The following report comes from missionary Bible Translators working among a tribal group in Northern Mozambique.
The Advantages of using Bible Pictures
- Illustrations help people understand unfamiliar concepts or terms.
- Illustrations help dispel misconceptions about Bible times and people.
- The illustrations that accompany the recordings draw a crowd every time.
"The pictures are what make these materials unique and more effective than the average recording of teachings and even more effective than storying by itself.
One pastor said "When we hear the stories we sort of understand but with these pictures we say 'Oh, that's what it was like.' We really get it."
The illustrations do a good job with the important factors of skin tone and hair colour. All participants look appropriately Middle Eastern. The illustrations resemble the flannel graph figures of old. Of course they are much easier to use than flannel graph because there are no pieces to lose, no placement of the parts in their proper order, and nothing falls off the board when a breeze comes up. Each picture is a complete scene in itself.
The illustration books are 42cm x 30cm with a spiral binding on the wide side across the top of the pictures. The same books are used no matter what language the recordings are in. There is an English title on each book plus the book number if it is part of a series. Each book cover is colour-coded to match the appropriate cassette/CD so no one has to depend on reading English to sort out which cassette/CD to use. One of the books that had a red cover has been changed to white (for certain areas only) in the latest sets since red was not appropriate in some settings.
The Process and the Impact
At our first big seminar with the local pastors my husband and I had spread on a display table many Christian materials and asked for some consensus on what would be most helpful to their churches and their evangelism efforts. We had TEE book sets, discipleship materials, tracts, the Jesus film, various pamphlets, as well as the GRN materials. We really hoped they would spend some time studying the materials and making a considered group decision. Instead, they looked at the books without even touching them, and then went directly to the big colourful GRN illustration books with the tapes and texts sitting next to them. In two minutes they had all decided this was what they needed.
We translated, recorded and distributed the Good News cassette and book as a test to see if the format and technology would be well received and have any impact.
After the materials were in the field about six months we started making inquiries. One man told us "The churches are now full. People are accepting Christ that we never thought would." When those people were asked why they finally decided to follow God they told us that it was because all the churches are now teaching the same thing. Because of the economic limitations in the tribal area we decided to distribute players, books and cassettes without charge. Instead of trying to give one set to each church we placed ten sets in ten different communities and asked the churches in those communities to share them amongst themselves. We were not sure we weren't being naïve thinking they would share but this was the advice of our cultural tutor and church relations advisor so we followed it. Each set was to service 10-15 small bush churches. When we attempted to find out if they really were sharing, one fellow said "Oh, this stuff is too good not to share. The other churches wouldn't put up with that!"