Berber Evangelistic Association (BEA) was established in the 1980s. With a focus on translating and producing DVDs, satellite television programs, indigenous music, Bibles, and other Christian literature in the Berber language, their vision is to see the 25 million Berbers living in North Africa have access to the Bible in their own language and ultimately put their faith in Jesus.
One day, as a BEA ministry worker was passing through a strongly Islamic village, he found that God had done a miracle. A group of more than 100 believers were gathering together to worship the Lord. All of them had come to know Christ through BEA’s Christian broadcasts on satellite television.
“I couldn’t believe that there were so many believers in such a strong Muslim village,” the worker said. Many of those who had come to Christ were attracted to the program because it was in their mother tongue. When she heard the words of Jesus in Berber in one of BEA’s films, one woman shared, “I never knew there was a prophet that spoke my language. I believe this is the truth.”
Millions of Berbers live across the vast regions of North Africa and are, like most people, strongly attached to their own culture and language. Although “Arabization” has swept across northern Africa, its original inhabitants, the majority Berber people, have fought to retain their distinct cultural characteristics and traditions. Today most Berbers are Muslim, although often their beliefs are nominal.
The Berbers are the most responsive Muslim group in North Africa, and the Berber Church is much larger than that of other people groups in North Africa. This growth has been partially fueled by the work of the Berber Evangelistic Association which recognized years ago the gospel potential among the Berbers. In a context where they feel constantly pressured to accept Arab language and culture, anything that is produced in the Berber language generates immediate interest.
Major achievements to date include translation of the New Testament, Psalms, and several films. When BEA translated the Jesus film into Berber, it was the first time for many to see a film in their own language. The film was so popular that it was copied over and over again and passed from one village to the next. Today it can be found all over the Berber-populated areas of the country.
Bibles and Literature, BEA
BEA is working toward the translation and distribution of the entire Bible in several Berber dialects, starting with the one spoken by their own Berber group. The ministry has already completed the translation, printing, and distribution of the New Testament in Berber. The complete draft of the Old Testament is finished, but some editing and revisions are still necessary before its first publication.
Thousands of copies of the New Testament have been distributed in the Berber language which have been instrumental in many people coming to Christ. In addition to evangelism of non-believers, BEA’s work is also critical in equipping local churches with biblical training materials, Bibles, and other Christian literature in Berber, French, and colloquial Arabic. These tools have played an important part in spurring on the growth and maturity of the Church among the Berbers.
This year, BEA hopes to print and distribute 5,000 Arabic/Berber New Testaments. Ongoing projects include revision of the Old Testament, translation of the Bible into a new Berber dialect, and production of a picture version of the Old Testament. Help spur on the growth of the Berber church by sponsoring a BEA translator ($800 per worker per month) or distributing Berber New Testaments ($8 each).
Video-Audio Outreach Resources, BEA
Reaching the Berbers with the Gospel requires relevant and effective evangelistic tools. Technology in the Arab world is very advanced, and on almost every city street there are shops selling computers and multi-media equipment. BEA is taking advantage of the opportunities by providing high quality Christian media that is permeating the Berber population with unique presentations of the gospel message.
These presentations include the complete Berber New Testament on audio cassette and CD, as well as the translation of 26 videos of the “Superbook” series for children. A collection of films on the lives of Old Testament figures and the Jesus film have been produced as well, all in Berber.
Gifts to this project will cover the costs of producing and distributing 5,000 CDs, VCDs, and DVDs every month. It will also help BEA acquire much-needed studio equipment including a computer, duplicator, digital camera, and lighting, as well as the support for some of BEA’s 15 workers who will also be producing, broadcasting, and doing follow up work for their television and radio programs. BEA is now broadcasting 24 hours a day on satellite, and they must increase the rate of production to keep up with demand.
As it is illegal in their country to proselytize, media provides BEA an excellent means to spread the Gospel effectively. Each month, the team follows up on more than 1,000 calls in response to their programs. With continued support for this dedicated group of workers, it is possible that in the next few years the majority of Berbers in North Africa will hear the Gospel in their own language.
Small Business for Income Generation, BEA
The primary purpose of this project is to set up a legal platform from which BEA will be able to film material to be used in their satellite television broadcasts. Once the required government license is obtained, BEA’s crew will be able to film material for the television broadcasts, as well as weddings and commercials which will generate income for the ministry.
For security reasons, when BEA records sermons, they do not want to use video that shows the speaker’s face. Instead, they would like to use scenery recorded by the film crew as a backdrop for these sermons. This will spread the message more broadly while keeping speakers secure. With a government license, BEA will have legal means to own media equipment and a studio and will be able to film outdoors without harassment from the government.
Satellite television is very popular in North Africa and is allowing BEA access to homes that could not be accessed any other way. Your gift will supply filming and editing equipment as well as support for two workers.