Saturday, February 4, 2012


January 19-21

            About a year ago, God gave my husband a vision to help reach rural Paraguay more efficiently.  For the past months he has been buying things in preparation (mattresses, notebooks, etc), making photocopies, and preparing studies and illustrations.  He has been inviting men and asking for prayer in regard to this project wherever he could.  We have been excitedly awaiting the date of the first Timothy Training Workshop.

How I wish I could have been a fly on the wall this past weekend!  When Jeff got home, he was full of stories of God’s faithfulness here’s what he says:

The first Timothy Training workshop was a huge success!  Between January 19th and 21st, 20 Paraguayan men representing 11 different communities and several different denominations met for 3 days of intense training.  Topics such as Paraguayan learning styles, oral pedagogy (teaching techniques geared toward non-literates and/or oral learners), Bible story crafting and storytelling, evangelism, discipleship and small group leadership training.  This has been a dream of our missionary family for several years and many of us have attended seminars, conferences, in-services and have done a lot of reading on the effectiveness of humbly laying down our preferred learning and teaching styles in order to best reach rural, Guarani-speaking Paraguayans.  Tony Floyd and Dan Reich, fellow SIMers, myself, along with Higinio and Pedro, the two elders of the San Francisco Bible Church, were the teaching staff for the conference.  We had our doubts about how far these 20 men, almost all being uneducated, hardworking farmers,  would be willing to go in storytelling in front of a large group, dramatizing the stories and setting them to music.  But they really excelled and enjoyed the process of working together in groups.  This was a TOTALLY different way to learn and share God’s Word, and many of them remarked at how effective and simple the storytelling method was.  In fact, this was the first Bible training of any kind some of the men had ever received. 

One of the object lessons that hit home for one school teacher/ lay leader was the pitcher of water and the chunk of ice.  In the lesson, a large pitcher (representing an organized outline and structure of a traditional sermon with 3 points and a lot of good information, illustrations and scripture references and abstract categories) was filled with water (God’s Word) and was then poured out into the hands of the first man.  Well, it was way more than his hands could hold and the excess ran out onto the ground.  He then waited a few moments and then passed his handful of water to the next man.  The process was sloppy and the water quickly drained through the space between the next man’s fingers and hands.  When he then tried to pass that water to the next man, only a few drops remained.  That teacher tuned to his neighbor and said, “That’s exactly how I teach!” This is what happens when a teaching style which works great in one place is tried in a different place where the majority of people does not think or learn in that manner.  The initial reception of the information, the short and long term retention of the information, and the subsequent transfer of that information are seriously flawed.  It just doesn’t work.  I then passed a medium sized chunk of ice (the words of God in vernacular, shorter, story form) to the first man who then passed it to the second who then passed it to the third and so on.  After many transfers, only a portion of the original had melted away.  It survived intact as it was originally given and received. That’s how it should be when we teach God’s Word in the way the people of our target audience prefer to receive, remember and transfer on to others.

 Stories do that here in Paraguay.  They get God’s Word off the pages of a book and deep down into the hearts and minds of people who can carry that Word around with them wherever they go.  It’s there to be retrieved and retold at a moment’s notice.  That school teacher is experiencing a paradigm shift.  And he isn’t the only one.  They are now equipped with 6 memorized stories, 6 memorized scriptures, speakers for playing memory chips which contain God’s Word and introductory material for each story, as well as a notebook full of written material (for those that read) and storyboards of drawings for remembering and teaching each story. These men are now charged with the task of telling each of the 6 stories a minimum of 3 times to different individuals.  Lord willing, they can start a new group and teach through the series of stories over the next 2 months.    They must also find a disciple and teach him the story set.  That disciple must also tell each story a minimum of three times.  At the next Timothy Training we hope to see many of the men plus their disciples pass the story telling exam!  Doing so will complete the fourth link in the chain according to 2 Timothy 2:2- “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.”

Thank you for praying!


1 comment:

Lisa said...

In love! I'm so in love with all the work! Bless you, bless you, bless you! I will pray for these men...all of them.

May God's glories be praised!


from VA with Paraguay in my heart.