People who take God at His Word believe the Bible is 100 percent true and do what it says. They live a radical life of faith, choosing to wait patiently for God’s direction even when obeying Him seems impractical or impossible. Fifty years ago, two people took God at His Word and, in obedience, founded Faith Comes By Hearing.
Jerry and Anet Jackson traded a comfortable life they enjoyed for a challenging adventure of faith. Ministry on the road as a young missionary family taught fierce dependence on hearing God speak. In practical obedience to Him, hearts of humility and service grew ready to receive a vision of bringing God’s Word to every person.
The Jacksons arrived in Albuquerque in 1971 as interim missionaries to the Hopi and Navajo people. A Hopi leader told Jerry missionaries had already come preaching God’s Word, and his people believed what was taught. Sadly, the Hopi Bibles the missionaries left behind were of no use—the people could not read them. With no connection to Truth in their language, there was no life change, and they turned back to unbelief. From this, Jerry became convinced people need the Bible in an understandable format.
When their time among the Hopi and Navajo people ended, God told the Jacksons to stay in Albuquerque. They obediently parked the bus they called home in a spot overlooking the city. Jerry walked in the evenings and listened for further direction from God. One night, with the city lights in full view, it seemed he could stretch out his arms and hold all of Albuquerque in one embrace. As he thought this, he heard these words: “Bring My church together and make disciples.” Over time, an image formed in his mind of a safe place where followers of Jesus could access a library of Bibles and Bible teachings. Standards became clear about the content. Most importantly: Raise up Jesus as Lord and Savior and do not create division among Christ’s Church. Faith Comes By Hearing—then named “Hosanna”—was born as a Christian tape-lending library a year later.
The growth and development of the ministry were not without challenges. There was a time when the primary New Testament recording was a version read by a prominent voice actor. Because of a misunderstanding of state laws around property rights, all work involving this recording was discontinued, and no related inventory was usable. This single recording accounted for 80 percent of the ministry’s product line. Hosanna employed 250 people when this happened, so losing such an asset was a difficult blow. God, in His sovereignty, had a plan: The work shifted to the production of what proved to be an even more widely received version of Scripture. This turn of events also taught the ministry the importance of clear agreements with text holders and readers.
In the mid-1980s, amid the busyness of creating cassettes and maintaining the lending library, Anet had an idea to make a dramatized Audio Bible for children. Since Hosanna already provided 70 children’s stories on tape and in print in the ministry’s product line, the process was familiar. Anet recorded Mark and Revelation and shared them with parents who used the ministry’s tape-lending library. Their response: Not only did children like the Audio Bible, but they enjoyed listening as well.
Word spread internationally of Faith Comes By Hearing and their English Audio Bibles. Impactful collaboration began as pastors desired God’s audible Word in the languages of the people they served. If educated Americans with access to print Bibles could have Audio Bibles, why not non-literate or non-readers in other countries? Jerry recalled the Hopi Bibles and his conviction that people need God’s Word in a form they can understand. He was stirred to act, and Haitian Creole became the ministry’s first indigenous Scripture recording. Romulo Sauñe, a trailblazer of the New Testament in Quechua Ayacucho—eventually martyred for his ministry—asked Faith Comes By Hearing to make cassette tapes of his recording so he could provide the people he served with biblical truth. Reverend Theo Asare of Theovision International, an experienced Christian radio and television ministry, built a recording center with Faith Comes By Hearing and launched an Audio Bible listening group in 1989.
Testimonies and requests for recordings poured in from other parts of the world. Inspired, ministry staff sought solutions to provide more language communities with God’s Word in audio. They reached out to friends, family members, churches, and businesses, inviting them to support the work of sharing the Gospel with people who had never heard God speak their language. Priceless relationships grew from these contacts into a generous donor base.
Audio Bible listening in the United States continued with vigor. Churches across the nation participated in a New Testament listening campaign based on Romans 10:17, aptly named “Faith Comes By Hearing.” Pastors, testifying to the increase of faith in their congregations, proved to the ministry it was time to focus on recording pure Scripture. Hosanna—the name associated with the ministry’s lending library—officially became Faith Comes By Hearing in 1995.
Jerry and Anet Jackson still live a life of faith today, taking God at His Word, and the vision of Faith Comes By Hearing is still the same: record and provide God’s Word for every person in every language that needs it. In each new challenge, this vision keeps the ministry focused and steadfast. Recording teams and Audio Bibles travel around the world, and multitudes of oral learners hear God speak their language. Listening to Audio Bibles, people are saved because “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”