By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent BosNewsLife
BUDAPEST/BRATISLAVA (BosNewsLife)– One of the world’s largest Christian broadcasters has launched an application for smartphones and other mobile devices to reach millions of refugees in the Middle East or travelling from that troubled region to Europe. Trans World Radio (TWR) told BosNewsLife that its ‘Refugee Bridge’ app is designed “to meet the emotional, psychological and spiritual needs of displaced people by offering practical and Biblical content in the Arabic language.”
The app is available on touchscreen mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets running on the Android operating system. It was not immediately clear when and if the Refugee Bridge app would be seen on Apple products running on iOS system, but other TWR applications are already available on the iPhone and iPad.
TWR’s initiative comes as millions of refugees, including persecuted Christians, have been fleeing war-torn areas such as Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, with many carrying smartphones to stay in touch with those left behind. As most refugees are Muslims, “Content is strategically placed on the app as a way to minister to those who come from oral cultures and/or those who wish to maintain discretion in their exploration of Christianity, as they could otherwise be harmed or ostracized if they were seen visibly reading a hard-cover Bible, for example,” TWR said in a statement.
“Addressing both spiritual and physical needs, content will provide Biblical counsel on refugee-specific issues – such as displacement and loneliness – with the goal of speaking like a friend,” the broadcaster said. “The app contains Hope for Syria episodes and Women of Hope programs, all of which are especially relevant for Muslim refugees. For Christian, Arabic-speaking refugees, we also offer TWR360 and the TWR Arabic app.”
TWR network said that “All content is download making it easy for users to access programs on the go, even without [wireless Internet] Wi-Fi access.” TWR explained that it had been “working quickly to reach refugees during the window of time in which they are most open to hearing the Gospel” by expanding radio programs that were originally produced for refugees in Syria and Lebanon.
More than one million migrants fleeing war and poverty arrived in Western Europe alone last year through the notorious Balkans route, facing difficulties after Hungary build fences to keep them out.
TWR announced that pending funding it also wants to “create and upload fresh, tailor-made programs for incoming refugees to Europe in a variety of languages” including Farsi as well as adding a collection of videos. “App advertisement, distribution and follow up are made possible by our national partners and the Christian refugee organizations interacting directly with refugees.”
Since its first Arabic broadcast to the Middle East in June 1961, TWR claims to have sought “to provide a beacon of hope to Arab peoples, having gained insight into the culture, traditions and backgrounds of the ministry fields through relationships of trust.”
For over 50 years, “long before the refugee crisis became a trending topic of social concern”, TWR has been trying to reach the 380 million people in the Middle East and North Africa, the network said. Globally, TWR says it distributes Christian content in over 230 languages and dialects in 160 countries, “using high-powered AM/MW, shortwave or FM radio, streaming content to Internet users or visiting face-to-face with listeners” aimed at leaving “a lasting spiritual footprint”.
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