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In a World of Widespread Illiteracy, Talking Bibles Is Sharing The Spoken Word

In this Listen To Learn Episode on the Share Life podcast, I'm speaking with Talking Bibles Vice President, Paul Hoekstra.

Sponsored By Talking Bibles & Christian Life TV

This episode of the Share Life Podcast is sponsored by Talking Bibles and Christian Life TV.

Christian Life TV is streaming on channel 1232TrueTVplus and your favorite video streaming service

Talking Bibles is delivering audio Bibles for those who cannot read in Africa and India. Learn more in our conversation below.

Episode Summary

Don Schafer, the founder of Christian Life TV, is a longtime friend who recently connected me with Paul Hoekstram the Vice President of Talking Bibles. We had a terrific conversation where we explored the work his ministry is having in Africa and India, and how the Talking Bible is uniquely sharing the gospel and equipping people to become leaders and church planters around the world.

In this episode, we discuss the design and use of the Talking Bible, as well as the need for audio Bibles in regions where people cannot read. Paul shares personal stories of Bible translation and the power of audio messages for evangelism. We also explore the challenges and persecution faced by Christians in India. The conversation highlights the importance of faith, heart transformation, and the role of technology in spreading the message of God's love. 

For fellow Christians, expect to be inspired by the powerful equipping stories Paul shares. And for those who are not Christians, but are curious, Paul shares some insights for you as well.

podcast episode sponsored by talking bibles and christian life tv

Discussion Highlights

Our conversation weaves through the following list of questions and ideas where Paul shares a variety of stories about the ministry on the ground.

  • Why East Africa and India?
  • Who do you give the talking bibles to? Everyone you can, or just leaders? 
  • Talk to us about illiteracy in the church, and how it has created a barrier to sharing the gospel
  • What are the challenges of an audio bible that you have to overcome (electricity, charging mechanisms, etc...)?
  • How does a talking Bible equip the next generation of Christian leaders in these communities?
  • What's the legacy of Talking Bibles since it started? What impact has it made?
  • How do people respond when they have and use the Talking Bibles?
  • What are the costs involved and how can people help get more talking Bibles in the hands of people who need and want them?
  • What are other ways people can get involved and help Talking Bibles?
  • Based on your experiences in this ministry, what do you wish American Christians would understand about their faith walk?

Connect With Talking Bibles

Listen To This Discussion

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You can also find this discussion on Pocket CastsItunes, & Spotify, and wherever you listen to podcasts under the name, Share Life: Systems and Stories to Live Better & Work Smarter or Jason Scott Montoya.

Watch This Conversation

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Video Chapters

00:00 Introduction and Sponsorship
00:28 History of Talking Bibles
03:17 How to Use the Talking Bible
04:15 Multiple Languages on the Talking Bible
05:09 The Need for Audio Bibles
06:16 Personal Story of Bible Translation
07:12 Using Audio Messages for Evangelism
09:03 Expanding to Different Parts of Africa
11:46 Expanding to India
21:02 The Power of Faith and Changing Hearts
23:15 The Complexity of Suffering and Faith
26:54 The Noise of Society and Listening to God
28:42 The Importance of Heart Transformation
32:37 Translation and Distribution of Talking Bibles
35:19 Costs and Volume of Talking Bibles
36:26 Distribution of Talking Bibles
37:01 Planning and Responding to Demand
38:16 Challenges with Audio Bibles
41:09 Illiteracy as a Barrier
42:52 The Power of God's Word
46:21 Cultural Context and Faith
48:23 The Impact of Talking Bibles
50:22 The Unique Experience of Listening to the Bible
51:32 Different Approaches to Listening
53:03 Empowering Leaders and Checking In
55:23 The Role of Gatekeepers
56:20 Getting Involved with Talking Bibles
59:24 Encouragement for American Christians
01:01:48 The Legacy of Talking Bibles
01:03:03 Projects and Ways to Get Involved
01:05:36 Personal Faith Journey
01:06:23 Connecting with Talking Bibles

Additional Resources

Episode Unedited Transcript

Jason Scott Montoya (00:01)
Welcome to a Listen to Learn episode of the Share Life podcast. I'm Jason Scott Montoya, and today I'm speaking with the Vice President of Talking Bibles, Paul Huxtra. How do you say that? How do I get your last name? All right, cool. All right, Paul, say hello to the audience. Thanks for joining us. Before we dive into this conversation, yeah, yeah. Before we dive into this conversation, I'd like to let our audience know that this episode is sponsored.

Paul D Hoeksra (00:14)
That's right.


Yeah, thanks.

Jason Scott Montoya (00:28)
by Talking Bibles and Christian Life TV. Christian Life TV is on local now, channel 1232, and this episode will be streaming on it. True TV Plus is your favorite video streaming service. So in this episode, me and Paul are gonna dive into the history of Talking Bibles and how they're providing audio Bibles for those who cannot read, particularly in India and Africa. So Paul, to get us started, share with us.

about why Talking Bibles is creating audio bibles instead of text bibles.

Paul D Hoeksra (01:01)
You know, I'm glad you asked. We're creating Talking Bibles because there are so many people in the world who cannot read, and many of them are also believers, and it's very difficult for them to access the Bible. So we put God's Word, it's been translated into different languages, and we put that into an audio format, and then we put it on a little device that looks like a Bible, and we go and we empower non-reading people with God's Word.

We work with both believers and non-believers.

Jason Scott Montoya (01:35)
Yeah, well, quick question. Why make it look like a Bible? I mean, technically speaking, you didn't have to do that because you could just have a little box. I'm curious that this came to mind is I'm curious why you guys did that.

Paul D Hoeksra (01:48)
That's interesting. The first Talking Bibles were produced in India, where I was working as a missionary. I was recording New Testaments that had been translated by different people and published, and then recording them into audio and using cassette tapes and cassette players. And it was quite a challenge because we often work with non-believers, and so they would put their own tapes in the machine and stuff.

I was writing home to my brother Mark, who was here in the States. And I said, Mark, I need a better machine. I need something dedicated that will only play the Bible. So he came out to India and he worked with a manufacturer that I was producing cassette players with. And together they came up with the idea of creating a machine that actually looks like a Bible. And the reason for that is that in India in particular, there's a lot of idolatry, idol worship. And so when things are...

Jason Scott Montoya (02:10)

Paul D Hoeksra (02:40)
like this Bible is put into the shape and form of a Bible, it lends credibility to the message that's in there. And so when people listen to the scripture, they begin to hear the authority of God come out of the Bible. But for us, the symbolic representation of a holy book was very much on our agenda when we designed this. And in other,

Jason Scott Montoya (03:02)
Okay, yeah, that's interesting. So tell us, yeah, go ahead.

Paul D Hoeksra (03:07)
Oh, I was going to say in other places, it's basically to give the non-reader the same experience that you and I enjoy when we have a Bible that we listen to or read.

Jason Scott Montoya (03:17)
Okay, yeah. Well, before we, I guess we dive in a little bit deeper, but just kind of give us a, like, what is the talking Bible? Does it have the whole Bible? How does someone use it? Give us just a kind of a quick rundown of the technology itself.

Paul D Hoeksra (03:30)
Well, it's very simple. We kept it simple. You turn it on and off with a rotary dial on the top and it goes through a self-check. And then once that's been completed, you can pick Old Testament or the New Testament with the touch of a button. And then it will go from book to book. And we'll go to the next book.

And then you can go dial in the chapters by pushing on these buttons here.

Chapter three. So you can listen to the whole, it's got the whole New Testament laid out in a sequential manner like we're accustomed to approaching it with a text, with a printed text.

Jason Scott Montoya (04:05)

Okay, and does each unit have multiple languages or does each unit only have one language and it's whatever language you've even installed on it?

Paul D Hoeksra (04:23)
We generally keep them one language, but in some parts of Africa, they like to have a trade language like Swahili and then maybe a Kikuyu, like a tribal language that would be maybe a New Testament. So we can get the whole Bible and the New Testament on one of these.

