Bible Storytelling, Paraguayan-style

Andy and Lizet Bowen are missionaries in Paraguay with their three sons.

Andy and Lizet Bowen are missionaries in Paraguay with their three sons.

We’ve talked a lot on this blog about the amazing impact Bible storytelling, or biblical orality, is having on the church in Uganda and South Sudan. Today, let’s take a look at how it’s being used on the other side of the globe, in Paraguay. Here’s Andy Bowen talking about a weekly Bible study he leads:

Our studies revolve around Bible storying. Each of us learns the same Bible story during the week by repeatedly listening to a recording in Guarani (one of the official languages in Paraguay, along with Spanish). Then, when we gather on Wednesday evenings, we listen to the recording again, along with a recording of the Bible passage where it’s found. We memorize a Bible verse together. Then one by one we retell the story, guided by a series of pictures. So each participant not only hears the lesson but internalizes it.

I love teaching Scripture this way in rural Paraguay because it’s very clear that those involved are learning the stories and they remember them so much better than with the kind of study I had always done before. But it has required a relearning on our part and a willingness to put aside our old way of doing things. That’s been tough. The more we do it, the more we are convinced that rural Paraguayans are oral learners and are best taught using storying techniques. Even better, they have something that they can easily pass on to someone else in a natural conversational way. There’s a reason so much of Scripture is story!


When was the last time you memorized a Bible story or parable? Pick one that’s 5-10 verses long (Mark 5:35-41, Luke 10:30-37, for example). Find a friend or family member to memorize it with or to tell it to. Kids are especially great audiences – they’ll keep you honest!

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