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An article from "Pressing On" - newsletter of the NT Missionary Union, a church planting fellowship working in 12 countries.
Joy Ridderhof just could not stop her heart and mind traveling back to the mountains of Honduras again and again as she struggled with the malaria that brought her back to California. For many months now she had been immobile and she could not fathom why God should have allowed this to happen, when she had been so happy to serve Him there among the peasants, many of them illiterate. Some of them had responded to the Gospel, even though the priests would threaten them. Now there was no one that could continue to disciple these dear folks.
If only she could have left her voice behind to repeat the Bible verses she had tried to teach them, and which they were not able to read themselves ... Just a voice, that was all that was needed ... However, Joy held on tightly to one Bible verse in particular, Romans 8:28 - "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."
The power of praise to lift an oppressed spirit had been proved many a time when the priest, who dominated the mountain town where she lived, had openly opposed, and sometimes even plotted to kill her. "The Lord is going to do something wonderful in the future if these fiery trials are any indication!" she had told herself when tension and pain of different sorts had been almost excruciating.
So now, in her present weakness, she thought, "Here, too, I can and must rejoice. I believe God is going to do something wonderful!" And she thanked Him until, through that deliberate act of faith, joy and expectation took the place of disappointment.
And as she kept on praying and remembering and praying more, the raucous sound of gramophone records in the Honduras shops and saloons kept on popping up in her mind, along with childhood memories of recorded tunes that got engraved in her memory. It began to dawn on her that gramophone records could be the answer to her prayer for the untold thousands, especially for the illiterate ones. Gramophone records reproduced one voice a hundred, a thousand times. They kept on saying the same thing over and over again, without getting tired.
One year later, on Dec. 31, 1938, the very first Gospel gramophone recording was made. When Joy, listening back to it, realized how faithfully it had reproduced the emotion and modulation of her voice, as it proclaimed the Gospel, she felt as if she had struck oil. How clearly could she see the scattered villages of Honduras being reached with the good message. Now she knew what to do -- produce Gospel records in Spanish. In poor health and without money, at this stage she never dreamed of anything beyond Spanish.
Yet, by 1955, God's grace had enabled her and the co-workers to produce one million records in over 1,400 languages and dialects and send them out to over 140 countries. Nine years later there were 4.5 million records in 2,900 languages. And so the story continues...
Now, sixty-one years after that first record, Joy and many of the beloved co-laborers are already rejoicing in Heaven, but Gospel Recordings, founded by her in simple faith, has arrived at a wonderful 'milestone.' The Gospel has been recorded in five thousand languages and dialects - and counting! Trained recordists are still traveling to every country in the world to record evangelistic messages and basic Christian teachings.
"Because there are two billion non-readers in the world, it is important for them to have the opportunity of hearing the gospel message," says Colin Stott, present day executive director of GR in the USA. "The recordings help overcome that literacy barrier."
They are taken to many places where no electricity is available. A special cassette player has been developed to meet this need. It has its own built-in generator, about the size of a small flashlight battery. With the turn of a handle, the generator supplies enough power to run the machine. Villagers often line up to take their turn playing the messages at full volume so all the neighbors can hear.