Powerful Disciple Makers Don’t Have to Be Literate
Long ago I dropped into a Christian bookstore in my country of residence, England. After wandering around the store, it occurred to me that there were many different English versions of the Bible. I couldnot even count them. They seemed too many!
A Terrible Injustice
“What about those who don’t have a Bible in their heart language at all?” I thought. It seemed a terrible injustice. Why should I be able to have my choice of dozens of versions when so many have no Bible in their mother tongue language at all?
Wycliffe Bible translators tell us that there are 7099 languages in active use. Of these, only 683 have a full Bible. 1,534 languages have the New Testament. There is still much work to be done to get God’s written word into the languages of these remaining groups. End Bible Poverty Now is a ministry of Youth With A Mission that is partnering with Wycliffe and other groups to make sure those numbers change.
What About Those Who Cannot Read?
But what about those who cannot read? Even if the Bible is translated into their language, they still are not able to receive it. Two solutions to this issue were discovered by a YWAM Frontier Missions in India. They discovered that by using Audio Bibles and Storying, disciples could be made and multiplied.
In a small village in western India, a young woman named Tara was trained to share her testimony and the gospel. She was a passionate woman who loved the Lord and the people around her. She sowed seeds abundantly. As a result of her efforts, people began to believe!
Her trainer told her to start disciple-making groups with the new believers. “Begin by teaching them Bible stories,” he said.
Storytelling is a powerful way to share the good news of Jesus. It’s also effective in discipleship. It has the potential to be very reproducible. Those who learn Bible stories often share them with others.
It sounds easy and for some people it is very natural! But for others, it is difficult to remember and repeat a story you have only heard once or twice. That was the case for Tara. Because she couldn’t read and write, she felt stuck. How would she serve as a disciple-maker and trainer of others without the ability to read the Bible? Was there any other way she could prepare to tell the stories?
The YWAM Frontier Missions team had an idea. What if they got her an audio Bible? Then she could listen to the stories and learn them. Maybe this fruitful woman could continue to serve as a fruitful trainer of others. They decided to give it a try.
Soon she received her very own audio Bible. Now she could listen to the Bible passages over and over again! By listening, she was able to memorize them. God’s Word was truly “hidden in her heart”.
Tara was so excited! She faithfully shared stories from the Word of God with the new believers. Together, they formed three house churches. She says, “The believers love the Bible stories and are growing in their faith!” Praise God!
In another village, a husband and wife were also trained to start house churches. The wife, Sangeeta, began to share with her female friends. To her delight, some of them came to believe in Jesus. A group of 10 women formed a new house church.
Like Tara, Sangeeta was also able to get an audio Bible. She loves it and listens to it daily for several hours. Every other day, she meets with her discipleship group to pray and listen to the Bible. Sometimes they listen and learn stories for many hours. The time goes by so quickly!
Many people who live in unreached places cannot read. Of the 774 million who cannot, 66% are women. That is why the Audio Bible distribution being done by YWAM Frontier Missions church planters is so vitally important. God loves these people and wants them to have His Word.
“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”Hebrews 4:12a
Join the Effort to End Bible Poverty
At YWAM Together 2018, Loren Cunningham, YWAM’s founder, spoke about the urgent need for Bible translation. There are many people groups who still need the Word of God in their own languages. Others, like Tara and Sangeeta, have the Bible but cannot read. Only when given Audio Bibles can they be discipled and become disciple-makers.
Life-Way’s extensive Discipleship Research found that “reading the Bible is the number one predictor for spiritual growth. Quite simply, those who read the Scripture grow.”
What Will You Do to Get Involved?
“The Bible available to Every Person” is one of the Finish Lines of the Great Commission (see link article about the Finish Lines if you aren’t familiar with them). If God is speaking to you to get involved, register your commitment to this Finish L
Let’s make sure there are many more stories of people like Tara and Sangeeta in the years to come. Disciples making disciples from every people, tribe and language- whether they can read and write or not! Be part of the change. Sign up today.