Bible Storytelling in East Africa
More than 60 percent of the world’s population is not literate, and the population of rural Africa is no exception. Some tribal groups do not even have a system of writing in their own language. Because of these factors, many people are oral learners. However, oral cultures are not synonymous with illiterate cultures. In fact, 75 percent of people in the United States are oral learners.
An indispensable part of taking the gospel to the world is contained in the Bible, which, for better or worse, is almost always communicated through written language. However, this does not mean that the Bible is unavailable to people groups who rely on oral tradition for learning. In South Sudan, Uganda, Kenya, and Burundi, WGM missionaries use the method of Bible Storytelling to share God’s Word with the people.
Bible Storytelling makes the truth of the Bible available to those who do not have access to a Bible, who cannot read a conventional Bible, or who are more comfortable learning through the spoken word. Storytelling taps into the traditional methods of communicating important information without needing to rely on written materials. Therefore, Bible Storytelling is not just something for illiterate cultures but for the entire world.
Missionaries in East Africa use the five-step “Simply the Story” method of Bible Storytelling, essentially allowing a storyteller to guide a group through an oral inductive study of the Bible.
- The storyteller tells the story.
- The storyteller allows a volunteer from the group to tell the story again.
- The storyteller guides the group through the story a third time.
- The storyteller asks the group to make observations about or find “treasures” in the story.
- The group pulls life applications from their observations.
One blessing of this method is its simplicity. Anyone, not just a pastor, who can learn a Bible story and share it is capable of becoming a Bible storyteller. Doctors, nurses, teachers, students, and many other laypeople have been successfully trained in this method of sharing Scripture. In addition, Bible Storytelling can happen anywhere, in any nation and in almost any situation. It is an extremely versatile method and does not have to take much time. With just five minutes, a believer can share a Bible story and allow God to work through His living Word.
Bible Storytelling is generally very well received among those who hear. Although this method can be used directly by missionaries to reach East Africans, it is often used to teach illiterate African pastors Bible stories so that they can share them with their congregations. Many pastors who cannot read but have been trained in Bible Storytelling have been overjoyed to find that they can learn and share God’s Word with others.
PRAY: Pray that Bible Storytelling will open doors to new avenues of evangelism and discipleship in East Africa.
Pray that the pastors and congregations who receive God’s Word through Bible Storytelling will be transformed by the truth of Scripture.
Pray that God will continue convicting, challenging, and encouraging those who receive Scripture through Bible Storytelling.
GIVE: Go to www.wgm.org/catalog-evangelism to find out how you can help fly the Bible Storytelling training team to South Sudan to train and mentor African pastors.
MORE: Visit www.simplythestory.org to learn more about Bible Storytelling.
SHARE: Click this link to view a speaker outline for Bible Storytelling in East Africa.