Today I will be talking to Micah Foreman with Scriptures in Use. Scriptures in Use is reaching out to the hard places of the world. Places where the message of Jesus has never been heard. Places where cultural and linguistic barriers have isolated people from the transforming message of Jesus Christ.
SIU has developed powerful and effective methods to communicate through storytelling the great narratives of the Bible. Through dramatizations of the parables of Jesus and cultural adaptations of Scripture in Song, every believer is taught to become a Bible storyteller through which they become natural disciple-makers and trainers.
Oral learners are people all over the globe whose mental processes are primarily influenced by spoken rather than textual forms of communication. They, therefore, learn primarily or exclusively by speech, song, etc.
Oral communicators also learn information by spoken rather than textual means. Some do so out of necessity because they cannot read or write with understanding, but others simply prefer non-print forms of communication.
80% of the Earth’s People are “Oral-Preference Learners.”
Traditional literate evangelism techniques do not reach these people groups.
“Oral-Preference Learners” prefer to share and pass information, knowledge, and
history through oral communication. Many of them cannot read or write, while
others simply prefer non-print forms of communication.
There are an estimated 5.7 billion people who are oral learners. This includes
3 billion adults, 900 million very young children, and 450 million children between
the ages of eight and fifteen; all of these have basic or below basic literacy skills.
Christ’s Church of the Valley: https://ccv.church/
CCV Missions: www.ccv.church/missions
Pastor Larrie Fraley: linkedin.com/in/larrie-fraley-53445032
Larrie: [00:00:00] Now, you said 75% of the world. Now, I just read the other day that the world just tipped 8 billion people. So you're saying 75% of 8 billion? Are Orality learners.
Micah: [00:00:16] It's it's crazy to think about. And you could even go deeper into that. I would say if we're talking about the unreached, the unreached unengaged, there's estimates that probably 90% of the world's remaining unreached and unengaged people groups are within these oral cultures.
Larrie: [00:01:05] Welcome to this episode of Let's Go Through 60. I'm so excited about today because today I get to talk with someone who has spent his life reaching the unreached people groups and also I've known this young man for many years, probably back oh, I'd say when he was even in high school, because I've had the privilege to working with his dad. In fact, his dad is the senior pastor at First Christian Church, which is the very first church that I visited here back in 1977. And it was at that church that I met a man by the name of Don Wilson. I know many of you know that name. He was the senior pastor here at CCV and the founder and just recently left, I'd say just, I don't know, five years ago. And so I've had the opportunity working with Don and being associated with CCV and helped start the church back in 1982. And so today brings back some memories of a church that I first attended back when I came to Phoenix from Cincinnati in 1977. Today with us is Micah Foreman. Now, Micah grew up in the mission field in Southeast Asia. He returned to Southeast Asia after college with a large, tribal, unreached people group. It was there that that Micah and his team ran up against a non literacy and oral culture. Now, this was the beginning of his journey to understand, celebrate and make the Gospel come alive to oral cultures. Micah currently travels internationally with Scriptures in Use, an organization that trains leaders to use the oral arts, storytelling, poetry, song, dance and drama to evangelize disciple, plant churches and train leaders. This is all for the purpose of starting disciple, making movements among the least reached people of the world. And so today with me is Micah. Micah, welcome to the show.
Micah: [00:03:18] It's good to be here.
Larrie: [00:03:19] Hey, tell us a little bit about your journey now. I know I summarized that, but tell us about your story, maybe a little bit about your family.
