Sunday, October 03, 2004

LCWE - 10/03 update

FAST FACTS: On Orality, Literacy and Chronological Bible Storying
* 6.3 billion world population
* 6,809 languages spoken in the world
* 2,737 languages surveyed and listed as needing a translation (estimated population: 147 million)
* 1,699 Scripture projects underway
* 4,147 languages have no Scripture
* At least 1.5 billion people in the world have never been introduced to reading/writing
* At least 67% of the world’s people are either non-literate or functionally illiterate
* 75-85% of Islamic women are oral communicators (non-literate to functionally illiterate)
* At least 65% of Islamic men are oral communicators
* Significant numbers of Islamic Quranic leaders in the Middle East and Africa are oral communicators, operating by means of a memorized Quran
* Illiteracy is dominant among animistic peoples.
* 48-51% of adult Americans are non-literate or functionally illiterate
* Oral communicators understand, learn and assimilate information best when it comes to them in narrative or storying formats
* Oral communicators find it difficult to understand, and next to impossible to remember, recall and reproduce expositional outlines, points, principles and steps

From the daily update found here.
In case you didn't notice from this, we have quite the privlege to be able to read and write. On the flip side, if we don't pay attention, the part of the world that doesn't read and write could easily miss the Gospel. Those are some staggering numbers.
After taking my team to NYC this past summer, and having one evening where we helped with an ESL class that Urban Impact had run every Monday for the whole summer, I got to thinking that we had this enormous talent that most students never even thought about - the asset of being able to teach English. It was pretty incredible, these people were so grateful, and we thought hardly anything of explaining the alphabet and phrases.
Seeing these statistics now kind of make me think about this even more. But along slightly different lines. Maybe we shouldn't be so quick to teach English. Maybe we should be careful about the balance between teaching English and refining our ability to tell the Gospel in a narrative form. Maybe we need to hone our abilities to tell stories, especially in dealing with cross cultural ministry. Maybe it has a lot more to do with context than I have thought so far. Interesting.

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