Jason Scott Montoya (04:40)
Okay, cool. Now, going back to just the nature of it being an audio Bible versus a text Bible, tell us about the origin of one seeing that as a need and then deciding to fill that need. As someone who is a Christian for all of my life, I've seen a lot of ministries of people giving text Bibles around the world or locally, but this audio Bible thing is fairly novel. I mean,

audio bibles that you can sort of listen to in America, but in terms of a ministry. So tell us about that problem and why this was the problem you all wanted to solve.

Paul D Hoeksra (05:20)
Well, you know, it actually is very personal in nature. Back in 1948, long time before I was born, my dad was in seminary in Michigan. And there was a missionary who came from Africa and he had a plan to reach this tribe of people in Africa. And he needed 12 different types of people. He needed a doctor, a nurse, a teacher and so on. One of the people he needed was a linguist. And a linguist translates, he specializes in languages. And that resonated with my dad and he...

Jason Scott Montoya (05:28)


Paul D Hoeksra (05:48)
He said he got in his 1932 Ford and he raced home and he said, honey, we're going to Africa. He told my mom, you know, and she, we had, they had two small kids and eventually they did. They ended up in Africa in 1948. He tells the story of the ship leaving New York, you know, in the dark there in the statue of Liberty receding in the background and how, what a lonely feeling that was and how they got down on their knees and they read out of the Bible and God reassured them that what they were doing. They spent 13 years in the South Sudan with the tribe of people.

Jason Scott Montoya (06:06)


Paul D Hoeksra (06:16)
And he reduced their spoken language to a written language, gave them an alphabet, and translated the New Testament into their language. There was a civil war in the Sudan, and we had to leave. We were given one week to get out of the country. We were expelled with all the other missing people. 1961, the small airplane that came in and landed on the runway, there was a package on board, and the pilot handed that package to my dad. He said, you're gonna wanna open this before you leave.

Jason Scott Montoya (06:23)

What year was that? Yeah. Okay.

Paul D Hoeksra (06:43)
So he opened it up and inside were the first five printed copies of the New Testament. They had come from New York. I don't know how they got, you know, from cartoon down the Nile River to that village on that airplane. But that day when we were leaving, he was able to entrust to the leaders God's word in their own language. But he realized that very few of those people could read. And, you know, we moved about 50 miles over the border into Ethiopia. And I remember as a little kid, I was three years old. We trekked into the jungle. You know, it was 10 days of trekking.

The people had never seen us before. They had never seen Europeans and they were afraid of us. It was kind of an interesting experience. But during that time, my dad was confronted with illiteracy that people couldn't read and write. We built a school, of course, we built a clinic and started that kind of work, that development type work. But he was trying to witness to these people and then he got hepatitis. So he couldn't trek out into the jungle. So he started using what were children's toys. They would record about a 12 minute message and he could put on their.

Jason Scott Montoya (07:33)

Paul D Hoeksra (07:40)
an evangelistic message introducing Jesus to the people without them having to hear something before or something after in an encapsulated message. They could get the grasp what God had done through his son Jesus for them. And then what he did is he equipped barefoot, illiterate, much young people, and they took those players off into the jungle, two, three days walk away, and they would sit down and they would play the message, and then they would turn the machine off, and they would begin to speak their own testimony.

And one day a woman came back, a young girl, she was a friend of my sister's, her name was Arie Gim. And I remember she had this bag, you know, and she reached in there and she took out her cassette player, she took out the dead batteries, and then she took out this string. It was about that long and it had 13 knots on it. Because what the Majung people did is they would, if they went on a walkabout through the forest, they would collect honey and stuff. And if they went away from home, they would tie a knot on a string. For each day they were gone, so they knew how many days walk out they were and how many days walk back it would be.

Jason Scott Montoya (08:19)


Paul D Hoeksra (08:35)
But there were 13 women in that village that day, in her mother's village, that said, Adigem, we want to be a person of this Jesus. Will you tie, make a string and tie a knot on that string for us? And we began seeing those knots come back from different parts of the jungle, all over Southwest Ethiopia. It was a really exciting time. So we moved them from that jungle setting to a frontier town, about 40 or 50 miles away, where there were 12 language groups, and began working with those 12 language groups.

trying to equip them with audio messages in their own language. Later, I went to Singapore and like I was telling you earlier, I was focusing on recording Bibles because there are a lot of New Testaments that hadn't been recorded in those days. This was the mid 80s or so. And then of course, there was the challenge of what do you do with the New Testament once you have it in audio? I mean, can you really give it to a Hindu or a Muslim or somebody who's never heard the name of Jesus before and expect them to understand what they're listening to?

Jason Scott Montoya (09:06)

Mm. Oh, yeah.


Paul D Hoeksra (09:31)
And you know, I was curious. I had recorded over 100 languages in Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Bangladesh, you name it. We had recorded all of the translations just about, but we weren't putting them out in villages and a professor friend came and he said, Paul, you're wasting the church's money. And I got a little defensive. I was living in Singapore. I was doing a great job, you know, producing best quality broadcast, quality audio recordings of the Bible. And he said, who's listening to those? And I said, well,

Jason Scott Montoya (09:52)

Paul D Hoeksra (10:00)
There's a person here and one there. He said, no, prove to me that you can go out and put a Bible in a home and people can listen to it and they can understand what's going on. And I did, I went to India, we did 10,000 villages actually. We created a program called Adopt a Village. But in the first hundred, we failed pretty miserably because we didn't follow up with the people. And then the next hundred, they baptized 1200 people. It was pretty amazing. And then we started needing, we were using cassette.

Jason Scott Montoya (10:14)



Paul D Hoeksra (10:29)
players. If you do a thousand villages, for example, it takes 25,000 cassette tapes. But with a thousand talking Bibles, all we have to do is program them with the language and that's it. They're dedicated. They can't be used for anything else. It's really incredible. This tool has enabled us to really go out and empower non-reading people with God's Word.

Jason Scott Montoya (10:35)


And so you mentioned Africa and Sudan. Is this all in that same area or are you kind of expanding to different parts of Africa as this is developing over those early decades?

Paul D Hoeksra (11:05)
We're expanding. We started out in Ethiopia. Then we now are working in Kenya and we're working in Tanzania. Last year we made an agreement with the Bible Society in Tanzania to warehouse talking Bibles for us. So we manufacture them, we were manufacturing them in China, originally in India, then we went to China. And then we got, we actually got kicked out at China last year and we had to move to Vietnam.

So we're producing them now in Vietnam and shipping them to Tanzania. Then from there, we ship them up into Uganda, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Zambia, Malawi, and down in Mozambique. So we're starting to expand, it's growing.

Jason Scott Montoya (11:41)

Okay, yeah. So what was the trigger to go from, because you have Africa and India, was there some kind of a connection that made it logical to do that or?

Paul D Hoeksra (11:58)
Well, you know what happened? I'll tell you a funny story. The year was 2010. I got a phone call in my office. It was my father. He was still living at the time and he called me. He said, Paul, there's a meeting in Tokyo and Talking Bibles needs somebody in that meeting. I said, great dad, and I put the phone down. He called me a couple of weeks later. He said, Paul, there's a meeting in Tokyo and Talking Bibles needs somebody in that meeting. It's a mission consultation meeting. In 1910, there was a meeting in Scotland. All the missionaries got together.

and they talked about the unreached people of the world, right, and they made a plan to go out and evangelize those unreached people. A hundred years later, there was a meeting being organized in Tokyo. It was Ralph Winter, Paul Echelman, some of the other people, big leaders were organizing this meeting. They're bringing the fruit of that Edinburgh 1910 meeting, they're bringing the fruit of that effort together. There were 16,000 people gonna be at that meeting in Tokyo. And my dad said, Paul, we need somebody there. And I said, great. I put the phone down again.

He called me a third time and I said, you know, I don't have any money to go. I thought that would stop him because I'm not looking for another meeting, believe me. And he said, oh, I'll buy your ticket. What could I do? I had to go, right? And I'll be honest with you, I went reluctantly. And when I went by my office to go to LA to get on the plane to fly over to Tokyo, I grabbed a talking Bible and I put it in my bag. I didn't look at it. I didn't pay much attention to it. I just put it in my bag and I went.

