Oral learning and the “Global Year of The Bible”

By January 9, 2020

International (MNN) — The World Evangelical Alliance is calling 2020 the “Global Year of The Bible.” That’s because in 2020, a centuries-old goal is in sight: translating and distributing the Bible in every written language in the world.

The goal is a worthy one, but as Ed Weaver of Spoken Worldwide points out, not everyone communicates via the written word.

“What happens when we’re thinking about the rest of the world, when we’re thinking of those that really have not been or have not heard the Gospel or if they’ve heard the gospel, it’s not been necessarily put into context or their style?” he asks.

That’s where Spoken Worldwide comes in. They work with oral ministry partners to present the Bible in a more accessible way to orality-based cultures. Not only do they teach practitioners to share narrative passages of Scripture, such as the Gospels or the Old Testament, but they’ve also learned to adapt non-narrative portions of the Bible into accessible oral formats, as well.

“Years ago, scholars deemed that we had a canon of Scripture,” Weaver says. “That’s 66 books, and I think all 66 books need to be made available to everyone, regardless of their ability to read.”

(Photo courtesy of Spoken Worldwide)

By adapting their speaking tone and promoting natural delivery, oral teachers can help oral learners access every part of God’s Word.

Weaver wants to avoid conversations about what portion of the Bible is “enough” for oral learners. “Let’s start thinking about the entire canon of Scripture and deliver that to everybody, period,” he says. “That’s what I get excited about, and that’s why the Global Year of The Bible is really exciting to me is we can start focusing on this and truly make it available to everybody.”

So what stands between orality ministries such as Spoken Worldwide and reaching the entire world with the Gospel? First, the Church needs to recognize that oral learning needs to be taken seriously.

“There’s a contingent of people that we still have to convince the oral learning is legitimate,” Weaver says. “Those that are literate, let’s give them literate means to study the Word of God. Those that are oral learners, let’s give them oral meaning. So let’s take a passage of Scripture and instead of putting it to paper, let’s use recordings to be able to make that passage available. It’s not necessarily a quicker process, but it’s a natural process.”

Second, people must understand the need. For your part, you can connect with Spoken Worldwide right here to find out what part you can play in their work and how you can contribute to their efforts in 2020.

(Photo courtesy of Spoken Worldwide.)

And most importantly, they’ll need prayer.

“The number of workers that are available to do oral Bible translation… is just surprisingly low,” Weaver says. “’m not necessarily talking about Westerners as much as I am talking about indigenous leaders within the communities that can be quickly trained to be able to do accurate Bible translation for those that can’t read.”

Pray that God opens doors and minds in 2020 so that “everyone begins to see that God loves the reader and the nonreader and he wants both of them drawn to him through his word.”



Header photo courtesy of Spoken Worlwide.

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