Monday, October 26, 2009

Brief Update- from the President of Wycliffe!

Dear Friends and Family!

I thought I would share this with you, as it is from the President of Wycliffe, regarding the projects I was involved with this last year!!

It also mentions the contribution some of you made - those of you who helped type up back-translations, testing question and answers and stories!! :)

It’s is something that is sent to all Wycliffe members, but I wanted to share it with you too!

~ Elizabeth
(Some names have been changed, and emphasis has been added)


Sent: Friday, October 16, 2009 2:17 PM

To: Orlando, ConnectUS

Subject: ConnectUS: Storying in India

— This letter is from Bob Creson to all Wycliffe USA staff worldwide. Please feel free to share it with your partners as desired. —

October 2009

Dear Colleagues,

Vijay (pictured) speaks a language in Northern India. He recently graduated from a training workshop for storytellers along with 22 others from 8 different language communities. The workshop was sponsored by the a local association and facilitated by The Seed Company. Ten months after the workshop started, with guidance from OneStory consultant Elizabeth Wilson and the support of SIL consultants, mother tongue Scriptures were available to 65 million people in the form of Biblically accurate, culturally relevant, oral stories. In three of these languages, the stories represented access to Scripture for the very first time!

In a note I recently received from Jim (one of the SIL consultants involved in the storytellers workshop, and now in the Luke Partnership Workshop), Jim said that Vijay is pleased with the reception of the stories. Vijay told him that those hearing the stories in the villages are very enthusiastic, and storytellers are pleased because their neighbors are showing great interest in the stories.  In this part of India, only 0.3% of the population professes to be Christian, and two-thirds don’t know how to read or write.

You probably know how this oral strategy works but let me say a few words about it. In this case in India, carefully selected mother tongue believers who are intent on reaching their own people groups with God’s Word began to minister through chronological Bible stories. But this was only the beginning of their vision. They hope to continue reaching their people with the Word, eventually completing the translation of the New Testament. “I see the importance of providing people with Scriptures in their mother tongue — it appears as if God were speaking to His people in their own mother tongue,” says one of the story-tellers, Rev. B, who used to shun speaking in his mother tongue at public functions for fear of reproach.

During the workshop, stories were chosen that best communicated the truths of the Gospel to the target community. Mother tongue believers, trained in story crafting, as well as in checking for biblical accuracy and testing for correct understanding by the target audience, crafted the stories with the help of skilled consultants. Some of these storytellers also trained other storytellers.

“Story fellowship groups” met to test the stories. In the one I observed, the storyteller/leader encouraged discussion: “What can we learn about God from this story? How are the people in this story like people today? What can we do differently in our lives after hearing this story?”

Now that the stories are tested and consultant-approved, more story fellowship groups have begun. As participants listen to the stories, then repeat and discuss them, they explore new truths from God’s Word using the time-tested oral methods they have always used to learn new things. And since the stories are crafted in such a way that they are easily remembered, the stories can spread quickly from one group to another!

The results in India have been amazing. Dr. A, Director of the local association, wrote in July that eight of the men who completed the storyteller workshop -- working in three different languages -- are now participating in the Luke Partnership Workshop, facilitated by The Seed Company. As you know, the workshop focuses on the translation of the Gospel of Luke, which becomes the script for The Jesus Film. Dr. A and his colleagues view the preparation of the Jesus Film script as extremely significant. “Without doubt, the Jesus Film has been the most effective tool in seeing a break-through in Church planting in this area,” says Pr P, Church planting leader with local association.

Rev. S, of a local church, whose denomination has been working in this region of India for about 75 years, and who gave some of his personal time to help with translation between the consultants in the story project, says, “This is a strategic time to use the Mother tongue, and we are convinced that the Lord is going to bring in a great harvest.”

Effectively, according to our partners in India like Dr. A, this translation of stories becomes a church planting effort in oral cultures. The local association is focused on holistic ministry with a view toward planting a church that has all that it needs to reproduce itself, and one component of this is the use of the mother tongue. In one of the last conversations I had with Dr. A in India, he said, “What about multilingual education?” On the power of mother tongue he said, “This just makes sense!”

I am convinced that our work in the future will best be completed through partnerships like this one in India. The local association and The Seed Company were the catalysts, but so many others were needed for an effective outcome. Our partners in Faith Comes By Hearing came at the conclusion of the workshop and recorded all the crafted stories. And now Campus Crusade for Christ and the Jesus Film are involved.

We need more recruits like Elizabeth to become a part of our efforts. We also need more SIL consultants who are willing to share their knowledge and experience in translation with emerging Bible translators in every part of the world. By pouring themselves into the lives and ministries of these workshop participants, SIL consultants multiply their efforts many times.

More partners are also needed who are willing to fund the process. A foundation here in the USA was a major contributor to the storytelling workshop in India, as was Wycliffe USA, and Wycliffe Associates USA also provided funding. Now we need funders who have a vision for taking translation to the written phase.

At the end of the storying project, Elizabeth forged one more partnership: She asked her ministry team at home to help type up audios of the story back-translations in English for the SIL consultants. Thirty people helped her.

If you’d like to dialogue with me about these observations, strategies, or partnerships, I’d welcome that. I’d also love to hear your own stories that illustrate the impact of oral strategies.


Bob Creson


Wycliffe USA

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