Repackaging to Non-Print Media
(First appeared in SIM Niger Newsletter, April 2010)
To preserve the message of God's love down through the ages, God wisely chose to put this message into print media. Even digital media which fails or becomes obsolete over time is not as effective as the simple method of writing a message on paper (parchment, stone, etc) and having it copied multiple times and stored in different locations. Because this method was so effective, the Scriptures have been preserved and are readily available to anyone reading this Director's Link. But what is effective in preserving the Scriptures may not always be effective for communicating the message of the Scriptures.
God has placed us in a largely illiterate and semi-illiterate context. The most conservative estimate I found (CIA Factbook) says that only 28.7% of the population over the age of 15 can read or write. That means that over 71% of Niger does not have access to information that is written down in books or pamphlets. How are messages communicated to the masses here in Niger? Look around, what do you see? There are posters, billboards, television, radio, DVDs, cell phones, music, cassettes, mp3 players and of course, people chatting on a mat, under a tree, etc.
A study in 1991 concluded that Africa's libraries are too book-based and that the illiterate and semi-literate majority, most of whom inhabit the rural areas, remain the "Cinderellas" of library services. We can no longer ignore this fact in our field strategy. If we stick with print media only, we have a message that is for all people in a form that is accessible to only a small minority. It is time to repackage.
Furthermore, non-print media described above is not just a way around the problem of illiteracy. The fact is that even among the literate, non-print is the most influential means of communication. Those of us who consider that the best form of relaxation is with a good book are in a very tiny minority. Books are not reshaping society in anyway like the audio/visual media is here in Niger. We must repackage.
In what ways can we repackage? What could we give our guard tonight to plant seeds of God's love in his thoughts? Others have suggested that a well produced, well placed cassette in the hands of a taxi driver has the potential to speak to a multitude of people all day long. When was the last time we invited friends over to watch a DVD? What kind of discussions might that engender? Planning a vacation this summer? Why not stock up on cassettes this year instead of tracts to give out at checkpoints and border crossings. The impact will be greater and will last longer.