A Word from the International Director (February 2021)

ION exists for actionYes, we talk, teach and promote orality and oral strategies.  In this new era everything we talk about, teach or promote expects intentional synergistic work – collaboration to reach the oral majority.  Often that process & progress can take years.

Here’s one that soon you will want to be part of. . . The emergence of a new type of collaboration that many have been working on for the better part of a decade.  ION and the Asia Graduate School of Theology (AGST, Philippines) and one of its member schools, the Asia Theological Seminary (ATS) is about to launch the first formal program for orality studies ranging from non-formal certification to online/on-site doctoral studies (PhD).  While the full curriculum is still being formalized and approved, this initiative stands as a major hallmark of those working for years to reach the oral majority.

It’s also significant not only that this is a Global South initiative, but also that it is in the Philippines.  In many ways the Philippines and S.E. Asia are ground zero for the modern return to orality.  Tom Steffen worked here among the Ifugao from the 1970s developing Bible Story-telling methods with New Tribes Missions (Ethnos360).  Dr. James Slack worked with the tribes of Mindanao, and the global ripples of Bible translation through Wycliffe – Philippines from the 1950’s continue to this day.

Dr. Romer Macalanao has been working with ION since 2012 and has forged this alliance as the Dean of AGST.  His work as a pastor, seminary professor and leader in the Bible translation world uniquely prepared him for such a time as this.

Romer says, “For nearly 15 years we’ve been listening, researching and strategizing how to best connect with ALL peoples – especially those without Scripture in their language or a Kingdom movement.  The program in orality studies paves the road for those willing to reach those lives & hearts.”

Dr. Mark Overstreet (SRV, International) will coordinate the ION piece of this program linking global instructors and leaders from the ION family to help teach some of the initial courses.  Mark sees . . .

“AGST and its partners like the Asia Theological Seminary (ATS) as pioneering a type of training that can change the way we DO mission in the 21st Century.  This shift in training focuses on the needs of the hearers rather than just the task of the workers.”

The curriculum goes well beyond our traditional approach to orality.  It involves the whole church (instructors & students from around the world) reaching the whole world (from high to low orality reliance) in a way ALL can hear, understand & be transformed.


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