An App for Research

Over Spring Break a team of Covenant computer science students including Marc Bohler, Joseph Mbabu, Obed Tandadjaja and Anna Hankal traveled to Colorado to spend a week with a mission organization called LightSys. LightSys provides technology, specifically software, for other mission organizations such as Wycliffe, Pioneers, and Joshua Project. LightSys provides their services free of charge so that these organizations can continue to move forward with their work unhindered by costly software development.

Every year LightSys sets aside weeks in the spring for college students to come and spend their spring breaks writing small applications requested by different organizations. The Covenant team joined students from LeTourneau University and by the end of the week the group of sixteen students from the two universities had finished six of the requested applications.

The Covenant team’s specific assignment involved writing an Android app requested by Siberian missionaries working with the Evenki people in Russia. The Evenki people live in very hard-to-reach, rural villages and spend their lives herding reindeer. Many of these people may not even have running water or basic necessities, but they do have smart phones. This is a huge opportunity that the missionaries in the area are seeking to leverage in order to reach these people with the gospel. The Evenki language is quickly dying because of a variety of cultural shifts, and the app the team wrote promoted language learning for children whose heart language is Evenki. Anyone who speaks multiple languages will understand that there is something very significant about one’s own heart language, and when it comes to sharing the gospel, it is vital for people to understand that Jesus is not some Western concept or foreign deity. Preaching the gospel in a person’s heart language communicates to them that the cross has deep relevance for them in their own culture.The Siberian missionaries the team worked with longed to give this app as a gift to the Evenki people and use it as a pre-evangelistic tool that will give Evenki children a chance to learn bits and pieces of their own dying heart language spoken by the generations before them. The hope is that the gospel presentation to these children and their families can then have Evenki words woven into the Russian trade language commonly used.

Writing the language-learning app was a process that took the team all week. Each morning the students and missionaries would meet to worship and pray over the work ahead that day, and then the teams would work until dinnertime in the rush to get the app done by the end of the week. Nights were also filled with worship, fellowship, and encouraging testimonies from the missionaries in Colorado Springs.

At LightSys, Jesus is Lord in a very tangible way in these missionaries’ lives. Their dependence on the Lord is present in everything from the way they raise support to the way they pray over difficult coding bugs, asking the Lord for answers as they sit at their computer screens. Prayer is integral, kind words and self-sacrifice are the norm, and the goal of God’s name being known among all the nations is never abstracted away from the technical work.

Because of the work being done at LightSys, the gospel is going forth effectively and in power in all sorts of new avenues offered by the technology that God has given to us. The Covenant team was very grateful to get a glimpse of the work being done there, and even become a part of it for the week. May we remember to keep our brothers and sisters serving at LightSys in our prayers as they serve the Lord with their unique gifts.