Singing in Swedish Helped Millions Hear Jesus In Gambia

Thu August 22, 2019 · Comments

"I will praise you, Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples" (Psalm 57:9, NIV).

As I laid awake at night as a young girl, I periodically experienced anxiety before I fell asleep. My mom often came beside by bed and prayed with me and sang worship songs before tucking me in.

"As the Deer," an older hymn she often sang, became a song of peace that has continued to stay with me as an adult. When I feel anxious my mind recalls the words, "To You alone may my spirit yield, You alone are my heart's desire and I long to worship Thee. As the deer panteth for the water so my soul longeth after Thee, You alone are my heart's desire and I long to worship Thee."

There's nothing magical about the lyrics, simply the feeling of old comfort and love that is attached with it, from my mom and God using that song.

It's a sweet gift when parents or church children's classes remind us of God's love through songs and we can later recall them as adults.

In 1997, Jesus Film Project learned that the BBC radio network in England, was producing what they referred to as, "Audio Movies," or dramatic presentations of movies that could be adapted for radio.

The ministry's previous director, Paul Eshleman, had an interesting interaction with a man in the media industry. This is his story:

Ministry representatives traveling with Paul, approached BBC with the idea of producing "JESUS" film as an audio movie. Miraculously, they agreed and it was completed later that year.

Upon the audio version being completed, he had a few weeks in Gambia before he was to return to the United States.

Paul curiously pursued the opportunity to share the audio version on national radio over Christmas time.

He walked into the national radio station, and was greeted by a six foot, five inch, blonde-haired man, who introduced himself as Lucas*, a "radio guy from Sweden."

Interestingly, Paul's family was born and raised in Sweden.

"I don't speak any Swedish, but I do know one song (in Swedish)," Paul said.

"Treg aray con ingen vawra," which roughly translates to "more secure is no one ever, than in the arms of Jesus my Savior," when Lucas pulled his cigarette out from his lips and sang the following three verses of the old Swedish hymn.

Paul shared the gospel with him, and Lucas shared about the faith of his earlier days that he had walked away from.

And then he said, "I will help you distribute this program."

It was a five-part radio series totaling two and a half hours.

"We will air this three times on National Radio," Lucas continued.

One million people had access to hearing the life of Jesus, in Gambia that year, all because God used an old hymn in one man’s heart language.

"I am convinced that the Lord had me memorize that song as an eight-year old, so that one day a million people in Gambia would have access to the gospel in their own language," Paul said.

What worship song did you memorize as a child that you often think back upon today? Share with us in the comments below.

*Name changed for security.

A recent graduate from Wright State University in Ohio, Sarah Olsen, graduated with a degree in mass communication and is excited to combine her passions for God, writing and travel with Jesus Film Project. Olsen has written for an integrated broadcasting, publishing and digital media company, and as a student reporter for her university. You can find additional publications at Dayton.com and Wright.edu/newsroom. After interning with Jesus Film Project for two years, she has decided to join staff with the ministry. She enjoys learning about other cultures, watching movies, eating ice cream and being outdoors.

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