The Lutheran (LCMS) missionaries who would eventually become the Founders of VVMI are sent to serve among the Kankanaey people in northern Luzon, Philippines. Their first years are spent learning the language and the culture and doing some church planting.
When the LCMS pulls out of the Philippines, the Founders join Wycliffe Bible Translators, with the primary purpose of distributing and promoting the Kankanaey Scriptures. Consumer video technology was just becoming available, and they discover it is a great tool for not only communicating to oral culture people but also for building interest in translated Scripture.
A young Kankanaey believer becomes a full time distribution/promotion partner. The strategy is specifically to use videos to get the Kankanaey people excited about the Kankanaey Scriptures. Initially, they pioneer the dubbing of the New Media Bible videos (professional productions of LUKE and GENESIS, similar to the “Jesus” film) into the Kankanaey language and show them in hundreds of villages.
The first original video is produced and shown at the dedication of the Kankanaey New Testament. Twenty thousand people attend this dedication held over two weekends, and all 7,000 printed Kankanaey New Testaments are either sold or put on consignment within a month!
After seeing the success and understanding the potential of vernacular video ministry, Vernacular Video Ministry (VVM) becomes a recognized non-profit organization in the Philippines.
The Founders start working together with Overseas Missionary Fellowship (OMF) missionaries in the Philippines, and Manobo Media Ministry (MMM) was started. MMM later becomes Vernacular Media Network (VMN). This ministry continues to proclaim the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ through video and other media to the indigenous people of Mindanao and beyond.
Vernacular Video Mission International (VVMI) is incorporated in the United States in order to better partner with the national media organizations in the Philippines. The VVMI Board of Directors, however, strongly believe that equipping and training ethnic nationals to proclaim the gospel through video and other media in their common language (VVMI mission statement) is a great idea, not only in the Philippines but potentially almost anywhere in the world.
VVMI Founders start transitioning to other ministry in Asia beyond the Philippines. VVMI Board member, Colin Edwards, sensing the call to step into the gap, becomes the “Executive Director In Training.”
The pre-VVMI association with VMN in the Philippines is put on hold pending organizational changes being made in the field by VMN and OMF. Up to this time, VMN has completed 18 original vernacular video productions.
Colin Edwards becomes the Executive Director of VVMI. VVMI re-emphasizes at that time the importance of vernacular Scriptures in making disciples in addition to film showing evangelism. VVMI’s only ministry partner, VVM, has by this time completed 35 original vernacular video productions.
VVMI further expands by beginning a new partnership with Viña Association, a national ministry based in Guatemala. Viña is helping provide vernacular media for minority language groups in Central America and Mexico, but also producing a much- needed children’s ministry video and lesson resource called “Deditos” – dressed up fingers that help tell Bible stories.
Also in 2008, the VVM “Church Mobilization Initiative (CMI)” starts and revolutionizes video ministry in the Philippines. Instead of solitary evangelists showing films at churches, groups of churches in a language group or region organize and begin sharing equipment and working together to successfully communicate the Gospel and make disciples. In connection with this rapidly expanding, organized, and systematic evangelism by church groups, new Bible studies and church plants result. VVM and VVMI recognize the need to help provide vernacular Scriptures in order for these churches to effectively make disciples, resulting in the ongoing (print) Bible partnership project.
VVMI rejoices in the prospect of continued growth and partnership in spreading the Gospel through video and other media. An official partnership understanding is reached to reinstitute work with VMN in the Philippines.
VVM-CMI Director Darwin Bayani and Colin Edwards are invited to speak at the first-ever Americas area Christian media conference hosted by Viña in Guatemala. This event links VVMI ministry partners across the Pacific, begins the sharing of Viña’s “Deditos” in the Philippines, and introduces VVMI to future ministry partner ILMAV based in Peru.
A noteworthy year for VVMI’s Philippines partners’ attendance and mutual edification at the first-ever joint video production training seminar held in Baguio City. Representatives of both VVM-CMI and VMN come together for a week of hands-on learning with a volunteer professional videographer from the States.
The year also sees a preliminary investigation and visit by VVMI representatives to a potential partner ministry in Peru (ILMAV) that would eventually expand VVMI’s involvement into South America.
In the fall, Viña Director Jose’ Abel de la Cruz visits several VVMI supporting churches for the first time with the VVMI Executive Director.
An increase to 10 “mobilized” church groups involved in the VVM-CMI. Print Bible requests jump to over 25,000 copies (one copy per family unit). This year also sees the first-ever VVMI short-term trip team visit to Viña. The trip precipitates 5 Kaqchikel churches allowing “Deditos” to be shown at their facilities for the first time ever within that language group, which in turn opens further doors to share “Deditos.”
