Thursday, February 10, 2011

Technology to Change Cambodia

What you are looking at may seem insignificant. It is the Khmer Bible on a $90 cell phone. This phone can be purchased locally and other phone models as cheaply as $50 which can run the Bible as well. Currently, nearly every church leader, adult and many young people (even in Cambodia) have access to cell phones.

The phone you hold in our hand has more power than computers were 15 years ago. It can do more things and it is more versatile. The days of having “just a phone” are long gone. Now, nearly every phone comes equipped with Wi-Fi, blue tooth, operating systems which allow installation of other programs like mp3 players, capability to view movies, and even make movies!; VIOP calls (through internet connection), video and HD camera capabilities, and. . . oh yeah, any kind of spreadsheet, word processor, picture viewer and multiple language capabilities. Whew! What will they think of next to put in the palm of your hand!

How about free Bibles!

In many countries you can be jailed or even killed for carrying a Bible. Some countries ban the publishing of the Bible in the country, or extremely limit its availability (like Cambodia). What you are seeing pictured here is a revolution. It is a Jesus-virus! Once something is digitized you cannot stop it. (Ever heard of wiki-leaks?)

This little Bible program is based on the software called “Go Bible” and is designed to run on basic cell phones. The entire NT is compressed into 617kb. Yes that is Kilobytes, not Megabytes! It can be downloaded, blue-toothed and installed on any supporting phone, at will, by any user. What does that mean for distribution? It works like a virus and can never be stopped!

Revolution in Publishing

This also means a revolution in publishing. Will it replace the printed Bible? Probably not, but it will definitely aid thousands and even hundreds of thousands of people who don’t have access to a printed Bible, or where carrying a printed Bible might put them in jeopardy. It also provides an exhaustive concordance and Bible text all in one. The entire NT is searchable in seconds.

Most non-English Bibles do not have concordances. That means if a pastor wants to preach on Baptism, he has to try to recall which verses in the Bible talk about Baptism. If he needs to counsel someone on a particular subject, he has no way of searching for relevant Bible verses in his Bible . . . until now!

Why digitize the Bible and offer it free?

God’s word should not be “locked up” for the sake of publishers making money. I am the publisher so I have determined that access to Bible in Cambodia should be at the highest priority and selling Bibles should be a very low priority. Asia Bible Society and Words of Life jointly own the text and it is copyrighted, but we allow anyone to use it personally and give it away freely. Matthew 10:8 “Freely it has been given to you, freely give.” In one survey we did, we found that only 26% of believers in Cambodia have a Bible. Believers in the West often have dozens of Bibles. This little 617kb Bible program in Khmer will probably significantly change that statistic! This little program and the technology behind it can truly bring change to Cambodia!

Note: Currently, the “Khmer Go Bible” is in Beta testing and will be ready for public release for viral distribution very soon! Get ready! Make sure your phone has pre-installed Khmer language capabilities.