OBU hosted the International Orality Network's (ION) Mini-Global Consultation June 22-25. The event was held on OBU's Shawnee campus. The theme for the week was "Orality and Literacies: Implications for Communication and Education."
The event featured panelists, speakers, case studies and activities designed to further ION's vision, "To influence the Body of Christ to make disciples of all oral learners." The group's mission is "… to radically influence the way oral preference learners are evangelized and discipled in every people group."
ION's website states that an estimated 5.7 billion people worldwide are oral learners due to limited literacy skills. This includes 3 billion adults, 900 million very young children, and 450 million children between the ages of 8 and 15. The vast majority of missions work has been done for a literate audience, meaning a majority of this audience is therefore not able to connect with the Gospel. Most oral cultures communicate with one another in narratives, dialogues and dramas, proverbs, songs, chants, and poetry, relating by sharing their lives with one another.
This fall, OBU is launching a new Master of Arts in Intercultural Studies with an emphasis in Orality Studies. This degree is offered 100 percent online and may be completed from anywhere around the world. The goal of this program is to equip and train those who plan to serve and reach the primarily oral cultures around the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ, an objective directly in line with ION's mission.
Dr. Mark McClellan, dean of OBU's Herschel H. Hobbs College of Theology and Ministry, was excited to host the event on campus. "ION is a unique global organization seeking to make disciples in the nations," he said. "We share with them the vital commitment to fulfill this vision and commission to oral learners. OBU has one of the only master's degrees in orality in the country, if not the world."
During the past year, OBU has sent out over 200 current students, recent graduates, faculty and staff to places such as Brazil, Cameroon, China, South Africa, Southeast Asia, Switzerland and more. The university's mission statement includes the charge to "engage a diverse world" which is partially fulfilled through these Global Outreach trips. OBU also currently has more graduates serving as missionaries overseas through the International Mission Board than does any other university.