Not all the stories we will share here are ones directly related to people we have worked with, but we want to share because they highlight how storying is being used by God in situations where traditional Western ministry methods may not be connecting with the people as well. This is one such story. We had a chance to be in India for a training a while ago and met men and women like this pastor.
A pastor in India tells this story of ministry among his people.
I was saved from a Hindu family in 1995 through a cross-cultural missionary. I had a desire to learn more about the word of God and I shared this with the missionary. The missionary sent me to Bible college in 1996. I finished my two years of theological study and came back to my village in 1998. I started sharing the Good News in the way I learnt in the Bible college. To my surprise, my people were not able to understand my message. A few people accepted the Lord after much labour. I continued to preach the gospel, but there were little results. I was discouraged and confused and did not know what to do.
But then the pastor’s story takes a major turn.
In 1999 I attended a seminar where I learnt how to communicate the gospel using different oral methods. I understood the problem in my communication as I was mostly using a lecture method with printed books, which I learned in the Bible school. After the seminar I went to the village, but this time I changed my way of communication. I started using a story telling method in my native language. I used gospel songs and the traditional music of my people. This time the people in the villages began to understand the gospel in better way. As a result of it, people began to come in large numbers. Many accepted Christ and took baptism. There was one church with few baptized members when I attended the seminar. But now in 2004, in six years, we have 75 churches with 1,350 baptized members and 100 more people are ready for baptism.
This account is taken from the booklet “Making Disciples of Oral Learners” (Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization, 2005, 2-3). This is probably the best non-technical read (about two hours) on who oral learners are and why ministry to them needs to be approached differently. We like it because it is written by the leaders of many organizations and so doesn’t have an organizational agenda hidden in it. Available in paperback or as pdf.