Audio Bible in Endangered Languages Redeems Cultures

Oral Cultures Hear God's Word

Open Chapel International records the Bible in endangered languages of Uganda. This helps supplement the written Bible translation with an audio recording of the text.  The power of God’s word redeems cultures.

Reclaim Endangered Cultures

God created the universe by his Word. Only the power to the Word of God can bring true transformation to His fallen creation. Our goal is to bring the Word of God to as many tribes as possible, in as many ways as possible.  This means endangered cultures will be redeemed back to God’s original purpose for their tribe.

Many Uses for Audio Bible

We proclaim the message of Salvation through audio recordings of Scripture.  Audio Bibles are useful in the following ways:

  • Download entire Bible as audio mp3 recording free of copyright
  • Cornerstone content for endangered language library
  • Gold standard for language preservation
  • Prepare radio ready broadcasts of Scripture
  • Increase readership of print Bibles
  • Reclaim endangered cultures back to Jesus Christ

We’ve Got Your Back

We speak the local languages and understand the challenges of each culture. Without a doubt, your partnership with Open Chapel International means you get to reach the nations for Christ.  As a matter of fact, we’d love to help you fulfill the call of God on your life.  Above all else, when we work together God gets all the glory.

Let There Be Light

Light has finally dawned on the Bamasaaba.

The full translation of the complete Bible in Lumasaaba was completed in December 2016.  After surmounting many obstacles, we finally began the audio recording of the Lumasaaba Old Testament.  It is absolutely amazing to feel the powerful anointing of God in the studio as Rev. Milton Eridad Shissa reads.  The tongue twisting words and phrases float lightly off his tongue.  Of course Rev. Shissa has spent the last 13 years of his life working on the translation.  So when it came time to read for audio recording, he was the natural choice.

Lumasaaba is the mother tongue of over three million people in Easter Uganda. The people group is called Bamasaaba, but sometimes they are erroneously referred to as Bagisu (therefore speaking Lugisu). Lumasaaba is a one of the Bantu languages of Uganda.


Rev. Shissa has such a passion for the Word, that he agreed to do the readings for free.  With just a bit of pocket money from Open Chapel International which allows him to put fuel in his car, Rev. Shissa comes to the studio three days a week.

While Rev. Shissa reads, Catherine Mabongor sits at the computer.  They are using Audio Audition software and equipment donated by Audio Scripture Ministries.  Catherine is not a native Lumasaaba speaker, but God in his infinite mercy allows her to edit the recordings.  The edited version is then proofed by Rev. Shissa before it goes to the Audio Production team for final verification of accuracy.  They are looking for a reading that is true to the text and brings out the meaning and intonation of the language.  The team also checks for hidden background noise or technical errors in editing.

Catherine and Rev. Shissa often talk during breaks and he shares his experiences in translating the Bible into Lumasaaba with the Bible Society of Uganda.  He has traveled extensively and met many interesting people along the way.  He also has a Masters Degree in Psychology and teaches at the university level.   Because of this, he loves to discuss the Bamasaaba culture.  Rev. Shissa able to explain and clarify many things for Catherine who is married to Pastor Shem Mabongor (the leader of Open Chapel International and a native Bamasaaba).

Below, you can hear Genesis 1:1-5, The First Day of Creation read in the language of Lumasaaba.

Interesting tid-bits:

Longest word so far: baakikhaabisanilakho they argued among themselves.  It is found in Genesis 26:21 where Jacobs men argued with the neighbors over a well.

Main reason for recording errors: Roosters crowing in the background!

Most difficult chapter to read so far: Exodus 28, which goes into extreme detail describing the priestly garments.

If you have a question for either Catherine Mabongor or Rev. Shissa please use the comments section to ask and we’ll do our best to answer.  And also be sure to share this page with a friend.

Piggy Goes to Market

Everyone loves little piglets.  So cute, cuddly and absolutely adorable.  The lovable children’s story of the Three Little Pigs is one most of us heard growing up.  There is also the precious game we play with baby’s toes, This Little Piggy.  Who can resist these adorable little guys.

But let’s face it, by the time a pig is full grown it doesn’t really look that lovable anymore.  And our breed of pig is the local type here in Uganda.  They are black with white patches and have long snouts.

As cute as pigs may be when they are little, this is a working farm.  We grow pigs to sell as pork.  There isn’t much to say about that, either you like pork or you don’t.  I guess there is a third option; you like pork but would rather not think about where it comes from.  I think most of us are in the third category.  We certainly don’t sell the pigs just because they cease to be cute, but it helps.  Luckily we are not all held to the same standard of cuteness or many of us would have gone to market years ago.

