Lauren and Connie Runia recently returned from a two-month trip to the Solomon Islands. Later this fall they’ll head to Papua New Guinea (PNG) for two months — the country where their mission work began 30 years ago!
Even though he served as a teacher years ago, Lauren is putting his skills to work differently these days. The Runias have been busy training local people to create audio recordings of the Bible for mobile apps and dubbing Scripture videos like the JESUS film.
Preparing for the Call
The Runias weren’t always involved in media services. When they first began serving, Lauren taught music at a school, while Connie was a village nurse. But shortly before returning on furlough to the United States in 1995, the Runias began working with the media services department in PNG. In the U.S., they became media specialists, learning to dub Scripture videos and record audio New Testaments.
This training would prove to be beneficial when the Runias returned to PNG. While in the country for a one-year assignment, they dubbed the JESUS film and other Scripture videos across the country. As they traveled around PNG, they spoke with individuals who didn’t know how to read or preferred oral communication.
“We became convinced that audio recordings of the New Testament needed to be done with each language group,” Connie said, “so those who are in an oral culture and don’t read could have access to the Scriptures.”
God put a vision into their hearts to begin training people in the country, raising up individuals to partner in the work of creating the audio and video recordings. The Runias developed a plan that led to a pilot project on New Britain Island in PNG. Now, 18 people have received the technical training needed to facilitate recordings and create mobile phone apps! Several of these individuals are even training others.
“God has called them to this work,” Lauren said, “and we see their excitement at God’s call! They take ownership. They have the tools.”
“We are equipping them to use their gifts,” Connie elaborated. “They see themselves as missionaries to their own people.”
The Impact of Audio Scripture
The Runias are observing the same excitement with the media team they’ve been training in the Solomon Islands over the last few years. During recording sessions recently, a Solomon Islander shared that, while practicing the parts she would be reading, she felt God convicting her. “I am going to change the way I’ve been living,” she said, “and live my life for God.”
Audio Scriptures can have a tremendous impact! And that is the goal of providing audio Scriptures to those who don’t read. “Lives are being changed through the power of the Scriptures,” said Connie.
“It’s not just about making believers,” said Lauren. “It’s a way for them to grow and mature in Christ by being able to listen to Scripture daily.”
A staggering number of New Testaments still need to be recorded, so more missionaries are needed to partner with local men and women who have also been called to this work. National media teams help ensure the sustainability of the work.
“We need young people with technology skills who have the desire to train, equip and mentor,” said Lauren. “We need people who want to see others excel.”