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Rick Wood and Noel Buchanan
A story about a 20-hour bus ride followed by a three-day walk to a remote village in Nepal has been God's way of leading a Sydney businessman into a more significant and challenging mission administration role.
"The sound recordist wanted to reach a very remote tribe to record the gospel for them in their own language. He even had to cross a river on a rope with all of his recording equipment on his back," says David Hughes, the new Marketing and Administration Manager for the Global Recordings Network Australia head office in NSW.
The journey taken by the recordist in Nepal is not uncommon in GRN. For example, one journey currently planned in South America will require a 14 day canoe trek to reach the tribe.
"I was amazed by the lengths these recordists will go to. It highlighted the shared determination of the Bible Society and GRN to tell the Jesus story. This led me to catch the vision. I had sold my business as I felt called to missions, but I didn't know where. GRN and their heart for the remotest and smallest language groups to hear the gospel in their own language won me over."
Hughes previously operated a successful IT company focused on touch screen technology at Bella Vista in Sydney. He has attended the Hills campus of Hillsong Church since 1999, and is very excited about the message delivery potential of all emerging technologies.
"GRN appears to be a hidden secret among Aussie Christians and I am very keen to raise it's level of exposure," Hughes said.
"We are currently working on a suite of mobile phone applications including a mobile outreach website and Android application. These will enable people anywhere to listen to our materials, in their own language on a mobile phone. The mobile outreach website http://5fish.mobi has been released, and readers with Android cell phones and tablets are invited to check the Play Store for a new Android app from GRN, set to appear next year."
GRN is part of a global ministry that began in 1939 when illness forced missionary, Joy Ridderhof home to Los Angeles for treatment. Joy prayed for the mountain people she had left behind in Honduras, and then remembered how everyone listened over and over, to hand-wound gramophone records containing songs in Spanish and English.
This memory inspired a new idea: Joy would record Gospel messages on wax discs and send them wherever the people could listen to the sound. When a request came from some other missionaries for a similar recording in Navajo, a North American tribal Indian language, Joy realised God was beginning something much bigger. The adversity of an illness forcing a return home for treatment in Los Angeles turned into a huge global outreach via recorded sound.
"We can now produce materials that are playable on devices using both simple and advanced technology for over 6,000 ethnic groups worldwide," Hughes said.
GRN has developed a simple method of recording across many language barriers in a very short time. Teams armed with high-quality audio equipment, assisted by bilingual helpers, visit some of the world's most remote inhabited areas. Their aim is to provide each language group with sufficient materials to enable a person to become a Christian, be built up in their Christian faith and become an active member of an emerging church.
"In their 73 year history, GRN has made the message available to over half of all the languages on the planet. This is an incredible accomplishment," says senior missions' writer and editor Rick Wood in a long article on the worldwide web.
"GRN has given the church worldwide a magnificent tool to bring the Gospel to the most remote unreached people in the shortest possible time. Rarely has so much been accomplished by so few with so little," Wood said.
More information about their unusual audio products and other GRN projects can be obtained by contacting Global Recordings Network Australia online or David Hughes can be contacted directly by telephone at +61-2-9899-2211 during business hours Monday to Friday.
Rick Wood is Managing Editor for Mission Frontiers, Portland, Oregon; Noel Buchanan is the former religion section editor at The Lethbridge Herald, Alberta, Canada and now a senior print media consultant for the Australian Media Engagement Project.