Making Disciples of Oral Learners

Using Bible Storying in a sequential method means teaching the stories in a chronological manner beginning with Genesis and culminating with the Resurrection. You can read more about this in our last blog post. Below is another example of this method from Making Disciples of Oral Learners, published by the International Orality Network.

The Togolese in Africa

Antoine the Storyteller

The Togolese town of Kpele-Dafo sprang to life when the message came, “The storyteller is coming!” The sound of the drumming announced the coming of the storyteller. Men left their games, tailors closed their shops, and yawning children roused themselves. The drumming intensified as the storyteller took his place in the center of village, where he seated himself on a low carved bench. The elders of the village arrived in their finery and the animated storyteller, Antione, exchanged ritual,  formalized greetings with his audience. The fetich priestess, clothed in white and wearing her horsehair amulet, stood near, watching intently.

As night fell and the logs crackled in the fire, Antoine began in melodic, poetic style, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth…”  When he reached the repeated phrase, “And God saw that it was good.”, he sang a song composed in their familiar call and response style. He sang a line about God’s creative handiwork and the villagers sang back, “And God saw that it was good.”  The villages quickly memorized their part and sang it enthusiastically. Before long, the villagers began dancing too, to express their delight at this God who created a good world. The village headman joined in the dance, signaling his approval of the story and the event.

A New Truth Dawns

Antoine continued his story long into the night, accompanied by the sound of drumming and joined in his song by the villagers. When the fire had burned low and the story-song ended, no one wanted to leave. The whole experience had engulfed them. A new truth was dawning and their world would never be same.

Antoine returned many times over the next several weeks, bringing story after story in this way. Stories about Abraham and his sons, about the prophets, and about Jesus and God’s community. Gently but firmly the Holy Spirit used the stories to do His transforming work. In time, extended families made God’s story, their own story, and the God of the Bible, their God. The fetish priest burned his amulets, talismans, and jujus because he no longer need their protection. (Making Disciples of Oral Learners)

Results in Kpele-Dafo

  • This  approach was used to bring about the surrender of strongholds and for discipleship.
  • Through Bible storytelling the Word of God came to life in the African context.
  • The biblical stories continued as the people of Kpele-Dafo grew in their newfound faith. They began to meet in house churches and taking this message to neighboring villages.
  • This same process has now taken place throughout the Volta region of Togo, Benin, and Ghana, resulting in a movement of people of coming to Christ.

If you’d like to learn more about orality, we recommend Making Disciples of Oral Learners, published by the International Orality Network. You can listen to the audiobook here, or download it as a free PDF. Please visit our website, Great Company of Publishers, to find more information about our original project to reach oral learners with God’s Word.