For the sake of good manners and to keep our conscious clear, we have not included photos of our actual pigs being tied (hogtied – that is) and take away on the back of a motorcycle kicking and screaming.  Something about the whole ordeal was unsettling to say the least.  But we knew the end would come and today it did.  We sold six of our male pigs and didn’t even come close to counting our losses when we calculated all the feed and care they were given.  We are now left with two females that we will use for breeding.

It takes a gestation of three months, three weeks and three days for a pig to produce a litter.  There can be anywhere from 10 – 14 piglets per litter.  So let’s put today behind us and expect more cute photos of pretty pink piglets in a few months time.  Until then, pass the bacon.

Free Quarterly Newsletter

Free Quarterly Newsletter

Famine is Over!

Join us in a quick trip to Uganda. We walk along the path together in the bright morning sun. Even before we reach the garden, you hear laughter and lively chatter. Everyone is talking at once. People are happy. The corn is ready to harvest and the neighbors have joined us to bring in the bounty. Thanks to Farming God’s Way, an ecological no-plow method of farming, we have a bumper crop. The six month famine in Uganda is finally over.

The famine was very severe. Even when we had money, it was difficult to find food to buy. Thankfully, we saw God’s miraculous provision day-to-day. At one point, we only had one day of corn left and Shem went to the shops to have the bicycle repaired.  As he was coming home, he remembered he had left the old tire at the shop.  When he went back to get it, Shem found a man sitting on a motorcycle with a 100 kg (220 lbs.) sac on maize/corn on the back.  The man and his maize seemed to just be sitting there waiting for something.  Shem greeted the man and asked him what he was doing with the sack of maize.  The man’s reply stunned Shem.

“I’m just waiting for someone to buy it,” the man said.

Unlike the maize that was available this late in the famine, the quality of this maize was excellent.  Shem bought the maize on the spot and had it delivered directly to our house.  It kept us going for another month.

We reduced our rations and were able to share what we had. A family of a widow, her daughter and two grandchildren, came to live with us because their mud hut was falling down around them.  They are still here. What a joy it was to hear a little children’s laughter in our house again.  We now have nine extra people living with us.Widows, HIV patients and orphans received food. Neighbors came and by the grace of God, we had something to give.

Now we have harvested corn and have planted pinto beans.  Because we used Farming God’s Way we saw a greater harvest than most (350 kg/770 lbs) from 0.6 acre.  There was still only one ear per plant but with fuller ears of much better quality when using Farming God’s Way.

We would have gotten more, but army worms decimated a huge portion of our crop.  We are researching ways of fighting this deadly pest for next season.




Thank you to all of our partners who sent food packages chocked full of proteins like peanut butter and oats.  We are very grateful.

We have more land that we could be farming but lack the people to help us.  With 14 people around the table, three of them are HIV+, one is lame, six are school age and one is a toddler.  That leaves Shem who is always traveling for the purposes of intercession and Catherine who takes care of the home.  We only have two young men who put in a few mornings a week.  We also need someone to help us take care of the farm animals.

Farm house waiting for a Farm Manager

We are looking for a farm manager and have even built a place for him to stay, but we just are not able to find such a person at this time.  If you would like to come and help us for a season or two, please feel free to contact us for more information.

You’re In A Tin Can


Old tin cans may look cool, but you don’t want to sound like one when you are in the recording studio.

The Scripture recording project in Lumasaaba has been fraught with difficulties.  At first we didn’t have any equipment.  We overcame that hurdle when Audio Scripture Ministries generously donated a new laptop computer, microphone with stand, mixer box, hard drive for extra storage and a sturdy case to carry it all in.  They even hand delivered it to Uganda for us.

Anticipating our next hurdle, Audio Scripture Ministries even arranged and paid for us to be trained on how to use the equipment.  Joshua Ssali of Words Of Hope came to Mbale and hosted us at a resort conference center for three days of training.  He fed us lunch and even brought us home in his vehicle every night.  Our team found the training very helpful, but the personal connection with Joshua as a friend and resource was the best thing to come out of that week together.  Now all we needed was a studio.

Pastor Shem is the ultimate I know a guy, guy.  And he contracted with some men, recommended by Joshua, to sound proof a storage room we have upstairs next to the balcony.  The men did the work and when we checked it, they repaired some areas and left us relatively satisfied.  The studio is now covered with red carpet and foam backing on the walls.  Even the floor,ceiling and door are carpeted.  There is a very comforting sound that comes when you stand in the studio and close the door.  Kind of like sucking out the existence of the whole world.  All the birds stop their chattering, the cows lowing is muted and the air becomes still, just waiting to be filled with the spoken Word of God.

