In Burundi, illiteracy rates are sadly very high, especially among older generations. Even today, many children are unable to attend school at all, and only 32% of children complete lower secondary education.
As a result, there are many people who struggle with day-to-day activities because they are unable to read or write. Church is a big part of people’s lives, but if they cannot read the Scriptures for themselves, they are reliant on church teachers to help them grow in their faith.
However, technology has provided a new option! These are audio Bibles – specially developed mp3-players which are user-friendly and have the New Testament in Kirundi pre-loaded onto them. They are powered by solar batteries, so they can be used in villages without electricity, and they have a small loudspeaker so a group can gather around it. Another bonus is that they have a small LED torch which comes in handy when electricity is scarce!
In fact, this way of engaging with Scripture links back to how many of the first hearers would have experienced it. Literacy rates in the ancient world were even lower, and so hearing God’s word was far more common than reading it! Think of the Israelite people listening to Ezra reading the Torah when the second temple was commissioned in Nehemiah 8. Or in the New Testament times where, ‘the usual practice that letters to the churches were read aloud in the church assembly’.
The first batch was delivered to several partners across Burundi and these have already been passed onto some of the poorest communities they’re working with. The latest development is that the Old Testament has also been sourced to be loaded onto future models, which will be sent to Burundi this year.
Most of our Partners operate a holistic model with the communities they work with, not only serving people’s physical needs, but their emotional and spiritual needs as well.