Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Rejoice and Sing! The Dedua Audibible Dedication

The procession of the Audibibles to the dedication tent
“Here’s your Audibible. God bless you.” I shook the woman’s calloused hand as I handed her the audio player. She stared down at it in amazement before suddenly throwing her arms around me and squeezing tight…thank you! Thank you!

Learning how to operate an Audibible
It was late Saturday morning of the Dedua Audibible dedication and after much singing, dancing, speeches, and explanations, the boxes that I had sealed back in September (see here) were finally being opened. The Audibible is a handheld, solar-powered audio playback device that can hold anything from speeches, songs, sermons, and Bible studies to oral recordings of the Bible—in this case, the Dedua New Testament and Genesis. In Papua New Guinea (PNG), the traditional time for storytelling and discussion is at night; after the work and heat of the day have abated, Papua New Guineans will sit around the fire for hours, talking until it smoulders into coals and the children have dropped into sleep. Because the Audibible is oral and solar-powered, it doesn’t require light to read by or generator power for charging, neither of which are very common in remote villages. In addition, it is able to bring Scripture into the hands of those who can’t read or are visually-impaired, allowing them to finally hear the Good News in their own language.

And now the miti mobail—the Scripture mobile—had arrived.

This was before the chaos of opening boxes and selling!
Hundreds of Dedua speakers surged toward the sales table, forming raggedy, lumpy lines like streams converging on a river. The sun filtered through the tarp roof, casting blue shadows and greenhouse humidity as the press of sweat and bodies trampled the dirt floor into mud. No pauses. Instead, an almost frantic, continuous tide of kina and Audibible tickets, wrinkled and dirty from hand-sweat, being shoved into my and the other four sellers hands, until the process became automatic—money, table, Audibible, turn, give, shake hands, God bless you! Next…

I quickly learned the tok ples (local language) words for their requests, as my teammate behind the table scrambled to keep up, slicing open boxes of new Audibibles as well as for sales of hard copies of Dedua New Testaments, Genesis, and Bible study helps.

Crowds of people overflowed from under the tent

Suddenly, I realized there was no one in front of me—the lines of waiting people were almost done! I glanced over at my teammates—hair is plastered over foreheads with sweat (no time to wipe it off), and one presses his lower back. We’ve been standing and selling for hours. Over 1300 Audibibles sold—one to every Dedua household; only a few players remain. Later, as we sat in our house and counted through the day, we realized that 1700–2000 people had crammed into that tent!

Studying the Scriptures
That afternoon and the following three days were filled with the a Bible conference, where preaching on repentance and confession crackled through the megaphone in Dedua (and, for our benefit, in Tok Pisin too, the trade language of PNG). Infants slept in laps as mothers poured over their Bibles, some with notebooks (and even highlighters!)as they perched on banana leaves, bits of cloth, plastic bags or half-sawn chunks of bamboo for up to eight hours a day. When the inevitable downpours came, we crammed even tighter together under the tarp, dodging leaks and puddles, and poking the fragile ceiling with umbrellas to keep water from pooling and bursting the plastic. Once the rain outshouted the megaphone, we’d switch to worship songs—several hours a day of indigenous Dedua music to kundu drums, guitars, clapping, and dancing, all at the top of their lungs until my whole body reverberated with the refrain—Jesus is with us forever! We need to give ourselves…as an offering!

Hundreds of people worshipped together!

As I prayed with men and women at the end of each day and watched their joy as many began or renewed commitments to Christ, I rejoiced with them in thanksgiving for the Truth of Scripture in their language and hearts. Night had fallen long ago, but still they sang on—Jesus, you say, “Repent and come walk with me!” Hallelujah!

Hallelujah, indeed!

Check out the following video about the Dedua Audibible Dedication!