Communication is one of the biggest challenges when it comes to missions and church planting in particular. Every missionary will, at least to some extent, have to face questions like: what method am I going to use? where do I start? how much time do I have? how do I translate certain words? And does it even make sense to the people or will they forget what I was talking about immediately after I’ve left?
Hesselgrave, in his book Communicating Christ Cross-culturally says that we as missionaries have the responsibility to make sure our message is understood in the cultural context of the people. The missionary needs to learn to communicate the Gospel to the people in terms of their way of viewing the world, their way of thinking, their way of expressing themselves in language, their way of acting, their response to media, etc.
One important aspect when it comes to communication, is that in our world today, still a vast majority cannot or does not prefer to learn from reading. This is certainly true for the Isaan people.
However, most of the Christian discipleship materials and evangelism strategies use literate methods of communication.
As an effort to explore and adopt more oral strategies, an orality workshop called Simply The Story (www.simplythestory.org) was organized in our area recently. In the workshop people learn several stories from the Bible by heart and also practice telling these stories to other people. After that there is a time of guided discussion about the meaning of the story after which the story teller leads the listeners to some applications from the story.
The response was very positive, people are enthusiastic and willing to take this on. For us as missionaries this is so encouraging to see. The whole of Isaan is not going to be reached with the Gospel by a few pastors or missionaries only. We want to see lay church members empowered and taking on the task of bringing the Gospel to their friends, their neighbours and people in their village.