Monday, April 13, 2009

ORAL BIBLE STUDY

Saturday, April 4, 2009

If there was ever a time to cancel Bible study, tonight was it. Dark clouds were pregnant with rain, the sky was smoky-gray, and winds ripped through town sending the dust whirling. I was surprised when Nilsa showed up at 5:00 p.m. ready to teach.

We went to a part of town where God has really been moving. Over the last year 8 people from this barrio have been baptized, two couples have been married, several have attended marriage classes, and a weekly Bible study has grown to 15 adults and more kids than I can count. We recently had a mobile clinic in this area and as a result, Zulma invited us to start a study in her house. These families are some of the poorest we minister to, yet they are some of the hungriest for God’s word.

As we greeted Zulma, her 8 year old son ran to tell the neighbors of our arrival. Within 15 minutes there was a room full of people. Zulma’s house consists of just two rooms. A small bedroom has just two beds. Clothes are piled in the corners or hung in plastic sacks from nails in the wall. The only evidence that her second room is her kitchen is the pile of ashes in the corner where Zulma cooks over an open fire and a pot laying on the floor. This is where we huddled. Some sat on low milking stools, others crowded onto a plank suspended between two plastic buckets, and others squatted on the cool floor. Wind howled through the missing planks in the wall. Plastic two liter bottles had been stuffed below the wall where the dirt had been eroded. Dogs and chicken wandered in and out. A baby peed on the dirt floor and another child played with a headless doll.

“Can we still have the study if the lights are out?” asked Irmalinda.

“Yes,” replied Nilsa. “We do not need lights for this study because there is no reading involved. It is all done by memory.” One lady in the room had been to 1st and 2nd grade, the others had never attended school.

“By memory?” questioned Paulina.

“We will spend time practicing God’s stories, then you will be able to share those stories with your neighbors, families, or those you work with in the fields.” Nilsa spoke with such confidence.

I was secretly glad that the lights were out and no one could see me eyes well with tears as I watched Nilsa (my house help, one of my closest friends, and someone I have spent a lot of time praying for) lead her first study. This study is a work in progress. Jeff and our rural church planting co-workers have been studying the best methods to reach oral learners. The result is a 6 week evangelistic study which tells 5 stories (Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus), each of which highlights a different salvation theme and an appropriate Bible memory verse each week.

The first week, all participants receive an MP3 player with the account of Adam and Eve. Their homework is to listen to it 3 times before the following study. At study #2, the leader asks questions over the story as a review. Then the leader tells a condensed story of Adam and Eve by memory (they can do this because she has listened to an MP3 player earlier and practiced). Next, the leader breaks the story into three smaller sections. The participants recite the more manageable parts after the leader and then participants practice saying the story alone. The story may be repeated 6 or 7 or 8 times until all have it in their head. At first people are timid to speak, but soon they realize that mistakes are inevitable and learning together is fun, and they open up. After the story, we practice the one sentence theme and the key scripture. The participants go home with their MP3 player and the story of Noah for the following week and the promise to listen to it 3 times before the following study.

The exciting thing is that people have been doing their “homework”. They tell me about listening to God’s word while washing clothes or while out in the field. They tell me that each night their entire family gathers to hear the story again and again. They tell me that husbands are nicer and that neighbors have noticed a difference since they have started listening to God’s Word. God is at work!
What an incredible privilege we have to watch Paraguayans teaching other Paraguayans about the saving grace through Jesus Christ. What a blessing it is to bring the Word of God to those who cannot read the Bible for themselves. Paraguayans are now able to get spiritually fed through a little MP3 player and I guarantee you, this town is going to change!

Studying Noah at the second bible study.


If you would like to read more about how you can help bring God's word to rural houses check out the Guarani recording task force.

2 comments:

Ken, Christie, Camille, Caroline said...

This is an absolutely wonderful idea! I've followed all the links to the pages about GRTF and it's phenomenal... I'd love to hear more about it. What a tool this particular Bible study method will be to the community.

Fiona L Cooper said...

what an exciting and inspiring story, and so well related! Thanks Amy!