by Fiona Taylor
Through its active involvement in Pacific to Nations (P2N) and Kairos, Grace International Church in Auckland is no stranger to Wycliffe. Its keen desire to equip and send members of the church into the world to spread the news of Jesus has been clear for many years. When Wycliffe approached Pastor Graham Davison to ask if Grace International would be able to host an Oral Bible Storytelling (OBS) workshop in March he eagerly agreed. The multicultural nature of this church and its involvement in mission work around the Pacific had shown its people that storytelling is a natural fit with the worldview of these cultures. Communication rests on a message being understood by the receiver and OBS seemed to be a tool which would do this.
With a very capable team of volunteers (including many new believers) the church prepared the facilities and mouthwatering food for the week-long workshop.
With the focus of the workshop on Pacific languages, several members from the congregation at Grace International attended with others from around Auckland. The oral approach to learning and engaging with Scripture struck a chord with workshop participants. Immediately stories were put to use: testimonies were shared daily about the impact on hearers and the experience of the storyteller. This tool affirms the mother tongue as a valid way of communicating the gospel and it is sensitive to the way cultures receive and transmit truth. For some language groups this may never have happened before.
Graham has noticed an increase in confidence in his own church members who attended. Storytelling in their own heart language has enabled them to relax when they talk about their faith and Scripture. Participants are telling stories to others and now there are more people interested in attending future OBS workshops.