The following report on the impact of the audio Bible devices in the Bidi Bidi camp in Uganda was shared with us by our partners at Faith Comes By Hearing.
Revival – regeneration, revitalization, reinvigoration, rejuvenation!
What defines a Godly revival?
I would say revival encompasses a genuine work of the Spirit that is established by people coming to a knowledge of sin separating us from a holy God, responding by repenting (often through tears and mourning), followed by a burning desire to seek to know God through His Word.
Looking simply at numbers, we had been told in 2004; we celebrated the centenary of the last great revival in the UK, the 1904 revival in Wales led by Evan Roberts. It was a time of a tremendous outpouring of the Holy Spirit’s power, and over 100,000 people were added to churches.
Jonathan Edwards experienced similar happenings in his revival meetings during the Evangelical Awakening in New England in the eighteenth century. At the same time, George Whitefield and John Wesley were witnessing the same spiritual phenomena in the Evangelical Revival in the UK.
In Nehemiah 8, as in all cases of genuine revival, what is strikingly apparent is the warm reception given to God’s Word with a driving desire to worship God.
Nehemiah 8:5–7 says, “And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was above all the people, and as he opened it, all the people stood. And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God, and all the people answered, “Amen, Amen,” lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground.”
God burdened Promise Child & Faith Comes by Hearing to reach the 300,000 people inside Camp Bidi Bidi by providing one Proclaimer (audio Bible) for every 100 people in the camp.
This goal, through the help of partners and generous donors, was dramatically exceeded. By the end of 2019, we had distributed over 4000 Proclaimers in the camp! At the end of 2019 and just before the Covid pandemic began, we saw what looks to be a Spirit-led revival happening in Uganda. As churches were forced to shut down, Proclaimer listening groups became the church!
After seeing the power found in God’s Word as refugees, they were finding peace, forgiveness, joy, and the love found in God’s Word through Proclaimer listening programs, churches all over Uganda began to take notice.
The question quickly came after seeing fantastic fruit, “What about our churches? Why can’t we start listening groups in multiple different languages with our congregations?” This is precisely what has happened and the reason why I asked the question, “what defines revival?”
If revival is about the Spirit moving in a country, people breaking over sin, repenting, and being regenerated- this is exactly what we are seeing in Uganda. Hundreds of additional Proclaimers have spread to nearly every region of Uganda. By the thousands, people are turning to Christ, finding victory over sins, and being turned from darkness to God’s marvelous light.
Since our original “Operation Mourning to Gladness” began in 2016, we now (together) have distributed over 5000 Proclaimers throughout the camp and Uganda. There are hundreds in prisons being saved because God’s Word is being played for them on Proclaimers. Entire villages are coming to Jesus as they listen to the scriptures, leading to multiple churches being planted! Drunkards are being healed; hatred is being replaced by love; marriages are being miraculously restored; teachers are amazed that children behave in schools (as we have started listening programs in multiple schools). Prisoners are becoming model inmates. Refugees are planing to evangelize their countrymen when they return to their home nations. Soldiers in their barracks are listening to God’s Word every week. The blind are being called to ministry by leading listening groups. Former thieves and prostitutes have started listening groups on the streets!
These are all first-hand testimonies we have received over the last two weeks.
Odeke – Can God use a willing vessel?
Odeke was a Muslim. He heard the gospel and, after many months, made the difficult choice to reject the religion of his people and put his faith in Jesus. He was miraculously saved, and his life was transformed.
Being illiterate, his knowledge of the Word of God was limited to what he heard in church each week. He longed to know more of the Bible and prayed that God would help him to learn it so that he could share the good news with his people.
God heard Odeke’s prayers. He received a Proclaimer through Promise Child and was trained by a Faith Comes by Hearing leader. A listening group in his village began, and Odeke spent hours each week listening to the Word of God with his neighbors. Many in his home village believed in Jesus after hearing the scriptures.
One night in a dream, God spoke to Odeke and told him to take the Proclaimer and walk down a road. He walked for many, many miles, past village after village, asking God for direction.
Finally, he came upon a tiny village, and he knew God wanted him to stop and share the Proclaimer with them. He announced to the village leaders that God had sent him to share the good news with them. They welcomed him and said they would like to hear this news.
Gathering under a mango tree, the entire village listened in amazement at the words that came from Odeke’s black box. The air was flooded with the Word of God.
They were overwhelmed by the love this uneducated and untrained man had shown to them by bringing them such a wonderful gift. The whole village responded with joy and invited Odeke to return every week to bring this box that told them about the love of Jesus.
Months later, our team drove down the same red dirt road to meet this group of believers. Dancing, shouts of jubilation, and tearful worship in the local language rang out as we greeted them.
Villagers shared testimonies of how they have been changed by the scriptures. Those who drank put down the bottle. Those who abused put down their sticks. Those who were angry with their neighbors put down their grievances and loved one another. Those who had no hope, those who were separated from God, those dying in their sin, were turned from darkness to light. Surrendering their lives to the Jesus they have heard about in their language from the Proclaimer – they have been saved.
