That people might hear and understand God’s Word in their heart language, especially those who are oral communicators and those who do not have Scriptures in a form they can access.
Unpacking our vision statement...
Hear and understand
The written scriptures are important and indispensable, but the Scriptures themselves use the term “Word of God” frequently in an oral context. Note particularly 1 Peter 1: 23-25 where “the Word of God” is what was “preached” to the believers. Similarly in 1 Thessalonians 2:13, the people in Thessalonica HEARD the message and accepted it as “The Word of God” “which is what it was”, says Paul.
The repeated Scriptural emphasis on proclamation reinforces the importance of the oral communication of the Word of God.
Very specifically, Romans10:17, says that “Faith comes through hearing the message”. This of course does not rule out the possibility of faith coming through reading the message but it is clearly not expected to be the normal route. Current research indicates that something like 75% (or more) of the world’s people are predominantly or totally ‘oral learners’. Many who are highly literate may actually prefer non-print communications and may even learn better from the use of ‘oral communication techniques’ than from the printed page. Of course those who are non or minimally literate are oral learners by necessity!
Again the Scriptures affirm the value of communication in the heart language. The story of Pentecost in Acts 2 indicates that all who were in Jerusalem heard the proclamation by the apostles in their own languages. More than a dozen locations are listed! It is likely that all those present would have understood Greek but the account makes the point that God is not biased towards or against any people group or language and that all are included in his plan. No human culture, apart from the influence of the Gospel, is more or less biblical or godly than any other culture! In every culture, the “falleness” of man and the providence of God can be seen. The Gospel can be ‘at home’ in every culture although it will challenge and change some aspects of every culture.
The book of ” The Revelation” also affirms that the people of God will include people from “every tribe, language, nation and race” (Rev 5:9). It is a reasonable assumption that with the biblical emphasis on oral proclamation, ‘language’ in Rev 5 would refer to spoken rather than written language forms.
As mentioned above, a huge percentage of the world’s people are oral communicators to some extent. Even those who are highly literate and ‘print focussed’ can still learn from oral teaching techniques. The reverse is not true! It is interesting to note that Jesus himself was literate, as were all Jewish boys of his day, having learned to read the Scriptures in the Synagogue. However, Jesus clearly adopted a range of oral teaching techniques rather than rely on literate processes. In using these techniques, no one was excluded from both learning and potentially teaching, no one was excluded on the basis of cost of literacy materials and teaching and learning could continue in the normal context of life. These are significant advantages of oral teaching techniques.
The Gospel is not simply academic knowledge to be learned in the head. It is a life to be learned, a relationship (with God) to be shared, and a community to be a part of. Hence Gospel communication is best suited to the principles and practices of oral learning.
Who don't have Scriptures in a form they can access
GRN is not just communicating an ordinary human message but rather the life giving word of God. Without that word, without the knowledge of Jesus Christ and the message of salvation, people are separated from God and eternally lost. GRN’s greatest concern is for those who have not yet had a chance to hear that message. This includes people for whom there are no translated Scriptures and no viable local church. It may also include groups where a written Scripture or portion is available but where there are few if any who can read it or make sense of it. Yes, there is much work to be done in ‘evangelised communities’ but there are still those waiting for their first chance. Those small, often neglected minority language groups are GRN’s highest priority.