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The Word at Our Fingertips

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The Bible has the distinction of being translated and read in the largest number of languages across the world. Technology has come to the aid to present the Word to all people groups speaking diverse languages. The divine plan of God behind such developments can be understood when we examine the recent historical account. The technological advancements are making major contributions to the fulfillment of the last command and associated Bible translation activities. The relevance of technology in mission activities in the 21st century is highly significant. In order to share the gospel as well as for church activities, most churches and mission organizations are extensively using digital technology. In today’s digital world, social media serves as a powerful communication channel to reach out across the world with great speed. To present the Word to a larger group, digital media takes precedence in the present time. The emergence of the Apple store on 10 July 2008 and the Android market (Google Play store) on 22 October 2008 marked a paradigm shift in receiving the Word at our fingertips. 

During the 15th century, Johannes Gutenberg and Martin Luther yearned to present the Word in the hands of people. Today, after many centuries in the modern historical period, their vision is being fulfilled in a manner they could never imagine, through technological advancements progressing at a faster pace. Towards the end of the 20th century, the computing information technology and Internet communication channel set in motion a great many changes in the world. The mission and Bible translation activities also kept pace with these technological developments. Due to this new approach during the past 10 years, the Word of God has reached over 1,000 new languages. Today, hundreds of thousands of people across the world are receiving the Word at their fingertips in digital formats. They familiarize themselves with the Word of God and attend online meetings, thereby maintaining fellowship with co-believers. 

Of the 7.8 billion world population, 66.6 percent (5.2 billion) use mobile phones, 59.5 per cent (4.6 billion) use the Internet and 53.6 percent (4.2 billion) use social media, according to a study by wearesocial.com. In view of this, digital Bible publication and distribution through websites, mobile applications and social media is given equal significance when Bible translation organizations publish printed Bibles in new languages. Nearly 70 per cent of the world population are using only oral languages. In such language communities, audio-video formats of digital Bible are more relevant and useful than the printed Word of God. Another advantage of digital Bible is that compared to printed versions of the Word of God, it can be made available at a lesser cost to reach more people. At the same time, there are factors such as remote areas facing Internet network issues, ignorance of using technology, lack of training and shortage of smartphones that can hinder the popularization of digital Bibles.

Popular Bible apps such as YouVersion and Bible.is provide the Word of God in text, audio and video formats. Along with that, Google Play store and Apple store offer numerous Bible apps in different languages. Websites like scriptureearth.org, joshuaproject.net, ebible.org, biblebrain.com, etc. lists digital scripture resources in several thousands of languages. 

Popular Bible Apps

YouVersion Bible App (https://www.bible.com/app) – YouVersion Bible App is the brainchild of Pastor Bobby Gruenewald of Oklahoma Life Church. In 2008, You Version was launched as one among the top 200 apps on the Apple store. It was also the first Bible app on the App store. The target for the first three months was 75,000 downloads. However, within three days of launch, the download crossed 83,000, which became a historic achievement. Presently, You Version is the No.1 Bible app used on 5.1 billion devices to read the Bible, listen, see and share the Word of God. The Bible app provides 2654 Bible versions in 1776 languages, without any advertisements. According to data, in 2021, over 55.8 billion chapters were read and 5.35 billion Bible verses were shared on YouVersion (https://bible.com/ blog/?=62256). 

Bible.is Audio Bible App (https://Bible.is) – In June 2010, Bible.is app was launched by Faith Comes By Hearing with audio Bibles in 218 languages, which has now grown to freely share the Word of God in 1705+ languages in video, audio and text formats.  Faith Comes By Hearing is committed to getting God’s Word to every person through Audio Bible recordings, freely sharing it using today’s technology so that everyone can have access in their own language. With over 6 million downloads, Bible.is is another popularly downloaded Bible app and probably the bible app with the most number of languages available in audio format. This app could be used to read, listen and watch God’s Word as well as for systematic Bible study, with features to create plans, playlists, verse highlighting, bookmarks and notes. 

Bible Apps for Children – Through attractive animation and engaging games, Bible apps for children help to easily understand the Word of God. Bible App for kids (https://bibleappforkids. com/) and Superbook kids Bible app (https://superbook. cbn.com/) are the popular Bible apps for children. The apps offer easy-to-use navigation, touch screen features, colorful presentation of Bible stories, engaging content and Bible games aimed at helping children to memorize and retain the Word they learn.

In John 9:4 we read, “I must work the works of Him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.” We are required to make the best use of all our opportunities to do the will of God. The night is coming when no one can work and we must take this warning seriously. Jesus was aware of the time left for him to work. As disciples of Jesus, we must be aware that not much time is left before us, only then can we complete the work of God who has commissioned us. We have many responsibilities to complete when it is daytime. Before darkness falls, let us complete our responsibility. Salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. We need to utilize all available communication channels to present the Word to all people groups. We are called to present the Word to the ends of the world. We have no doubts about the gospel we preach. God has chosen us in our generation as messengers of His good news. May the Lord help us to propagate the Word to the ends of the world through digital technology that is relevant to our times, including the Internet and social media.

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This article first appeared in Good Seed, Volume 6 | Issue 3, March 2022 © Wycliffe India. Originally written in Malayalam by Joshy K. and translated into English by Ebby Chacko George, and is used with author’s permission.  For future inquiries, please write to good_seed@wycliffeindia.org.

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