Orality is our Reality

Orality is our Reality

It’s morning in the middle of the week in the middle of the village. ‘Everyone’ comes to the market today to get what they need – and to see friends. Reading and writing are not highly practiced or valued here so news and announcements are made regularly as those entrusted with messages spread the word to people from outlying smaller villages. The morning passes with a constant flurry of activity, as people attempt to do most of their business before the heat of the day overtakes them.


By midday, things have quieted down. The sellers will stay through the day, waiting for those who will return to buy more after the heat of the afternoon passes. Now, Mabela and her friends stay in what little shade they have and talk. They talk about everything that has happened in their lives since last week when they were right here, doing the same thing. They alternatively complain about lazy husbands and unruly children, even while bragging about the same people moments later. There is laughter and occasional tears.


Mabela has something new to share this week. A traveling storyteller came to her small village last week and told a wonderful story. She had not heard this story before but something about it tugged at her heart. The story created much discussion in her village, so she wanted to share it with her friends at the market.


In her native dialect, Mabela retells the story of a man named Isa who healed a young girl. The other women listen intently. Such a story! They want to know where this happened, who is the girl’s mother and ‘who is this man?!’ Such things are wonderful to hear. One woman decides she does not believe this actually happened but other women are intrigued. They continue to ask questions and discuss the story throughout the afternoon.


At the end of the day, when they are packing up what remains of their goods, Mabela hears a question being quietly repeated, ‘Mabela, will you have another story next week?’


This story is repeating itself over and over again across West Africa.  One lady from the south of Togo, just like Mabela in this story heard the story tellers after the Jesus Film was shown in her village.  She was so intrigued when her brother began to tell stories about the bible in their home.


She said to her brother “Can a person learn the stories of the bible without actually reading the bible?”  Her brother said “yes!”  Each night he told a different story in their home in their own language, and everyone in the house had a chance to share what the story meant to them.   In just a matter of a week, she received Christ as her personal savior and fell in love with the stories from the bible.


She soon learned 6 stories and how to tell the stories and began sharing these stories twice a week in her neighborhood with her neighbors.  Only one month after she herself gave her life to Christ, she found her calling to reach out to others and win them to Christ.  After telling her stories, she would pray for people and they gave their lives to Christ. 

Soon it was time to baptize all those who had given their life to Christ in the past month.  She was so excited because on the same day that she herself was being baptized, she and many of her neighbors and friends were all being baptized together.  The leaders recognized her role in her neighbors story of salvation so one by one as they entered the water, she laid her hands on them and prayed for them . . . and then they were baptized!


Oh what joy comes to those who find salvation in the life transforming truths of the scriptures.  Will you pray for this Lady and so many others like her, who are being empowered by hearing the Word of God on the audio bibles and learning the stories to tell others about Jesus?.


To find out how you can help spread the gospel through the power of audio bibles in local languages, please contact Tim Eby at teby@africanazarene.org.