Storytelling has been a part of every culture through the ages. Every people group uses stories to record history, pass down beliefs, teach correct behaviour and reflect worldview. Besides the spoken word, they often incorporate cultural art forms such as song, dance and drama. Much of the Bible itself was transmitted orally for centuries before being written down.
Research shows that about two-thirds of the world learns better through stories, proverbs, songs and visual arts than through the written word. Therefore, Bible storying in their “heart language” is an ideal method for transmitting scriptural truths to people groups which prefer oral communication to written. Depending on the specific worldviews and cultural backgrounds of the people group in question, sets of stories can be specially selected for oral retelling. For example, a story-set for an animistic group would include stories which illustrate God’s power over spirits, such as stories describing Jesus casting out demons. When believers are able to tell Bible stories clearly, accurately and naturally in their own language, they are empowered to evangelise and disciple others. And often, storying leads to a thirst for more scripture, and will lead to the translation of the rest of the Bible.
Wycliffe Singapore is privileged to partner and support a number of projects which make use of oral storying methods to teach Biblical truths in an interesting and unthreatening way.
In one unreached people group in Southeast Asia, about 50 stories from the Old and New Testament have been translated. The believers are encouraged to tell the stories in small groups, and invite their friends and relatives to hear them. The stories have also been recorded and are being distributed through a mobile app. Even as these stories continue to be told and retold in story fellowship groups, the translation of the New Testament has begun.
In other unreached groups in Southeast Asia, stories are often told through song and dance, or may have songs and drama interspersed through the telling. These groups are encouraged to incorporate their cultural art forms when telling their Bible stories. When the stories have been crafted and checked, they are then retold and performed in the story fellowship groups.
A lady from one of these groups said:
“With this method [oral storying], I can understand the Bible easily. At church, every week they do a Bible class. But I can’t understand everything and after a while, I forget. But with the [oral] Bible stories, I can understand everything. I can tell them to my friends. I want to tell the stories more.”
Find out more about projects supported by Wycliffe Singapore.