Jason Scott Montoya (13:12)

Paul D Hoeksra (13:24)
I thought, I'll be faithful, I'll go, but I don't know what the outcome of this meeting is gonna be. When I got to Tokyo, it's a 12 hour flight across the ocean. I was tired. I went downstairs, I went through customs and immigration. I found a guy with the yellow t-shirt. I followed him and got on the bus like I was instructed to. And I thought, you know, I'll pick a seat at the back of the bus. And I did, I found a seat, it was empty. There was an empty seat next to it. I thought, I'll just sit here quietly and my own business and ride over. It's about two hour drive across the city to the.

the conference venue. And you know, I hadn't sat down for more than a minute and this guy gets on the front of the bus. And he looks around and he walks by that empty seat, he walked by that empty seat, he walked by another one and he sat down right next to me and he started talking. And he started telling me about his best friend. And I listened to him. And I said, I know that, I know who he's talking about. It was really weird because he was describing my best friend. And I thought, now, and I looked at him and I thought, he's a complete stranger.

Jason Scott Montoya (14:20)

Paul D Hoeksra (14:23)
in a totally strange city in the dark of the night and he's telling me about my best friend. It was really interesting. He said, you know, Jesus will never leave you. He'll never let you down. He'll never forsake you. He won't cheat you. He'll never, he could be your best friend for your whole life. I said, I know the guy. I know him, you know? And then we started, and then finally he became quiet and he said, what do you do? And I thought, oh, now's my opportunity. I reached in my bag and I gave him the talking Bible, right? And he turns it on and he sat there and all of a sudden it starts speaking.

And he said, that's my language. He said, that's my, that's Telugu. You speak like, how do you know my language? You know my language? I said, I don't know your language. He said, well, how do you, where did you get that? And I said, well, I work in India and I produce Bibles and I, and he says, I need it. Can I have it? And I said, no, you can't have it. And he said, I, and I said, I need to show it to people. He said, no, no. And he began describing the community he came from. He said, I come from a fishing community. We have, we have trawlers, mechanized big motor trawlers, right?

Jason Scott Montoya (14:54)
Ha ha.


Paul D Hoeksra (15:22)
They load six guys on board. They go out into the Bay of Bengal. They're out there for six or eight days. They cast their nets. And he said, then they sit idle for hours at a time. And he said, there's no cell phone connectivity. You can't listen to your mobile device. There's no internet, nothing. He said, they just sit there. And he said, as soon as they come off the boats, they start drinking and they get drunk. He said, I can't reason with them. Their wives and their kids, I can reach them, but I can't reach these fishermen.

Jason Scott Montoya (15:23)



Paul D Hoeksra (15:49)
Will you give me that talking Bible and I'll take it back to India and I'll use it on a fishing boat. I said, okay, when we leave here, I'll give you the talking Bible. Couple days later, I gave him that Bible and I thought, oh, this last time I'll see the Bible. I give a lot of these away and I often don't hear anything back. But what was interesting was two months later, I got an email from this chap and he says,

Hey, Peaky came to Christ. Remember that talking Bible? I gave it to a fisherman in my village. He listened to it and he wants a church planted in his village now, today. And so he said, come and visit us. And I told Mark, my brother, we were in Bangalore. And I said, you know, you wanna go see this guy? It'll take us a whole day. I'm trained to get down to the coast, another day up, but we can go visit him. And we did. You know, I've put almost 100,000 talking Bibles into villages in every single state in India, in just about every single district.

Jason Scott Montoya (16:16)

Paul D Hoeksra (16:42)
through that one man, that one talking Bible that he took back to India, opened a door. It was just incredible what God's done. And that too, I went reluctantly and God did it. He, it was his plan. So that's how we got involved really in the way we are working in India now. Last month, we just reached 5,000 families in Odisha state, which has anti-conversion bills. But somehow the Lord has opened the door for us to be able to get Bibles into homes of people.

Jason Scott Montoya (16:44)


Paul D Hoeksra (17:11)
where they can play them in their family setting, where their family members can listen. I think of Raju, he's a fisherman. He said, you know, I fish on one of those boats. There's six of us on my boat. I'm the only believer. I didn't know how to articulate my faith well enough to share it with the others. But when we get out to sea and I play the Talking Bible, I don't have to say anything. They listen and then I can talk after they listen and hear God's word. I can build into that. That's what we're trying to do with Talking Bibles, to empower people that who...

Jason Scott Montoya (17:12)



Paul D Hoeksra (17:41)
wouldn't ordinarily have the opportunity to witness or share. And I meet countless people, women especially, who carry Bibles with them. They carry them all over in India, but they can't read them. And it's like, wow, you know, you give them a talking Bible, all of a sudden it opens the book for them.

Jason Scott Montoya (17:54)
Yeah. So what.

Yeah, you're equipping them to become leaders. Why is India so hostile to Christians? And I'm kind of looking at this, I've never been to India. I have a friend that's a missionary there, but my understanding of India is fairly limited. But from what I've seen, there seems to be a lot of persecution of Christians in India. Why is that? Is that widespread and why are they so hostile there? Or are they?

Paul D Hoeksra (18:29)
That's a good question. I've worked in India since 1986. I recorded my first New Testament there actually in 1983. I was a budget traveler, spent seven months just kind of wandering around India. It's a fascinating place. Mostly I find the Hindu religion very tolerant of other religions, but there are political elements that like to...

Jason Scott Montoya (18:45)

Paul D Hoeksra (18:57)
work against Christianity, I guess you might say, and create difficulties. I know there's a lot of

Jason Scott Montoya (19:04)
Is that happen at a national stage or is that regional or local?

Paul D Hoeksra (19:08)
It's becoming more widespread. It's at a state level now where there are anti-conversion bills that are being passed in different states. It's growing. The number of states is increasing. I do know people who have been martyred for their faith in India. I know an Australian missionary who died with his two sons. We were working with them to translate the HO language New Testament.

I also had an interesting experience a couple of years ago in Northeast India. I was with an Indian missionary from the South, from Kerala State. And he was talking about, you know, how difficult it is to get missionaries to come to that part of India, Northeast India. And I kind of looked at him and I thought, wow, that's odd. And I asked him, you know, how come? Because they're mostly tribals up here and there's no laws against witnessing to tribals. It's only witnessing to Hindus and stuff. And he said, well.

Most of the young people that come out of the South that are believers, when they want to go out and witness, they go North. They don't come here. And I said, why is that? He said, because they want to be martyred. I said, what? I mean, that's a concept that's totally alien to my existence. Seeking martyrdom for your faith, um, is not something that, that I am accustomed to and it's, it happens very frequently in India that pastor, a pastor will end up in the bottom of a well dead, you know, that is not uncommon.

Jason Scott Montoya (20:15)

Now, if someone's listening or watching this, let's say they're not a believer, maybe they're atheistic or agnostic, Christianity can be a little bit weird to them, and I think some of that might be interesting to them, but I'm curious, what would you say to that person who's like, why would you, one, why would you put all this effort into these talking Bibles, and also, why would you be willing to put your life on the line? What would you say to that person who might be listening or watching?

Paul D Hoeksra (21:02)
Wow, that's a good question. First of all, I would say that my personal faith is what has sustained me through my entire life. I don't know what I would do without Jesus. He's my go-to person that I talk to when things aren't going so well and when things are going great. He's always been there for me and he's always provided. And so I know that my faith is very strong in him and I'd love to witness for him.

I also believe that there are a lot of people, and this may sound kind of strange to you, but there are a lot of people that he has already called that have not heard of him. And so when we put Bibles out in villages among unreached people, what I see generally happening is two waves of people coming. There's a group of people that respond almost instantly. And when you ask them, and I've been curious because I've seen them spit on, I've seen them beaten, I've seen them driven out of their homes, and I'll ask them why.

Why would you follow Jesus? What's in it for you? And they'll tell me the same thing. Something was missing in my life. And when I heard about Christ, everything lined up. Some people will say, well, I didn't know anything was missing, but I heard Jesus and all of a sudden everything, and I accepted him and praise the Lord. That kind of thing happens. And what happens is as I've watched those people in those communities.

