USA (MNN) — How many Bible stories can you recall from memory? Chances are, only a few. With more access than ever to God’s Word, the Scriptures have become more like a reference guide than a treasure. That’s why Paul*, an equipping evangelist with OneWay Ministries’ international evangelism efforts, is passionate about the heart Bible.
The Heart Bible
The heart Bible is a simple concept. It’s the idea of learning the stories in the Bible and committing them to memory. To explain it further, Paul begins by asking one simple question.
What’s the difference between the disciples who walked with Jesus and us?
They may have walked with the physical Jesus, but present-day Christians are impacted by the same Holy Spirit, therefore that’s not necessarily an advantage.
“But what they didn’t have that we have is access, easy access (at least much more easy access) to the Scriptures. When Jesus sat around for 40 days teaching them about the Kingdom of God, as it says in the book of Acts chapter one, the disciples didn’t have Bibles,” Paul explains.
“What I’m saying is a big difference between the disciples and us today is that while we have the Bible in our hands, they had it in their heart. And what I hope to do, what many are hoping to do, is recover that oral tradition.”
A Growing Movement
Paul says the orality movement is growing around the world which is a precursor to the heart Bible concept. Many missionaries from literate learning backgrounds have realized that teaching in a way that suits oral learners is also applicable to literate learners.
And for people who do have easy access to the Bible, the Scriptures are being treated less precious in the sense that fewer people are committing God’s Word to memory. Instead, there’s a mentality of, ‘Oh, I can just look it up’.
“If the Bible is the bread of life, if it is milk as Peter says, then it is different than other books. It is the Word of God and it nourishes our souls, which implies that we have to do more than just read it, but internalize what we read,” Paul says.
Committing to Memory
By creating a heart Bible, people know the Bible and share its stories with strangers and friends alike, without having to look up Scripture. And while it might sound intimidating to do at first, just start with reading a story from the Bible and then sharing it or repeating it right after. Reread the Scriptures for accuracy. Don’t worry about word-for-word recounts, but focus on being able to retell the story. Do this on repeat until telling the story is as easy as sharing your name.
“People are much more captivated with [stories], rather than giving them doctrines and talking to them about abstract truths. You’re telling them stories and they’re seeing Jesus walking on the water. They’re seeing the glory and power of God through the stories,” Paul shares.
“And you don’t even have to tell them the doctrine, they learn it through the story. It’s very exciting for both literates and non-literates.”
Be Prayerful, Be Active
So please, capture this vision of storing the Bible up in our minds and hearts and using God’s stories to readily live out the Gospel message in our communities. Learn the stories just as you learn songs.
“We should put the Word of God into our heart so that it nourishes our souls so that we’re ready to give God’s Word to the world,” Fornelli says.
Also, pray for churches to see this vision of recovering the oral Bible. OneWay Ministries is already seeing this happen in various areas of the world. Pray that this recovery of the oral tradition would continue in every nook and cranny of this earth. And finally, pray for your own heart to be passionate about God’s Word, too.
*Name changed for security reasons.