Updated 4/15/16 (see sections #1 and 2 below)

With literally thousands of new refugees flooding into Europe every single day and countries like Germany expecting to grant asylum to 800,000 refugees within the next year, the Church needs to step up- both to show the love of God through acts of practical service as well as to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with them.  I believe that this refugee crisis is a move of our sovereign Lord's hand to bring many from the 10th largest unengaged/unreached people group in the world (see the side column on the 2nd page of this article) into contact with the Church in Europe.  Mobile ministry can enable believers in Europe who don't speak Arabic the opportunity both to share the gospel in the midst of personal interactions as well as a way to give refugees a copy of the Good News they can keep with them on the one device that the refugees have and are using to guide them in their journey.


Mobile Advance is working to provide Gospel materials to these refugees by partnering with several ministries in the Middle East and Europe but our abilities are limited and the need is overwhelming.  In the interest of spreading the knowledge and effort, here are some options that you could consider in reaching this harvest field that God is bringing to the Church in Europe:


1)  No Cost

***Update 11/18/15***
Greater Europe Mission (GEM) has released an update of their C2C (Creation to Christ) app that includes an Arabic presentation of the core message of the Bible.  You can find the app both in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.  Having this app on your phone can enable non-Arabic speakers to share Gospel truth in refugees' heart language.

If you download a copy of Your Phone - God's Glory you will find ways that you can set up your smartphone so that you can share language-appropriate Bible verses, audio and video clips from the JESUS Film and Global Recording Networks (GRN) in one-on-one interactions with refugees.  It also shares how you can help those who have smartphones themselves get copies of those resources on their own phones (they would need internet access to download the apps).  Additionally, there is information on how you can download the GRN audio and video files and either Bluetooth individual files to the phone of the person you are interacting with OR put a bunch of clips/recordings onto microSD memory cards to distribute.


2)  Low Cost

***Update 4/15/16***
Renew has just reduced the price of loaded microSD cards by about 70% so you can now reach nearly four times as many people as before at the same cost!!!  Cards are now $2.50 each with at $0.23 charge for each audio Bible load but no other loading charges.  For just $100 you can reach 36 families with the Gospel via JESUS Film/audio Bible loaded microSD phone memory cards now!

You could reach 11 families with approximately $150* by purchasing 11 microSD cards that are pre-loaded with audio Bibles and the JESUS Film in the language of your choosing (Arabic would be the most useful followed by Afghan dialects such as Pashtu or Dari).  Renew Outreach offers the service with blank 4GB microSD cards running $6.25 apiece (minimum order is 10) and there an additional charge of $2.25 per card for each media tool included on the microSD card (i.e. $2.25 extra per card for just the JESUS Film, $4.50 per card for the JESUS Film AND the Faith Comes by Hearing Audio Bible, etc.).

For $225 (and a lot more time and labor) you could get gospel materials out to 100 families*.  You can purchase 100 microSD cards for that price at Amazon or eBay and then download an Arabic audio Bible here as well as the Prophets' Stories videos and Lives of the Prophets videos (choose the 3GP format for downloading the videos as they play on more types of phones than MP4).  Once you have the all the files  on your computer you can begin copying them onto the microSD cards one card at a time using the USB adapter that comes included with the order.  My recommendation would be to have this video (animated creation to Christ overview) out on its own at the top level of the microSD card and then have all the other items each under their own folder (Bible, Prophets Stories, Lives of the Prophets).


3)  Medium Cost
You could reach 100 plus families for about $650* by purchasing a Renew LightStream device pre-loaded with Bibles (audio and text), the JESUS Film, and a number of other outreach audio/visual resources in the language of your choosing (about $420 including shipping in the U.S. for the AC powered model, add $180 for the battery powered model) along with 100 blank microSD cards (about $230 via eBay or Amazon).  Once you have those materials in hand you would then load the outreach materials onto the blank microSD cards using the LightStream’s four duplicator ports.  If further funds were available you could purchase lots of 100 microSD memory cards for approximately $230 apiece.  Imagine being able to get the Gospel into the hands (and onto the phones) of 1,000 refugees for only $2,700 and some hours of loading those cards four-at-a-time.  The LightStream device also offers some other exciting capabilities that could be used in outreach including Bluetooth broadcasting of media to nearby devices and the provision of a WiFi hotspot which allows connected devices to download any media available on the Lightstream. 


Of course having the materials isn't the same as getting them to the refugees so you should either be able to do that "yourself" (i.e. you live in the area, can travel there, or can get your church or ministry to send a group there) or have contacts in the Middle East or Europe who are either already reaching out to the refugees or would be interested in doing that if they could be equipped to do so.  

If you have any questions or other ideas that people should know of for reaching out to these refugees and offering them the hope of the Gospel do write in via the comment section below.

* Admittedly these costs do not account for the cost of mailing/transporting the materials to Europe/the Middle East but microSD cards are incredibly small and lightweight so even that should not be too burdensome.

