I marvel at the Africans as they prepare for and till the soil. It is hard to dig out in the sun for hours, but the result is a productive harvest. Jesus gave many parables about seeds and planting. It requires preparation and yet the harvest can yield a hundredfold.
The work of the Orality Institute involves preparation that is often unseen.
The curriculum that we bring to people is available because of the years of preparation involved. Not only the time writing the content, but even the preparation of getting it into the people’s language. During 2020, we were able to get the “Romans” book into Spanish and the “Doctrine, Character, and Ministry” book into Chichewa. The Spanish can now be introduced to the leaders in the Dominican Republic in August and the Chichewa can be brought to Malawi in September. These books are the seeds of the gospel as leaders begin to teach their own people God’s Word. What will that harvest look like in the future?
Preparation also includes communication and scheduling. For the upcoming trip to the Dominican Republic, they only had reliable translators available for the training during the month of August. The challenge for training in Malawi is coordinating five ministries and three busy schedules. There is a good reason to praise God when the dates and the people all line up. Another important piece of the organization is the personal preparation. That means knowing the teaching material well enough to be flexible for change. It means coordinating details for arrival as well for the classes and students. These locations have very simple standards of living. Transportation, food and housing can be a challenge for a larger group. We are looking forward to both trips where this preparation means that people will hear God’s Word. “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” Isaiah 40:3
Training is happening now and more is on the way. Michael Rokenbrodt spent a week training the Home Missions Barnabas team how to teach orally. Michael is traveling with them for the summer. This is the second year that this summer team has used the oral strategy to teach in the churches.
The second week in August, Paul Kneeland and Kevin Olson will go to the Dominican Republic to lead a week of training. Two years ago, several congregational leaders were introduced to the training for the first time. After the introduction, three Oral Studies began, but now it is time to help them take the next step. The opportunity to train these leaders came through John Pabst, from Peace Free Lutheran Church in Canal Winchester, OH. John is working with a ministry called, “Feed My Sheep”. Their ministry tries to be wholistic in their approach to people’s needs. Some need help with getting or repairing their home, others need food, and others English. They always need training in God’s Word and there is a disparity in how well the people can read. The oral training helps them grow in their understanding of scripture.
The big trip this fall will be to Malawi. We will leave on September 20th and return on October 8th. We will be offering training in three locations for people from five different ministries. Pastor Watson and his network of rural churches will be the first class. It will be their introduction to the oral style. Pastor Francis from Blantyre will join this group to consider how this training could help those under his leadership and if it could help them with the Malawi Alpha program. The second training will be with the prison chaplains across Malawi sponsored by Prison Fellowship and held on their campus. There will be some teachers from the Iris Africa Bible School in southern Malawi that will come up to join that training as well. The third training will be with Pastor Moses and his Grace Bible Church network. God’s promise to Jacob seems fitting, “Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” Genesis 28:15