Micah: [00:03:29] Yeah. Well, it's definitely been a wild ride. Grew up on the field, went to school, and I feel like the Lord really got ahold of my heart in college and just kind of sense that he was doing something around the world and just didn't want to miss out on what he was doing. And so my wife and I met in college, and we were equipped and sent out by a local church in Missouri. And like you said, we went and worked with a tribal group in Southeast Asia and, you know, went to went to Bible school and had all kinds of training during and after Bible college. And we got to the field and, man, we started interacting with these tribal people. And it was it was. It was crazy to see how much or how little training we had had to be able to work with and move the gospel forward among people that had no desire to read and write and learn that way. And so that was kind of the beginning of our journey. We kind of felt like we had to start over from square one. After all of our training and the more and more we learned, the more excited we got. And yeah, so that was kind of our journey there. And we ended up coming back off the field for just some health reasons. And after searching around and just trying to figure out where God wanted me, I got connected to this. This ministry called Scriptures in Use. And when I started, my dad actually introduced me to them. And when I looked at their training very quickly, I recognized this was something that I needed before I had gone over. And so the deeper and deeper I got into it. I said, Man, I want to I want to really own this because I want to give people what I needed when I was working with this tribal group. And so that's kind of how that's kind of how I got connected to Scriptures in Use.
Larrie: [00:05:12] So can you tell us a little bit about the history of Scriptures in Use? How did it get started?
Micah: [00:05:17] Yeah, So Jim and Carlo Bomer are the founders and they actually they were hippies growing up and they got saved in the hippie movement and Calvary Chapel out in California. And so he, as a young believer, heard that there were people around the world that hadn't heard about Jesus and decided to go down there. So they went down into the tribal groups and central northern Mexico, and they very quickly realized they're doing Bible translation and Jesus projects and quickly realized that these people couldn't read and write. And so Jim was a media guy. And so he started they started doing stuff with the Jesus film, and they just kind of went he didn't have much training, ministry training. And so he just went kind of like an open book and realized that these people couldn't read and write and didn't really have a desire to learn. And so there was this really tight bottleneck of those could actually grow deeper in their faith. And so they just started learning about oral cultures, trial and error, and just stumbled across something. And Jim was actually part of one of the founding fathers of the International Reality Network, and he helped get that going.
Micah: [00:06:25] And so, you know, they saw movements happen and several different tribal groups in Mexico. And then word started to spread and they got invitations into Africa and India. And they said, well, I wonder if this will work in different cultures. And so they tried it there. And they're movements that happen and explosive growth not just wide but deep. And so the more it happened in these different areas, the more the word spread. And it was all word of mouth and they just got invitations to different areas. And, you know, third, that was 35 years ago where they started and just the just the the learners spirit that Jim and Carla had is just was infectious. And they they built something that I kind of feel like I'm standing on their shoulders and getting to to reap the fruit of their willingness to learn and start from scratch and figure out what what is this whole orality thing that has kind of become a buzzword since then. So.
Larrie: [00:07:22] Well, that's what we need to discuss next. What is orality work? You know, our listeners are so used to missionaries going into a community and starting a church and helping translate a language. But yet this term orality is something that we don't we don't hear a lot in the local church here.
Micah: [00:07:44] Yeah. So it's. Well, a lot of people will use illiterate. There's literate people and there's illiterate people. And I've kind of shied away from using that distinction. We like to use the word oral preference. And it's this idea that probably about 75% of the world's entire population, 75%, are oral preference learners. And so what we say by that is you have how do you prefer to learn? And even people that can read and write may prefer to learn orally through conversation and dialogue or hands on experience. And so even if someone is literate, they may still prefer to learn a different way. And then you have people that are non literate, they literally cannot read and write. And so by default they are oral preference. There's no other way they can learn. And so it's this idea that they pass on. We pass on things that reality, things we care about, our way of life, who we are as a people, our culture are passed on through non-Western, literate styles of learning. So story time, drama, arts, poetry, there's all kinds of things. And as opposed to Western learning styles that we honestly learn in school, like lecture and writing a paper summary, there's all different kinds of ways of learning. So that's kind of the nutshell version of what reality is.
Larrie: [00:09:09] Now, you said 75% of the world. Now, I just read the other day that the world just tipped 8 billion people. So you're saying 75% of 8 billion are or reality learners, so to speak?
Micah: [00:09:27] Yeah, it's crazy to think about. And you could even go deeper into that. I would say if we're talking about the unreached, the unreached unengaged, there's estimates that probably 90% of the world's remaining unreached and unengaged people groups are within these oral cultures.
