In the Middle of Nowhere

Experiencing God Among the Unreached - StoryRunners November 2017 Newsletter - Road to Nowhere
“Tall, African bush almost towered above us,” Michael reported from a story movement trip in Africa. “I looked around and all I could see was grass-carpeted vast land dotted with flat-topped trees. We had covered quite a distance already since we started our journey. We were on our way to the church our guide has set up.
“He kept saying we were nearly there but it seemed like we were in the middle of nowhere. Or so I thought. Suddenly, we heard voices, faint at first.” Then we realized they were singing, in a language I could not understand. And then we saw them – one, two, three people. No, there were more than 20, 30, actually around 50 people gathered under a big tree.
Experiencing God Among the Unreached - StoryRunners November 2017 Newsletter - Beautiful worship
“We quietly joined the group as we saw they were in deep worship. I was quickly swept into the sweet melody that was filling the air. I did not know what they were singing but I knew it was beautiful. God’s presence among the people was almost tangible. I soaked it all in. I was in awe. I looked at the people’s faces and they were so happy. As if everyone was so in love with Jesus. I could not shake off the feeling of awe. When we left a few hours later, I blurted out to my team, “What had just happened? I’ve never felt like that before. That was the best experience of my life!”
Experiencing God Among the Unreached - StoryRunners November 2017 Newsletter - Enjoying church
As it turned out the group that Michael was referring to was only a few months old. It started as an oral Bible study group with 11 people but had quickly grown to 65 within months. Before the group was formed, a man in the village from a different religious background, had purchased prayer mats to encourage people to do their prayers. But when the pastor started telling Bible stories in the village, everyone liked the stories so much that, eventually, all the people who belonged to the local place of worship started coming to the Story Fellowship Group. The same man who bought the prayer mats was the very first one to give his life to Christ. He is just one of the many changed lives Michael witnessed across Africa during his short visit there.

 

 

DO YOU BELIEVE?

StoryRunners logo - A good story in the making

Our vision is to help people in 500 unreached language groups become followers of Christ in a growing community of faith by the year 2025.

“I have never ever heard this story before,” said translator Nadine* during StoryRunners’ Elkanlen* School of Storying (SOS) workshop in West Africa earlier this spring.

StoryRunners - Nadine Akasalam in Africa

As a native Elkanlen speaker and a follower of her people’s majority religion, Nadine was exactly the kind of person the StoryRunners SOS team needed to test how well the Bible stories would be understood by other Elkanlen-speaking people who also follow the majority religion. As a fluent English speaker, Nadine was a critical and integral part of the fnal process of checking for accuracy and comprehension. She worked long hours alongside SOS team members Joey and Allen, listening over and over again to the Bible stories.

Joey reflected on his experience with Nadine:

Although hearing the Bible stories is important, a key component of non-believers from this religion coming to faith is experiencing the welcome from followers in Jesus. First, they realize that Christians do not fit in their pre-conceived notions. Then, the stories in their own language and the Spirit work together to bring their hearts to saving faith, and they often make decisions to follow Jesus.

During her time working with us, Nadine grew more positive towards following Jesus instead of following her way. She joined some of the worship times with our believing participants, and one day we heard her singing a song she had learned during worship to her seven-month old daughter to get her to sleep.

Not long after that, Allen and I were quite encouraged by a conversation he and Nadine had.
Allen: “Do you believe these stories?”
Nadine: “Oh, I believe ALL of the stories!”
Allen: “And do you think it was an accident that you came here to work with us?”
Nadine: “Oh no, God has called me here! When I come here to work on the stories, I feel a joy that is from God.”

As you can imagine, we were praying fervently for Nadine to choose to follow Jesus instead of the way of her people. During our last week together, afer our entire group listened very closely to the 24 stories we developed together, Nadine and two of her friends (non-believing participants in the workshop)
decided to follow His way!
Rejoice with the entire StoryRunners team that Nadine and her friends now know the joy that comes only from the Lord! Thank you for your partnership with us, so that many more of Nadine’s people can come to know Christ.

 

TAGALOG REPORT

Each School of Storying (SOS) training is unique. In some locations, developing Bible stories is easy, but telling stories in community evangelism is difficult or impossible. In other places, telling the stories is easy but developing them is a huge challenge. In the April Tagalog training in the Philippines, everything synced.

StoryRunners - Tagalog School of Storying
From the team leader: The Tagalog participants were so sharp and they picked up the training so quickly, resulting in excellent, natural, Biblically accurate stories. They were also on fire for God so they excelled in using the stories also.

One of the highlights was sharing stories with high school and college age basketball players whom we met through an ongoing outreach of a local church. Of the 19 guys who heard stories, 11 players prayed to receive Christ!

These stories will spread quickly because the SOS participants are from islands and provinces throughout the country, and they plan to tell stories to co-workers and to unreached tribal groups during evangelistic community outreaches and various ministry opportunities.

Not only will many people hear these Bible stories and trust Christ in the months to come, but developing the Tagalog Bible story set will foster opportunities for StoryRunners to schedule SOS trainings to develop stories in the languages of the more than 30 Unreached People Groups in the Philippines.

