It’s commonly known that the largest part of an iceberg is hidden out of sight below the water line. Discipleship Essentials (DE) is a huge iceberg-type project for us. In the 3.5 years since McDaniel Phillips returned to Canada to give leadership to this project, it might seem as though we’ve done a lot of talking about it without a lot to show.
By the end of the summer we will have 6 languages online: English, French, Hindi, Bengali, Arabic and Urdu. English and French are online now. These languages were chosen because of the large numbers of Muslims worldwide who speak these languages. There are six more languages in production or at various stages of translation: Russian, Vietnamese, Amharic, Mandarin, Farsi, and Cebuano.
What you don’t get a chance to see is all the work that went into the production of those languages.
DE is the product of a vision given to several individuals. God brought us together and we each took our vision and together the concept for DE was born in God’s timing.
That initial mottled puzzle of a vision took some time to sort out, but we eventually decided to begin with a base language: English. We focused on producing the English lessons, scripts and videos and then based all the other translations on that. Things moved fairly quickly from there.
To give you an idea, the translation work alone can take on average 6months to a year to complete. Each translator works on over 1000 pages of text, just for the lessons – the video scripts are additional. Some languages have little Christian history so the translation work has been difficult because an exact word-for-word translation may not impart any meaning at all to those in different cultures.
The video component requires the coordination of many schedules, additional translation and writing, and several days of shooting. Then the editing can take several weeks.
We are beginning the Russian video production in July to film videos for 38 lessons. This will take place over 8 days in Montreal where we rent a house that serves as film studio with the flexibility for multiple settings, and provides accommodations for out-of-town staff and partners.
DE has a three-part strategy that’s unique to Trans World Radio. Typically, Trans World Radio around the world has focused on the distribution of content. Our national partners may do translation and production work, but most of the time the content has already been developed and honed by broadcast partners.
With DE, we are developing the content (print, video & audio), doing the distribution, and we’re adding an on-the-ground component with in-country Train the Trainer sessions and follow up. TWR Canada continues to experiment and test this new-to-us model of ministry.
McDaniel has attended more than 15 international conferences to communicate the value of DE to those working in church planting and discipleship ministries. He’s attended one conference three years consecutively. The first year he took a sample of the English as a teaser and leaders were interested but no one wanted to commit to using the tool. The second year, McDaniel took the completed English lessons along with some French. More leaders took notice. The third year, he had with him the English, French, and Arabic lessons completed, introduced Train The Trainer sessions, and the followup work being done in Arabic. Leaders came to us: how do we get this? DE wasn’t just a good idea, but work was being done – a lot of work had been completed.
We are now working with partners in India, Philippines, in the Middle East and North Africa to see training sessions begin and continue, so that more people can be discipled to grow and mature in their faith. We receive requests almost monthly to offer DE in their language. Pray for the production team and translators working around the world to create this life-changing content. Pray for McDaniel and our partners who are busy gathering and coordinating all the pieces so we can finish the work and get this content available online as soon as possible.