Larrie: [00:09:44] So when you say unreached, define that.
Micah: [00:09:46] Well, I don't know what the latest terminology is, but it would be some people group that has what, less than less than 5% of our believers.
Larrie: [00:09:57] Yeah. And so of those unreached people groups, you've got 90% of them that either don't know how to read or write, or would prefer to have someone orally teach them. I guess when I think about it, the church started that way, right? I mean, when Jesus came, there was really nothing written down. So after he was gone for a number of years there, there were pretty much no way to communicate other than orally what had just happened.
Micah: [00:10:30] Yeah, well, even when Jesus during his ministry, there's estimates that probably about 95% of the people he was interacting with were non literate and the educated class would been primarily the religious leaders, and they were the ones that were reading the Torah to the people. So people during Jesus's time interacted with the written word orally as a community. And so then after Jesus, you know, we of get into Jesus's ministry styles, it's a whole nother conversation. But he taught in a way that was oral friendly. And so after when he left and the Holy Spirit came the church exploded. People were able to pass on his teachings, stories that he told and stories about him orally and the way we'll get into it later, but there's a way that oral communities protect accuracy, and that's one of the things that I've just become so fascinated with. But it by no means the written word is so important and it does. The reason they wrote things down in the early church eventually was to help protect the accuracy. But the way that the written word gets into the community is different than what we experience today.
Larrie: [00:11:40] So how does it work on the local level, then? Do you have an example of of maybe a community that you went into and how does it work from start to finish?
Micah: [00:11:53] So, man, this is there's so many different ways that the gospel interacts with different, even just orally. So what we, even just orally speaking, what happens is, is that you have people, storytellers that will come in. I'll just use some of our partners in Africa, for instance, the storyteller or the poet is highly revered and honored and valued in oral communities. And so a lot of my African brothers and sisters, you know, when I'm in trainings and I’ll ask them, “Hey, growing up, did you guys have storytellers would visit your village?” And all of them are like, “Yeah, we loved it when the storyteller would visit our village”, and these weren't necessarily Christian or believers. This is just in their tribal culture. They had storytellers that had preserved their way of life and their legends and their histories, and they would come through and everyone would just gravitate towards them. And so these storytellers will come through and they have memorized God's Word, word for word specific stories, and then they give them to the people. And then there's ways that they and this part of our training that we do is, is they help the group interact with the story and digest the story in a way so that by the time the group leaves their interaction with the storyteller, they have now had that oral story implanted and imprinted on their hearts. And so this story is able to leave the storyteller and it leaves it goes out accurately word for word. And there's a whole way that they do this. And we've actually that's one thing Jim and Kala did was they observed how oral cultures preserve their stories and pass them on accurately and kind of translate that, use that for engaging scripture.
Larrie: [00:13:37] And so as these stories are told, these are these are in some cases, they're already storytellers. They don't even know anything about Scriptures in Use. And so they travel and tell stories. And these cultures listen. And it's almost as a form of entertainment, it sounds like.
Micah: [00:13:55] Yeah, it is. I think what's interesting is that when I go into an area and I, I predominantly train leaders, Christian leaders and pastors, and what we do is a lot of their training, a lot of their ministry, I would say if we go back to the if we go back to the statistic that we were saying about 75% of people, oral learners or 90% of the unreached, or oral culture learners, I would say probably about 90% of our Christian leaders around the world are trained in Western literate styles of ministry tools. So about most of our Christian leaders are trained with Western literate style ministry tools. And yet most of the audience that needs this learn in a different way. And so when I go in and I train these ministry leaders and kind of, you know, they're coming from these oral cultures, but they've been raised up and trained in seminaries and, you know, like, I'm not I'm not putting those down, but because we need those. But there's a part of when I interact these leaders, there's almost a call for them to remember where they came from. How did you grow up? How did your parents pass on who you were? And so there's this there's a call back to their roots, almost. And when these oral culture leaders experience hearing the gospel in an oral culture way that they love and are familiar with, there's something that happens in them and there's an excitement and there's a joy to get to experience scripture, engage scripture the way that they're wired, the way that their culture loves naturally.
