Building Bridges to Oral Cultures

Journeys among the Least-reached
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Description

Millions hear the oral gospel.
Building Bridges to Oral Cultures narrates with chronological and adventurous detail, an extraordinary journey that began for Jim and Carla Bowman in the early 80s with a passion to share the Good News with a handful of the least-reached, indigenous groups in Mexico. Over the course of thirty years, their travels led to breakthrough discoveries and innovation in remote communities of traditional oral learners around the world. With time and God’s guiding hand, a new comprehensive, oral communications model emerged. Effective bridges to oral cultures were developed and tested. Without eradicating cultures, speakers of the local languages are embracing the local oral arts to communicate God’s Word and are reaching the lost for Him across the globe.

  • ISBN: 9780878084951
  • Pages: 282
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Published: 2017
  • Publisher: William Carey Library

Endorsements

You will be captivated by the incredible dedication of Carla and Jim Bowman as they recount the early efforts to bring the gospel in oral form to the most neglected tribes on earth. Their unflagging determination to reach the non-reading oral people groups of our earth will stir you to action. Their research on how to make the JESUS film available to
the smallest and most remote language groups has provided the mission world with ground-breaking discoveries and a deeper understanding of new ways to communicate the gospel to the oral learners of our world. On behalf of The JESUS Film Project® and thousands of missionaries, we say, “Thank You Jim and Carla for your amazing lives given to the Lord!”

 

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I will ever be grateful to the Bowmans for their decades of dedicated discovery and effort to rekindle the story-telling methods of old. These oral methods are igniting evangelism, discipleship, and church planting around the globe. In this book, you hear Carla’s voice as she skillfully relates their remarkable journey, and you will absorb powerful methods and insights along the way. I highly recommend it!
 

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Carla and Jim Bowman’s journey from literacy and text-based ministry to oral arts and storying spanned more than thirty years and has resulted in ground-breaking methods for preparing local leaders to use oral strategies for Scripture engagement. The gripping narratives of this book provide glimpses into how they discovered these effective methods during their work in many different contexts around the world. This volume is packed with missiologically sound approaches, emphasizing the importance of contextualization, worldview, and needs-based approaches, all delivered in a story-based form that embodies the very principles they advocate.
 

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As I read Building Bridges to Oral Cultures, I cheered inwardly: “Yes! Carla Bowman really understands oral cultures.” Her story reminded me of the seminary professor who dismissed oral ministry methods and asked me, “What don’t you just teach people to read?” If he were still alive, I’d send him one of the first copies of Building Bridges to Oral Cultures. In it missionary Carla Bowman tells movingly how she wrestled for years with whether to keep teaching the adult literacy courses that she was so passionate about, but that benefited only an elite few in the mountain communities of Mexico. It is clear why she eventually stopped offering the courses, and what amazing fruit came from what she, Jim, and their team did instead. That example is just one of many gems in a treasure trove of insights and poignant memories. The truths in this book are not mere theory; they are the hard-earned fruit of working with oral cultures for more than thirty years of ministry. Anyone entering cross-cultural missions could benefit from reading this book. That is doubly true for Christians ministering among oral cultures.
 

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A ministry without history is like a person without a soul. I am pleased to see encouraging facts and experiences, to live great moments of the unique ministry of SIU among indigenous oral people. This approach is applicable to several UPG worldwide. This book retraces concrete examples, experienced by men and women with great experiences. Because of this, I recommend this book for all lovers of history, researchers in oral strategies for the church planting among UPG in least-developed countries, emerging countries, and even developed countries in this twenty-first century.
 

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In Building Bridges to Oral Cultures, the Bowmans bring us on an historical journey that depicts the growth of oral approaches to evangelism, discipleship, and church planting. I greatly enjoyed the narrative as I followed the Bowman’s experiments, successes, and learning. This is a must read for those ministering among oral preference learners. Thank you for this valuable contribution to missiology and orality studies that is presented in an enjoyable and creative manner.

 

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This book traces real events that stimulate and encourage perseverance in planting indigenous churches among the unreached peoples of West Africa. It also allows one to evaluate the pertinent use of orality among the uneducated. The diversity of experiences and testimonies found in this book guides us in the mission God has called us to. With all my heart, I encourage you to read this remarkable book.
 

