Reaching and Equipping Oral Learners
What follows is extracted from an article What Do You Think, Mr. Guttenberg? by Avery Willis and James Greenelsh (taken from http://averywillis.org/orality.aspx):
I had thought for so long that the Guttenberg revolution was a worldwide phenomenon. I grew up thinking that literacy was the one thing the world needed to level the playing field for everyone. Then one day I made an alarming discovery: five hundred years after the invention of the printing press only thirty-three percent of the world are truly literate. This stopped me dead in my tracks ... Let me ask you, if you had a business and you found that sixty-seven percent of your target audience were non-literate oral learners, would you tailor your business plan, dedicate your work force and allocate a huge portion of your operating budget especially to reach them? Of course you would! That’s just smart business. Then why are missions not doing this to reach oral learners?
The world of missions is just now waking up to the fact that oral learners are the bull’s eye at the center of completing the Great Commission. There are four billion oral learners in the cross-hairs of redemptive history at the beginning of the twenty-first century. What are you, your church and your mission agency doing to hit the bull’s eye?
If the term “oral learner” is unfamiliar to you let me offer a simple definition. By oral learners we mean those people who learn best and whose lives are most likely to be transformed when information comes to them through oral, not literate, means. Oral learners transmit their beliefs, heritage and values by means of stories, drama, songs and proverbs. They have built their customs, culture and social fabric around storytelling.
What does this mean for us as we endeavor to fulfill the Great Commission? We must start asking questions such as: How in the world do we share the word of God with people who can’t, don’t or won’t read? Or with those who don’t write? Or with those who may not even have a written language? ...
The development of oral strategies is not meant to detract from print evangelism or Bible translation. In fact, the opposite is true. The most comprehensive strategy for communicating the word of God in the heart language of an oral culture should start with an oral approach that leads to translation and literacy. The problem is, too often we get the cart before the horse. Or worse yet, we forget the horse completely.
Rethink, Recreate, Reproduce. I am convinced that if we take the unique needs of the oral learner to heart and if we make them a priority in shaping our mission strategies then we will make monumental progress in completing the Great Commission.
We urgently need ministries willing to rethink what they are doing, ministries willing to create new tools, new methodologies and new approaches that put the needs of oral learners first. In doing so God will enable us to harness the greatest force on earth for spreading the gospel and multiplying the Church—the power of his stories reproduced by word of mouth over and over again among each unique oral culture of the world in culturally sensitive ways. We need a movement of cross-cultural Bible story experts who have the skill to train people to engage unreached oral learners with a complete set of Bible stories in the local language that are tailored to transform their unique worldview. It is cost effective, reproducible and grassroots accessible ... This is our greatest hope for fulfilling the Great Commission among four billion people who have yet to hear the true story of salvation.
For further understanding check out oralbible.com, the official site of the International Orality Network.
Some fruitful ministries involved in the orality movement include:
www.ywamonestory.org; www.e3partners.org; www.davarpartners.com; www.faithcomesbyhearing.com; www.t4global.org; www.simplythestory.org/oralbiblestories; www.storyrunners.com; www.globalrecordings.net; www.twr.org; www.siutraining.org; www.imb.org; and www.story4all.com. A story-friendly Bible can be obtained at www.sourceviewbible.com; David Joel Hamilton re-formatted the text of the Bible in a full-color, movie-script layout to recapture the original dramatic narrative of God’s Word. A great informative video on creating an oral Bible can be found at: www.call2allmedia.org. Search for “Oral Story Bible Animated Introduction.”
from the 777 Document, July 2012