Reading the Old Testament stories of Kings over a morning coffee. Pondering the Psalms during a break at work. Considering the story of Ruth or Job before crawling into bed. These opportunities do not make up everyone’s daily routine, but the option of easy access to Scripture ought not be taken for granted. Reading God’s truth in one’s own language is a luxury not all people can claim. John Paul (JP) Sundararajan has dedicated his life to providing access to Bibles for the people of India who would not otherwise have access to Scripture.
Sundararajan and his family live in Holland, Michigan, and run their ministry out of Bangalore, India, a place JP calls home. They have witnessed the great need for translations in the multitude of languages India offers. This need has prompted translating the Bible into as many languages as possible.
However, translating the Bible for people in India is not simple. There are people in Bangalore and across India whose language is solely oral. Others live with disabilities, such as visual-impairments, hindering them from reading written translations if available in their dialect. The need for Bibles in a non-traditional form called for a new perspective. JP’s father was one of the first to recognize the need for more accessible forms of Scripture in India. His son, JP, through the Lord’s guidance, went on to follow in his footsteps.
After attending Northwestern College, JP received his Master’s of Divinity from Western Seminary in Holland, Michigan. Afterward, God opened doors for mission work in JP’s home country. JP partnered with the RCA to run Audio Scriptures Ministries; recording the Bible accessibly for people without access.
The audio-Bibles JP and his team provide are small, hand-held devices; perfect for secret-Christians in unsafe locations needing a discreet way to hear God’s truth, and convenient for busy people finding encouragement by listening to the Scriptures as they work. For 14 years, JP and his team have found homes for these highly demanded devices and seek to produce more than 5,000 audio-Bibles a year and possibly expand into Nepal.
With the success and approaching expansion of Audio Scripture Ministry, JP expressed that it has been “humbling to be on the front-lines of this ministry”. He explained that people in India are disadvantaged when they are forced to learn different languages simply to read God’s word. Studying the Bible through the lens of a different language is taxing on believers in India. Crucial to JP’s mission is to provide a way for people to experience God’s love made real through their ‘heart language’.
JP’s work in India includes about 4 international trips a year with different teams and extensive local outreach. Nine years ago, NW students joined the summer of service program in India and participated in JP’s ministry. These students traveled to India and witnessed the first recording of an indigenous language. In Orange City, NW students supported Audio Scriptures Ministries by sponsoring the effort.
The encouragement NW has extended JP, especially during his visits to Orange City, left him feeling loved and welcomed home. In turn, JP’s ministry and love of God have impressed the people of Northwestern, as Barb Dewald explained that JP is “an amazing person who loves God and others well”.
Sundararajan’s unique ministry, Audio Scripture Ministries, has provided him two callings. He has aided in the growth of the church in India, as well as inspired the church in the United States. Both places, though far apart, can be joined in their delight and appreciation of the importance of God’s word.
Sundararajan returns to the campus of his alma mater to speak in chapel for the third time in four years. His intention is to once again share the story of his ministry with NW students and faculty.