team (2)

Orality & Unengaged Unreached People Groups (UUPG) that may be two entirely new terms for you! If that is the case or if you have heard these terms but want to find out more, then this blog may help you.

UUPG's are groups of people who have less than 2% known Christians in their people group AND no known evangelical work among them to bring the Gospel to them... they have no portion of scripture, no gospel recordings/radio or no Jesus Film available in their heart language.

The group that I work with International Orality Network (ION) seeks to influence the body of Christ to make disciples of all (4.35 billion) oral learners.

Are you aware that 2/3 of the world or some say 70% are oral learners. An oral learner is one who does not, cannot and will not read. They come from oral cultures. Since they do not read, you will need to use a different format than literacy to reach them initially. Tracts unless in picture form, will not be received. We must change the way that we present the Gospel to a format that they can really hear and understand.

Orality is a wide stroke and encompasses many different formats. The most widely understood form is called “storying.” Simply telling the stories of the bible. Orality can be songs, art forms, media, multimedia, film, or various formats. The ultimate goal of orality it to get the Gospel to them in a culturally appropriate way.

To begin your journey to understand these new terms and this new ORALITY movement, take a half an hour and watch this session from Call2All where Paul Eshleman explains what this is all about. Paul talks about Unengaged Unreached People Groups, this session was recorded by GodTV at the very first Congress.

GodTV - Call2All - Paul Eshleman (Finishing the Task) Interview and Session - 36 minutes

To view the session go to:

3400 groups where NO ONE HAS GONE...

2251 where there is not one verse of scripture available to them...

639 UUPG - people groups with over 100,000 in population that are classified as unreached, yet unengaged.

Finishing the Task - for the update and listing for the 639 UUPG

Who are those people who have been neglected?


How can you link to the network of Great Commission Partners group!

Here is a challenge from Paul -- 82% of all muslims do not know of one Christian - Would you pray about inviting one muslim into your home for a meal and "demonstrate" God's love in a tangible way.

Matthew 24:14 - What if this is true?


Oral Story Bible - Here is another great video/education piece that describes what it will take for an "Oral Story Bible" team.

Click here:

Food for thought... did you know that 2 billion of the 4.35 billion oral learners are children?

International Orality Network - Influencing the body of Christ to make disciples of all (4.35 billion) oral learners - PRAY for the children represented in this number...

Unengaged Unreached People Groups (UUPGs)

Right now there are still over 6,000 unreached people groups in the world. (An unreached people group being one with less than 2% evangelical Christian believers.)

Astonishingly there are 3,400 people groups who are not only unreached, but no one is even trying to reach them.
Mission strategists call them “unengaged.”

After 2,000 years, it should be unthinkable to us as the
church of Jesus Christ
that there would be any unengaged people groups left in the world. Finishing the Great Commission can be defined in different ways, but what is most important is that we start to finish the task. It will be accomplished primarily through local congregations planting indigenous churches among the people groups they adopt.

The 639 unreached, unengaged people groups referred to in this video is the number of UUPG's with populations above 100,000. The rest of the 2,700 groups have less than 100,000 people.


To help you understand an “Introduction to Orality and the International Orality Network”

I have put together several articles that were taken off the internet... each is individually noted.

This following first portion was taken from the Orality section of the website.

ION is a founding partner with


International Orality Network

The International Orality Network is an alliance of mission leaders partnering together to make God’s Word available to all oral learners in culturally appropriate ways.

ION relates to the Lausanne Committee on World Evangelization and is committed to provide oral strategies to communicate the gospel, make disciples, train leaders and enable church planting movements among all peoples in ways that are reproducible by oral peoples.

It’s task forces are directed by world missions leaders representing Wycliffe International; International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention; Campus Crusade; Trans World Radio; Epic Partners; Hosanna/Faith Comes By Hearing; Discipling A Whole Nation; The God’s Story Project; The Jesus Film Project; Progressive Vision; The Seed Company; Scriptures in Use (SIU); visionSynergy and Youth with a Mission. All hold to the principles of the power of the spoken Word of God, the progressive revelation of Scripture, cultural relevance, and telling God’s story to all peoples in reproducible ways.

