An Internship Programme for Tamil-speaking Christians to Communicate the Tamil Bible Orally

– An initiative to bring the Bible orally among Tamil-speaking churches

Introduction: A struggle not to be ignored

To Christians, the Bible is not only a text, but the Word of God. It is commonly described in two ways: (i) as revelation, that the Creator and Redeemer of the universe has chosen to speak to us and reveal Himself to us through this book; and (ii) as inspiration, in which the Holy Spirit moved in people to speak in particular times and places. Because Scripture is God-breathed (cf. 2 Timothy 3:16), as well as alive and active (cf. Hebrews 4:12), much of Christian discipleship today takes place through Bible study. There are a myriad of Bible study methods and materials, such as Inductive Bible Study, Precept, Bible Study Fellowship, and so on. 

However, have such Bible study methods been effective in helping learners engage deeply with Scripture? Are learners able to apply biblical truths to their everyday life and want to continue digging into God’s Word? In truth, many Christians find that the Bible remains separate from the tensions of daily life in the workplace and at home. Bible study seems to be a separate activity to learn biblical content, but such content may not necessarily speak into the needs of life.

Proposing an alternative way to communicate text-based Scriptures to oral communities.

We suggest that one reason existing Bible study methods may not speak to learners is the fact that such methods take a literate approach to learning. Learners are expected to be able to engage text-heavy material. However, the fact is that a majority of the world population are oral communicators, not literate communicators. This means that, whether by circumstance or by choice, the majority of the world’s population learns better through a narrative presentation of God’s Word rather than an abstract, analytical presentation of God’s Word. Instead of propositional statements about God, truth is better received through meta-narratives and stories, through which God is made known.

The Bible itself is presented to us not only as a collection of 66 separate books, but as a grand-narrative of God’s redeeming work in the world through all of history. Additionally, a characteristic of Jesus’ teaching style was that he often employed the use of stories and parables to teach theological truths. While doing so kept the truth hidden from those whose hearts were not open (cf. Matt 13:13), it also made theological truths accessible even to the uneducated, as Jesus “spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand.” (cf. Mark 4:33).

A call to joint effort

Wycliffe Malaysia therefore hopes to work with churches and Christians in Malaysia to better engage different language communities in Malaysia, bringing God’s Word to both Christians and non-Christians in the form of oral Bible stories (not merely audio recordings of the Bible text). Oral Bible storying allows for the communication of God’s Word orally in a vernacular, clear and compelling manner, and encourages a participative approach to learning. We are hopeful that through oral Bible storying, learners in the community will be able to engage with Scripture, discover God’s truth for themselves, and apply such truths in their lives.

Over the next two years, Wycliffe Malaysia hopes to introduce an oral Bible storying approach to the Christian Tamil community in Malaysia, to complement existing efforts to disciple new believers and reach out to non-Christian Tamil speakers. We would like to seek your consideration to be part of this in the following ways:

  • Invite us to share about this internship program in a pastors’ fellowship.
  • Leave us your contact if you want to be informed about the progress of the internship programme, by filling in this form.
  • Recommend and send candidates to be part of the internship programme, in which interns will be coached by Wycliffe Malaysia to
    • Craft oral Bible stories into Tamil and
    • Demonstrate to Tamil churches how these Bible stories can be used for Bible study and evangelism.
  • Help us better understand the linguistic and disciple needs among Tamil-speaking Christians in Malaysia via this survey.


How many interns will be accepted into this internship programme?

Depending on the application response, we hope to have a maximum of four interns come on board.

What qualifications are required to apply for this internship?

Each translation team is unique. In the mission field, some translation teams involve pastors while others just lay Christians. For this internship, the essential criterias are native speakers of Tamil language, committed, teachable, willing to work as a team, theological training is a plus but not required. 

Where will the interns work during the internship programme?

This is dependent on where the four interns are from. If the majority are from the same city, the internship will be based in an office in that city. However, if they are all from different cities, they will work in Klang Valley or Seremban. For interns who have to leave their homes for this programme, the cost of accommodation will be covered to ease their financial burden.

How will oral Bible stories be translated into Tamil?

Wycliffe organizations have translated the Bible into hundreds of minority languages in the past decades. By employing the same translation process and techniques, all oral Bible stories will be crafted/translated, team reviewed, community checked and consultant checked before they are approved and released to be used widely for oral Bible study and evangelism. 

Where does the allowance funding come from?

The internship allowance is based on a 1:1 funding match. First, the sending church decides on an appropriate allowance amount for the accepted intern. The church then raises half of the amount, and Wycliffe Malaysia will match the amount. 

Where can the intern go upon completion of the internship programme?

The choice is up to the intern. They can choose to continue serving with Wycliffe Malaysia in the same ministry, or with another language team in a mission field. Or, they can serve in their home church with the skill sets and Bible translation vision they acquired from the internship programme.


Men of Peace – the Storytellers of Odisha