Last week I had the chance to visit with my friends at the Mobile Ministry Forum (via video link) and in its aftermath I connected with my friend Marty Lange of Wycliffe Bible Translators. Marty had a fabulous story from Peru I just HAVE to share with our readers, in this mad world of Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality and Gamification and smartphone apps and GPS and 4G. Lets not forget the basics. As I was reminded last year speaking at Mobile West Africa conference in Nigeria, a lady from Ghana told me that in many African villages there still is plenty of illiteracy, and even my fave story of SMS is 'too advanced' technology. Some people - and there are still 780 million illiterate ADULTS - can't be reached even with that basic tech of SMS. It is quite literally too advanced. So too, by the way is USSD and IVR. If a person can't read they typically are also lacking in numeracy. If you tell them 'press number 3' on the keyboard, they won't know which of the 12 keys on the phone is a 'three' - and they will hang up.
So lets get to Marty's story. This is awesome. In Peru, in the town of Cusco (known for travel to Machu Pichu) they speak the language of Quechua. About 8 million or a third of Peru's population is Quechua and this language is totally unrelated to Spanish, its the evolution of their ancestral culture and language. And of course, Christian missionaries want to bring the Gospel also to this region, inspite of its language and related issues. So there are of course preachers working in the region. And then we have some issues. Printing Bibles? Translating the texts. Teaching all the issues of Christianity in this region. So there is an organization called ATEK - Asociación Tawantinsuyuman Evangelioq K'ancharinanpaq which Marty translated for me to mean roughly "The Association that Shines the Gospel to the Quechua World". Their Facebook page is here if you want to see (or perhaps want to help preserve this cultural group out of your social responsibilty budget?) Cool beans, eh? So where is the mobile part? We're getting to it.
The leader of ATEK, Fredi Quintanilla ran a conference in Cusco attended by 50 ministers from the various churches across the villages in Peru. Oh, and yeah, I know geography isn't our strong suit among my readers so lets clarify how small is Peru by area. Peru is nearly twice as big as TEXAS. Peru is bigger than France and Spain combined. The Andies are yes, the second tallest mountains in the world after the Himalayas, and the border with Brazil has the biggest rain forest of the Amazon. Thats Peru for you. Now lets return to our story.
So this little language group that only about 12 million people speak across the Andies, and 8 million of those in Peru, doesn't exactly have a big opportunity for its literature. And many of the population in the villages are illiterate. So what to do? Fredi and Marty helped create a set of videos to teach some basics of the Gospel and an audio version of the Bible, in the language of Quechua. Beautiful, yes. Now the distribution. Nobody has PCs or broadand internet haha nor even DVD players for this kind of content. But all preachers have a mobile phone. So Marty and Fredi did what any clever geek would do, lets put it on mobile phones! So during the conference they loaded the video and audio files to the phones of their ministers who can now share God's word with their parishes and congregations, in the Quechua language. Simple and easy, but a huge help in spreading the message. And no smartphones or apps or geeky programming needed. Voice. Sound (and video). Simple stuff. See Marty talk about this at his short video.