A Story worth telling

Imagine a people group with no written language. There are 2700 in this situation. Imagine communities with no access to the Gospel. There are 2.8 billion who have not heard.

Part of Call2All’s strategy to reach these people with the Good News is by sharing the Bible through story form.

Cultures that have no written language rely very heavily on story to record their past and to teach the next generation. They have an amazing memory capacity to remember details in stories, and when trying to understand a concept, will bring in a story to give explanation.

Samuel Chiang, Global Director for the International Orality Network. The Orality Network’s aim is to make disciples of all oral learners. Through the Network Samuel has seen significant success in bringing the Bible alive to unreached people groups.

He explains how it works: “Once you have identified the people group you want to reach, who have no scripture and no written language, you must first understand their worldview."

Then fifty to sixty Bible stories are prepared and crafted to engage in the world view of the culture. For example if the community has a matriarchal society, somewhere you need to address and respect that culture. The best way to do this is to bring out Bible stories that they will connect with, the Old Testament stories of Esther and Ruth for instance.

Alternatively if the culture has high regard for the spirit world, and evil spirits are revered, then to tell the story of Jesus delivering the demoniac in Luke 8 would have a huge impact.

The key is to identify barriers, gaps and bridges between the story teller and those listening, so that what is being said will have the greatest impact.

Jesus was the greatest story-teller, following His example we can change the lives of those who cannot read by telling them a story. Log on next week to hear how sharing the Gospel in story form has changed communities around the world.

To find out more about ION visit their website at

Avery Willis, Making Disciples of Oral Learners

Two-thirds of all people in the world are oral communicators, who can't, don't or won't learn through literate means. Four billion people in our world are at risk of a Christless eternity, unless literate Christians make significant changes in evangelism.

Portions of this material were taken from the Orality section of the website.

Read All About It?

67% of People are Non-Literate Oral Learners

The Challenges Print Evangelism Ministries Face In Meeting The Needs Of Oral Cultures

By Avery Willis and James Greenelsh

What do you think Mr. Guttenberg?

The year was 1488. A young boy accidentally left a wooden shape dripping with dye on a piece of parchment overnight. In the morning he discovered an image remaining after removing the wood. It was an “aha moment” that led to the invention of the printing press. That one insight changed the world we live in. The boys name, Johann Guttenberg. His idea lit the fuse on a literacy revolution that supercharged the field of knowledge. The bible finally came within reach of the common man. Christianity in Europe flourished. For over 500 years since then the Church in western societies has trumpeted the superiority of literacy.

I had thought for so long that the Guttenberg revolution was a worldwide phenomenon. I grew up thinking that literacy was the one thing the world needed to level the playing field for everyone.

Then one day, I made an alarming discovery: 500 years after the invention of the printing press—only 33% of the world are truly literate.

That single fact stopped me dead in my tracks. A banner headline. Extra. Extra. Read all about it:

Approximately 67% of the people of the world are non-literate oral learners.

If you printed that headline in every newspaper in every country of the world, in every language known to man and you threw it on the coffee table of every home on earth— close to four billion people couldn’t read it.

That should get our attention.

Let me ask you, if you had a business and you found that 67% of your target audience were non-literate oral learners, you can bet you’d tailor your business plan, dedicate your work force, and allocate a huge portion of your operating budget especially to reach them. That’s just smart business.

The world of missions is just now waking up to the fact that Oral learners are at the center of the firestorm to complete the Great Commission. The bull’s eye. Imagine. Four billion oral learners in the cross-hairs of redemptive history at the beginning of the 21st century. What are you, your church and your mission agencies doing to hit the bullseye?

If the term “oral learner” is unfamiliar to you let me offer a simple definition. By oral learners we mean those people who learn best and whose lives are most likely to be transformed when information comes to them through oral, not literate, means. Oral learners transmit their beliefs, heritage, values by means of stories, drama, songs, and proverbs.. They have built their customs, culture, and social fabric around storytelling.

