Printing and distributing Bibles is only part of the job. People must be able to access and engage with Scripture in a format they can appreciate and understand. For those who read, that can be a print publication. But often, other media are more effective and appropriate to a local context.
Scripture engagement workers can help communities learn how to interact with Scripture in effective ways. They usually begin with portions that are relevant and interesting in the local context. For example, nomadic peoples find it easy to identify with the stories of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob because of their pastoral culture. Household servants and members of large families can identify with Joseph and the sibling rivalry that he faced. Women can identify with the problems of Sarah, Naomi, Ruth, and Hannah.
Oral communities are accustomed to learning and communicating through stories that are passed down through generations. In projects like OneStory, specialists help storytellers learn to deliver the Gospel through effective retelling of key biblical stories. People from the community will gather to hear these stories and then retell them, resulting in spiritual growth and new believers for the Kingdom of God.
Radio programs are popular in many cultures, and a well-done Scripture program can reach many people who may never hold a Bible in their hands. Sometimes listening groups will gather around a radio or an audio player to listen to God's Word and then discuss the Scripture they've heard.
In addition to pieces like the “JESUS” film or the Genesis video, specialists can also help local speakers create Scripture-based videos that address issues facing their particular culture. A video using local actors facing a common situation can be an effective way to explain biblical truths that apply to the situation in a culturally relevant way.
Ethnomusicology and Arts
Each culture uses its own rhythms, melodies, and instruments to convey meaning through music. An intonation that signals politeness in one language may signal disbelief in another. It would be inappropriate to use victory music at a tragic scene, party music at a serious scene, or shaman music at a worship scene. A familiar musical setting helps people identify with the message. A song that sounds beautiful to a Westerner may sound dissonant to someone else and hinder them from opening up to the message.
Ethnomusicologists work with local artists to help them create meaningful Scripture songs for their community. Wycliffe is also expanding its work to include ethnoarts. Arts consultants work alongside local musicians, dancers, actors, and storytellers to spark the creation of new songs, dances, dramas, and stories that communicate God's message in powerful ways.
Trauma Healing and HIV/AIDS Education
In many parts of the world today, wars, ethnic conflict, and civil disturbances have left people traumatized. In order to help people express their thoughts and emotions and know that God deeply cares about them, Wycliffe staff have created and translated biblically-based trauma healing materials. Healing the Wounds of Trauma is especially useful for church leaders who are called upon to help their congregations after major trauma has occurred.
For communities facing HIV/AIDS, a booklet called Kande's Story has been translated into more than one hundred languages. It teaches a biblical approach to HIV/AIDS prevention and care through a true-to-life story based on the account of an African pastor. As the community–especially people from the local church–help Kande and her siblings, they also learn that by following God's instructions for living, they can avoid getting AIDS themselves or spreading it to others.