Alliance News Feed – Realizing the Power of God’s Word

by an Alliance international worker serving in Eastern Europe

For the last year, I’ve been developing a set of oral Bible stories in the heart language of the country I serve to be used for evangelism and discipleship. I meet with three local women who “test” the stories for me by answering questions to check their comprehension of what they’ve heard.

For the last year, the author has been using this space to create the story set for the people she serves. (Photo courtesy of the author)

The Bible translation we have uses “high” language like English speakers might think of the King James Version. It was also created for the dialect of a different country. Often when people read it, even though most of them are literate, they either don’t understand it or misunderstand it. They can read something several times and still not have any idea what it says or how to summarize or apply it.

Though my story set is not finished, and therefore not used widely, these stories have opened the door for good conversations with the ladies involved. I’ve seen them understand the Scripture in new ways.

Some believers have told me that the testing sessions are the first time they’ve liked studying the Bible. There’s something about working orally with the Scriptures that they understand better even at this early stage.

Watermelon Magic

Natalia*, 19-year-old believer with a ninth-grade education, started testing the stories with me. Prior to the last few months, she would read Scripture only sparingly. But since hearing the oral versions and being involved in a Bible study, the Bible makes more sense to her, and she is curious to know more about the Old Testament.

Recently, she read the account of the 10 plagues on her own and misunderstood several of the words used. As she helped me with part of the oral story set, Natalia brought up questions she had about the story since we were working on the same passage.

Her most humorous misunderstanding was thinking that Aaron used a watermelon to accomplish the “magic” instead of a staff. I rejoiced that she was reading for herself, but her obvious misinterpretations were clarified as we worked with an oral account that used common words and sentence structures.

Stubbornness in the Face of Power

Many of the stories I have chosen for the set focus on the Israelites’ suffering at the hand of a powerful king because the locals readily identify with this theme. One believer, Nikita, was genuinely confused when we started to discuss Pharaoh’s stubbornness in the face of God’s power even though God was still able to make him release the Israelites.

“How could he still not believe in God’s power and let the Israelites leave after seeing so many of the plagues the Lord inflicted on Egypt?” Nikita asked.

“He must have been very hard-hearted,” I said. “What evidences of God’s power have you seen in your life?”

“I don’t think I’ve seen any,” she replied.

“What about the power of God at work to transform you into a new creation in Christ?” I asked.

A few years ago, Nikita’s family had been pressuring her to get married young and not finish school. Her Aunt Susie, who had recently surrendered to Christ, offered to have Nikita move in with her to be a nanny for her children.

At the time, Nikita didn’t want anything to do with God, but she was grateful for the opportunity her aunt gave her. Susie did not relent in sharing the gospel with Nikita and caring for her. Because of her aunt’s persistence, Nikita chose to follow Christ.

She has since graduated from high school and is studying at a university. Through hearing the story of Pharaoh in its oral form, she was reminded of God’s persistence in her own life and the hope she now has because she surrendered to His pursuit of her.

Learn More

Many of the world’s cultures rely heavily on oral learning. Alliance international workers in these areas, like this author, use orality to make the Scriptures readily available to these oral learners. Visit this page to learn more about how orality is being used in Alliance ministries.

*Names changed

Source: Alliance News Feed – Realizing the Power of God’s Word

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