What does this mean for us as we endeavor to fulfill the Great Commission?

We must start asking questions like these. How in the world do we share the Word of God with people who can’t. don’t or read? Who don’t write? Who may not even have a written language? HOW?

Listen to this story from a young Christian leader in Bihar, India. His name is Bihari Mukhiya.

I come from village culture. I want to tell you what it is like there. Most of the people in the villages are non-literate they have never been to school they have never read any books. Village people take interest in stories in music and in drama. In the village in the evening time people meet in the street, tell stories and sing village songs. They learn lessons from these stories and they put them into practice in their lives. They never read a book; they never have been to school. They are not literate, but they listen and then they learn.

I come from a Hindu family. In my childhood I used to join in Hindu customs. I listened to many Hindu stories. But when I reached sixth standard in the school I had a chance to hear the stories of Jesus. I had never heard such stories. I had been taught that there were many gods. But through the stories of Jesus I came to understand that Jesus is the true God. I committed my life to the Lord and began to tell people about Jesus.

After some time I went to Bible college to learn the word of God. There I was taught a literate western style of education. When I came back from the college I used the same western methods to preach the gospel but nobody accepted Christ. I was very discouraged and I was thinking I would leave the ministry. Then, I got the opportunity to learn how to communicate with oral cultures through training provided by Scriptures In Use. I learned how to share my faith and plant churches among non-literate people. I was influenced by the teaching and returned to the mission field and started using the same storying method. So many people believed in Jesus Christ through this method.

I witnessed so many souls coming to Christ by telling stories from the Bible. So many souls are being saved. I am now training many missions workers throughout Bihar. The training is going well, every month many people are accepting Jesus Christ. Each month 500 to 600 people are taking baptism and 50 new churches are being planted every month. Through the cooperation of several ministries, a church planting movement is taking place throughout Bihar.

Brace yourself for this headline: An estimated 90% of the world’s Christian workers present the gospel and do discipleship using highly literate communication styles. 90%. Throw that up against the 67% who are oral learners and what do you have? A strategic problem.

Let me put it this way. We can try all day long to install software on a Macintosh computer but if the software is Windows only PC, we’re out-a-luck. We can know that our customers need software. We can spend big bucks on designing great software. Our investors may be excited about the software. But it all means nothing if when we go to install it on our customers computer. We find out that two-thirds of them are using an incompatible operating system!

Oral learners do not have a literate operating system. They need different software. That’s what this young leader in India discovered. That one single insight should rock our world as it did his. It should stun Christian leadership. It should change our mission strategies for sharing faith, training leaders, and planting churches. It should radically change the focus of our Christian stewardship.

How do we fulfill the Great Commission among oral learners? We change our approach as Bihari Mukhiya did. He simply learned to use the stories of the Bible to communicate in a way that functionally illiterate people relate to and understand. That’s it. So obvious. So brutally simple.

He put away his printed books and tracts. He stopped communicating abstact theological ideas that he’d learned in Bible school. He started telling the stories of the Bible. Straight forward. He used these oral stories to cross natural bridges into the lives of his listeners. He used stories from the Bible to bring forth truths that challenge the worldview of the people in his culture. Then he watched the Holy Spirit speak through these stories. You can’t argue with the results.

The fact that we, as literate, print oriented, missionaries from the west, have missed this oral storying method for so long may be one of the single most serious tactical mistakes we have made in the last 200 years! I grieve over all the time, energy and funding that I have personally directed toward print evangelism mission endeavors that missed the mark for oral learners.

I finally got the picture. Literacy software does not fit two-thirds of the world’s population. Until we wake up to that fact, we will continue to expend manpower and resources in less fruitful endeavors, with inadequate tools, and methodology. The result? We miss our audience. We missing our opportunity to effectively share the stories of faith among oral cultures.

The development of oral strategies is not meant to detract from print evangelism or Bible translation. In fact, the opposite is true. The most comprehensive strategy for communicating the word of God in the heart language of an oral culture should start with an oral approach that leads to translation and literacy. The problem is, too often we get the cart before the horse. Or worse yet, we forget the horse completely. Without the horse. That cart isn’t going anywhere.

