Hans Bär, a missionary with OMF International, has been involved in evangelism and leadership training among the Karen people in Thailand for over twenty-five years. The Karen people have an animistic background and worldview and that affects how they understand teaching from the Bible.
In a December 2018 article on OMF International’s website, entitled Teaching God’s Word to a People from an Animistic Background, Bär identifies several implications of an animistic worldview for Bible teaching.
For example, he describes how the Karen people’s traditional stories, sayings and poems contain elements which are very similar to aspects of Bible history and truth.
In addition, Bär advocates teaching God’s redemptive plan chronologically because doing so teaches creation in the context of God’s character, provides a structure for understanding God, presents the Bible as one book with one message, emphasizes grace over legalism, shows God’s redemptive plan as part of history, reveals Jesus as the unique Son of God and mankind’s redeemer, and leads to a biblical understanding of mission.
Finally, the author encourages those who work in an animist culture to focus on kingdom theology, emphasizing that Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil and that He succeeded. This promises that the animist who casts his/her life upon Jesus and His sacrifice will have God’s authority and power to overcome the power of darkness (that which they have feared all of their lives).
To read more about the specifics of Hans Bär’s experience working among the Karen people of Thailand, read his fascinating account of the results of the strategy described above.