Innovative Solar-powered Audio Player Bringing the Bible to Remote Villages
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. , June 16, 2014 /Christian Newswire
/ -- As millions gather around the globe -- in person or via television -- to watch the FIFA World Cup in Brazil this summer, Reach Beyond (www.reachbeyond.org
) is using pint-size, solar-powered technology to spread the gospel to some of the most remote places along the country's Amazon River.
Photo: Though Aurélio lacks electricity in his remote village in Brazil's Amazon Basin, he is able to study God's word through the solar-powered Player of Hope made available by Reach Beyond.
The handheld, MP3-like audio players, named "Players of Hope" and made available by Reach Beyond (formerly HCJB Global), are preloaded with some 1,500 hours of programming -- the Bible, teaching programs, Christian music and children's stories. National missionaries distribute the players to individuals in riverside villages in the Amazon Basin. Every few months the chips in the players are swapped to provide new content.
"Aurélio is very happy to be able to hear great teaching from the word," said Cassio Fereira de Souza, who, along with his wife, Mariana, serve as missionaries with Services of Evangelism and Assistance to the River People of the Amazon (SEARA). Aurélio lives in a remote community and enjoys studying the Bible, but his health prevents him from attending church. "He liked the Bible studies very much. He also liked the fact that the Player of Hope has a solar panel, because he doesn't have access to electricity."
SEARA runs a "floating seminary," ministering to many riverside communities in Brazil's northwestern Amazon region. However, this is challenging work in an area where remote communities are only accessible by boat. And since so many people in the jungle can't read or write, oral culture is predominant.
The decision to use Players of Hope, purchased with funds from Reach Beyond donors, was born out of a vision shared by SEARA and Reach Beyond after attempts to obtain a license for an FM Christian radio station in the area were unsuccessful. Also, missionaries only had time to provide Bible teaching once or twice a month.
"With the players, Brazilians are being fed and witnessed to on a regular basis," said Matt Parker of Reach Beyond, whose parents founded SEARA.
Parker is working with SEARA missionaries to develop three new streams of programming: for non-Christians, for new believers and for teenagers. Evangelistic programs will offer a beginner's walk through the Bible, while programs for new Christians will go through the Bible in more depth. The package for teenagers will incorporate music, dramas and modern-day stories to tackle topics that teenagers may struggle with, such as abuse, drinking and drug use.
While Parker will continue to support the ministry in Brazil, his vision is for it to be managed by SEARA, with more programs produced by national missionaries on the ground.
"In the future, it will be run by SEARA," he said. "They'll take ownership of the project, and they'll be producing their programs."
On his last trip to Brazil, Parker led a training session with missionaries on producing programs for Players of Hope. On his next trip, a team of missionaries headed by Brazilian Marcelo Davino will begin producing programs in Portuguese.
Staff members at the Reach Beyond-Brazil office in Curitiba are also in the process of transitioning from shortwave radio to the more cost-effective audio players.
"I just see the Players of Hope ministry expanding," said Parker. "I see it as an extremely useful tool."
For 82 years the passion of Reach Beyond (formerly HCJB Global) (www.reachbeyond.org) has been to make disciples of Christ. Using mass media, healthcare and education and working with partners around the world, Reach Beyond has ministries in more than 100 countries. The gospel is aired in more than 120 languages and dialects. Thousands of healthcare patients are meeting Jesus. Local believers are being trained as missionaries, pastors, broadcasters and healthcare providers.