A Letter from Paul Mouw

Dear Friends of Oasis,

How many times have you been able to say with certainty, “This is of God”?

That’s my story, and that’s the way I feel about the Africa Study Bible.

Let me explain: Time after time in my life, whether it was finding my early employment, moving to a twenty-year career in Christian and Bible publishing, or transitioning to twenty-three years as a professor at Judson University, I have felt the gentle guidance of the Lord. A couple years ago, one of the greatest opportunities of my life came after asking the Lord, “What shall I do next?” I prayed that prayer on a Saturday, and on Monday the answer came: Oasis and the Africa Study Bible.

For the past two years, I have served the African editorial team. My publishing and teaching experience has given me just the right skills and perspectives, equipping me to help manage this complex project. It has been very gratifying to see the Lord put my unique background to use!

For example, one feature of the Africa Study Bible is the use of more than 500 African proverbs and stories. When I taught Media Studies, I constantly emphasized story-telling as a powerful medium for communicating truth. That idea is part of African culture. Africans naturally turn to “proverbs and stories” as a way to impart wisdom and values from generation to generation. As I read these illustrations, I am stunned by the depth and insight found in these sayings and aphorisms, and I see familiar passages in the Bible in a whole new light. The African church has an amazing heritage that will enrich the global church, east and west.

Another connection I’ve made from my days as a Media Studies professor is the realization that the Africa Study Bible could only happen during this time of “digital revolution.” It echoes my experience from many years ago when I marveled at how my desktop computer could be used to create The Illustrated Bible, a first-of-its-kind color Bible that went on to be a best-seller across the world. Today, the Africa Study Bible project has more than 300 writers from multiple language groups and cultures across the vast African continent. They are writing, editing, and translating over 2,100 editorial pieces. Multiple times each day, I use electronic tools to recruit, guide, edit, translate, and project manage—a massive undertaking that would be next to impossible without the global connectedness and efficient workflows technology facilitates.

God is constantly reminding us that he holds all aspects of the Africa Study Bible in his hands. Here are just some of the things he has done in the last months:

  • Need: Contributors representing the diversity of Africa.
    Answer: God has connected us to numerous writers from 42 countries! But we still need input from Mauritania, Seychelles, and Somalia—so we keep praying.
  • Need: First-hand insights for Christians who are facing warfare or a national crisis.
    Answer: Twelve Africa Study Bible contributors are from war-torn South Sudan, five face the day to day chaos of Central African Republic right now, and eight are from the beautiful country of Rwanda that was torn apart by tribal genocide.
  • Need: Content to reach Africa’s enormous youth and student population.
    Answer: The International Fellowship of Evangelical Students (InterVarsity) is crafting a study guide to use with the Africa Study Bible.
  • Need: Electronic distribution of the Africa Study Bible.
    Answer: Tecarta, a Bible app developer, has donated a Gospel of John app. Download the free app at africastudybible.com/app.

These are only a few of the amazing answers to prayer I have seen personally.

Years ago, Barbara and I were accepted by African Inland Mission as missionaries to Kenya. However, the Vietnam War interrupted our plans. The late Jim Johnson, a passionate advocate for indigenous Christian publishing, prayed that someday I would assist in building African publishing. Forty years later, his prayers have been answered. I never dreamed I could be used in such a project, but here I am. God is using born-in-the-USA people like me to assist Christians across the African continent to produce this first-of-its-kind Bible.

I want to add my witness to what Matthew wrote to you a few weeks ago. Have you sincerely asked God what he wants you to give toward the ASB before 2015 comes to a close?

2016 is the year of greatest financial need as we finish the editorial process, print, and distribute the Bible. God is doing something special! Join us as we launch the Bible in Africa. You have the chance to be part of accomplishing something very special. Right now, we can give the gift of “God’s Word through African Eyes” to the 400 million Christians of Africa. We can only do this as you “prime the pump.” Your gift is critical.

After seeing what God has done so far, we know that he will bring this project to completion!

As I often end notes to our African writers—

Grace and Peace,

Paul Mouw
Director of Strategic Projects
Oasis International Ltd