A group of Ifé people in Togo were on their way home from working in the fields when they heard the sounds of indigenous music nearby. Interest peaked, the group immediately left the path to see what was happening. Hearing their own Ifé music, each sat down to listen. When the music ended, the group listened to a tape of Christian testimonies in their language. When the batteries ran out, the group sent someone into town to buy new batteries. They wanted to hear more. As a result of these tapes, about a dozen Ifé people came to trust in Jesus Christ! The owner of the cassette was not even a Christian himself. He had bought the tapes simply because they were the only ones which used his own language and music.
Using oral methods to share the gospel not only introduces people to the scriptures but helps them grow in their faith. This, in turn, gives them confidence to share the good news with those around them. One example of this is Mrs. Reeta Devi, who recently graduated from the Bihar School of Evangelism in India.
Born into a Hindu family, Devi worshipped many idols before a pastor visited her village. Realizing she was a sinner, she gave her life to Christ and immediately experienced a peace she had never felt. Because she was illiterate, Devi did not think she could get into a Bible school, but soon discovered she could learn biblical truths through oral methods used at the Bihar School of Evangelism. Through storytelling, song and dance, she grew in her faith and was soon witnessing to those around her. Devi now hopes to share the love of Christ with non-literate women like herself.
As both stories exemplify, God will use whatever means necessary, including oral transmissions and auditory messages, to draw individuals and groups to himself. In this vein, his word must go beyond the printed page to oral media.
Nearly 70% of the world—over 4.5 billion people—are oral learners, yet less than 10% of available ministry tools are prepared for audiences with an oral learning style. We invite you to attend the International Orality Network’s (ION) third international consultation September 13-15 in Anaheim, CA, USA. The ION serves churches, denominations, mission agencies and individuals committed to effectively communicating the good news to all people groups. This conference is the largest forum for the rapidly emerging field of ministry to oral communicators (including ministry leaders, field practitioners, educators, pastors and interested lay people). For more information and online registration, go to www.oralbible.com.
The 2004 Forum World for Evangelization Issue Group on Making Disciples of Oral Learners has released its Lausanne Occasional Paper on the topic of oral learning. The paper is posted on the Lausanne website as a PDF file.