In a world where the Bible is more accessible than ever, Courage for Life have taken it to the next level. Their NLT audio translation of the Bible is reaching incarcerated people across the United States in a fresh new way. And better yet — it’s voiced by women, for women.
Pioneered by Ann White, founder of Courage for Life, this incredible Bible is currently used by two state prison systems. We spoke to Ann about the inspiration behind the project, and why a female narrated Bible is so powerful.
JW: What inspired you to develop this fully female audio version of the Bible?
AW: Audio Bibles do a great job of addressing a number of the barriers of reading a physical Bible. They make it possible for people who might not have a high reading level to learn about God’s love. An audio recording of the Bible means that anyone can listen to truth while driving, cleaning, or doing other activities that don’t allow for sitting down and reading.
We originally started this project because many of the women we work with are victims of abuse. We know that gender-specific treatment is best in helping them deal with the wounds of their past, so listening to a man read the Bible can be a huge barrier for them in hearing God’s Word. We set out to create the first complete women’s voiced audio Bible with at-risk women in mind.
JW: Why is it significant for females to receiving Biblical teaching from another female?
AW: Extensive research and clinical experience have proven, “the best way to help at-risk women and girls heal from substance abuse, trauma, and mental health issues, is to use gender-specific programs” (NIDA – The National Institute on Drug Abuse).
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration agree that men and women require different prevention and treatment approaches. Therefore, especially for the women we serve, it is best for them to receive Biblical teaching from another woman.
JW: You’ve been creating resources for women, and the wider church for a long time. What led you to prison ministry specifically?
AW: God. We’ve known all along that we are called to reach at-risk women, women who have experienced, or are presently experiencing, abuse, neglect, abandonment, or trauma of any type. In 2017, God began opening doors to our women’s jails and prisons. First to teach the book Courage For Life, now to teach an 8-week curriculum (Courage For My Life) we specifically designed based on our experience working with these women.
When we saw how the book and biblical study of Courage impacted the incarcerated women we worked with – we knew right away God was calling us to reach these unreached women. Since then his call has been emphatically confirmed and we are committed to reaching, teaching, and ministering to incarcerated women throughout the US and beyond as God continues to open doors.
Courage For Life’s mission is to inspire and equip women from all walks of life to unleash their God-given courage and embrace their God-given dreams. We believe true hope and freedom can only be found in Jesus as revealed in His Word. As a women’s equipping ministry, Courage For Life is focused on developing biblical teaching resources and training dedicated volunteers to disciple and minister to at-risk women.
Having personally experienced God’s grace, salvation, and the life-changing power of the Bible, my desire is to extend this same love, mercy, and encouragement to others, so they too may be reconciled to God.
JW: How does access to this app assist in the holistic recovery of women who are incarcerated?
AW: The Courage For Life Bible app is designed to be used by all women. In our Prison Systems we are working with a different platform – one specifically designed for the tablets that are issued in the institutions where they are available. Where inmate tablets are not available, we are working with MegaVoice to produce audio devices that can be given to women’s prison systems to distribute to inmates (the MegaVoice project is just getting started).
JW: How has working with these women changed your life?
AW: We have a short documentary on our website that gives you a glimpse into the work we are doing and into the lives of the women we are working with (See it here).
Many of the women we work with have never thought about having a courageous faith. One that gives them the ability to put their pasts behind them, forgive their offenders, and create healthy boundaries and daily habits that completely change their lives and give them the tools to live healthy — Godly lives.
JW: Who did you choose to narrate the NLT translation? Does this include studies as well?
AW: We’ve hired well-known Christian production company Cooke Media Group, producer Amick Byram (2 x Grammy nominated recording artist, Moses in Disney’s Prince of Egypt), 12 experienced voiceover actresses, and used the best studios and editing teams to produce the Courage For Life Women’s Audio Bible.
The 12 actresses read the Scriptures and I read the commentary portion of the CFL Bible. The CFL Bible (that will be available in print in the next 6 months) teaches readers and listeners how to study, interpret, and apply God’s Word to their everyday life. It emphasizes the countless stories of courage found in the Bible and it has commentary and application content at the beginning and conclusion of every book of the Bible.
JW: What do you hope it accomplishes and evolves into in the future?
AW: Our greatest prayer is for women (and men), whether incarcerated or not, will make listening to God’s Word a daily part of their lives. We know God’s Word is transformational and brings about positive life change – we just need to make the right resources available to everyone and inspire them to use them regularly.
We will be adding eight books of the Old Testament. to the app in August, and are still fundraising to complete the remaining 31 books — go to https://courageforlife.org/bible-sponsorship/ to learn more about the project and how you can help.
Get the Courage for Life Bible App today by texting ‘BIBLE’ to 62953
or search ‘CFL Bible’ in Apple and Android stores.