John Wilson was a resident missionary in Papua (Irian Jaya) from 1972 to 1991 and wrote his master’s dissertation on ‘Scripture in Oral Culture’ before orality was as trendy. He was kind enough to add his thoughts to my application comments and I think they’re worth sharing.
Comments in italics by John D Wilson:
We must seek to understand the communication methods of our target culture; we need to have a good understanding of how the people communicate with each other and how their belief and plausibility systems are transferred. I think this point has been made clear by enough people in enough ways that we can no longer claim to be doing responsible mission if we don’t.
This does not mean that people are incapable of learning a different communication method. They may use it in a different way—in terms of logic and structure of thought.
‘A – a – ants,’ the class chants, diligently repeating after the teacher. Along with the photocopy of the alphabet and its corresponding sounds, the students each have a copy of John’s Gospel in front of them; a book they very much hope to be able to read one day after completing the three modules of their literacy course. ‘It will only be through reading it for themselves that they will really change,’ the mission worker explained to me. After watching for a while, I had the feeling that it will be a long process. But when they have come as far as they have, there must be hope. Continue reading →