Over all the years the World Mission Centre has endeavored to use relevant technology to spread the Gospel and train workers for the field.
In the early days we used Gospel Recordings, Card Talk and battery free cassette players with great success in the desert of Botswana. In the Gospel Taxi Club, we recorded messages in seven South African languages that told the story of Jesus. We also recorded relevant messages about road safety and how people could be involved in “acts of kindness” in the community. In later years the audiotapes made way for DVD recordings. In 1998 we distributed 38,0000 tapes over the Easter Weekend. Over one million people travelling to Easter conferences or going home for the long weekend heard the message.
In the year 2000 we recorded the Live School on broadcast quality video in a studio setting in Pretoria, South Africa. Some of the best mission trainers of the day travelled to South Africa to teach 51 students who came from five continents. The Live School curriculum comprises of 240 hours of teaching in video.
We realized that the Live School could be used around the world to train members of local churches to become missionaries to the unreached.
Living on a steep learning curve!
We suddenly found ourselves on a steep learning curve as we tried to understand how best to present the material to local churches in a relevant way. We started out with a briefcase that was equipped with a TV screen, DVD player and sound system.
This soon proved to be to heavy and bulky to carry around which quickly led us to redesign the product. We then packaged it in a small aluminum case. The greatest challenge was to find the compression ratios so we could record three, one-hour videos in one DVD. (After burning 400 DVD’s William, our media director and technology guru worked it out).
While all this was going on we started to translate the curriculum into Russian and soon began to train church members in the Russian-speaking world. This proved to be a huge success that led us to translate six more languages, namely Arabic, Swahili, Farsi, Turkish, Korean and French.
Using these translations we now run 816 Lives Schools in 66 countries with over 10,000 students.
Currently we are translating the Live School into Portuguese and Spanish, which will be completed by the end of the 2015. We will start the Hindi and Mandarin translations early 2016 and then finally Mongolian and Indonesian in 2017.
But once again, using a aluminum briefcase proved to be too bulky and too obvious to carry across borders.
We were in search of an even smaller unit that could easily be distributed under the “radar Screen”.
This led to a search and ultimately a design of a unit that can easily fit into the inside pocket of a jacket. Needless to say the technology has now grown to such an extent that we are able to fit all eight languages on one unit.
Our biggest challenge however came a few months ago when we ordered another consignment of units.
Imagine our surprise when we found out that the “chip-set” used in the unit was no longer available anywhere in the world. This led to a frantic search for an answer.
If we could not find it, the Live School would come to an end.
William and I spent two days in technology shows in Mainland China to seek alternatives with absolutely no luck. The format we had recorded the Live School in was obsolete. In our search for an answer to our dilemma, we found out that computers and laptops, even tablets, which are the order of the day, will soon be phased out. When a man from the Netherlands who has worked for Phillips for many years heard that we were looking at the possibility of using a tablet, he exclaimed – “it’s the wrong way, it is carnage in that market”. It is all changing so quickly. In the future you will be able to screen video on glass without a projector. You will watch our favorite TV programs using a pair of glasses and so much more – very progressive yet very disturbing developments – at least it is for me.
We had to redo all the work of the last eight years BUT we only had about eight months to do it in.
We eventually found an “interim unit” that only has a one or two-year window before it will also be obsolete. BUT the kicker was that, if we wanted to use it, we would have to change the format that the Live School was developed in. In other words, if we wanted to stay in business we had to redo all the work of the last eight years BUT we only had about eight months to do it in.
Using mostly university interns our media team spent almost 38,000 hours on the conversion.
The project came upon us so suddenly that we had push back the translation schedule – not to mention that we had no budget for it. Praise God we can report that the conversion will be completed in the next two to three weeks.
To stay on the edge of technology is a HUGE CHALLENGE. We are already working on the next generation unit and or delivery system.
Using an Internet site to create greater reach
We have built an Internet site for use in one of the more difficult to reach regions of the world. It is a great tool that allows the viewer to watch an hour of video and then write a questionnaire to establish if they understood the lesson. If they pass the test they are permitted to go onto the next session. However we are busy redesigning the site so that we can quickly change it to another platform if it gets blocked authorities.
We applaud all that churches and mission organizations are doing in the area of technology.
However, even with these challenges we need to use any and all means at our disposal to get the Word of the Lord out. It is certainly easier in countries that are friendly to the Gospel message than those that are hostile. Governments can listen to all we say, block out Internet signals and even control television and radio broadcasts.
The greatest lesson that we are learning in the world of technology and mission is – think tomorrow while you use what you have at your disposal today.