by Amy Wikrent, Communications Intern
It was during their first recording trip to Africa in 2013 that Pete and Beth Beckman first knew there was something special about sharing God’s Word with oral learners in an audio format.
There they met Samantha, a young mother from the Komba people in northern Ghana. She was one of the few believers among her people. As oral learners with no electricity and limited internet, almost no one in Samantha’s tribe had access to the Bible in audible form. They also had little access to supplementary resources, like the testimonies or teachings of believers who spoke their language, nor worship music they could understand.
Leaving the Chicago suburbs to link up with OneWay Africa’s team on the field, the Beckmans recorded Samantha’s testimony and also captured her choir (see below) singing songs that would be made available on the solar-powered BiblePlus+ player the Beckmans and OneWay Africa were working to produce for Samantha's people.
The team left one of these audio Bibles for Samantha before going back to the U.S. to prepare the other pieces they had recorded in the field.
A year later, Pete and Beth returned with the team for follow-up recordings. Samantha’s pastor joyously relayed that Samantha had learned the entire Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5, 6 and 7) and all of Romans 6 and 12 word for word. She was able to memorize all those chapters of the Bible simply from listening to the audio Bible over and over again.
Samantha’s story is one of many that displays the impactful ways God has used the BiblePlus+ player to introduce the gospel to oral learners in their own tongue, and to disciple them by committing God’s Word to heart through memorization.
Since seeing Samantha’s faith grow firsthand, Beth and Pete Beckman have experienced the transforming work that the Lord has done in many others’ lives as well as Scripture and other discipleship resources have been made available through the BiblePlus+.
As former computer science majors who have always shared a love for how people worship the Lord in various languages and cultures, the Beckmans (below, front row) first became involved in BiblePlus+ when they went on a mission trip to Ghana in 2011. It was then they met OneWay Africa Director Ray Mensah (below, far right), who felt led by the Lord to work among the Komba people. Ray’s calling and passion for the unreached inspired Beth and Pete to get involved and help launch this ministry. Pete now uses his background in computer science to operate the technical side of the BiblePlus+ ministry while Beth takes care of the administrative and project planning details.
Beth recalls, “When we first introduced BiblePlus+ on SD cards (for use in cell phones) to the Komba, people were crowding around us to get these for their mobile devices. These people are so hungry for God’s Word!”
Audio Bible resources like OneWay’s BiblePlus+ player, which not only provides Scripture, but also testimonies, worship songs, sermons, and community health information in different native languages, are vital in engaging local Africans living in remote areas.
The most recent BiblePlus+ tool is a wireless sharing device which functions as a local WiFi hotspot. Beth explains the importance of this new technological development: “People can connect to it with their mobile phone so they can download or view all the material- it opens up the world of videos so they can watch the Jesus Film and then they can share these resources to anyone else who has a mobile phone.”
The Lord has used these BiblePlus+ developments to allow missionaries to expand the reach of the gospel more than ever. On a recent trip in February 2020, two of the missionaries came across a Muslim Fulani man who was feeling frustrated after a difficult day. The missionaries sat down, started talking to him, and played a testimony and song for him. He was intrigued and asked to have one of the solar units and SD cards for his phone so he could share it with his family and friends.
Beth joyfully explained, “God was gracious to allow us to witness so quickly a new tool to get in the hands of somebody and plant those seeds.”
So far, six African languages have been recorded for the BiblePlus+ for the following people groups: Komba, Mamprusi, Dagomba, Bimoba, Fulani, and Gonja. An additional language was just started in Venezuela for Spanish speakers, and another language is in the works— Chadian Arabic. The BIBLEplus+ team is working with local people groups to train and equip them to make recordings and be a testimony of God’s saving work to their own people.
As Beth and Pete go overseas once or twice a year to record, they are hoping to train more native Bible recording leaders to allow the team to get their work done faster. Many active Stateside volunteers use their gifts of media, technology and languages for the reach of the gospel.
Since 2013, over 8,000 mobile and handheld BiblePlus+ units have been distributed, reaching an estimated 50,000+ people. Listening groups and churches have been planted, and stories of life transformation have poured in.
In years to come, Beth and Pete hope to see the content of BiblePlus+ keep expanding to more languages and countries, and to partner with other organizations for the development of more resources such as Scripture reading and story producing apps.
You can help support this work through your prayers and gifts. For $50, you can fund one solar-powered player (or 5 SD cards for mobile phones) delivered to a family by a gospel worker in the field. Donate to Africa: BiblePlus+ here.
Interested in joining OneWay’s BiblePlus+ team with your technical skills or other talents? Contact Beth at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.