate them. Across the Middle East & North Africa literacy rates are thought to be about 84% in men aged 15 or above, women fare considerably worse with a rate of about 65%; in individual countries the situation is far worse – in Afghanistan for instance only about 28% of the adult population can read. And yet for Christians, so much of what we believe is codified in words and books.
Access to the Inaccessible?
We can also take for granted the fact that we have access to the Bible – but in many countries it would be illegal or at least dangerous to have a Bible in your home. But it may simply be that getting hold of a Bible is difficult or even prohibitively expensive. It sometimes bothers me just how many Bibles we have in our house, and how little we read them – yet there are people who would cherish these books if they had them.
Faith Comes By Hearing
One of the reasons why SAT-7 is so interesting to me is that it makes the message of the Bible available to thousands, perhaps millions who would not otherwise be able to access it for themselves. Faith Comes By Hearing is in exactly the same bracket. They have made audio versions of the Bible – sometimes dramatised, but always readings of an authorised translation, and they make them available via Internet radio, MP3 downloads, and mobile apps. There’s no commentary, or theological bias – just the Bible read to you. Impressively they have done this in 814 different languages so far (although in some cases that is the New Testament only – but still amazing)!
FCBH wanted to get these readings to an even wider audience so they partnered with SAT-7 in the Middle East & North Africa to help them use satellite technology to do this. We are doing several things to help them:
1. Getting the radio channels set up so people can listen to the Bible as a channel on their satellite receiver (through their TV).
2. Promoting the radio channels for them on our TV channels.
3. Publicising their mobile apps on SAT-7 as well.
But seriously? Radio through Your TV?
OK – so most people in the West don’t listen to the Radio through their TV – in fact many don’t even have a satellite dish – so this might sound a bit crazy to you. But it’s an extremely common way of getting access to media in the Middle East & North Africa. The Internet isn’t readily accessible and local (terrestrial) TV is often restrictive – so satellite is readily accepted and widely used in people’s homes. Furthermore, the costs and logistics for transmitting SW, LW, or FM radio are actually quite challenging – so satellite radio gives broadcasters a relatively easy way to get their programming to their audiences as well.
Arabic Language First, but More to Come
We’ve started with the Arabic language so far and will be shortly be rolling out further satellite radio channels for Farsi, Azeri and Dari.
This is a great initiative and I from what I’ve seen of them have been really impressed with FCBH as an organisation. Why not have a look at their Mobile App for yourself by searching for Bible.is on your App Store? or listen through iTunes radio by searching on “Bible”. You might find that you enjoy listening as you walk to work, or prepare something in the kitchen. And if you don’t – spare a thought for those who are listening to this life changing book in this needy part of the world.