Jason Scott Montoya (22:12)

Paul D Hoeksra (22:22)
their life transformation experience draws others. And it draws like a second group of people who see that Raju doesn't drink anymore. He's not beating his wife and his kids. They actually have grain in their clay pots instead of liquor. Life improves immensely. And that draws others in the community to see and to wanna know more. I don't know if that answered your question.

Jason Scott Montoya (22:45)
Yeah, so one of the things, yeah, no, I think that's great. I guess the thing I would add to that is, I think in America, a lot of people kind of have this question of, well, how could there be a loving God if there's so much suffering? Although it's ironic because in America, the suffering tends to be fairly mild, but now you have this country, Africa, you have countries in Africa and India where the suffering sounds really intense and even death at times. And yet those people don't seem to have it

an issue with suffering and the loving God, reconciling the two. So is there anything you could speak to on that level?

Paul D Hoeksra (23:26)
I'm not quite sure I understand what you're asking.

Jason Scott Montoya (23:30)
Well, I guess what I'm asking is in America, people have a hard time hearing the good news of Jesus because they see the suffering in the world. But the people who are actually suffering in India hear the message and it doesn't seem to be an issue for them. They seem to respond to it. They seem to be in suffering and they want the good news. So I'm curious, did that help clarify it or have I muddled the waters further?

Paul D Hoeksra (23:41)

Yeah, I did. And no, I'm trying to think back to an experience I had with a friend of mine named Malana. He lived in a village area north of one of the big cities, Bangalore. And Malana would witness to these tribal people called Lombardies. The Lombardy people were gypsies, right? They used to travel. They perform a function because they come into a village and they're the tinkerers. They fix the pots and pans.

kind of that kind of thing. They're also the entertainers. At night, they play drums and music and everybody dances. Well, some of them are out stealing. They're in the huts, you know, taking and stealing. And then the next day when the troop packs up and leaves, some of the personal possessions of the villagers go with them. And, but they're tolerated, right? But the government kind of wanted to settle these people into communities. And so they gave them some land and they gave them some like ground nuts, how to plant peanuts and grow those and how to do blankets and stuff in Milana.

would go out and witness to those people. And then they started coming to Christ. Things started changing in those communities. And then there was these, the sign was painted up on the bus station, Death to Malana. You know, the Hindus, there are five Brahmin, high caste Hindus in his village, they wanted him dead. And they were willing to hire somebody called a Dacoite to kill him. But what happened is a policeman one day, interestingly, an Hindu policeman on the street of that same village stopped Malana and he said, you know, Malana,

what we're failing to do with our legislation, our laws and our development programs, you are achieving through Bible listening. When we go out into the villages to raid them for illicit liquor, and when we go to find stolen goods, and when we go and there's a list of thieves, right? They're known thieves. They're not stealing anymore, these guys aren't. There's no liquor in those clay pots, there's grain in them. The people's lifestyle has changed. You changed their hearts.

Jason Scott Montoya (25:49)

Paul D Hoeksra (25:52)
I didn't change their hearts, God's changing their hearts. If we can change the heart of the people, a lot of those bad things that we see happening in the world around us will change as people's hearts become more softened and they learn how to love like Jesus has taught us. I think a lot of the development programs are great, they're fantastic, but they're basically putting a bandaid on an issue when you really need to go to the core of the issue and that's.

Jason Scott Montoya (26:02)



Paul D Hoeksra (26:20)
when you speak to somebody's heart. And that's where God comes in Jesus.

Jason Scott Montoya (26:25)
Yeah, can you dive into that a little deeper because I think in our country, in our society in America, we have this tendency to think that the government and the law, we can sort of force the other side, depending on which political side you're on, to sort of adhere to my values. But it feels like that's what they're doing. They're just putting band-aids on things and we're not actually in the cultural...

context of actually changing people's hearts so that you know the law is essentially just a formality of what's in the heart. Instead we're trying to force the law on people. So I'd be curious if you could dive into that because I think we could learn and what does it take and how do you actually change people's hearts that's not through coercion of force or power. That make sense?

Paul D Hoeksra (27:16)
It does. I think that we live in a very noisy society. We have a lot of answers. When we want to know something, we'll go and Google it. We'll look it up in the library. We have technology, we've got science, we've got psychologists, and we have doctors. And I'm reading a book right now by a chap who's talking about spiritual healing of sickness, you know, and how

many of the sicknesses that we go to our doctor for help for are their core root problem is a spiritual problem. It's a problem of fear, a problem of resentment, things like that. And I think that we in America keep very busy in our society and we have so many stations that we can look at and websites that we can visit and information available to us. That is very...

It's a very crowded platform. And for Jesus to be able to come in and speak, the Holy Spirit to speak to our heart, we need to stop and take time and listen to Him. And if you seek God, if you look for Him, He will find you. In fact, you can't know Him without Him wanting to know you. So.

Jason Scott Montoya (28:21)

Yeah. Yeah, yeah. No, the noise thing is such a good point because I definitely agree with that. There's so much noise and God is every, he's speaking to us in so many different ways, but we're tuning him out. I'm curious, yeah, go ahead. Yeah.

Paul D Hoeksra (28:42)
Okay, I'll tell you a funny story. One day I was in Ethiopia where I grew up. I grew up down in the Southwest part of the country and it was a very beautiful place. It was like the Garden of Eden, rainforest and all that. And I was walking down the path. I was on a hike down to the river and I came up behind this chap who was kind of ambling along by himself slowly and he was swinging a radio, right? A shortwave radio and he had the volume way up and it was playing static.

Jason Scott Montoya (28:58)

Paul D Hoeksra (29:14)
So I was curious, I stopped and asked him, what are you doing? He looks at me and said, I'm listening to my radio. I said, yeah, but what are you listening to? He said, my radio. I said, but there's no stations out here. And compared to the silence of the jungle and the birds and everything, that static was very intriguing. Now put God's word in that kind of an environment where there's nothing, there's no entertainment, nothing. Man, the Holy Spirit can speak.

Jason Scott Montoya (29:34)

Paul D Hoeksra (29:43)
through the Bible in those kind of environments. There are a lot of people, we live in a noisy place, we're spoiled rotten, but there are people that don't have access to information and things like that.

Jason Scott Montoya (29:55)
Yeah, well the other thing I've been reflecting on too is there's a lot of information and the idea of what is actually important, what's the core issue, what's the most important thing, the most important idea, the most, you know, and I think that's something, you know, because there's so much noise, people don't necessarily have that ability to kind of cut through the heart of it and get right to the core.

Paul D Hoeksra (30:20)
I agree. It's very simple. Jesus loves you, God loves you. He loves you more than you can ever imagine. And if you'll just take time, read his word, seek out other believers, pray with them, ask him to show you, to open your eyes, he'll do it.

Jason Scott Montoya (30:20)
So, yeah.



Yeah, and sometimes we make it more complicated than it ought to be when it's that simple, right? Ha ha ha.

Paul D Hoeksra (30:43)
Yeah. You know, one day I was in Eritrea on Asmara and we were doing a Bible listening program there in the Orthodox Church. And my friend, Habte, took me out to a village area. There was a blue kind of tin structure. It was the church and they had a megaphone on the side of the church. And there was a priest there dressed in his white guard with his tunic and stuff. And Habte and him took the talking Bible. And we have a little hole here that you can put earphones in.

but they plugged a jack into that and they put it on the PA system and they had it speaking over that speaker, right? And they turned it up really loud and I'm standing outside there and all the huts and the chickens, the goats, everybody through the valley could hear the genealogy of Jesus, Matthew chapter one blaring. And I'm looking at the people and then they stopped. They turned the machine off. They went to Revelation 22 and they played the entire chapter.

Jason Scott Montoya (31:12)

OK, cool.

Paul D Hoeksra (31:37)
And I watched them, they're looking off in the distance, nodding their heads and listening and so on. And when my friend came out of the church, I said, what was that all about? Matthew one, the genealogy of Jesus and then Revelation 22. I mean, isn't there a better chapter to play to these people? And he said, no, they compelled us to do that because they wanna make sure the Bible you're giving them is the same Bible the priest has. He's the only one around here with a Bible. And

Jason Scott Montoya (31:55)

Oh, it's a test.

