Speaking the Bible

A woman without a written language becomes a Christian.

Imagine a world where your language is spoken, but not written. No books or newspapers to read. No emails. And a Bible? Foreign, illegal, and perhaps even nonexistent.

Mei* lives in East Asia in such a world. One million people speak her indigenous language, yet not a word is recorded in writing. No Bible exists in her language. And until recently, there was no church among her people.

Mei worked in a factory that produces women’s accessories. When she met Lina*, a missionary for StoryRunners and newly hired at the factory, a friendship was born. Because Mei and Lina both could speak the country’s trade language, the two could communicate, even though Lina didn’t know Mei’s native language.

Armed with the training she’d received in how to craft and tell stories from the Bible, Lina began teaching Mei one story after another. Mei, in turn, would retell the stories to her family in her indigenous language.

As the stories were told from home to home, a foundation was laid for each listener’s interest in God, and a hunger to know Him began to grow.

“After the first three or four stories,” Lina reported, “people were already expressing a desire to know God.” She went on, “Just hearing the stories of Creation, the Fall, the Flood, and the Tower of Babel made them want to know the real God, and then later, when these same people heard stories about Jesus’ life and ministry, they were ready to respond in faith.”

In the process of learning and recording the 31 stories from Lina, Mei herself realized that what she was learning and telling others was true and she gave her heart to Christ. Now, Lina had a new sister in Christ working alongside her.

As Lina continued to teach the stories to Mei, she used a process called “backtranslating” to check for accuracy before she recorded Mei telling each story in her indigenous language. Because of the power of song in her culture, Mei and Lina found other factory workers that began putting these stories to music.

They were even able to secure a professional native songwriter and singer to record the Gospel songs.

Now, her groups of listeners have gradually grown into groups of believers as the message of the Gospel through stories has begun to spread.

By the end of Lina’s time among this unreached people group, she had seen more than 30 people become followers of Christ, and they are now meeting in four small groups.

Just two years earlier, this language group had no known believers.

Equipped with story and song, these new believers are seeking ways to penetrate their culture with the Word of God––among the villages, in homes, in the factories––where Mei’s people live, work, and hope for an answer that will satisfy their souls.
Today, they now have an opportunity to find it.

*Names have been changed.