VVMI begins a partnership with ILMAV (Impacting Minority Languages with Audiovisual Media) based in Lima, Peru, South America.
The first VVMI audio Bible project is completed in cooperation with Audio Scripture Ministry (ASM) based in Holland, MI: 200 MegaVoice Envoy units in three major trade languages are supplied to VMN in the Philippines.
This is also a very sad year in VVMI’s history. Board Director Michael Bratlie, a veteran pilot, disappears along with his plane while on a test flight to check an overhauled engine. Neither Mike nor his plane is ever found.
The number of VVM-CMI teams in the Philippines increases to 17. Bible demand among VVM-CMI groups rises to 40,000 copies (one per family unit), but VVMI is only able to provide about 8% of the need.
VVMI starts a “strategic alliance” with ASM that supplies more digital audio players to VVMI’s partners in the Philippines.
On a sad note, Board Chairman Dr. James Neff goes to be with the Lord in August following a battle with cancer.
The VVMI Board recognizes the need to help supply the VVM-CMI not only print Bibles but also audio Scriptures since many people can’t read either due to blindness or illiteracy, and the “Audio Bible Fund” becomes a standing project.
VVM-CMI Bible demand increases to 70,000 copies, but less than 6,000 copies are supplied. However, 470 audio Bible units are sent to the field.
Two VVMI teams visit the Philippines, and one of them provides Bible training for pastors and teachers.
VVMI and ILMAV jump-start “Deditos” work amongst five language groups in the Huánuco area of Peru. This effort later blossomed into much more ministry and “Deditos” dubbing by local churches without outside assistance.
October sees a tour to the USA by the directors of Viña and ILMAV and their spouses. This provides not only face-to-face visits for people in the USA with VVMI partners, but also builds relationship between the two VVMI Latin American partner organizations.
VVMI begins a partnership with OC (One Challenge) Africa following 3 years of investigation and prayer.
VVMI is also excited to have a part in providing start-up funds for the Nasa language “Deditos” of Colombia, South America. What’s more, this is a joint operation with ILMAV, Viña, a Colombian Christian media group working with indigenous peoples, and the Colombian Church.
In December, VVMI sponsors a joint “Deditos” training event in the Philippines that includes both VVM-CMI teams and VMN. Viña Director José Abel de la Cruz and his wife go to the Philippines and lead the training.
VVMI assists ILMAV to provide cell phone app training as a means to share Bible stories, Christian songs, and teaching via “smart phones.”
In the Philippines, dubbing of “Deditos” takes off following the 2015 training session.
VVMI praises God in 2017 for an outpouring of donations that allows supplying critical equipment to VVM-CMI, ILMAV, and OC Africa.
Mobilized groups with the VVM-CMI grow to 25; Bible demand rises to over 200,000 copies with the growth of Bible study groups and new church plants.
the first video production system and training project delivered to OC Africa. Print Bible demand in the Philippines grows to over half a million copies, fueled by new
Bible study and church startups and as a result of ministry among prisoners and in schools.
Language groups dubbing and wanting to dub “Deditos” rises. VVMI helps fund new Spanish episodes and also assisted in funding the English “Deditos” and other dubbing. VVMI is amazed at how God is growing His Church and seeks for His supply for the God- sized needs created by the spiritual hunger and rapid growth of the Church.
VVMI is privileged to attend the Romblomanon New Testament dedication and have a part in the subsequent “mobilizing” of churches in the Romblon island group of the central Philippines. Ministry partners in the Philippines also expand their work with prisoners, in schools, and with law enforcement officials. Bible demand subsequently continues to rise.
Ministry partner ILMAV officially changes its name to AEILMAV (Evangelical Association ILMAV) in order to better expand its ministry beyond Peru.
God’s prompting of donors to support important partnership projects allows VVMI to assist Viña with funding and with the planning of critical upgrades to its production facility. This happens simultaneously as the global (and potential) impact of “Deditos” comes to light.
2020 brings the COVID-19 virus global pandemic and other stresses. While causing ministry to morph due to travel and meeting restrictions, work does not end as VVMI and its ministry partners are able to leverage digital means to continue sharing God’s truth via vernacular media. Deditos becomes more sought after as it is shared not only via DVDs and flash drives but also on websites and through online streaming by churches.
God uses Audio Bible resources delivered to the Philippines early in the year (before the pandemic shutdowns) to provide encouragement, teaching, and to grow His Church in remote areas where previously unreached peoples and the emerging Church are listening.