Do you remember the Bible story of Adam and Eve and the serpent? What about Jonah and the whale? Or what Noah did with the ark? Or do you recall the saga of Mary and Joseph and the baby Jesus? Aha, I thought so! Why do you remember these? They’re great stories, and stories stick in our memory.
Thousands of oral cultures around the world communicate through stories, narratives, songs and proverbs. Many societies are known for their oral traditions. It can be said, “Whenever an African bushman dies, a whole [oral] library goes out of existence.”* Jesus is the Master story-teller. He challenged the existing worldview and offered a biblical worldview by speaking in parables and presenting compelling narratives that incorporated relevant aspects of everyday life and relationships.
According to the International Orality Network (ION), “Oral learners are found in every cultural group in the world.”* They can be an oral learner by necessity or by choice. Often oral learners and low literacy rates go together. This is especially true for women, who in many cultures are denied an education just because they are women. Therefore, their primary means of receiving information is aurally. This research is especially significant when we consider how best to present the Gospel to women and how to disciple them. We want to share stories that give biblical answers to life’s questions.
To address some of these concerns affecting women, the International Orality Network Women’s Taskforce met this week at TWR’s Cary, North Carolina office. Those in attendance represent an alliance of ministries which include TWR’s Project Hannah (PH), YWAM (Youth With A Mission) OneStory, Scripture In Use (SIU), Global Recordings Network (GPN) and StoryRunners of Campus Crusade for Christ. Their focus: how the large number of nonliterate and functionally nonliterate women throughout the world can be reached through orality strategies and storying techniques.
Orality is one of TWR’s Global Strategic Initiatives, to learn more, visit: http://www.twr.org/twr/discover/strategic_plan
*Source: “Making Disciples of Oral Learners,” a paper of the 2004 Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization, published by the International Orality Network.
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