Can you imagine what it would be like to hear a recording of your language for the first time? It is impossible to imagine such an experience for most of us, surrounded constantly as we are by media of all kinds in the language we have spoken since infancy.
However, for many people here in Tanzania, the language that they grew up speaking may not even exist in written format, and even if it does, they may never have seen it and are even less likely to have heard it as some kind of recording.
One aspect of our work here, in making Scripture accessible to all in the language that they understand best, is to make it available in audio format. In a culture where orality is valued over and above the written text, this is a vital ministry.
Towards the end of last year, the whole gospel of Mark was recorded in the Vwanji language, and has since been available for sale in both tape and CD format. I recently received the following report from our Literacy / Scripture Use Coordinator for the area (translated from Swahili):
“People are using the tapes and CDs in their home, but also I have passed by some places in the market and heard it playing! Many listen to it just for the sake of listening and enjoying hearing how their language has been used and seeing that it is good Vwanji! A few people will sit and listen and then spend time thinking about the meaning of what they heard. Now I am educating people who buy the tapes as to how they are able to listen to the tapes together with others. People are very happy with the tapes, and when they listen for the first time they are amazed at what was done to make them.”
Next time you hear your language wafting over the airwaves, coming through the television or pouring out of your iPod, remember how privileged you are and please remember and pray for the work we are involved in here.