May 12, 2020
The Next Language 21 — Genesis of a Script
As we seek to reach the last unreached languages of the world, our thoughts naturally turn to the scripts we use. We’ve evaluated a series of scripts for another mission which had a good Biblical basis and many good points but did not incorporate the principles we’ve learned in 80 years. We must always remember that for most of our preliterate oral-oriented target cultures the story is the primary vehicle for content. Our goal is “Telling the story of Jesus in every language” and we strive to make the complicated simple rather than to make the simple complicated. Bible stories and evangelistic messages must be simplified down to very-easy-to-translate sentences and ideas. The result becomes a very straight-forward Gospel message.
The question is, have we been missing something in our “straight-forward Gospel message?” The people in our target cultures are not Western (materialistic/natural, Greek-thought, rational, linear thinking). They are closer to the ancient Biblical and middle east cultures (animist/supernatural, Hebrew-thought, experiential, circular thinking). We tend to gravitate to the New Testament and may be puzzled by some stories in the Old Testament; other cultures may understand Old Testament stories much more quickly because elements of those stories already exist in their cultures. Yet we have often left those very stories out of any script series we put together, thinking the material too difficult, theologically of little relevance, or just not important.
But what if God knew something we didn’t? What if He put those more mystical, less tangible stories, ideas, and concepts in the Bible because He knew they will be the needed keys to unlock the thinking of some cultures and open the door to His truth?
Consider the book of Daniel. We tend to share the factual stories in that book (lion’s den, fiery furnace) but may overlook the rest of the book. Yet those more prophetical parts were the direct result of Daniel’s dynamic prayer life and the interaction between heavenly powers and earthly needs. An animist would relate quickly to that perspective.
Our last blog shared some stories of non-Western believers, their experiences of God using visions to exhort and encourage them, or of how their spirit seems to travel in both time and space as they read the Scriptures.
Now we, as Americans who tend to focus on what can be touched and seen, may all be wondering, “Did Gregorio wake up with the little pill in his hand and did it heal his kids?”
But Gregorio was most impacted by the spiritual intent of his dream and how God used it to deliver him from sin. And isn’t that the eternal perspective?
As I wrote last week, we may realize that in the past we have little understood and therefore have underutilized teaching about the role of prayer as one of our Kingdom tasks or the role of visions in exhortation and so forth. But having realized that, how will we now begin to write scripts for animists which will contain truly Biblical teaching about prayer?
The experiences I’ve been relating, plus many others, are ones we will have to consider in the light of Scripture as we go to write new scripts. One of our first new scripts is going to be the story of the life and prayers of Daniel. What we write will be shared with trustworthy believers from non-Western cultures to see if we’re on the right track. I would also like to run them by my former shaman friends in South America. Together we will seek to produce materials that will enhance this process of capturing “The Next Language” and of contributing to the growth of God’s Kingdom here on earth.
We appreciate your prayers for us as we begin this project. These scripts will be used with people who look at life and reality so differently than we do, but whose very animistic life experiences are bringing us an understanding of Scripture that otherwise would be harder to grasp.
Larry DeVilbiss | Executive Director
Global Recordings Network USA
P. S. As a “thank you” for your continued support of the ministry of Global Recordings Network USA, and in celebration of over 80 years of God’s faithfulness, we have compiled a collection of 80 daily devotions written by GRN founder, Joy Ridderhof. You may read or download your copy of Rejoice Always – 80 Devotions with Joy Ridderhof here.
Note: If you want in-depth exposure to the animist world in the words of a Yanomamo shaman, get the book Spirit of the Rain Forest by Mark Ritchie.
We are also reading The Unseen Realm Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible by Michael S. Heiser. It is the fullest treatment we’ve found of this topic.