StoryRunners - Tagalog School of Storying - basketball players pray

“I LOVE THAT WE IMMEDIATELY APPLY WHAT WE LEARN BY TELLING THE BIBLE STORIES IN EVANGELISM.” JADA*

“SHARING STORIES WHILE I’M WITH PEOPLE FROM THE TRAINING GIVES ME THE CONFIDENCE TO SHARE JESUS ON MY OWN WHEN I GET HOME.” DARWIN

 

PRAISE & PRAYER

PRAISE:
In the Philippines, in just two weeks 360 people heard Bible stories and 190 indicated decisions to follow Christ. Praise God!

PRAYER: WE COVET YOUR PRAYERS. PLEASE PRAY:
1) For the church with the basketball ministry to help the 11 new believers to grow in their new relationship with Jesus.
2) For the SOS team in Central Africa to stay healthy and the SOS participants to share stories boldly in spite of community opposition.
3) For the 25 college students participating in the StoryRunners Rocky Mountain Summer Mission to raise their support by July 1.

SURVEY UPDATE

How well are we communicating our message to you?

Last month, StoryRunners director Mark Steinbach sent an invitation to everyone on our newsletter list inviting them to participate in an online survey. We learned that:
1) Over 70% of you understand clearly that StoryRunners is translating Bible passages into stories to take the gospel to unreached groups living in oral cultures.
2) 87% of you enjoy reading about how lives are changed through hearing the gospel in stories. Thank you for participating. If you would like to add any further comments you can contact us at storyrunners@cru.org.

*Names have been changed and faces have been blurred for security reasons.

To receive regular updates from StoryRunners, follow us @storyrunners on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and Youtube.

Check May 2017 StoryRunners Newsletter to read it in pdf.

DO YOU BELIEVE?

An Incredible First Week of School of Storying in Manila

 

Here’s a fresh update from our Team #alog in Manila, currently running a School of Storying there.

Hello everyone! Greetings from the hot, steamy tropics!

What an absolutely incredible week it’s been. I cannot imagine a trip better set up than this one. We had everything we needed – great translators, super helpful guests, a friendly back translator, and 27 OUTSTANDING participants. Seriously, I don’t think I’ve ever been on a trip where we’ve had better participants. They are stoked to be a part of the training, totally on fire for sharing their faith, super quick learners, and just so much fun to be around. Everyone is always laughing and joking and telling stories!

Participants worship before starting a session.

On the first day when we were doing introductions, they kept going on and on about how they’re already planning on using the stories. Their answers spanned a broad spectrum of uses, and I know that over this past week, they’ve come up with even more.

Seeing them sharing the stories has been such a wonderful experience – and God is already blessing their efforts abundantly. In this past week, our participants shared stories with 227 people, and 115 of them prayed with our participants to accept Christ! We feel so humbled to be a part of what God is doing in this country!

A very enthusiastic group of participants indeed.

One quote I want to share that I think really gives you an idea of how these participants approach everything with eagerness and excitement. During our people check where we have non-Christians come listen to the stories and answer questions, one of the participants asked me, “Can we have a third round of this check? Can you bring another guest? This is so fascinating! They’re giving such interesting and useful responses!”

God is so good, guys!

– From the Team Leader of our trainers in Manila, Philippines running a School of Storying. We praise God for all these fruitful results. Please pray for the 115 people who have decided to give their lives to Christ after hearing our oral Bible stories. Please also continue to pray for everyone’s health, safety and commitment to telling His life-changing stories.

I Forgive You

I Forgive You

*Felix was running for his life.  He had become the most wanted man in his community for drug dealing, and he knew the police would catch up with him soon.  He found the perfect place to hide, where no one would ever think to look – a pastors’ prayer retreat!  But as the providence of God would have it, Felix was befriended by a wise, compassionate pastor who led him to faith in Christ.  Today, Felix is a changed man and a pastor himself.  

When Al and Nancy (StoryRunners staff living in the Philippines), met Felix and invited him to participate in the Cebuano School of Storying two years ago, he eagerly tried Bible storying in his own congregation.  “My people (in my church) no longer fall asleep since I started telling them stories,” he told Al, and soon Felix was learning how to lead storying trainings himself.

The following year, Felix (photo below) helped with an SOS among an unreached language group in another area of the Philippines. Of the 12 SOS participants, one was a secret follower of Jesus, and all represented a religion that has been hostile to Christianity for centuries. Yet they eagerly learned the Bible stories and were even happy to record them with our StoryRunners team. During the closing ceremony of the SOS, Felix confessed to the entire group why he had been hesitant to come to help with this language group.  “Your people killed my grandfather, but I have forgiven you. I’m glad I came.”  Suddenly one of the participants stood up and spoke.  “And my grandfather was killed by YOUR people. But I forgive you, too!” The two men hugged each other and shed tears of healing as the rest of the group watched walls crumble and bridges being built between two warring cultures.  “Now we know more about the Christians’ Bible than we do about our OWN book,” the other participants rejoiced. “We didn’t know what the Bible teaches about Jesus.” Some also shared, “You treated us like family!” They learned that summer that the weapons of Jesus’s followers are not guns, but the bullets of love in action through the power of the Spirit!

Please pray for the graduates of the two Schools of Storying held in the Philippines, along with many others whom Al and Nancy have trained in storying. Many of these are now networking with other believers in very closed southeast Asian countries, teaching them how to share the gospel orally through Bible stories!  

 

*name changed for security reasons

 

I Forgive You