Paul D Hoeksra (32:06)
they want to know that you're giving them the same thing. And that was a test. And these those people, even though they couldn't read right, they taught me a very valuable lesson that day. So we're very careful to put word for word, you know, every word that's in the translation into a talking Bible. It's not paraphrased.

Jason Scott Montoya (32:22)
Which translation do you end up translating?

Paul D Hoeksra (32:25)
You know, in most languages, there's only one translation. And in the smaller languages, that translation will very much closely approximate spoken word. So it's very easily to understand. It's not like a King James type.

Jason Scott Montoya (32:29)

Yeah, well I guess... Oh, okay, so are the translations direct from the original text into that language? Is that what you're saying?

Paul D Hoeksra (32:50)
Yes, Bible translators will work from the Hebrew and Greek. It depends on who is doing the translation. And often it can take up to 14 or 15 years to do a New Testament. Now they've shortened that down to maybe several years. And there are groups that are playing with on the fly verbal translations from one language into another, but we haven't gone that.

Jason Scott Montoya (32:58)

Oh wow.

Oh wow.

Paul D Hoeksra (33:14)
that far yet. We're still working on translated printed Bibles. I think there's about 12 or 1400 translations already in print.

Jason Scott Montoya (33:24)
How many languages are you missing?

Paul D Hoeksra (33:29)
We have about 2,000 we have access to because we partner with other producers. I just got an email from a guy, Irian Jaya. He's asking for languages out there. And I said, well, we don't have them, but our partner does. And so we were able to make 10 talking Bibles and send them to somebody in Florida who's gonna carry them to Irian Jaya for him. He's really excited because he works with not reading people out in the villages.

Jason Scott Montoya (33:33)
Oh well. Yeah. Yeah, are there any groups that...


Yeah, yeah, that's cool. So who are you giving these to? You're giving some examples. But who's the target of this? Are you trying to give as many as you can, or is it just to the leaders, or is it just, how are you kind of going about that? You mentioned groups of people can listen to one, you know.

Paul D Hoeksra (34:13)
The way we're doing it in India is we're organized each state. There's like 29 states in India and each state has districts like our counties. And so we appoint leaders in each of the districts and then they appoint sub leaders within their regions. And then those people hold, they'll hold like a seminar, a half day seminar. We'll provide a lunch. We invite people to come and receive a talking Bible. Then we assign.

a pastor to go and follow up with them. So they'll take their Bible back home and begin listening to it. And sometime within the next 10 days, a pastor will stop by and visit with them. He'll ask them, you know, if they don't want talking Bible any longer, can I have it back? And I'll put it with a different family. Otherwise, if you have something that you would like us to pray for, tell me. We begin praying for the people immediately so that God will open their eyes to show them how he's blessing them, how he can bless them and ways that he wants to communicate with them.

And that's sort of how it works. Eventually, there will be, if they're non-reading, non-believing people and they become believers, we group them into prayer fellowships and then eventually plant a small church where they live.

Jason Scott Montoya (35:19)
Okay, yeah. What are the costs involved with these talking Bibles? If someone wants to help, how do they do that?

Paul D Hoeksra (35:29)
We manufacture them, ship them, play the import duties. We place them in the village and provide follow-up for $50 a talking Bible. It doesn't cost that much to manufacture it, but that includes everything, all the logistics of getting it to the field, putting the language in it, following up with the people.

Jason Scott Montoya (35:43)

Yeah, and how many talking Bibles are you putting out there? You know, like for 2023, what kind of volume are you at?

Paul D Hoeksra (35:57)
Well, let's see, since July, we've put 10,000 talking Bibles into Tanzania, and out of there, some went up to Ethiopia and some into Uganda. Then we have put 25,000 Bibles into India, and I think 6,000 of those are now in homes. So we're working, next month we'll be focusing on a state called Bihar, and we'll put 5,000 Bibles in homes across Bihar state. I've got, in the pipeline,

Jason Scott Montoya (36:08)



Paul D Hoeksra (36:27)
There's 10,000 units arriving here at Escondido today or tomorrow. There's another 10,000 going to India and another 10,000 to Tanzania by June. So we're moving quite a few units through.

Jason Scott Montoya (36:32)


And do you tend to, like you kind of mentioned the Bibles that are coming, do you plan out what the next wave of them is gonna be, or is it more of an organic process? What's the difference between responding versus sort of being proactive?

Paul D Hoeksra (37:01)
We do both. We were caught off guard here in the US. We distribute about 5,000 Talking Bibles a year to Americans who are elderly people whose sight has gone poor. They find them to be extremely valuable and that caught us way off guard. So we have a huge audience right here in America of people that sponsor and get Talking Bibles. That's a...

Jason Scott Montoya (37:25)

It's actually interesting you say that, because I think my grandma fits that. We didn't know about the talking Bible, maybe we'll have to buy her one. Her eyesight is getting so bad that she can't read her Bible, and reading her Bible is like her lifeline in a daily sense. So that's interesting you bring that up, yeah.

Paul D Hoeksra (37:47)
If anybody's listening right now, I would encourage you to either get an audio Bible on your phone or get a talking Bible. But something that's really fun to do and interesting that I just experienced and I've been around a while, is listening in the dark. Listen to God's word in the dark. When you can't see it, I sometimes I like to sit out in the garden at night in the dark and listen to the Bible. It's an amazing experience. It's very different, very, very different.

Jason Scott Montoya (38:16)
Yeah, yeah, that's a good idea, I like it. What are the challenges specifically with an audio Bible that you have to overcome? Now you mentioned the solar thing, but what about charging, electricity, just the unit itself kind of being durable? Are they all solar powered? And then how helpful is, how much is the solar versus charging it? And how much access do people have to electricity or not?

Paul D Hoeksra (38:40)
In a lot of parts of the world people have access like in India a lot of people have access to electricity So we have two models we have this one which has a little solar Panel built into it and on a full charge. It'll play six to ten hours depending on how loud you listen to it And it takes it'll take a day or two to charge it fully But we also have a battery model that you can the spine comes off and you can put batteries in the back here

They're pen-light batteries. Those last a long time. The batteries themselves do, because the machine, there's no moving parts in it. So the only thing that really consumes the energy is the level at which you listen to the speaker. We do use solar quite extensively in Africa. In fact, we use it almost exclusively in Africa. The battery units are less costly. And so I use them quite a bit in India because people can get...

Jason Scott Montoya (39:10)


Paul D Hoeksra (39:38)
get a USB power adapter and plug it in there to power the machine from the mains.

Jason Scott Montoya (39:45)
Okay, yeah. Is there any, has anything changed because of, so mobile phones have become more prominent, even around the world. Has that changed the dynamic at all for you, for talking Bibles?

Paul D Hoeksra (39:59)
It hasn't because access to internet is metered in many countries. Here I enjoy an un-metered account so I can go online any time of the day. But in a lot of places it's metered and by metered I mean they charge you for the amount of access time. And so to think of a non-Christian accessing a Bible and spending their money to listen to it, I don't know that there's...

that much incentive. I think that when you equip a non-reading Christian with a talking Bible that's dedicated, they go out, they'll take that Bible home, they'll go to hospitals, they'll go to different places and use it. And it's a much different experience, I believe.

Jason Scott Montoya (40:43)
Yeah, yeah. So ultimately this is kind of hinging on this problem that you mentioned earlier about illiteracy. So I'm curious, talk to us more about that. I mean, in America we're almost, I mean, I'm sure we have in a segment of our population that's illiterate, but for the most part, we're pretty literate. I imagine that's quite different in Africa and India and a lot of places. Tell us about that problem and how much that creates a barrier.

Paul D Hoeksra (41:09)
Illiteracy is a challenge. You have varying stages of illiteracy. You have urban illiterates who can read a sign board or at least look at a photograph, an advertisement on a billboard and understand that, you know, that person's advertising a motorcycle or something. They'll be semi exposed to print media, right? Even though they can't read and write, they're familiar with it. Then you have rural village people who don't.

