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Oral Bible Storying

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
Hebrews 4:12

Somsuk had just finished accurately telling Daan, a new believer, a Bible story. “What did you like about the story?” Somsuk asked. Daan was uncertain how to answer because at school and church you never speak unless you have the “correct” answer. An older Christian sitting nearby called out, “Daan you can’t possibly understand that story unless you go home, read it and study it.”

There is a perception among young and old alike that written knowledge is greatly superior to oral learning. However even though many Isaan young people graduate high school and an increasing number go to college, the vast majority of Isaan people acquire important life information orally through discussion with family and friends. Such people are literate but preferred oral learners.

Oral Bible storying is a technique which has been developed around the world to present the Word of God to those who learn best through listening and group discussion. Evangelists, small group leaders and disciple makers choose a passage of about 10 to 15 verses long then “craft” a story using everyday words. Care is taken to leave nothing out nor add anything to the Bible text. When a text is memorized it is shared with friends, family and neighbors. If someone shows interest the storyteller asks a standard set of follow-up questions such as: What did you like in the story? What did you dislike, or not understand? What did you learn about God (or Jesus)? What do you notice about the nature of people? Finally, what would you like to change in your life based on this story?

Most Isaan people will never open a Bible, but they will listen to a friend or family member tell them a Bible story. The good news is anyone can tell a story. One Isaan grannie thought she could never share the gospel, yet in twenty minutes she memorized the story of Jesus calming the wind and waves. Over the course of a week she shared that story with dozens of people in her neighborhood, all of whom listened with interest.

Pray for many to embrace the use of storytelling in reaching Thailand with the gospel.

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