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Their mission is simple, “The Bible understood in every language.” Located in the shadow of Mickey Mouse in central Florida, the Comic Bible Society is making great strides to make that a reality.
Executive Pastor at mega church First Baptist Leesburg, Art Ayris was in the midst of a seven-year project of creating the most complete graphic adaptation of the Bible ever done when a young man from Trans Word Radio approached the comics group at a Mobile Ministry Forum and said, “I think what you guys are doing has huge implications for the mission field.” That conversation set in motion a number of Bible partnerships now expanding the globe.
For the Comic Bible Society the low-tech solution to explaining and introducing the unengaged to Scripture was to pair 40 top comic artists from Marvel and DC with evangelical writers such as Randy Alcorn (Heaven), Ben Avery (comics writer for Game of Thrones creator George RR Marten) and Ayris. The result was an expansive 2,000 plus page and 10,000 panel explanation of all 66 books of the Bible.
Though the decline in Bible reading among millennials and teens has been well documented by the American Bible Society, the Comic Bible Society sees the exploding growth in comics worldwide as a dynamic intersection to enter with Holy Writ. Ayris recounts ten Scripture engagement keys he will be sharing next month at SIL’s Eurasia Media Distribution Conference in Chiang Mai.
1. Cultural acceptance – universal and familiar cultural format
2. Active engagement - written language and juxtaposed sequential images
3. Efficiency of format - large amounts of information in a short time
4. Educational – already used in education systems for subject areas
5. Literacy – Bible understanding key with illiteracy and semi-literacy
6. Effectiveness – image with text leads to increased memory retention
7. Evangelism – more likely pick-up for an unchurched or non-religious person
8. Transcultural – most widely read form of literature worldwide
9. Social media – content with visuals 97% more views and 40X to be shared
10. Scripture engagement – list Scripture as portal to textual engagement
With only about 600 of the world’s 7000 languages having a full text Bible, Ayris sees graphic explanations as a holy must and a critical bridge to Bible understanding. In response to the need for rapid delivery of Biblical understanding until full literal translations can be completed the Comic Bible Society offers global partners an opportunity to explain and engage readers in the Bible.
The Iranian Bible Society and another agency are distributing over 300,000 Farsi copies of the graphic Bible and the Bible Society of Cambodia recently completed a public-school distribution of a Khmer version. Ayris notes, “Project the difference in Bible engagement (in any country) if Bible colporteurs instead of standing outside schools and prisons with difficult-to-read 6-point font Bibles supplemented their distributions with eye-popping Marvel-quality Scripture engagement tools. We imagine the engagement levels would be significantly higher.”
Realizing the limited budgets of many Bible agencies, the Comic Bible Society offers licensing agreements in any language for the 72 sections of the Bible for only $25 a section for translation as well as royalty free print and digital distribution.
Ayris and his team at the Comic Bible Society see a digital future with mobile phones and electronic devices as some of the most effective outreach and teaching tools available. The Comic Bible Society will be unveiling next month at EMDC a digitally shareable flipbook for users to be able to share translated Bible comics via eight different major social media channels as well as e-mail. The end goal is to build the Super Bible App (www.superbible.tv) as a hybrid between the digital text Bibles of You Version and the multi-lingual JESUS Film app on the life of Christ so anyone anywhere could read or watch with pictures the entire Bible.
After a larger rollout of Super Bible languages, the Comic Bible Society plans to follow up with a complement of materials to help develop a larger universe of Biblical understanding such as The Book of God (how we got the Bible), Great Conversations (major worldviews by apologist Dr. Ravi Zacharias), Eternity (by Randy Alcorn) and simplified apologetics.
Bible agencies are welcome to contact Ayris and the Comic Bible Society at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 728-1414 for more information.
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