‘I have an audio player with stories from the Bible. Would you like to listen?’
The elderly African man, wearing a robe and head-hugging hat, eagerly accepted my offer. He gathered his large family in the evenings and then sent his son to fetch the player. These neighbours, who claimed their god was the same as mine, but who never would have accepted an invitation to church, gratefully listened to the gospel.
Others in the rainforest village borrowed the player on moonlit nights, listening to dramatised stories about creation, Noah, Job, and Jesus, as they relaxed in hand-crafted bamboo lounges or sat hunched over on tiny wooden stools. They reacted spontaneously, making comments or affirmations, and conversed with the narrator. Others might be listening too, hidden inside their wattle-and-daub homes or behind nearby walls, too afraid or shy to reveal their interest.
‘They reacted spontaneously, making comments or affirmations, and conversed with the narrator.’
God created our five senses for communicating in this world. Those who lived in community with Jesus experienced him through hearing his wise words, seeing him walk on water, tasting the wine and bread he offered, feeling his loving and healing touch, and some, even by smelling his sweetness as a baby.
Though we can’t experience those keen, intense senses of his Word-become-flesh presence in exactly the same way today, we can know him very tangibly as we read words of Scripture, and by faith we can come to know his Spirit’s powerful presence.
But what about those who do not know Jesus yet, who do not read, or cannot read, or whose cultural communication style is based on oral means? How will they meet and know him? Is Jesus the Saviour only of those who can read? No!
For cultures with strong oral traditions, or even those that have come to depend much more on multiple forms of media, communicating the gospel in more ways than just print is indispensable. Audio players, Bible storying and the arts are just a few methods people can use to engage with the Bible with their whole lives, in ways that enable them to understand it and to put it into practice.
Over the next few weeks, we will be exploring how God communicates with us through all our senses. Why not join us? Click below to read more about experiencing God through our senses.