When Biblica Africa began recording the Kiswahili Audio Bible, the potential reach could not be determined. We trusted God’s leading that this was a great opportunity to reach those who cannot read the Bible either because they are illiterate or blind, or as an alternative for those who would rather listen to the Bible than read it. Biblica decided to adopt a multi-pronged approach using various channels. We wanted to spread the reach wide, therefore we opted to include some platforms that would provide the end user free access to the Kiswahili Audio Bible.
Audio on traditional platforms
The Kiswahili Audio Bible was completed in 2013 and released in MP3 format. Using CDs as the medium, we distributed an estimated 1,000 copies, mainly in Tanzania, where the majority of Kiswahili speakers reside. Most of these CDs were bought by individuals and there was not much feedback in terms of the impact of the Scriptures. We did, however, receive an amazing story of how one ministry obtained an MP3 CD and was using it to minister to young rehabilitated prostitutes. The ladies, drawn mainly from the slums, were largely school dropouts or illiterate. According to the director of this ministry, the Kiswahili Audio Bible had been a godsend for them and was played for devotions and also as the ladies did their other chores. The Bible has been so effective that the centre has asked for audio Bibles in more languages to cater to those who do not speak or understand Swahili.
Airing the Kiswahili Audio Bible on Radio
Biblica has leveraged this vital new translation to partner with three radio stations. One station, Biblia Husema Radio, aired the Kiswahili Audio Bible in two of their morning programs every day for two months. Through this radio station, we reached over 600,000 listeners. Biblica has also developed longer term relationships with Safina Radio Station in Tanzania and Joy Radio in Kenya. These radio stations play the Kiswahili Audio Bible every week and through these partners we reach an average of 3.2 million Swahili speakers a month!
The Audio Bible on Mobile Phones
The platform that gave Biblica the most unexpected ministry reach was mobile phones. We partnered with Judera Logistics, a mobile phone content provider to make the Kiswahili Audio Bible, along with the Listeners NIV Bible, available for use as a ring-back tone and for downloading selected verses to listen to and share with friends. Amazingly, there have been more than 24.6 million downloads of the Kiswahili Audio Bible! Additionally, the Bibles are streaming on phones for an average of three hours daily.
We have now been given the opportunity to provide other local language audio Bibles as they are completed and trust that God will use this medium to transform lives in Africa. We were reaching tens of thousands with the printed Kiswahili Bible, but thanks to technology, we are now reaching millions of Kiswahili speakers every month.