Like a lot of women in India who live in villages, they only know two places. They know their birth village and they know their mother-in-law's village, and that's it. They might go to market in a village in between, but they do not venture out into other places. So those type of people, their exposure to print media is very limited in many instances. And when they get, when you show them photographs and things, sometimes it's difficult for them to decipher what they're looking at.

Jason Scott Montoya (41:48)


Paul D Hoeksra (42:08)
actually, which is a big challenge. And when you think of the church, I know back when I was in seminary, we did studies on mission movement, missiology, you know, in Africa. And when the missionaries first came to Africa, one of the requirements, if you want to be a member of the church, you have to know how to read and write. We're people of the word. The Bible's printed. So if you want to be baptized and be a member of this church, you're going to learn how to read and write. And I'm saying, no, you don't have to do that. You can listen to it and God, God can work through his word in a spoken format.

Jason Scott Montoya (42:25)

Paul D Hoeksra (42:37)
just as powerfully.

Jason Scott Montoya (42:39)
Yeah, that's interesting, because the people of the word, I guess from your point of view, it's adding a whole nother layer to what that actually means. So talk to us about that a little bit more.

Paul D Hoeksra (42:52)
It is. Like I mentioned, the example of the early days of missions in Africa, what happened, you see, is the societies, oral traditional societies and cultures are based, their function very different than we do here. We tend to put a lot of merit on education. We'll give a young person a PhD or a doctorate, a medical doctorate degree and trust that he knows what he's doing.

In Africa, in many oral cultures, things are elder, it's an elder-based society where you earn, you earn your authority to speak into something, you earn the right to speak. So you have this sort of structure that's in place. Well, we come with our educational system, we pull young people out of that elder type structure, we put them in an educational institute, teach them how to read and write, we put them back in their community, we say, now you're a leader.

Jason Scott Montoya (43:30)

Paul D Hoeksra (43:43)
But it's contrary really to the cultural context within which they had come out of. So those are some of the challenges. I don't have answers for all what's right and what's wrong on that. But I have seen that challenge. We've also had challenges where we've planted churches. And we use evangelists to do this. And then we invite church planters in to follow up and plant physical churches and stay and be their gurus, their teachers. They're.

Jason Scott Montoya (43:44)
Heh heh.


Paul D Hoeksra (44:12)
So they have somebody that's actually pastoring them. But the handoff between the initial convert leader that had brought the gospel to them, to the new pastor who's gonna disciple them, sometimes that's a bit of a challenge. That those are...

Jason Scott Montoya (44:16)

So if you're planning, yeah, well I can say if you're planning a church, is that something Talking Bibles is doing or do you partner with another organization that kind of, okay.

Paul D Hoeksra (44:37)
Now we put Bibles out, what happens is churches form and spontaneously begin to grow. Then we assigned pastors to follow up with them. A lot of these guys are independent. In many of the places we work with, like the Evangelical Church of India to come in, they'll send a church planting team in and they'll work with the people. It just, it really depends on where we're working and who's available. The first place we go is to the church.

Jason Scott Montoya (44:45)

Paul D Hoeksra (45:03)
And I remember there was a guy in India called Sai Baba, and he has temples in Singapore and all over, and he thought he was God. And he lived in a place called Puttapuri, right? And there's 128 villages around Puttapuri. So we put Bible listening kids, talking Bibles in 120 of those villages. Then I went to the pastor right next to Puttapuri in the small village, there's a little church with about 20 people in it. And I said to the pastor, will you follow up with these people as they listen to God's word? And he said, no.

And I said, well, why not? He said, what's the use? He said, they don't respond and I'm busy here with my 25 people. So we put the Bible listing kits out there and three months later, there were people that wanted to be baptized, five or six of them. So I went back to the pastor and asked him, will you baptize these people? They said, yeah, where'd they come from? And I said, well, they came from the Bible listing villages where you didn't wanna follow up. And so he did, he baptized them. He says, you know, I'll participate, I'll help you. So he started, that's kind of how he got excited.

Jason Scott Montoya (45:53)

Paul D Hoeksra (46:00)
He was he was just working and not seeing much fruit and all of a sudden because people started listening to the Bible things happen

Jason Scott Montoya (46:01)

Yeah. So was it simply, what was he not sharing, like reading the Bible? Like what was he doing that wasn't working and why was the Bible, was the talking Bible working?

Paul D Hoeksra (46:21)
I think the reason was that he couldn't attract people to his church. He could not go out and give out printed material. Nobody was interested in that. And so when people started listening to the Bible and they started seeing God do things, I've seen really strange things happen. You know, I'll tell you one church plant, okay? There was a Hindu woman who got a talking Bible in a village and she was listening to it. And her cousin in the next village over...

Jason Scott Montoya (46:27)

Paul D Hoeksra (46:51)
Had no children. That's a big stigma in some of these communities not to have children And so she said, you know, I'm listening to this Bible I don't know who this chap is but people pray to him and he yields up, you know His name is Jesus once you pray to him and you know I personally I've been in temples that where they're there where people go to pray to these idols for children and the courtyard of Those temples will be full of stones that represent lives that are dedicated to Satan

because they were born to a couple that prayed to an idol, a demonic presence. And so this woman, she says to her cousin, you pray to Jesus, you've been to the temples, you didn't get anything, you've been to the doctors, you don't have any children. She prayed to Jesus and a baby was born, his name was Kumar. And that whole village, she became a believer, okay? Her husband became a believer. They gave a little piece of land behind the house. They planted a little, they built a little church there. The day that I was there, there were 12 baptized believers.

but that was a church plant from one Hindu to another, calling out Jesus, calling on Jesus to show himself above all the gods. Because in polytheism and polytheistic religions, Jesus is just another one of the gods. But he's got to show himself as the God, the one above all for those people to follow him. And that's where we see healings, we see demonic casting out of demons. There's a lot of demonic activity in India. It's one of the largest, strongest spiritual

Jason Scott Montoya (47:58)



Paul D Hoeksra (48:19)
dark kingdoms in the world remaining.

Jason Scott Montoya (48:23)
Yeah, so how do you reconcile what you're describing and how different that is over there versus over here in America? I think for a lot of American Christians, a lot of that just sounds really odd and foreign, both the miracles and the spiritual. So how do you make sense of that and what's your insight onto that?

Paul D Hoeksra (48:45)
Well, I think that God has to show himself in a way that people can understand him. And I think if he demonstrated some of the things that he's, I mean, he's working here in America. He is healing people here in America. He is casting out demons here in America, but he's not doing it maybe in the way that we see it happening in India. And I wonder if part of it is because of the cultural context within which we exist. We don't have.

We haven't really, we're doing it now. I mean, there's a Buddhist temple over here and there's another one down there. We're starting to invite these spirits into our land, but it's not like India where you have, what, 33 million gods. Those people are praying to spirits, to demonic, they are actively worshiping demonic beings and inviting them into their lives and into the presence of their communities. I don't think we have that to that extent yet here in America.

But it's coming.

Jason Scott Montoya (49:45)
Yeah, yeah, that's interesting. So what is the Bible, how does it equip the leaders that you're giving it to? And the other layer of that I think I'd be curious to learn about is you're kind of giving the Bible to them raw. Like you're not, I assume there's not like a commentary on these, it's just the scripture itself and what they take, how God speaks to their heart through that, just the literal direct word.

I'm curious just how does that equip people and what are the kind of the unique things that you've seen because of that dynamic?

Paul D Hoeksra (50:22)
Well, it's kind of interesting. I think it's a very unique personal experience for each individual. I know I have met, I think a Priya, a woman I met, and she said, well, you know, when I read the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew chapter one, and I read the genealogy again in Luke, she said, I became a believer. I said, wow, that's the chapter I like to kind of skip through, you know, all those names? And she said, yes.

Jason Scott Montoya (50:46)

Paul D Hoeksra (50:50)
because there's a lineage. Our Hindu gods are mythical creations. They have no beginning, no end. They've got no, there's no origin, but Jesus, you can trace him back right back through history. And that was to me, it was, you know, wow, I wouldn't have thought of that, you know, that God could use that. But he does, he uses his word in very, in different ways. And it speaks to each of us uniquely. I think your experience is probably very different than mine.

