Audio Bible Ministry Reaches Amazon Tribes

Audio Bibles are reaching the farthest corners of the earth. In the Brazilian rainforest, the small village of Makita sits along the muddy banks of an Amazon River tributary. When the conditions are ideal, the trip takes two days by boat. American church leader Jeff Scott and his short-term mission team arrived at Makita and were welcomed by villagers, mosquitoes, and flies.

More than four hundred people groups live in the Amazon Basin.

Scott and his team noticed a small church built by a previous mission team. Inside, bats rested overhead and tarantulas patroled dark corners. In this village, and the thousands like it which dot the Amazon’s riverbanks, people live with limited access to clean water, the outside world, and the Word of God.

In fact, Brazil has 258 tribes, and almost as many different languages—235. More than ninety of these tribes are cut off from the outside world, living deep in the rainforest and firmly protected by the Brazilian government. Of these 258 tribes, only twenty have strong, indigenous church leadership.

Despite their remoteness and restrictions, these villagers are eager for the Word of God. “I have never encountered people so hungry and begging for help in their walk with Christ as in this place,” said Scott. While working among this tribe, he and his team realized the power of teaching God’s word orally, discovering that many in the village, including the local church pastor, could not read.

Their lack of education and the inability to read broke Scott’s heart. He and his team presented this pastor with the Proclaimer, a self-powered digital playback device that has an Audio New Testament pre-loaded on an embedded microchip. The Proclaimer was designed by Faith Comes By Hearing for the most rugged and remote areas, like the Amazon Basin. “The Proclaimer seemed to turn on a light bulb and empower this pastor in a way he had never known,” said Scott. 

At other Amazon villages they visited, Scott and his mission team continued to witness how effective God’s word in audio is among “oral” peoples who pass on their beliefs, heritage, and values through stories, parables, proverbs, music, and dance. Currently, oral peoples make up two-thirds of the world’s population.

A young boy from an Amazon tribe paddles back to 
a village carrying fresh bananas.

To disciple the world’s oral majority, Faith Comes By Hearing records and uses heart-language Audio Bibles and works through numerous partners, like Wycliffe Bible Translators, the United Bible Societies, and Campus Crusade for Christ’s JESUS Film.

To reach the 380,000 people in the oral cultures of the Amazon Basin, Faith Comes By Hearing recently trained two new recording teams.

“Adding these two teams means that people from the minority language groups in Brazil will soon have the opportunity to hear God’s word in their own language for the first time,” shared Faith Comes By Hearing’s language recording manager, Ray Warrior. “Prior to the addition of these recording teams, only the Portuguese Audio New Testament was available. And while Portuguese is widely spoken, many people are monolingual, speaking only their heart language.”

With thirty-six New Testaments completed and ready for recording, these teams have no shortage of work. The first indigenous Brazilian New Testament recording is slated to begin this month among the Wáiwai tribe, with the first listening groups expected to gather in the summer of 2009.

(This article was edited from a news release of Faith Comes by Hearing.)