Larrie: [00:15:38] Well, when I think about our own culture for just a minute, it's almost like our Western culture in many ways here in the US is kind of reverting back to a oral culture, right? Are not reverting back, but they're turning into a culture that uses listening as a way to communicate. I'm thinking about podcasts. I mean, ten years ago there was not really, podcast was not a thing. And just within the last few years, podcasting, for example, has become a way for people to hear and learn about whatever it is they want to learn about. I think about books. There is an explosion of audible books now, so technology has helped in terms of orality. I don't know whether those electronic or digital means are being used. Is that part of Scriptures in Use’s strategy? Because there's a lot of villages in Africa that they may not have food to eat, but they've got an iPhone.
Micah: [00:16:43] I know, right? Yeah. So what we there's what we like to the audio, audio tools and stuff like that. And this is a longer conversation, but what we have found is that the gospel in these oral cultures, you know, and there's a lot that goes into the oral cultures, but relationship is such a huge part. And so what we find is that when the gospel moves into a community, an oral community, and it's coming from mouth to ear and there's a relationship attached to this narrative, that's where it gets really powerful and really transformative. And so the audible versions, the recordings and stuff like that, well, we like to think of those is like a vitamin. It's something that that can help an oral movement, an oral discipleship movement. But anything that takes away from this relational mouth to ear way of engaging the gospel, that cannot be replaced, I mean, that is so crucial. And so the audio Bible is if that's helping you memorize Scripture and implanting on your heart so that you can inject these biblical narratives into day to day life organically, that's where it becomes really helpful. But as Americans, we get really caught up sometimes in the effectiveness thing, Well, how quickly can we do this? And to be honest, oral culture oral learners learning something this way it is slower and it takes longer to do it, but it's the foundation, building that strong foundation is what we're after and it's kind of go slow to go fast kind of thing.
Larrie: [00:18:18] Well, we saw this and we saw this in Jesus himself as he was delivering communication in the form of parables, for example. Well, Micah, thank you for what you're doing. CCV is behind you. We talked earlier today about some people, groups that could get involved with. You know, maybe in the future we can have you back, let's say a year from now, where we can actually not necessarily share the people group for security reasons, but at least share the sort of life cycle, if you will, of going into an unreached people group with this this strategy to reach them through this orality method. And so we'll look forward to having you back. So if if our listeners wanted to know more about Scriptures in Use, where would they go?
Micah: [00:19:05] Well, our website is scripturesinuse.org. So scriptures, plural scriptures in in and then use and then we've got online training videos there. We've got some information, some videos you can watch. That's the main way to interact with us.
Larrie: [00:19:25] Yeah, well, we'll certainly include all of those in our show notes as we normally do. And we will look forward to having you back in the future. And as we close here, how can we pray for you?
Micah: [00:19:39] Oh, man, to be honest, when people get when people catch wind of this, where they have this, when they realize that I can be 100%, 100% my people group and 100% obedient to Jesus, I don't have to leave my way of life and what I love about my culture and they catch wind of that. There's almost a desperate ness to learn how to do that. And so I would say right now we have to say no to about nine out of every ten requests to come train and equip people this way. And that's honestly, it's heartbreaking. And so we really we just the Lord said, look at the harvest. It's ripe. It's ready for the harvest. We just need more workers for this. And so we we're just praying right now that Lord will continue to bring more people to work with us at SIU so that we can make this available to more people. Because everywhere it drops, everywhere this touches, we see amazing things happen. And so just that heart and desire for this to be available to more people, that's what we're really laboring, laboring in the Lord for right now.
Larrie: [00:20:43] That's amazing. And so we will certainly do that, Micah And so we look forward to having you back in the future. Thanks for joining us today.
Micah: [00:20:51] Yeah, it's so good to be here.