Jason Scott Montoya (50:57)


Yeah, and I guess do they tend to just listen through it from beginning to end or do they skip around? Do they go in the New Testament? Do they start in Genesis? How do they tend to, or do you direct them or do they just all do different things?

Paul D Hoeksra (51:32)
Most people listen sequentially through the New Testament, but I had a couple of years ago, I hired this guy Arun, he was a pastor and his friend, and I asked them if they would work with me for two months and walk through, they actually walked through the rice paddies in Bangladesh with the Bible listening kit, okay? They would go to the head man of the village and ask him, the hell, and we have a holy book that's the Bible, they would explain it to him, we wanna play this for your village people to listen to.

and these guys would go out and they would walk. For two months, they would walk between the villages. Arun told me that twice on two separate occasions, the people came in from the field and they sat down. This is after working in the rice paddy field all day. And they started listening to the New Testament. They had never heard it before. They listened all night. I've had blind people who will sit down and listen. It takes about 24 hours to get through a New Testament and tell me the language. And I know many blind people who have sat for 24 hours and listened.

for the whole New Testament because they've never had access to it. It's not, we're spoiled rotten. I've got a shelf up there with probably a dozen Bibles on it, you know, in different versions. Exactly.

Jason Scott Montoya (52:30)



And another shelf of commentary is on them. Yeah, yeah.

Yeah, so how do people, what are some interesting responses? Both, obviously you have a lot of positive, but have you had any kind of negative responses? Or just share with us some more stories.

Paul D Hoeksra (53:03)
Well, there's a dynamic involved when a person meets Jesus for the first time. They get excited and they wanna talk about it. They wanna tell everybody about him. He's their best friend. They just met him. And then we say, well, wait, you can't read and write. You're not qualified to come talk about it. Come to our school and we'll teach you. Two years later, we turn them loose and the guy's, boy, his enthusiasm has been quashed and deadened good. But if you can turn them loose with a Bible.

Jason Scott Montoya (53:29)

Paul D Hoeksra (53:32)
then assign them the responsibility to visit other people who are listening, and then follow up with that person. You see new leaders emerging out of these communities. It's fascinating to watch and to see the least likely people. I think of a guy, Lakshmi Naik. I met him a few years ago. I was in his hut, actually. I sat inside that hut, and it was a very small hut. The one part was where he and his wife slept. The middle part is where they cooked their food and ate their stuff, you know, and all that.

And on the end was where they kept their two bullocks. So they slept in the same house with their, a bullock is like an ox, like an oxen, right? You plow, you can hook them up and plow a field with them. Well, Lakshmi Naik became a believer after listening to the Bible. He went over to another village one evening with his wife to listen to, to go to a prayer meeting actually with other believers. When he came home, he found one of those bullocks, very sick, and the villagers were taunting him, some of the young men.

Jason Scott Montoya (54:09)

Paul D Hoeksra (54:29)
They had fed that thing metal bits. They put nails and small bits of metal in its fodder. So when it ate it, it's whole, the insides were all lacerated. It was very sick, right? So he said, I took my bullet to the veterinarian in the next village and I paid him, I don't know how many rupees and the thing died. And you know, he's telling the story to my friend, Milana and I'm sitting there watching him and he's got a big smile on his face and joy in his eyes and all this stuff is radiating out of him.

Jason Scott Montoya (54:34)




Paul D Hoeksra (54:57)
And I'm thinking, you know, this has got to be a great story. I can't wait to hear it. And I said, and after he finished, I said, well, what does this, what'd he tell you, you know? And he said, well, he told me that they killed one of his bullocks. I mean, this guy lost 50% of his assets because he became a believer. And he didn't change his count. No, he was happy to suffer for the Lord. And I was so humbled, you know, I was humbled, really humbled because I didn't know.

Jason Scott Montoya (55:20)

Paul D Hoeksra (55:23)
It just really blew me away. And I know that guy, he's gone on to one over 100 people to Christ. And his faith is very strong. But he's one of those who God has called.

Jason Scott Montoya (55:29)

Yeah, count it all joy when we face trials and suffering, right?

Paul D Hoeksra (55:36)
Yeah, and it's easy to say that, but when you really do, you know, that's when it comes, that's when the metal, the foot goes to the road, I guess.

Jason Scott Montoya (55:38)

Yeah, the rubber meets the road. What, so what are any other stories that we were sharing in terms of how this has enabled and equipped Christian leaders? Oh, I guess, oh, two questions, I guess I would add more specifically. Responsibility, you said you give them responsibility and then you said you check in with them. So tell me about why it's important to give them responsibility over a group of people or an area.

Paul D Hoeksra (55:48)

Jason Scott Montoya (56:15)
and also why it's important to check in on. What is that? Why do you add those two?

Paul D Hoeksra (56:20)
Well, I think the responsibility part of it is, it transfers all the way out to the individual who gets a talking Bible and listens. We...

Our ministry, I don't know how to say this without maybe offending somebody, but there's a lot of gatekeepers in the Christian community. Okay. You're a gatekeeper. I'm a gatekeeper. Let's face it. I make decisions that determine who gets a talking Bible. You make decisions that determines who gets interviewed. And so we're gatekeepers, right? And to get by the gatekeepers. And so what I encounter is a lot of issues with gatekeepers on the field.

Jason Scott Montoya (56:41)

Paul D Hoeksra (57:02)
And sometimes they're willing participants and they'll help us. Sometimes they become very adamantly opposed because it threatens their power structure. You're threatening their little church, you're threatening. You're coming in and you're inviting others. You're doing something new, something different. And that can be threatening. So I find that getting past gatekeepers, the churches in America are full of them. Every single church has a gatekeeper to keep a parachurch organization out. You know, they don't want us there.

Jason Scott Montoya (57:29)
Heh heh.

Paul D Hoeksra (57:31)
trying to get funds and trying to engage people in our programs. And that's very hard. It's very difficult. I, when I saw the number of people coming to Christ as a result of listening to the Bible, I came home to America. I was a missionary with the Reformed Church and I came home, I was so excited. I started talking about it and I got my hand slapped. I was told, hey, we don't plant churches. We build hospitals. We staff schools. We do development programs. We do farming, agricultural programs, but we certainly don't plant churches.

Jason Scott Montoya (57:34)


Paul D Hoeksra (58:00)
I thought, well, what in the world? I'm a missionary with this church that's telling me they don't plant churches. And the result of my work is a whole proliferation of little house churches being planted all over India. And now it's happening in Africa. Paul Lindberg came to us, he had heard about our family because he had been in Ethiopia and he was down in the jungle. And he'd heard that these people all knew Christ. And he asked, well, how did you hear about Christ? They said through Odola. Well, Odola was my father's African name.

Jason Scott Montoya (58:01)


Paul D Hoeksra (58:30)
When Paul came back to the States, he did some research and he found out that Odola was still alive. He lived out here in California. He came out here with a friend of his and they invited us to go to Ethiopia with them again, down to the Mujung people. So we took my dad, he was 90, back to Ethiopia. But then Paul started working more among Burana people, among other people. And he started sending testimonies back to our office. And I took those and I said to Mark, look at, these are the same stories that are coming out of India. It's different characters.

Jason Scott Montoya (58:30)


Paul D Hoeksra (58:59)
same story. The same thing is happening. God is working in these lives of people who can't read in the same way in Africa as he is in India.

Jason Scott Montoya (59:04)

Yeah. So what would be your message to American Christians? What would you like them? What would you wish they understood and appreciated? And what would be the message you'd share with them?

Paul D Hoeksra (59:24)
I would say first off that God has a plan for your life. Get on with it. Stop fooling around and get serious. I'm sure some people who are listening to this know they've got a little gnawing feeling in the back of their mind that God wants them to do something. They might not feel like they're adequately doing it. And I would say get on with it.

Jason Scott Montoya (59:32)

Paul D Hoeksra (59:48)
God wants you, He loves you, He has a plan for your life, and He has a way to use you that you might never have thought. When I was young, I said to Him, Lord, you can use me. I don't have any special gifts or skills, but He has led me on the most interesting and exciting life that I could ever have had. And I would encourage people to follow Him.

