The website, ScriptureEarth.org1, containing one of the largest repositories of Bible resources available, is a hidden jewel in the toolbox for diaspora ministry in Canada!
A ministry partner from our time working in Bible translation in Southern Mexico has spent almost 30 years developing ways to “plant ‘Gospel Seeds’” among a particular indigenous Mexican people group now predominantly living in diaspora communities in many states of Mexico and the U.S. In the following short article, he writes about how the Scripture Earth website can transform even brief opportunities for sharing the Gospel in many diverse languages in North America.
Planting “Gospel Seeds” Through Business Cards
Over the last year or two, during my infrequent visits to southern California, I began to notice a change in the ethnic mix of the men that gather early each morning in the parking lot of the Home Depot near our mission agency's home office hoping to get work for the day. Typically, the men had all been Mexicans, but I noticed newcomers that I suspected were Haitians.
Five years ago, I tracked down the available Scripture resources in Haitian Creole and loaded them onto some "BibleBox" WiFi hotspot units for some Mexican believers reaching out among thousands of Haitians that ended up "stuck" in Tijuana, Mexico on their trek north. Now, for those with smartphones, directing Creole speakers to the Haitian Creole page within the ScriptureEarth.org website seems to me to be the best option. They can have free access to 6 full-length Scripture movies2, the text of multiple translations of the New Testament, audio recordings of the NT in 3 different Creole translations, and a variety of audio recordings produced by the Global Recordings Network.
So on my trip to San Diego last week, I made two early-morning visits to the Home Depot parking lot with a supply of Scripture Earth business cards in my pocket. I struck up brief conversations with Haitians, Mexicans, and even a Liberian, giving cards to most of them. Many of the Haitians speak very little or no English but, interestingly, DO speak some Spanish or Portuguese because they had lived for a time in Mexico or Brazil before making it to the US. The cellphone data connection at that location was too weak for me to show a clip of a video, but at least fast enough to play a tiny snippet of the audio of the Gospel of Mark with some.
I was particularly blessed to meet and talk with Jefferson. He was the best English speaker among the Haitians I met ― and a joyous brother in Christ! Years ago, he was freed from the yoke of voodoo and became a child of God. In the aftermath of the tragic earthquake in Haiti in 2010, he partnered with Samaritan's Purse and another organization. Join me in praying that Jefferson will be a bright, shining light for Jesus among the other Haitians living near him.
On my way north to get to California last week I had to pass through a permanent checkpoint of the Mexican Army (looking mainly for drugs). Usually, I'm just asked a question or two and can then continue on. This time I was asked to get out and open up the liftgate of my minivan.
The soldier asked me if I had shown movies in migrant farm worker camps years ago, and the answer was yes, as I was involved in showing open-air Christian movies in Spanish in 4-5 migrant camps on a weekly basis about 5 months of the year in the late ꞌ80s. I'm surprised he recognized me after so many years (and additional pounds)! He mentioned that most of his family members are now attending evangelical churches but he is the lone hold-out. I told him he still has time! In our very brief conversation, I determined he was a speaker of Zapotec of Mixtepec of Miahuatlán. I gave him a Scripture Earth business card and explained to him how to find his language on the site.
If you would like to share Bible resources with people you know or who God puts in your path who speak other languages, ScriptureEarth.org is a great place to start, as resources for thousands of languages of the world, even minority languages spoken only by some thousands of people or less, are available there.
Download Business Card
In raising awareness for the Scripture Earth website here in Toronto, Ramón and I (Deb) have found that even in situations where people we meet already own a physical Bible in their mother tongue, they often are unaware of the existence of other non-print materials such as:
- A digital online version
- Bible apps, such as: Bible.is, the YouVersion (Bible.com), or a specialized app for that language
- A dramatized audio version
- Audio versions which highlight the text as it plays to help newer readers
- Bible stories in audio or video format for adults or children
- Scripture videos, like the Jesus Film (and its 61 clips), as well as others such as the books of Genesis, the four Gospels and Acts
- Scripture-based films, such as: Magdalena (and its 44 clips), The Hope Video, and The Story of Jesus for children (and its 61 clips)
- Graphic Bibles
- A more recently updated version of the Bible
- A website where an audio Bible player, such as the MegaVoice, dedicated to playing that language, can be purchased
All of which can be shared digitally! Making it even more portable for global impact, regardless of the many barriers that may prevent physical access to those who wish for the Bible in their language.
In Everyday Life
Here in Toronto, I (Ramón) have been developing friendships with many people from different backgrounds, especially through my favorite extracurricular activity of tennis. As I have been practicing hospitality through conversation (see our previous blog here), I have been able to get to know a particular friend. From listening to what he's going through and asking God what Bible story would connect with his story, a particular story came to mind! I know what his mother tongue is, so I looked it up on Scripture Earth, and had it ready. He said, "Just tell it to me in your words." So, I did! I told him the story (he speaks perfect English, after all). And then, I pulled it up on my phone, found the dramatized audio in his language, and pressed play to share it with him right there. It was a great way to share this Scripture story both ways: my retelling and in his own language through Scripture Earth. And then, we continued having a great discussion about the passage with what struck him the most and much more!
With another friend, I developed a friendship as both of our similar aged children had skating lessons together. Similarly, over many conversations coming to or going from the rink or on the ice, we were able to get to know each other. Then, a certain Bible story came to mind related to what their family had been going through. I again told this story in my own words, this time over taking off our skates. While time was short, we discussed the story briefly before it was time to go. And later I texted a link to the dramatized audio in this family's mother tongue, which I had found on ScriptureEarth.org. "Maybe you'd like to share it with the rest of your family?" I asked in follow up. "For sure, I will," was the reply!
Whether you are making friends across the street or around the world, ScriptureEarth.org can help you personalize sharing a timely and relevant Bible story!
On ScriptureEarth.org you can
1) Search by language or country of origin
2) Explore all the resources available in that language
3) Find the most relevant format and portion. And:
4) Share it in a timely way with friends, family, or neighbours!
Click here for a 3 min video on using the Scripture Earth website in day-to-day life.
Click here for brief (90 sec) video on how to use Scripture Earth to look up a particular language.
After ten years of involvement in ministry in Oaxaca, Mexico with Wycliffe & SIL, Deb & Ramón Padilla joined Outreach Canada in 2021 bringing their skills and experience to serve existing diaspora ministries in the Greater Toronto Area, and across Canada. Their vision is to collaborate with local ministries to support more effective use and access to Scriptures and other resources in the minority languages of homeland communities of immigrants. Through networking with front-line diaspora ministries and churches, Ramón seeks to understand the various contexts and help connect and foster collaboration of resources and ministries for Scripture Engagement to flourish among diaspora communities. Through research and connecting with other researchers, Deb seeks to communicate information about language groups in the diaspora to those whose work it will inspire as they minister to these communities.
1 ScriptureEarth.org is managed by SIL International
2 The Mark & Luke LUMO Gospel Films, The JESUS Film, Magdalena, The Story of Jesus for Children, and The Hope Video