Adventist Review Ministries launched new WhatsApp channel app.
A new WhatsApp channel will allow millions of Kiswahili-speaking Seventh-day Adventist church members and others to read Adventist World magazine and related content in their mother tongue. The new resource, which will serve East and Central Africa and the African diaspora, was launched during the Adventist Church Executive Committee meetings on October 12, 2020.
Church leaders emphasized that the new development highlights the traditional importance the magazine has enjoyed as an evangelistic tool across Africa, and opens a world of possibilities, as it will reach millions with the Adventist message.
“Adventist World has been a tool of evangelism in our region,” Blasious Ruguri, president of the church’s East-Central Africa Division, said. “Our people have cherished it.” Adding a Kiswahili digital option to the print English edition can reinforce this evangelistic use even more, church leaders said.
A LONG JOURNEY
Bill Knott, Adventist Review Ministries executive director responsible for the publishing of Adventist World, shared that as early as 2008, then-Adventist Church president Jan Paulsen gave Adventist Review Ministries the challenge of printing and distributing an edition in Kiswahili in East Africa. For various reasons it was not possible at the time, he said.
Knott explained the initiative’s strategic importance. “Kiswahili- speaking and -reading Adventists account for more than 2.3 million members of the church, about 11 percent of the world total,” he shared.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced Adventist Review Ministries and others to reimagine how to go about mission. “We had to move some printers when others temporarily closed,” Knott shared. “We moved some editions from print to digital distribution, which made us all think about new ways of delivering on our promise of a Kiswahili Adventist World edition.”
HOW THE APP WORKS
The new application is based on the popular social media app WhatsApp, a freeware, crossplatform messaging application that allows users to send text messages and voice messages, make voice and video calls, and share images, documents, and other media. Once registered, users get access to a Kiswahili translation of Adventist World magazine articles and news published every month, church leaders explained.
Knott said that news about the WhatsApp channel delivering Adventist World is expected to go to 100,000 “influencers,” who are then urged to share the magazine with their contacts. “We’ve moved from a paper, print, and logistics approach for this special edition to a human-to-human smartphone delivery that will spread virally to Adventists and those who are not yet Adventists,” he said.
IMPORTANCE FOR MISSION
Church leaders emphasized that across many places in Africa, Kiswahili is becoming a lingua franca as increasing numbers of people communicate in that language. “It is a magnificent language,” Adventist Church president Ted N. C. Wilson emphasized. “[This app] is a wonderful opportunity to give Kiswahili a huge push for presenting the worldwide work of Seventh-day Adventists.”
Ruguri said he has confidence that Adventist World will “continue to be an evangelistic tool, a unifying factor,” for the church. “Especially in those places where people think the Adventist Church is a small church, when people open the magazine they come to discover that it is a global church,” he said.