This untrained and uneducated man was a willing vessel who was obedient to respond to the voice of God.
Odeke’s story is the fruit of many ministries working together – Faith Comes by Hearing who produced the Proclaimer, Promise Child who delivered the unit, the local church who is discipling the new believers and planting new churches in these villages, and the generous donors who make all of these ministries possible. Together, we can reach the whole world with the Word of God.
Can God use a willing vessel? The simple answer is, “absolutely!”
Acts 4:13, “Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus.”
The Sharon Noel story – a story from December 2019
“I just wanted to see her smile…”
Many of you know that we have been working in Camp Bidi Bidi, one of the world’s largest refugee camps. In December, as we toured through the camp, Sharon Noel was brought to us as a very sad little girl. Sharon was born in South Sudan with no hands and no feet. She has lived her life being ridiculed, teased, and outcast. Locals believed that she was cursed – a devil in the form of a deformed child.
In 2016, Rebels killed her father during the war in South Sudan; Sharon’s mother fled with her five children. Shortly after arriving, Sharon’s uncle came to pick up the children but rejected Sharon saying she was worthless. The uncle took the four healthy children and left Sharon behind. Her dejected mother, after losing her husband and four children, lost all hope and no longer wanted to care for Sharon as she had become a burden. This was when Pastor Bosco and our Promise Child ministry team went into action.
I was personally privileged to meet Sharon and her mother in December. We assured the family and Sharon of God’s love and expressed to Sharon that she was perfectly formed and created in her mother’s womb. We were able to give the family a Proclaimer (audio Bible) in their native language and assured them that if they listened to God’s Word, they would be built up and encouraged. We told Sharon that there is a special school with other little children just like her that we would like to send her to. While I was with Sharon, I had this longing in my heart to see her smile just once, but it never happened.
I received news this past week that Sharon has been accepted into the program, and then I received the most incredible pictures. Sharon at her new school… and a great big smile! She now has hope for the future; she will know that she is loved, valued, and can be used by God. I would be lying if I said I didn’t shed any tears.
Sharon’s mother expressed that she has a newfound love for her daughter and realizes that Sharon is a gift from God and part of His creation.
A follow-up to Sharon’s story from our trip (a whole village is smiling)
When we first met Sharon and her mother, there were very few people associating with them. Because Sharon was born with no arms or legs, the community thought the family was cursed.
Last week, we were overwhelmed to be greeted by Sharon’s mother, surrounded by a massive group of people worshipping God as we arrived!
The single Proclaimer we left in this refugee settlement has led to multiple listening groups with new leaders who have been trained by our Promise Child/FCBH workers. Additional Proclaimers were distributed to Sharon’s neighbors because so many want to listen to God’s Word.
Listening group leaders shared many amazing testimonies but none more significant than what one woman said, “Because Sharon was created in her mother’s womb exactly as she is, the first Proclaimer was brought to her family and shared with us. It is because of Sharon that all of us have the hope we have today.”
100’s saved in Soroti prisons – a testimony from prison officer David Ckoki
“The prisoners had never had the chance to hear the Word of God, but Proclaimers were brought into the prisons, and many inmates believed in Jesus as their Savior. The Coronavirus came, and there was no access for pastors to minister in the prisons. Hence, the officers decided to join hands with the prisoners and formed listening groups together!”
-Officer David Ckoki
Promise Child/Faith Comes by Hearing received a thank you letter from the prison. It reads: (in Officer Ckoki words)
With great joy, the teammates and staff of Soroti prison express our heartfelt appreciation to you for the Proclaimers donated to us. The Proclaimers have benefited inmates in very many ways.
- Evangelization now in prison wards is done in both English and local languages of the inmates. These are the languages spoken within our culture and prison. The Proclaimers have simplified the work in breaking down God’s Word where people can understand it in their heart language.
- The prisoners who can not read or write simply listen to the messages through the Word of God through the Proclaimers and are now benefiting because they are getting the knowledge of God and the Bible. Established groups in the wards choose to listen to the Word of God instead of going for inmate games after dinner.
- They are coming to know the original enemy. They are being washed away in their minds, and many desire to become good citizens and children of God.
- In knowing the God/Man Christ, many inmates have turned themselves to Christ. So far, over 250!
(End of letter)
Because they share one Proclaimer in 3 of the 11 wards, he requested that Proclaimers be provided for each of the 11 wards. This request was instantly filled, and we presented ten new Proclaimer units to Officer Ckoki.
A follow-up discipleship program has been established for those inmates who are released. This will connect them to the local church and local Proclaimer listening groups.
We at The John Ankerberg Show want to say a big THANK YOU to everyone who has donated and funded audio Bible devices. We hope this report from an on-the-ground partner in Uganda is an encouragement to you. We praise the Lord for these wonderful testimonies!