Sometimes I wonder about how much use the Bible get once they are translated. I don't think it is enough to simply have them available i do believe we need to be advocating for their use from a very early stage of a project. It is always encouraging when we hear that people ARE using them, the story below was written by a colleague of mine – VERY encouraging!
Last weekend, our church's mission committee had an outreach to their daughter church in the Afizere village of Rizek. On the Sat, we said we would be giving out several Izere NTs (some in print – usually sold for N200/£0.80 each), some on CD (N160 /£0.60) and some on 1Gb micro SD-cards for use in handsets or laptops (N500/£2.00 incl. a micro SD card adaptor), all of which were easy to get hold of at short notice. (We would have given out copies of the Jesus film on VCD too (N200 /£0.80) if I had been able to get hold of more copies from the Great Commission HQ). We showed the Jesus film in Izere on the Sat evening, which went down very well. They even watched most of it twice, since the first disc we tried got stuck towards the end, and we had no way of fast forwarding the second copy!
Then on the Sun, after the morning service, we gave out the printed NTs and asked them to try and follow the text as we played the audio version over the church's PA system. Even though most, if not all, of these people had never tried to read Izere before, all but one managed to follow the printed versions perfectly as the text was played. Afterwards they each received their own NT on CD or micro SD-card (their choice) together with the printed version, so that they could continue reading and listening at home.
This is one of the few times I can remember that I have seen young people in Nigeria actually queuing up to get MT materials in their language. Most of them wanted the micro SD-card, but we didn't have enough to go round. However, outside the church I noticed that a small group of them had already started Bluetooth-ing it to each other. Whether they were interested in it just for 'status' or 'cool-ness value' among their friends, I don't know, but I'm hoping they will actually listen to it from time to time!
It makes me think that an audio copy of the NT should be given out or sold with every printed copy – certainly in cultures which are primarily oral. Otherwise, I fear that most NTs stay will tucked away on a shelf gathering dust somewhere. Of course, this is no replacement for literacy classes, but it certainly gets people off to a great start, and for very little cost in terms of time and money. It would be great if they decided to have half and hour's MT reading/listening group like this before every Sunday service. It might even help the pastor learn some of the language, as he isn't a MT Izere speaker himself.
Our mission committee hadn't thought of using materials in the MT before on their outreaches – they had always used either Hausa or English – but after seeing the impact it made in this church, they didn't need any more convincing that this was the best approach.