The stories that we know are very important. It's the stories that we know that shape our Worldview. Our worldview is how we interpret everything that goes on around us. The more our minds are renewed with the truth of the Bible, then the more we will be able to be transformed in our lives.
The Bible has been around for a long time. Do you know what has been around even longer? The Bible stories. Long before the stories we read in the Bible were written down, they were spread orally. It makes since.... A lot of people did not know how to read and write. It's easier to tell someone a story than to read someone a story. You don't always walk around with a little Bible stuffed down your pocket. What I am saying is that the word of God used to be primarily spread orally. Even when these stories were written, the number of copies were limited. So even after these stories were written down they were still mostly told and spread orally. Paul did not walk around with an Old Testament on him. He knew the scriptures. Jewish cultures placed a huge emphasis on memorizing and being able to tell the stories of the Bible. They could share them with their children and family, because they knew them.
Growing up in America is an amazing thing. But we have to remember that we did not grow up like most of the world. We all speak the same language. We all know how to read and write. But the majority of the world is not like this. There are many places with a high illiteracy rate, or places that don't have the Bible translated into a language that they understand. This has lead to many missionaries to take on the task of translating the Bible into local languages, and working to improve literacy rates around the world. I applaud this type or work. It is very beneficial. But I want to point out the importance of being able to share the word of God orally.
1. A lot of people either can't read or simply don't like to. Remember, in America we grew up reading and writing, and still, many people from our culture don't like to read. We would rather watch a movie. And we're great at reading. Most people in third world countries, even if they know how to read, don't spend much time reading. Think about it, we have an incredibly hard time even getting Americans to read the Bible. Now I understand there are other factors like electronics and other things that distract us. But still, my point is that many people just don't want to spend time reading. I'm not saying it's good, just that it's true. On top of that, if you are a poor reader, you are more likely to not want to curl up with the Bible and spend an hour a day reading from Leviticus. I'm not trying to say that Bible reading is not important. It is very crucial and a discipline we should all strive to develop. I'm just saying that a lot of non-Christians, even if you gave them a free Bible are probably not going to read through it. For example, when is the last time that you sat down and read the Qur'an all the way through?.......
2. When we tell the stories of the Bible orally, they are more accessible. Maybe you do, but as mentioned earlier, how many of us walk around with a Bible in our pockets? Not many that I know of. It's much easier to casually tell a Bible story in a social setting when you can do so orally. Pretend you are in a place that does not have the Bible in a local language. This means you have to read the passage and have a translator with you. It's hard. Most of us have a negative connotation of the word "study." Personally when I hear the word I want to run the other direction. I'm much more opened to listen to someone tell me a story and then discuss the story. It is just more natural.
3. Time. As is stated before, there are people that have taken on the challenge to make sure that everyone has access to the Bible in a language that they can understand. But this is a very slow process. It takes a lot of work and time to translate the entire Bible into a new language. Think of how many places and people don't have access to the written word of God. One of the pros of telling bible stories orally is that the word of God can spread faster. It I read you a Bible story, if you want to share it with someone, you are most likely to grab a Bible and read it to that person just like I did to you. That's fine..... if you have access to a Bible... a lot of people don't. But if I tell you a Bible story, and you want to share it with someone, you are more likely to tell it to that person orally.
The word of God is for everybody. It is not limited to people that know how to read and write. It is not limited just to the people that have the Bible in their language. It is for everybody. It is definitely a good thing to ultimately have the bible translated into every language and available for every people group, but while we're waiting...... lets take the time to practice spreading the word orally.
I would be interested to hear what you think some of the pros and cons are of spreading the gospel in unreached areas orally as opposed to written???