The first OBS (Oral Bible Storytelling) group has now graduated! There were a total of 26 graduates from 7 different languages. Half of these graduates will become trainers for the next two groups of OBS courses which start next year.
Most of the graduates already have plans in place to hold training in their language and even to reach out to neighboring language groups who have become very interested in learning how to do Oral Bible Storytelling. Hopefully we will start to see a multiplication effect and this will end up reaching more people than we could have hoped.
At graduation, Frank told us about something that already happened in his language group.
This past May a group of leaders within the Sandaun Province Pouye language group were organizing an area wide gathering, a “crusade” type of meeting. They struggled to find a keynote speaker for the event. Some of them had previously heard Daniel, Waxen, Jack, and Frank (the 4 Pouye OBS trainees) tell Bible stories in their mother tongue in local churches and elsewhere and they decided, at the last minute, to ask Frank to give the talk during the main part of this gathering.
Frank had attended a small Bible School when he was younger and had confidence in preparing a message, but the late notice allowed him no time to do so. Since attending the OBS courses he did not let this worry him, prior to the OBS courses he would have needed some resource materials and time for preparation, now he could take from his memory Scripture and present a message that would interest and involve the audience and present it in a way that was both culturally appropriate and insightful for the audience.
A wide variety of people (numbering around 300, both churched and un-churched) from 9 Pouye speaking villages and 4 neighboring language group villages (they can understand most of the Pouye language but have trouble speaking it) attended the event held in the village of Buluwo. Some came to hear a talk that they hoped would encourage and motivate them but many merely came out of curiosity. The building had many people inside but crowds of others who felt uncomfortable being inside the church stood around the outside looking in.
Frank chose to tell the story of the “Fall of Man” taken from Genesis 3. His story telling skills (facial expressions, gestures, body movement, and changes in voice) all held the audience’s full attention. Frank described this as “they all looked strong at me during the story”. After the story was finished, Frank used the technique of asking questions that lead to discussion and to the meaning and application of the story to the audience’s lives. The large number of people standing outside the building were the first to start shouting out answers to his questions and discussing the story. Later they had many questions which Frank was able to answer in ways that gave clear and accurate meaning to what the Scripture was saying.
After the discussions ended an alter call was made and 195 people came forward to proclaim their desire to follow the Lord. Many of the youth, whose parents did not attend, went home and told their parents who have since come to hear Bible stories for themselves. As the word of the Bible stories spread to other villages, Frank, Daniel, Waxon, and Jack are being asked to tell stories in neighboring areas, with many denominations opening the doors for the first time to cooperate with others in the effort.
(Frank’s story written by Gary Abbas)