The power of God's Word is immeasurable, inspiring, and changing the lives of believers around the world. To possess a Bible in one's own language or cultural context is a priceless gift.
Bringing that gift to an entire continent is no easy task, yet a worthwhile venture that takes years of dedication, meticulous planning, and countless hours of dialogue. For Houghton College alum Richard [Paul] Mouw, '65, that idea has become a reality. Mouw worked as the director of strategic projects for Oasis International's Africa Study Bible (ASB), the continent's first full English translation Bible with the stories, cultural heritage, and experiences of Africans in mind – making it the only one of its kind.
The 2,600 notes and elements from more than 350 African pastors, scholars, and teachers from 50 countries bring a truly diverse perspective to the New Living Translation-based ASB, incorporating African proverbs, stories, touchpoints, and insights. With the ASB, more than 400 million African Christians can view their faith through a lens that speaks to their experiences, instead of through a Western viewpoint. One unique feature is a timeline of God's work through the centuries, with an emphasis on early African Christianity.
To a continent often scarred by civil unrest, terrorism, economic distress, and poverty, the ASB brings the stories of provision and redemption that are the hallmarks of Christianity. Because Africans face tensions largely unknown to the Western world, it is "so important that these insights into the Scriptures come through African eyes," said Mouw. Many of the writers themselves have witnessed or endured these atrocities, making the words and hope of the ASB all the more poignant.
Religious leaders on the continent continue to embrace this one-of-a-kind study Bible, a welcome addition to their lives. Mouw stresses the importance in African culture of respected African pastors and religious leaders being part of the project and in approval, for their names and contributions carry weight in the faith community. Although the ASB was released in Africa less than three months ago, it has already garnered enthusiastic support from those for whom it was written. Mouw related the story of a Nigerian-born pastor in Chicago who, upon reading the Gospel of John sample, tearfully exclaimed "It speaks to our hearts" as he clutched it to his chest.
The ASB is available in print and as an app on iTunes and Google Play.
"The Lord sent the right people at the right time," said Mouw, including everyone from key writers to the developer who created the app free of charge. Currently the ASB is in English–a trade language of educated people in 60 percent of African countries–but its notes are already being translated in order to reach French-speaking Africans. Portuguese and other major languages are on the horizon, expanding the accessibility of these African-perspective Scriptures.
In addition to his Houghton degree, Mouw holds a master's degree from the Syracuse School of Journalism, has more than 20 years in publishing, marketing, and product development experience, and has taught as a media professor at Judson University for more than 23 years. He retired three years ago to join Oasis International to help make the ASB a reality.
The Africa Study Bible is being launched in Kenya, Ghana, South Africa, and Nigeria, and is featured in the United States by Tyndale House, Amazon, and Christianbook.com, where copies can be shipped anywhere in the United States or to Africa. Learn more at http://oasisint.net/africa-study-bible/.