We have been friends with Rev. Milton Eridad Sheesa for years.  He is the one who performed our (Shem and Catherine) wedding ceremony in Uganda.  Rev. Sheesa is one of those guys you are glad to be connected with.  He is humble and exceptionally bright, easy to get along with but takes his work very seriously.  And what is his work?  For the last 13 years he has been translating the Bible into Lumasaaba.  The translations work was tough going, like slogging through mud.  So many dialects to organize and standardize into one orthography.  He even had to develops words that didn’t exist in his mother tongue of Lumasaaba.  He was encouraged when I shared with him that William Tyndale had done the same thing and enriched English in the process.  Both Rev. Sheesa and I were excited to realize that this translation of the Holy Bible would actually pull the language of Lumasaaba from the brink of extinction.  We trusted God that the Words of Life contained in the Bible would bring the people (Bamasaaba) from death as well.  There is something about hearing the Bible in your own language that makes it come alive.

So we had the studio, the equipment and the reader.  We even had the MP3 devices we were going to load the recordings onto.  My brothers church in Kenai Alaska pastored by Steven Brown had donated 90 of them at a cost of $35 each.

All of this preparation had taken some time, but we felt the ground work had been laid and we were finally reading to begin.  Itching to begin.  Chomping at the bit.  What every you want to call it.  We felt the urgency of this project pressing us daily to get it done.  But this is Africa and things don’t happen over night.  We had wanted to begin recording in January just after the translated text had been released.  One thing led to another and April rolled around.  The day came when Rev. Sheesa entered the studio and after a few glitches with getting the equipment hooked up, we heard him read the first words.

Mu khurakikha, Wele aabumba likulu ni shibala.  In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

I felt like I was also being created as well, afresh and anew with a Lumasaaba ear to hear the Word of God.  It was a beautiful moment.  Then, through the earphones, sitting at the recording console, I heard something that didn’t sound quite right.  I let it go, but it only got worse.  Finally I played back the recording to Shem and Rev. Sheesa but they couldn’t hear it – so we kept going.

Keep in mind, I have a punctured eardrum and am slightly hard of hearing and I’m not a native Lumasaaba speaker.  As I listened, a growing feeling of doom settled over me like a cloud.  Something was wrong with the recording.  After five chapters, finally Shem and Rev. Sheesa heard it too.  It sounded, at times, like Rev. Sheesa was reading while sitting inside a tin-can.  The sound came and went, seemingly at random. It was very noticeable and the problem was getting worse as the equipment warmed up.

We tried everything to fix the problem.  We thought it might be feedback from the solar power, so we unplugged the computer and let it run on battery.  The sound was till there.  Rev. Sheesa accommodated us by getting closer to the microphone, standing further away; sitting down, standing up.  We tried it all.  Nothing helped.

Then I had the unsettling realization that it must be the equipment.  I called Joshua and sure enough, he told me he had had doubts about the mixer box during our training.  He promised to look for another one, but where could we find such a delicate advanced piece of equipment in Uganda – and at what price.

So that is where we stand now.  We have contacted Audio Scripture Ministries and are trying to work through the company that sold them the equipment to see what can be done.  Joshua has a sample recording of the problem and he is working on his end to find a solution.  But the months are slipping away and we feel every moment lost is another moment a Bamasaaba is not hearing the Word.  Please pray with us that we can push forward and break through these barriers to see the recording completed.  God has a great work for us to do and we don’t want to fail Him.

Happy Walks Home

Most pigs are named beef.  It is a confusing time for cows in Uganda.

Happy the cow likes her name.  It fits her mood and makes her feel safe.  Happy knows, deep inside, she is different from other cows.  Most of her friends don’t even have names.  It can’t be easy for them, staked out in the open field all day, grazing on whatever they can find, waiting for water until evening.  Happy has her food brought right to her stall.  She drinks water from a trough that is constantly kept filled.  Sure she gets kind of lonely at times, but that’s the cost of zero grazing.

Happy the cow and her new calf Ginger.

Something has been happening across the road lately.  Happy has seen builders and motorcycles bringing bags of cement.  There was even a huge tipper truck that unloaded heaps of sand.  Happy likes to watch all the excitement.  She heard a rumor the new house is for her.  Well, not just for her, but all the cows and goats.  The pigs are going to stay in the old corral with the chickens.  The new place is right near the garden.  Happy hopes that means she will get to escape every now and then and bury her nose in the crisp fragrant leaves of the growing corn.  Sometimes she dreams about it at night.

There’s a new farm house being built as well.  It has only two rooms but Happy heard she is going to have a new care taker to milk and feed her.  She knows it can’t be easy to keep her stall clean.  She hopes the new guy will have softer hands that the one who milks her now.  He always seems in such a hurry.

Happy closes her eyes and listens to the flies buzzing.  The day is finally cooling off in the late afternoon and the warm earthy smell of the farm is pleasant.  She sighs contentedly and lays down to chew her cud.  Life in Uganda is sweet.


