Hearing, Reading and Believing

Hearing, Reading and Believing

Nanaka lives in a community bound to the traditions of his ancestors. In his village, nestled among towering mountains in northern Tanzania, men marry multiple wives. Children work instead of attending school.

But in the past year, this way of life has begun to change.

It all started when Nanaka and his neighbors attended a showing of “The JESUS® Film,” a portrayal of the Gospel of Luke that has been translated into more than 1,300 languages. As Nanaka and his friends watched Jesus hang upon the cross—and listened to him speak in their heart language of Maasai—they were captivated. It was the first time they had encountered the gospel message.

By watching the film, Nanaka and his neighbors were participating in stage one of a three-phase evangelism model called End-to-End. First established by American Bible Society and its partners in 2007, End-to-End shares the gospel through three methods of Bible engagement: “The JESUS® Film” screenings, Faith Comes By Hearing® Scripture listening groups and Bible reading groups. All three phases are led by local Bible Society partners around the world.

Now active in 11 countries, End-to-End serves oral communities like Nanaka’s, in which culture is passed on through storytelling and spoken word. The film and listening components of End-to-End fit within the learning environment of these oral cultures.

Once participants have faithfully listened to at least 60 percent of the New Testament, they receive their own copy of the Bible, thanks to American Bible Society’s generous financial partners. This approach equips all people— regardless of their literacy level and cultural background—to encounter Christ in the pages of Scripture.

“The idea is to meet people where they are, geographically and in their life’s journey,” says Erle Deira, American Bible Society’s director of accelerated translation.

“By implementing this three-phase model, and presenting families with a Bible, these people can engage with God’s Word as a life-long journey,” says Deira.

This discipline of regularly studying God’s Word has already reached hundreds of thousands of people from Ghana to India, thanks to the growing popularity of the End-to-End initiative.

In the first half of 2015 alone, more than 300,000 people encountered God through “The JESUS® Film.” As a result, 3,267 people committed their lives to Christ, and 25 new churches opened their doors in communities worldwide.

Building on the effectiveness of this model, End-to-End facilitators plan to expand the scope of their ministry. Soon, people in eight more countries, including Peru and Kenya, will be able to encounter the gospel by watching, reading and listening to the Word of God.

As Nanaka and his neighbors can testify, when God’s Word goes out, it does not return void. Men in his village have started practicing monogamy. And children have begun to choose school over work. Nanaka sums it up when he testifies, “God’s Word is changing our people.” 

Thanks to the support of our faithful financial partners, American Bible Society has been engaging people with the life-changing message of God’s Word for more than 200 years.

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