I’m convinced that if we take the unique needs of the oral learner to heart and if we make them a leading priority in shaping our all mission strategies we will make monumental progress in completing the Great Commission.

We urgently need ministries willing to rethink what they are doing. Ministries willing to create new tools, new methodologies, new approaches that put the needs of oral learners first.

In doing so God will enable us to harness the greatest force on earth for spreading the gospel and multiplying the church—the power of His stories reproduced by word of mouth over and over again among each unique oral culture of the world in culturally sensitive ways.

We need a movement of cross cultural Bible story experts who have the skill to train people to engage unreached oral learners with a complete set of Bible stories in the local language that are tailored to transform their unique worldview. It’s cost effective, reproducible and grass roots accessible.

It is the goal of the International Orality Network to influence the Body of Christ to disciple all oral learners. We envision nothing less than a worldview specific, word-of-mouth-Bible storying revolution in the mother tongue of each oral culture of the world.

This is our greatest hope for fulfilling the great commission among 4 billion people who have yet to hear the Story. It’s a simple insight with world shaking possibilities.

What do you think, Mr. Guttenberg?

"This article appeared in the October 2006 issue of Lausanne World Pulse,, P.O. Box 794, Wheaton, IL 60189, USA."

Making Disciples of Oral Learners

Avery Willis

Two thirds of all people in the world are oral communicators-- who can’t, don’t, or won’t learn through literate means.

Four billion people in our world are at risk of a Christless eternity unless literate Christians make significant changes in evangelism, discipleship, leader training, and church planting. These four billion people in our world need a customized strategy delivered in a culturally appropriate manner in order for them to hear, understand, respond to the gospel, and reproduce disciples.

However, an estimated 90% of the world’s Christian workers are using literate communication styles that don’t communicate to oral learners. Literate approaches rely on lists, outlines, word studies, apologetics, and theological jargon. Making disciples of oral learners means using communication forms that are familiar within the cultures: stories, proverbs, drama, songs, chants, and poetry. Our issues group discovered that many churches and workers in relational cultures, have found significant benefits to the chronological Bible storying approach in evangelism, discipleship, church planting, and leader training.

During the Lausanne conference 2004 in Pattaya, Thailand we formed a Lausanne Task Force on Making Disciples of Oral Learners to explore and implement all practical means to advance the cause of making disciples of oral learners worldwide. The task force began the International Orality Network in Feb. 2005.

We challenge churches and other Christian organizations to join us and ride the next wave of Kingdom advancement by developing and implementing methods for effective oral strategies. Partners, networks, seminaries, mission agencies, conference and workshop leaders, and other Christian influencers are called upon to recognize the issues of orality in the world around them, become intentional about making disciples of oral learners, raise awareness, initiate oral communication projects, and train missionaries and local leaders in chronological Bible storying as an effective church-planting strategy.

Avery Willis, issues group convener and Executive Director of the International Orality Network said, “The Lausanne Conference catapulted the Making Disciples of Oral Learners issue to the forefront of the missions world. With the insights we are gleaning from research and collaboration, our prayer is that it will become as significant as Ralph Winter’s call to reach the “hidden peoples” of the world at Lausanne 1974. Christians have the opportunity to evangelize, disciple, plant churches and train leaders in these unreached people groups of the world in our generation, but only if we use appropriate communication styles with oral learners. The church today must embrace oral communicators as partners--together making disciples of all peoples to the glory of God!”

Article was originally written for the Lausanne Task Force, Pattaya, Thailand in 2004.


What is Orality?

Two thirds of the world (that's 4.35 billion people) and 70% of the unreached people of the world do not understand the message when it is delivered by literate means. They don’t understand the concepts even when they hear them.

