Since March, four different villages in Mali have been subject to massacres in ethnic violence between the Fulani and the Dogon people. It started with an attack on a Fulani village that we mentioned in our last newsletter. Now there have been three more attacks in the past two weeks with a death toll of over 136. When we lived there, general tension existed between the Fulani cattle herders and the Dogon farmers, but now things are completely out of control. A Fulani friend called me (Doug) to say that he is sleeping out in the woods at night for fear of his village being attacked. He’s asked me for help so he can move to a bigger town to be safe. It is true that P.J. and I have moved on to different roles in Wycliffe that have taken us out of the front lines in order to have a broader impact. But our hearts have never left the action or the people we lived with and served. That’s why we are still working to get God’s message of good news and peace to the Fulani in a format they can engage with.
Printing five thousand copies of a bound New Testament was important but can’t be the primary strategy to reach a primarily oral culture. The effort spent translating the New Testament is only validated when the audience can engage with the message. The recorded audio New Testament done in 2016 has proven to be an excellent tool, and with your help, we’ve sent over a couple of hundred audio Bibles. They are being used, but I’ve got six dead units that were returned to us recently. Some of the others are having issues as well and one theory is that sand is getting inside and ruining them. We are really hoping for a better solution, preferably a local one that doesn’t depend on outside shipments. Getting the devices there has proven difficult. So, in April, when P.J. and I went to a mission conference in the Netherlands, we were excited to learn of a new possibility.
This annual conference is all about using non-print media for sharing the Gospel in all languages through video, audio, smartphones, and the web. I’ve got my technology hat on at this event because I publish an annual technology report based on what happens there. At the same time, I’m always looking for anything that will help promote the Fulfulde Scripture and fuel growth in the fledgling Fulani church. There was a session about a new film series called Lumo that really piqued our curiosity. The four Gospels have been put to film in an authentic rendition of ﬁrst century Palestine using no script other than word-for-word Scripture!
Immediately we wondered, “How can we get this in Fulfulde?” So, during the presentation, we pulled up the Lumo website, and in it was a world map showing all the languages in which the series has been adapted. To our great astonishment, under Mali was listed: Fulfulde, Maasina. What?!! How is that even possible? Nobody in the mission community that we knew had worked with them to produce this. How could they produce the film in a language they don’t even understand? It turns out that Faith Comes by Hearing (FCBH) has partnered with Lumo to produce adapted versions of the videos in any language that has a recording of the New Testament. We were elated to learn this and confirmed that the video of the Gospel of Mark is available and that the Fulfulde voices align with the actions. Now we just need a way to distribute this new video series.
As a first effort we’ve set up an amazing little device called LightStream Pocket—another find from the conference in the Netherlands. Here’s what it does: You turn it on, and it broadcasts a signal to any cellphone in range. Opening the link on the phone gives you a video playlist of the 16 chapters of Mark that you can either watch live or click the download button to save them onto your phone. If you don’t have enough space on your phone, you can insert a memory chip into the LightStream, push a button, and receive a copy of all the videos to take home and watch. I hope to finish setting it up this week to send off to Mali. Please pray that many will see and understand the Gospel message through this visual representation of the Gospel. In fact, we’d like to encourage you to watch this Lumo series yourself by going to live.bible.is where you can select one of the four Gospels to enjoy in either the NIV or KJV. You can also order it on DVD from Amazon.
Our daily work continues: A major new version of the Paratext Bible translation software has been released which has taken up most of my time in recent weeks; P.J. has published several important books in digital format; and we love the long days and reduced travel schedule of the summer, giving us time to spend with our grandkids! We are truly thankful for God’s blessing and appreciate the role that you play in keeping this ministry going!
Partners in the Gospel, (Phil 1:5)
Doug & Priscilla Higby
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Doug & Priscilla Higby are missionaries with Wycliffe Bible Translators. Doug is the International Coordinator for Language Technology Use, and Priscilla is serving as E-Pub Manager with SIL International.
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