The new farm house is 24 X 11 feet, offering 264 square feet of living space for a future farm manager.

Happy’s son Philip grazing in front of the their new corral.

Ginger Calf

Our cow which we have named Happy has delivered her second calf on March 3, 2017.  The new calf, Ginger (pictured below) weighed 50 kg (110 lbs) at birth.  She is healthy and huge and oh-so cute!  Mum is also doing well and producing buckets of milk.

Farming God’s Way

Farming Gods Way is an amazing Godly solution to the food security and poverty crisis for the rural poor. It was designed before man was on the face of the earth, when God put His laws in place to govern His creation and their inter-relations with one another. God is the master farmer and He has been farming this way since the beginning. God graciously revealed His truths on how He looks after creation to a wonderful team of Godly men to bring the full package to realization and still we are learning from Him.

Farming God‟s Way has a proven track record of success since 1984, where Brian Oldreive first pioneered these practices on Hinton estate in Zimbabwe on a large scale commercial farm, eventually cropping 3,500 hectares. Since these small beginnings Farming God’s Way has spread into many countries, being used by churches, missionaries and NGO‟s in order to create the critical mass of effectiveness needed to roll out Farming God‟s Way across the continent.

Farming God’s Way is not just a technology but a well balanced biblical, management and technological solution for the agricultural domain, to equip the poor to come out of poverty, with what God has put in their hands and to reveal the fullness of His promised abundant life.

The Word of God says “My people perish because of a lack of knowledge.”  We must acknowledge the importance of teaching the poor faithfulness in the agricultural domain before the rest of the continent‟s potential can be revealed.

We have begun a model garden using a mulching and no-plow method called Farming God’s way.  Shem completed his training in Zimbabwe in September 2015.  We planted our first crop in February 2016.  We have just put in our second crop in February 2017.

Audio Recording of Lumasaaba Bible

Equipment donated by Audio Scripture Ministries

The Bible Society of Uganda completed translation of the entire Bible into Lumasaaba and launched sales on December 23, 2016.  We are very excited to be working with them to bring an audio recording of scripture in this beautiful language, which is spoken by over three million people in Uganda, Kenya and the Bamasaaba diaspora. The recordings are loaded on a hand-held solar device sold by Mega Voice.   We have plans to record the Bible in other Ugandan languages very soon.

Thank you to  Audio Scripture Ministries who so graciously donated the recording equipment and Audio Auditions software with laptop.

Encouraging Visitors from U.K.

We were determined to try Farming God’s Way again in 2017.  We had overcome many obstacles during our first attempt during 2016.  One of which was the low yield and the cost of mulching.   During the prolonged drought that followed harvest, we quickly used up our maize from the previous season.  We began looking for advice from others who had tried this way of farming.  We received many emails but the highlight of our efforts was a personal visit from Mrs. Hannah Couchman and her friend Chris Goodship.  They came all the way from U.K. to visit our fields.

Continue Reading . . .

Trainer of Trainers

CHE Trainer of Trainers (TOT)

CHE Training of Trainers (TOT) is designed to equip participants to implement their own integrated ministry of community health and evangelism in a target area. The training is done in three phases. Each phase involves 35 hours of learning followed by approximately six months in the field.

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Our First Efforts

In  March 2016, we set about to plant one sixth of an acre as a model test garden using the Farming God’s Way solution.  It was a hard row to hoe, as they say.  We soon found out that conservation farming is no joke.  It was a lot of hot dusty back-breaking labor.  This is a chronicle of our journey to harvest.

Continue Reading . . .

The Bait of Satan (Lake Mary, Florida: Charisma House, 2004)

When living with people from different cultures and backgrounds, it is all to easy for misunderstandings and conflict to occur.  Many times we can become offended which brings hurt and anger, disrupting the unity of the ministry team.  This book helps us do a spiritual house cleaning of our hearts to keep us free from  unforgiveness, bitterness and offense.  It is a valuable resource for both individual and team application.

Learning Something New

Pastor Shem Mabongor had always wanted to use mulch to cover his gardens, but he didn’t know it was God’s way of doing things until he heard of the no plow, mulching method of conservation farming called Farming God’s Way. He was excited to learn that mulch was God’s blanket.  In Pastor Shem’s home village near Mbale Uganda many of the trees have been cut down.  Because of that firewood is scarce.  People look for any small twig or dry stick they can use to cook a meal.  God’s blanket has been stripped from this area.

When the Mabongor’s missionary sending agency, Christian Health Service Corps, offered to send Pastor Shem for training in how to farm using God’s Way it was the perfect opportunity to learn what was already in his heart. 

Continue Reading . . .