At a refugee center in Greece, new Christians are stepping forward to bridge the communication gap and ensure that the good news is told in a language that refugees can understand.
A man sits hunched in a corner, weeping. With his coat pulled tightly around him, he listens intently to the sounds coming from the earbuds he’s wearing. The door has been opened to a whole new world, a world of grace, truth, and love.
Aarash Nabi (not his real name) has just been given an In Touch Messenger in his “heart language,” Dari. Dari is largely unheard of in the West, but it’s a widely spoken Persian language in Central Asia. There are over 20 million Dari speakers in Afghanistan.*
*Source: Operation World. http://www.operationworld.org/node/103
When Aarash heard the gospel in Dari, he was hearing it for the very first time in the most personal language he has. And the truth broke through to him in a powerful way. “I’ve never heard these stories,” he said, “but I believe they’re true.”
This has happened over and over at a Christian-run refugee center in Athens, where the staff sees hundreds of visitors every day who speak little Greek or English. Aarash came to the center seeking help shortly after arriving in Greece from Afghanistan.
The Wycliffe Global Alliance estimates that about 1.5 billion people do not yet have the full Bible in their native language.
The In Touch Messenger shares the gospel in 106 languages and counting. We are constantly working to add new Bible translations to our family of Messenger Lab devices.
“I’ve never heard these stories, but I believe they’re true.”
Language is a major factor in the ministry. The center offers meals, basic medical treatment, and opportunities for dental care. But in addition to providing for physical needs, the team wants, above all, to share the gospel of Jesus Christ. Since visitors come from so many different countries, communication is a real challenge.
So the center’s team got creative. They know that when God wants to speak directly to our heart of hearts, He uses the language we know best. They enlisted the help of Christian friends—many of them new converts themselves—hailing from the same countries as the visitors. And then, in the center’s coffee shop atmosphere, these volunteers meet with visitors, talk with them, pray for them, and tell them about God’s great love and His plan for their salvation—all in their own language.
The In Touch Messenger is playing a big role in this outreach. The center, and the Christian volunteers who’ve joined its team, have handed out hundreds of the devices to those who come to the center for care, in languages such as Arabic, Farsi, and Dari. “When they hear the presentation of the gospel,” says William, a missionary associated with the center, “and they begin hearing Scripture in their heart language, it’s a pivotal thing for them.”
“When they hear the presentation of the gospel, and they begin hearing Scripture in their heart language, it’s a pivotal thing for them.”
In fact, it’s one of four common steps for those from other religious traditions when making the journey to faith in Christ. William has noticed a distinct pattern in the way God is working in this area, especially with those of Muslim background. First, they will remember personal interactions they’ve had with Christians: conversations, assistance, a friendly hand. Then, they remember someone praying for them in the name of Jesus. Once they are open to considering the one true God through these experiences, they hear His Word in their heart language and are powerfully touched by the truth of Scripture. Finally, says William, these pilgrims on the road to salvation o en receive dreams or visions of the Lord to completely solidify their faith.
The center’s staff, and the volunteers serving with them, are immensely grateful for the devices they’ve received from the In Touch Messenger Lab. Those devices are enabling the team to reach people in need with the greatest gi of all—the good news, in a language that’s dear to their hearts, intimately familiar, and deeply understandable.
The In Touch Messenger Lab is about more than technology. It’s about real people solving real problems: men and women all over the world, working together, overcoming obstacles, and preaching the gospel with creativity and ingenuity.
And God continues to introduce us to more people every day. It’s our goal to provide them with the resources and content they need to make disciples.
“We [use] as many different variations as we possibly can to get those Scriptures into their hands.”
Even in poorer communities in Athens, many residents have a cell phone. In Touch provides micro SD cards from the Messenger Lab to make sure even those without a Bible can listen to the Word of God with a touch on their phone’s screen.