04 March, 2014 – Ukarumpa, Papua New Guinea – Written by Janeen Michie with Tim Scott
An Oral Bible Storying (OBS) workshop began in Wewak, Sepik province on February 3, 2014. Nineteen nationals gathered together from seven different language groups to learn how to craft Bible stories in their tok ples (heart language). On the weekend they traveled back to their villages or found other tok ples speakers in town to practice their storytelling and get feedback from them.
Five Papua New Guinean trainers who have become well versed in storytelling taught these seven language teams how to internalize Bible stories and share them with their language groups. The participants learned both traditional and modern techniques to enhance their storytelling. Storyboarding, drama, mime, and symbols were all used as memory aids in learning the Bible stories.
Because they have no scripture in their language yet, students applied methods of sharing Bible stories without the use of any translated scriptures in their tok ples. They first told traditional tales and used this skill as a springboard for communicating Bible stories. Since they don't have a writing system and wanted to focus on improving their storytelling techniques, they orally translated each narrative using voice recorders. This way the translation could be spoken naturally the way they would tell the account in their tok ples.
During the first week, the language team practiced two stories, the Creation of Adam and Eve and the Fall of Man from Genesis chapters 2 and 3. For each one, they drew story boards to help them learn the narrative well and remember it so they could retell it. They also dramatized the account of the temptation and fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.
The trainees went out to their villages to practice the skills with their people. Afterwards, they met together for one more week, to share their experiences and to encourage one another. Their recordings were also checked for accuracy and clarity by Bible experts. Lastly, they made a final recording of the polished stories so they could have an accurate telling of them for future reference as they share their stories in village settings.