Jason Scott Montoya (1:00:07)

So what would you say, so I've been on three mission trips, twice to Mexico, once to Honduras, went to Honduras last year. And the way that I kind of think about those trips is that as much as I'm going there to serve, I'm also going there to be served. I'm there to receive something from those people that we're serving. They have something to give to me, I have something to give to them. What do the people that you serve have to give to you and have to give to us that maybe we're missing?

from our particular Christian faith wall.

Paul D Hoeksra (1:00:46)
I think they give us a demonstration of faith. I meet people who live in very difficult circumstances, sometimes family opposition, sometimes it's government, sometimes it's community. But I admire them and I'm humbled when I meet these people. The strength of their faith really strengthens me personally.

Jason Scott Montoya (1:01:07)

Paul D Hoeksra (1:01:11)
and the stories of what God is doing in their lives impacts me immensely. And I am privileged to be able to be the voice of an illiterate community and share with you how important Bibles are for illiterate people.

Jason Scott Montoya (1:01:13)

Yeah, and making it accessible. Tell us a little bit about the legacy of Talking Bibles since it started. What it has, if you kind of take a step back, you've given us a lot of little stories, but what's the bigger picture, what's the impact that Talking Bibles has had?

Paul D Hoeksra (1:01:48)
Well, I think it's had a big impact on people who have been involved in Bible translation because they see their translations extended beyond the traditional means of people that can read. And they're seeing their translations of the Bible are being used in communities by people that traditionally wouldn't use them. I think that is a huge encouragement to Bible translation people. I see Bible

Jason Scott Montoya (1:02:01)

Paul D Hoeksra (1:02:17)
Agencies like the Bible Society, the American Bible Society, for example, has come to us and they're asking us to participate with them in a program called End to End, where we show the Jesus film. They have a group listening, people listen through the New Testament, and then when they get through the New Testament, they were giving them printed Bibles, but a lot of the people can't read. So now we're coming in with our talking Bibles and equipping those people with talking Bibles.

Jason Scott Montoya (1:02:43)
Yeah, yeah. No, that's awesome. I guess you mentioned, you know, there's obviously the financial piece, people being able to help give to your organization to place the Bibles. Obviously they could also pray for you in the organization. But what are some other ways people can get involved? Are there other ways they can get involved in talking Bibles?

Paul D Hoeksra (1:03:03)
There are, locally we do have a few volunteers that come in and help check Bibles and program them. There are advocates in various communities across America who advocate for Talking Bibles within their circles of contacts. And we have Stephanie who works with us here in Escondido, has put together packets of information and we can provide support to people that wanna represent Talking Bibles in their communities here in the States.

Those are a couple of ways people can get, that come alongside of us. Other ways, tomorrow, for example, I'm going to India and I, next Wednesday, March 6th, I'm going to be privileged to dedicate a new building where we've been working on a training center for two and a half years and it's finally being completed. And so next week we're gonna dedicate that on the sixth and then the very next day.

60 leaders are coming in from all over India. We bought bunk beds and we're equipping the, you know, the dormitory and the classroom, but they're coming in to learn how to use talking Bibles. And then they will go back. Each of them will take a hundred units back. So there'll be 6,000 Bibles going out to the various corners of India by the end of next week. And so that's exciting for us. But if people wanted to come to India and see.

Jason Scott Montoya (1:04:17)

Yeah, yeah, that's awesome.

Paul D Hoeksra (1:04:24)
We have a young missionary from Morro Bay, California. He's a Calvary Chapel missionary and he works with us in India and he'd be happy to show you around. If you want to go to Ethiopia or Africa, let me know.

Jason Scott Montoya (1:04:31)
Okay, yeah.

All right, everyone, whoever's listening. Yeah, okay. Are there any specific projects that are on your plate that you're trying to get funded right now?

Paul D Hoeksra (1:04:37)
short-term missing from

Yes, there are. I'm trying to, we have a goal to put a Bible in every single village in India by 2033. So I've put about 100,000 Bibles out already. We need another 650,000. That's a huge project. We just are partnering with Scripture Union in Tanzania, and they've opened

Jason Scott Montoya (1:05:04)

Paul D Hoeksra (1:05:12)
They have an open door into all the schools, and we need 95,000 Bibles to start listening programs in the schools throughout Tanzania. Those are some big projects, very large.

Jason Scott Montoya (1:05:20)

Yeah, okay. I guess we've talked about a lot of things. Is there anything you wanted to share that you haven't yet got a chance to share?

Paul D Hoeksra (1:05:36)
No, I want to encourage you as a believer to really take your faith seriously and to explore within yourself how God can use you more effectively. It's not just giving. There's more to it than that too. And praying. There's a lot of activity and things. You represent Jesus in your community if you're a believer. And I encourage you to take that seriously.

Um, you know, don't be a freak, but represent it properly.

Jason Scott Montoya (1:06:11)
Yeah, yeah, that's awesome. How can people connect with Talking Bibles? Do you have a website? Are you on social media? Tell us all the things.

Paul D Hoeksra (1:06:23)
there's a website, www. We also have a free Bible listening website where people go, I think we have, we were up to 21,000 a month but now it's dropped a little bit because we changed some of the platform, but people can listen to Bibles online at our website. They can call us at 855-55-BIBLE. They can also visit the

Jason Scott Montoya (1:06:27)
All right.

Paul D Hoeksra (1:06:49)
Talking Bibles are at 419 East Grand Avenue, right downtown Escondida. And you could write us letters of encouragement or share with us ideas. Or if you think of a missionary somewhere who could possibly benefit from the use of Talking Bibles, get in touch with us.

Jason Scott Montoya (1:07:07)
And I assume if someone wants to financially help, they could just go to to do that.

Paul D Hoeksra (1:07:14)
Yes, they could. And we're a 501c3. We are a member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability. So we have an ECFA. We have our financial accounts audited every year and submitted to them for review and so on. And our organization is governed by a board of directors. It's not just Mark and me, but there's a board that actually holds authority over us and kind of manages the entire organization.

Jason Scott Montoya (1:07:40)

Okay, yeah. Well, I appreciate that. Is there anything about your own personal faith journey that you'd like to share before we close out here?

Paul D Hoeksra (1:07:54)
I'm growing in my faith. I stagnated for a long time. And in the past four or five months, God has used some experiences in my personal life to draw me closer to Him. And I'm recognizing that there's a part of me, my spiritual side, that is fully one third, if not more, of my mind, my body, and my spirit.

but I sort of have neglected it. I've gotten busy in the community. I've got kids, you know, we go to volleyball games and we do this and that and the other thing. And it's easy to neglect. Sometimes I encourage you in your walk with Christ to read your Bible at least daily, if not more frequently.

Jason Scott Montoya (1:08:20)

Yeah, so is that the advice you would give to somebody who is in that stuck place now?

Paul D Hoeksra (1:08:45)
Yes, I would definitely say go back to the Bible and read and spend time with God.

Jason Scott Montoya (1:08:51)
Yeah, yeah. Where would you encourage them to start?

Paul D Hoeksra (1:08:57)
That's a good question. I like, I personally I like Proverbs, but I don't know that for a new believer that's the right place to start. I think the Gospels, any one of the Gospels, Gospel of John is very good. Romans tends to get a bit heavy, you know, it's good, but it's kind of a pretty heavy book. So there are some books that are lighter reading, but I like the parables because there's a lot of life stories in them.

Jason Scott Montoya (1:09:08)

Yeah, yeah.


Paul D Hoeksra (1:09:26)
in the gospels.

Jason Scott Montoya (1:09:27)
Yeah, yeah. Anything else you wanna share?

Paul D Hoeksra (1:09:32)
Nope. Thank you, Jason. This has been great.

Jason Scott Montoya (1:09:34)
All right, well Paul, I appreciate you sharing your life and I just thank you for all the stories you've shared and I pray that God will continue to bless you in the ministry and provide and make way for the things that he has for you.

Paul D Hoeksra (1:09:50)
Thanks, Jason. It's been good talking with you.

Jason Scott Montoya (1:09:52)
All right.

Paul D Hoeksra (1:09:55)
Thank you.

Podcast - Listen To Learn

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