August 13-19, 2012
Hakka audio Bible begins production despite hardships and with God’s help
Reported by Lin Yi-ying
Written by Lydia Ma
About 30 volunteers met at Jungli Presbyterian Church from June 22 to August 3, 2012 to record the first audio Bible in Hakka language. This project began in March of this year when Taiwan Bible Society General Secretary Hsu Shu-chen approached retired Hakka pastor Rev. Peng Te-kuei about the feasibility of recording an audio Bible in Hakka language.
Hsu said that Peng had hesitated at first because the project would require at least 25 men and 5 women with the ability to speak Hakka fluently. However, he later warmed to the idea after being prodded further by Hsu. Peng began to recruit and train volunteers in April of this year, shortly after the Hakka Bible was published. He was helped by another retired pastor, Rev. Yeh Mei-huei.
It helped that God’s guidance and provision were also apparent in this project through the help of a Christian non-profit organization called Hosanna/Faith Comes by Hearing. This organization sent a pair of missionaries from Philippines to assist and direct the production. Though the couple could only speak English, a translator was soon arranged by Yeh to help them communicate with volunteers.
Seeing that the stage had been set to begin production, Peng assembled all volunteers for an information sessions on May 4 and June 1. Nearly 30 volunteers attended those sessions and they listened to Peng as he explained the significance and reasons for creating an audio Bible. The team got down to work soon afterward and spent a little more than 1 month to record the New Testament.
Reflecting back on this recording experience, Peng recounted that the team had to build a primitive “recording studio” first and they did so by erecting wooden walls to create a small soundproof room inside the church. They soon discovered that the wooden walls were no match for the sound of the church’s air-conditioner, which had been turned on in the summer. In order to continue recording, volunteers agreed to turn off the air-conditioner and bear with the heat and humidity of the summer season. As result, everyone sweat profusely as they worked. To assist the team in their work, the church installed ultra-quiet air conditioners a week later.
The recording of the New Testament took place from Monday to Friday, from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Each session consisted of 2 supervising staff and 1 translator to ensure that the person recording the text had correct pronunciation. The production team also agreed that Bible verses featuring men would be read by men and those featuring women would be read by women so as to make the recording more lively.
Many recording volunteers who thought themselves as fluent Hakka language speakers said afterward that upon beginning to record, they found that they had made more mistakes in pronunciation than they had expected. For this reason, it was not unusual to pause and edit several times throughout the recording. Nevertheless, they found that things got easier and easier as they progressed along and the whole New Testament section was completed by August 3.
During a tea gathering scheduled by the church shortly after the conclusion of the recording sessions, the missionary couple from Philippines announced that they hoped to begin recording the Old Testament by June 2013. Recording the Old Testament may take 4 to 5 months. According to Peng, the audio files are currently being edited at a Hosanna’s recording studio in the United States. The organization has recorded audio Bibles in 662 different languages.