The African Study Bible is a resource in the making like no other. That may sound like a catch phrase, but it isn't intended to be showy. It's the truth, plain and simple. There are no study Bibles written with the African people as the intended audience.
How would I feel if I went to a Christian Book Store and looked at the rows and rows of Bibles available to me- a person who lives in the United States- only to discover all of the footnotes and study articles were written as though intended for Eskimos? Or Islanders? Eskimo or Island cultures have got to be different from my daily life, and, honestly, I'd probably assume I was out of luck. Only the Eskimos & Islanders get study Bibles, not us mainland Americans. Why bother reading notes about a lifestyle so far removed from what I see and live in every day?
Reality check. The study Bibles available to African Pastors and lay people are not written to take into account their unique, rich culture, heritage, and the struggles that they face.
Please don't misunderstand me, there are Bibles available to the African continent, there just aren't any study Bibles directed toward their culture. The study Bibles available in Africa are written from a Western culture (Europe & the USA) point of view. I am a fan of the KJV for many reasons, but I am also a fan of my old NIV Life Application Bible because the resources are so rich. I believe the ASB is planning to deliver rich resources to the hands of the African people in this NLT Bible and that is why I support the cause. Here are some highlights from the ASB Press Release:
“With the ASB, we’re bringing the power of Scripture to Africa in a new and culturally relevant way,” says Dr. Matthew Elliott, president of Oasis, publisher of the ASB. “Under the leadership of an 11-member editorial board of scholars from across Africa, we’ve brought together 350 writers and editors from over 40 African countries, representing 50 denominations. This is an unprecedented project that will impact the global church.”
“Our goal is to have the first run of the ASB available in Africa by the end of 2016,” says Elliott. “We already know of more than 100 million people in denominations and movements in Africa whose leaders want to use the ASB for discipleship so there is a lot of anticipation throughout the continent.”
To support the effort, Oasis is partnering with Tyndale House Publishers to create the study Bible. Other participants include Campus Crusade for Christ, International, Willow Creek and Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit, IFES (International Fellowship of Evangelical Students), Scripture Union, Africa Leadership, TransWorld Radio, Moody Broadcasting, Center for Early African Christianity, PJA (Publications pour la Jeunesse Africane), MMD Global, The Livingstone Corporation, InSight Books, Urban Ministries Inc., and the Association of Evangelicals in Africa, with additional participants being added on a regular basis.
With the editorial nearly complete, Oasis, with the support of its partners, is inviting fellow Christians to join with them in helping get the ASB into the hands of Africans. With a goal of raising one million dollars to print the first 100,000 copies, Oasis is seeking private donors as well as launching a Kickstarter campaign, which begins April 18 and runs through June 16, 2016. Contributors to the Kickstarter campaign have the opportunity to receive incentives ranging from artwork prints to limited Italian leather editions of the ASB as well as all-expense paid trips to the launch of the ASB in the United States and in Africa.
Here's what I like: No matter how much money you have, or don't have, you can help impact the production of the ASB and bless the African community of believers by keeping this ministry in your prayers. Pray for the discernment & wisdom for those in leadership. Pray for resources to come together and pray for the hearts of the people of Africa to be softening to the Gospel. We are very excited about the growth of the body of Christ in Africa, but in every nation, there are those who resist the Good News of Jesus Christ for one reason or another. Pray that those individuals will be moved to see the Truth, grace, love, peace, and freedom found in following Jesus. I appreciate that, from the limited amount of what I've seen of the ASB so far, it does not appear to be a resource which promotes (falsley) that our lives will become "fixed" or "easier" when we follow Jesus. It is a difficult road we are asked to travel, but we never travel it alone, and we do not have to do it on our own strength, wisdom or resourcefulness. That is the relief of an easy yoke on a hard journey. Pray that the Word of God, encouragement, and applications in the ASB would bring Jesus much glory.