The writers of the Bible and Jesus used oral means before the message was written down. Jesus did not speak without using parables because only 5-10% of the people were literate in his day. Oral learners learn and remember through stories, proverbs, drama, song and chants. They are just as smart as literates but have not learned the skills of literacy. Their memories are better and they can easily reproduce what they hear. They are the key to beginning church planting movements and reaching the lost of the world. Stories from the Bible can be used to make disciples, train leaders and even equip missionaries who do not read.

I. How your church can start a storying project.

1. In the U.S.—visit

2. In an unreached people group—visit

3. In a Bibleless people group—visit or

II. How to do Bible storying.

1. Storying Workshops - offered by various groups. See EVENTS at

2. CBS Chronological Bible Storying -

3. Oral Strategies website -

4. Avery Willis website -

III. Orality Ministries.

1. International Orality Network - or

2. OneStory -

3. Go 2 South Asia – curriculum for UUPG’s of South Asia -

4. Simply the Story – Inductive Story Training workshops -

5. God Story Project or

6. Scriptures in Use -

7. StoryRunners – Campus Crusade Ministry – oral bible story teams -

8. Wycliffe – OneStory – oral bible story teams -

9. Youth With A Mission – oral bible story teams - YWAM OneStory -

10. Orality Strategies – comprehensive oral approach website -

11. Global recordings -

12. Audio dramatized bible – Faith Comes By Hearing – Proclaimer & Bible Sticks -

Resources available for orality from for $5.00 each

Telling God’s Story Video

Making Disciples of Oral Learners (available in Korean, Indonesian and Spanish)

Orality Around the World DVD

Telling the Story” workbook—a primer on Chronological Bible Storying

Following Jesus: Making Disciples of Oral Learners—Seven audio modules of 400 stories

Order “Making Disciples of Oral Learners” AUDIO book for $5.00 at:

“Basic Bible Storying” by Dr. J.O. Terry:


by John McGee posted on Thursday, October 28, 2010 at 5:54pm

[A blog about Orality, one of the significant themes and highlights from Cape Town 2010. This particular blog though encompsses my own study of this movement over the past seven years and is a synopsis of my understandings, observations, conclusions and challenges.]

There is a significant movement in missions today focused on oral cultures. Some indications are that nearly 70 percent of the world’s population, either, cannot, prefer not or will not read to engage in learning and exposure to that which they did not previously know.

70 percent, that is a staggering number – more than 4 billion people around the globe. Read this again, we are not talking about cannot only, rather, 70 percent of the world’s population can not, will not or prefers not to learn through literate methods.

What does this tell us about the modern missions movement which historically has had as one of its main pillars to teach people how to read so they can read the Scriptures for themselves. This assumes that the scriptures will be translated and available in a language that can be understood.

Let’s start here. Of the 6,800 languages that are spoken around the world. About 3,100 have a portion of the Scriptures, a translation in progress, or a completed translation. The remaining 3,700 languages, whether spoken by millions or only a few hundred, have no part of the Word of God in that tongue. Only 450 languages have complete translations of the word of God.


International Orality Network
- Influencing the body of Christ to make disciples of all (4.35 billion) oral learners
Visit us at

Greetings from the Prayer Team
This is your invitation to join us for the Weekly ION Prayer Call to link in united prayer together for those Great Commission Partners groups working in Orality & Discipleship specifically with the UUPG & UPG oral learners.
If you are free to link via conference call, join us in person...
United PRAYER each Thursday at 2 PM (EDT) for one hour.
Dial: (712) 451-6000
Access Code: 373000#
[You can join us by way of Skype]
Using Skype: Add skype name FREE CONFERENCING to your contacts.
At 2 PM (EDT), select FREE CONFERENCING and click Call button.
Once the call is connected, locate the key pad and enter the access code 373000# when prompted.

"My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. "Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. "Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them." John 17:20-26

Persistently prevailing,
Linda Bemis
Director, Prayer
International Orality Network
- Influencing the body of Christ to make disciples of all (4.35 billion) oral learners
or at

Isaiah 42:16 "I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them."

Save the DATE September 12-15, 2011
- Plan to join us at Ridgecrest Conference Center for the next ION Consultation.
Read more…