Faith By Hearing: Evangelize with Bible Stories

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VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. -- The Bible is the best-selling book of all time, with an estimated 100 million copies sold worldwide each year.

But do people read it? What do they know, and what's the best way to reach children and others with the Good News?

CBN News traveled to the outermost reaches of the earth to find out.

Limited Bible Knowledge

From the Far East, Africa, India, Latin America, and the Middle East, Christian missionaries and evangelists often endure harsh conditions to bring the Good News to unreached people. They're committed to delivering Bibles to those who have limited, or no knowledge of Christianity and the Bible.

Like some Buddhist children in Thailand that CBN News interviewed. One boy said he knew about heaven, so we asked him, who lives there?

"I have no idea," he replied.

CBN News asked a 12-year old girl named Arisa if she had heard about Jesus.

"I heard from a teacher by reading a book," she explained. "They said Jesus is in the Islam religion."

Three school boys, all 11 years old, told us they had never seen a Bible or heard about Christ. We asked 6-year-old Warin if she could tell us who created her great, great, great grandmother.

"The earth," she replied.

We also spoke to several Hindu children in India. One boy didn't know what the Bible was.

One female college student said she had never read the Bible, but had heard many Bible stories, including some about the miracles of Jesus. We asked another boy to explain to us what he knew about the afterlife.

"After we die, we go to heaven where we become an angel and then we become a star," he said.

One young Hindu girl said, "I think there are many fairies and gods , so I would wish to meet them."

U.S. Scripture Knowledge Declining

The lack of Bible knowledge isn't just in the developing world. Even in the U.S., the world's most evangelized nation, a number of surveys show that American Bible knowledge is declining.

A 2007 Kelton Research poll found that more Americans knew the ingredients of a Big Mac, than those who could properly identify the 6th commandment in the Old Testament.

In 2000, Christian pollster George Barna found that only 37 percent of all Americans could name all four gospels. Only 37 percent said they read the Bible weekly, even though 92 percent of American families own at least one copy of the Bible.

U.K.'s Young Indifferent

In the United Kingdom, a recent Church of England study found Generation Y'ers, young people born after 1982, were indifferent to Christianity.

"I think they don't know the stories," explained Sam Adofo, a youth worker at the Salmon Youth Centre in Bermondsey, an area part of the London Borough of Southwark. "The Christian faith relies heavily on the stories."

Adofo says telling Bible stories and finding ways of making the stories relevant may be the best way to bring the gospel to young people.

Stories Can Help

Wycliffe USA President Bob Creson suggests Bible stories can help children and others understand and apply the scriptures.

"It's the same in every community that I have ever been in around the world. Kids love to hear these stories and God works through the hearing of those stories to root himself in their hearts and minds," Creson said.

"The reality is, when Jesus taught, he didn't teach without telling stories and the same is true today," he explained.

"So, you just think of those stories where Jesus said, 'Let the children come unto me.' It's the same principle today," he continued. "Let's get this good news of the gospel to people as young as we can."

For Christian missionaries a century or so ago, delivering the Good News to young people and others meant giving them Bibles. But that isn't always the best approach today.

On one occasion, a CBN News reporter joined some missionaries as they were distributing Bibles in Sudan. The people were happy to have Bibles, but later it was discovered they couldn't read them.

"Sixty percent of the world's population is pre-literate," Creson said.

So, it's important to consider other ways for people to hear the good news of the gospel, as the New Testament says - faith doesn't come by reading, but by hearing.

--Originally aired on April 10, 2011. 

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Gary Lane

Gary Lane

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