Thursday, February 7, 2013

Helping the theological famine

One of the great challenges facing anyone involved in theological education in a language other than English is the availability (or more to the point, the unavailability) of resources.

In English, we are blessed with a massive number of books, articles, training resources, conferences and mp3s  - and the ease of the internet makes accessibility for many people more or less a non-issue.

This is certainly not the case once you step outside the English-speaking world. For example, in Spanish I am guessing that for every 100 English books and training resources, maybe there is 1 in Spanish. (That is a complete guess and I have no hard data to back it up, but that's the vibe.)

The resources are often also expensive, because they require translation and a lower production run for a smaller market, so in many cases, out of reach of the people who need them - pastors, church leaders etc.

I understand from my friends working in other cultures that the situation is equal, or worse for them.

I remember speaking to someone from Argentina who I have great respect for, and he said that if he knew anyone who was serious about doing some theological study, the first thing they should do is learn English - because that is where the resources are.

It is great to see that there are various groups trying to address this theological famine. In Spanish, books by Vaughan Roberts, Don Carson, the 9Marks crowd, and Matthias Media are slowly making their way into the market. Along with this increased availability comes an increasing willingness to buy, read and study - which is really excellent.

I particularly want to highlight the work of The Gospel Coalition - International Outreach.

This project, led by my good friend Bill Walsh has a number of projects on the go, but my favourite is the "Packing Hope" project.

TGC-IO raises money to translate and print great titles in some of the language groups that are suffering a theological famine, and then make the books available for distribution - using a really ingenious method.

The idea is that if you are a US resident and you are going overseas, either on a holiday or on a short term mission trip, you get in contact with TGC-IO and organise a box load of books to take with you. The books are free, all you need to do is pay the delivery from the warehouse to you. Brilliant!

There are a great number of titles available, and all the time new projects are seeking funding - in fact at the moment, Vaughan Roberts' "God's Big Picture" in Spanish is seeking funding.

If you are in US reading this and know people going overseas, please highlight this great opportunity to them. And if you are interested in helping relieve the theological famine that so many languages are suffering under, please donate to this great project.

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