Courtney Ellis is a pastor and speaker and the author of Uncluttered (Feb. 2019, Rose Publishing). She lives in Southern California with her husband, Daryl, and their three kids. Find her on Twitter, Facebook, or her blog.
The Courage for Life audio Bible is available on iTunes, Android, or by texting the word BIBLE to 62953.
For years, author, speaker, and Bible teacher Ann White felt a burden to help at-risk women come to know the love of Jesus. Through her work in local American prisons as well as low-income communities in Southeast Asia, White saw a deep need for greater accessibility to Scripture.
As the founder of Courage for Life, an organization dedicated to “strengthen, equip, and empower the world for Christ,” White’s passion to share the good news of Jesus led her to take on a project that’s time had finally come: an all-female-voiced audio recording of Scripture.
The Courage for Life (CFL) Bible is the first audio version of the Word recorded solely with women’s voices. It features a diverse group of female voice actors reading the New Living Translation. While the New Testament portion launched this year, White is currently fundraising to help finish recording the Old Testament. She spoke with CT about why the female-voiced Bible speaks to both sexes and how CFL plans to reach inmates across the country.
My first thought when hearing about your project was, “This is so long overdue!” Part of me couldn’t believe this hadn’t been done already.
That was my first thought!
Why did you choose to record the New Living Translation, in particular?
In working with local missions in our own backyard, whether it’s women in homeless shelters, battered women’s shelters, safe houses, or incarcerated women, their reading levels are very low. We chose the New Living Translation because it’s a great translation for the women we work with. Even when you take a printed book to someone who doesn’t read a lot or struggles to read, they’re really intimidated by the Bible.
Why women’s voices?
In working with at-risk women, we know through research and our own experience that you want to use gender-specific treatment. You don’t have a man go in and work with a woman who has been victimized by a man. We thought the same thing could be true for teaching the Bible to a woman with past trauma. She can better hear Scripture from a woman’s voice.
So my first thought was, let’s find a women’s audio Bible and make it available. We started looking, and we couldn’t find one. We thought, “What in the world, why hasn’t this been done? Lord, are you calling us to do this?”
So we began fundraising, and our generous donors came alongside us and helped us get the New Testament done in less than a year. That was amazing. We had 12 professional voiceover actresses from Burbank, California. Our producer is a two-time Grammy-nominated recording artist and an incredibly godly man, and he auditioned close to 80 women before he chose 12 of them. We wanted different age groups and ethnic backgrounds.
These gals have just been on fire about this project—they’re chomping at the bit to get it done. We’re currently adding eight books of the Old Testament to the Bible app. That’ll be done in the next couple of weeks. The New Testament is already up. It’s being picked up all over the world, which is even more than I could have hoped for or dreamed of.
How can incarcerated women access this audio Bible?
There are a certain number of states that are issuing tablets to inmates in order to give them positive content to combat the negative content in their lives. The prisons make certain things available, and then the inmates can choose what they’d like. There’s educational content there or music, and then, of course, the audio Bible. It takes time to go through all the hoops, but it looks like we’ll soon be up and running in one state—where there are roughly 50,000 inmates, both men and women—and there’s also another state waiting. We’ll also be partnering with Megavoice to put it on audio players that can also go into prisons.
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Source: Christianity Today