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This book is an essential contribution to the history of world mission. Jim and Carla tell the story of their response to the “call of the conch” from people who were waiting to hear the Good News of Jesus. Little did they know that their humble commitment to communicate with these people through oral-based communication would launch a global orality movement that has inspired hundreds of ministries to revolutionize their approach to mission. The progress of world evangelization in the twenty-first century will be accelerated because of the Bowman’s pioneering vision. Many of us are indebted to their indomitable faith to chart a new path for Kingdom advancement.
 

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Want to find out how to communicate to the Oral Majority without jettisoning the printed text? Building Bridges to Oral Cultures, born out of the crucible of practice that required servanthood, questioning, learning, adapting, and a lot of time, is what you are looking for. Take the journey, enjoy the ride through various countries and communities, and watch God start a global movement that glorifies Him.
 

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I had the privilege to read this book and was impressed by the chronological stories displaying how the ideas of effective modes in reaching out to the oral learners was born thirty-five years ago (back in June 1982). The vision was imparted to many like-minded friends and partners over the course of time, from Manzanito village of Mexico, Peru, Guatemala, India, the African continent, many challenging countries in the Middle East, to Central Asia, and so on. The remarkable information given in this book shows how the curriculum of “bridges training for the oral learners” got revised and developed based on needs. Today, many oral learners, including the Nepalese, directly benefit. I pray that the book will bless many others in the future generations and that others will try to follow the footsteps paved by Jim and Carla.
 

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Building Bridges to Oral Cultures is much more than its name suggests. It is a very personal account of Jim and Carla Bowman’s thirty-five year journey into the amazing destiny that God had for them. We are invited into their every increasing challenge across the globe as they partnered with the Lord in pioneering many new ways to make God’s Word compelling and life changing to people who will never read a book. Every chapter ends with insights they learned—treasures from each destination. It is a joy to see the progression of how God turned an inexperienced young couple into remarkable Kingdom catalysts. Buy it, read it, and give it to someone who is ready for their own journey of a lifetime!
 

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Table of Contents

FOREWORD
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
INTRODUCTION
PART 1
Early Exploration Among Oral Learners
1 CALL OF THE CONCH 3
2 RETURN TO THE SIERRA MIXTECA
3 JESUS SPEAKS TARAHUMARA
4 THE NIGHT WINDS OF MARCH
5 HERE I AM, SEND ME
6 A BABEL OF TONAL LANGUAGES
7 VILLAGE-TO-VILLAGE
PART 2
The Mexico Years
8 I ONLY HAVE ONE LIFE TO LIVE
9 STORYTELLER IN A HAMMOCK
10 MAYA COMMUNICATIONS WORKSHOP
11 MAZATECO FLOWS LIKE HONEY
12 JOURNEY TO COPALA
13 DEATH IN SABANA
14 THE STORY OF TUMIN CHICBILTENAL
15 ONE BRIDGE AT A TIME
PART 3
Multiplication and Movements
16 ENTRUSTED WITH A DREAM
17 FROM LAKE TURKANA TO THE DANAKIL DESERT:
THE AFRICAN HARVEST .
18 BORN FOR BIG DREAMS:
NEPAL, BHUTAN, MYANMAR, TIBET, AND MONGOLIA
19 IN THE LANDS OF MONKEYS, LLAMAS, AND ALPACAS:
LATIN AMERICAN EXPERIENCES
20 FULL MOON IN KYRGYZSTAN:
CAUCUSES, CENTRAL ASIA, AND PAKISTAN
PART 4
A Culture of Creativity around the World
21 THE ANCIENT PATH: WEST AFRICAN GRIOTS
AND MARRAKESH TELLERS OF TALES
22 MOTHER STORY GROUPS
IN THE KINGDOM OF THUNDER DRAGON 201
23 SHANTI MELA AND THE ORAL ARTS
24 A SWORD TO FIGHT WITH: FOCUS ON MUSLIM NEIGHBORS
25 ANA FINDS HER VOICE: BIBLICAL ACCURACY
26 DWELLING OF TIGERS:
AN EMERGING ROLE FOR WESTERNERS
CONCLUSION
REFERENCES

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