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We had a splendid time in Holland last month for the 2015 Mobile Ministry Forum Consultation and I will point you to the Executive Summary to get caught up on all the goodness that happened there.

One of the things I presented at the conference was a "worksheet" that I have developed to help people assess what is going on in the digital realm in their country of interest.  The worksheet helps you to find relevant information about mobile and internet penetration, top social media and video channels, cost of internet access and availability of high speed internet, etc. etc.

To download a copy and find out what's going on in you country of interest click here.
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It has been over a year and a half now since we published a review of 13 portable Bluetooth speakers that could be used in mobile ministry. With many new products on the market I tested 13 new models and want to share the updated results and recommendations with you.  You may want to  reread the original review to get some background on the place of external speakers in mobile ministry as well as insight into testing foci and parameters.  A detailed spreadsheet giving specs and findings for all the models tested can be found here.

Editor's Choice

Pocket Speaker

Divoom BlueTune Bean ($25)
With a size and shape that can be easily slipped in and out of your jeans pocket this speaker amazes with a rich, powerful volume far beyond its size or cost.  The rubberized covering gives some sense of assurance when you drop it but, that said, it is not marketed as being particularly ruggedized or water resistant.  Two years on, this remains my personal favorite pocket speaker.  Two weaknesses of this model are a relatively short battery life (6 hours) and the shortest range Bluetooth reception in the test (45.5 feet).

Portable Speaker
Tie- Ecoxgear Ecorox ($65)
It wasn't the loudest. It didn't have the longest lasting battery. It wasn't the smallest or lightest. But, it did quite well in each of those areas AND it was the one and only truly waterproof model (did I mention that it even floats) and is wonderfully ruggedized.  For those reasons the Ecorox is my recommendation for a great portable speaker for mobile ministry

Tie- EasyACC Olive ($22)
Just like the Ecorox, the Olive wasn't a stand out in any of the mainstay areas- volume/sound quality, battery life, or size but it did pretty well in each of them.  The stand out areas for the EasyACC Olive, though, were its amazing price tag and ability to perform as a standalone audio media player, playing media off of thumb drives and and SD and microSD memory cards.  My concern with this device is that its plastic construction and openings in its body mean that it is not a top choice in terms of long-term durability.


Honorable Mentions:

Best Audio
JBL Charge ($105)
My smartphone decibel meter refused to register high enough to give me an accurate reading for the Charge- it was just that powerful!  A nice bonus feature with the Charge is that it can function as a battery charger, sharing juice from its 12 hour battery life.  This is definitely a speaker that you're going to need to put in a pack or purse as it is not likely to be able to fit into even a jacket pocket. The Charge comes with a really nice neoprene case but I suppose you should probably expect that plus more when you're paying over $100 for a speaker!

Best Pocket Speaker/Standalone Media Player
EasyACC P6697 ($20)
This appears to be the Sharkk Bluetooth speaker I reviewed previously but rebranded by another company. I still highly recommend the speaker for someone looking for a relatively pocketable speaker that is able to play media all on its own.



Thoughts on other models tested:

Ultimate Ears MINI BOOM
This is an updated model of our top pick choice from 2013. I really like this speaker for the combination of great volume/quality (second only to the JBL Charge) with smaller size/weight.  This is a good model for the audio purist who has significant restrictions on pack size.  At $80-100, it's not exactly cheap, it doesn't have any ruggedization/weatherproofing and it doesn't function as a standalone media player.


Divoom Voombox Travel
A bit larger and heavier than the Divoom Bluetune Bean the Voombox Travel is marketed as being ruggedized and water resistant.  I had high hopes after good experiences with other Divoom products but I was quite disappointed when a rubber O-Ring fell off the device upon opening the packaging.  This made me question the weatherproofing and that, combined with the fact that the smaller BlueTune Bean had the same volume in testing, led to me recommending the BlueTune Bean over the Voombox Travel.


Divoom Voombox Ongo
Very similar in dimensions and qualities to the Ecoxgear Ecorox the Voombox Ongo fell short of the Ecorox in video playback volume, waterproofing (weatherproof only), and cost ($15 more than the Ecorox)


Outdoor Tech OT1800 Turtle Shell 2.0
While this speaker has a nifty design it fell short in far too many areas for being one of the more expensive models tested. An area of significant failure was getting one of the lowest video playback volume scores (even though its music playback score was reasonable).


Panasonic SC-NT10-D TOUGH
With good ruggedization and weatherproofing as well as a relatively small pack size the Panasonic came with high hopes. Unfortunately, though, playback volume for both music and video was at the bottom of the pack- models nearly a third its size and half its cost blew it out of the water.

Jabra Solemate
Perhaps in previous times the Jabra Solemate would have been a standout performer but not in today's market. The Solemate advertises "Hi Definition Dolby Sound" but I found the volume to be just so-so, especially considering it was the 2nd largest and 2nd heaviest model in the test.
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