“We have 20+ participants which is amazing! They are a great bunch and good storytellers. Nine have returned from the first training and have many testimonies of how God is using the stories in their villages. It is so encouraging.” She continued.
“Our back translator is here. And we have three translators, with a fourth coming soon. We feel so spoiled. And the food has been amazing.” She further writes. “Pray for this first week of story development. We are working on the Passion stories, and the Resurrection.”
“Pray for our newest translator, N, who is struggling in life. She is also lacking confidence in her translation skills, but we tested her out today and she did great. We know she will improve a lot as time goes on and hopefully this will boost her confidence.” “Pray for our team leader and our host as they are juggling many things.” “Thank you! Your prayers are heard.”
Thank you indeed. We covet your prayers.
Please note that we are unable to reveal the names (and faces at times) of our trainers or disclose the name of the place for security reasons.
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.
Our 2017 Orlando School of Storying participants praying before going to a nearby mall to reach out to anyone who would be willing to hear His story.
EVERYONE LOVES A GOOD STORY. Jesus knew it. He didn’t engage in debates to convince people to believe in God. Instead, He told STORIES about people whose lives were changed-so they could listen and identify, without feeling confronted and condemned. He KNEW the power of a good story! And THIS is why the development of oral Bible stories is at the HEART of our School of Storying. But what does this process of story development actually look like?
In a workshop setting, via translators, a StoryRunners team coaches speakers of the local language as they develop the stories in their own language. Our goal is to always ensure that our stories are “BONA-fide“: Biblically Accurate, Orally reproducible, Naturally told and Appropriate to the culture.
For example, in Southeast Asia, on a SOS project in a language without a Bible, we discovered there are two possible words for “spirit”. After learning that we had wrongly used the word that refers to the spirit of a dead person, we knew we needed to use the other word for “spirit”. Ensuring we use the right words in the local language to convey the meaning of the Biblical text accurately can be a tedious process of discovery. But it’s a crucial step that we must always take!
It’s important that we keep our stories short enough to be easily learned and retold. Each Bible story is no more than two to three minutes long.
In local languages, there are often natural storytelling styles, including, for example, culturally appropriate ways to introduce stories and characters as well as the “pause” time for transitioning between stories-all of which make the story easier to retell. In the Anufo language in Togo, one SOS workshop participant always began his story by saying “My story flies and flies and lands on”, and he finished his introduction with the name of the main character. Part of the process of developing Bible stories includes finding those cultural nuances to ensure that the stories sound natural in that language.
APPROPRIATE TO THE CULTURE
Some words have special meaning in the culture. In the Fulfulde Borgu language, the word used for the oil that Samuel pours on David’s head when he anoints David as the king of Israel is the same word used to describe the special oil, derived from milk, used to anoint chiefs. The Fulfulde really connect with this detail in the story (not to mention that David was a shepherd, and they are nomadic people). The use of this word is a simple but powerful detail that can help people connect to the gospel through their culture.
Every SOS trainer will quickly tell you how exciting and rewarding it is to see local participants develop and tell these stories in their own language. Relationships grow as they see cultural barriers fall because of the bridges the Holy Spirit builds through His Word. It’s what makes saying goodbye at the end of each mission trip so difficult for both our trainers and the participants. But before any of this can happen, we must do the hard work of making sure the stories are “BONA-fide”. When they are, we can celebrate-because we know the stories that we leave with each group are going to be effective, powerful tools for evangelism and for growing communities of faith.
Thank you for partnering with us in taking these life-changing stories to those who have never heard them!
SUMMER MISSION TRIP | July 25 – August 3, 2017
NEW SCHOOL OF STORYING CLASSES | August 20-25, 2017 & March 11-16, 2018
WOULD YOU PARTNER WITH US?
StoryRunners partners with people like you who fund our School of Storying projects and our day-to-day operations. If you are encouraged about how God is using StoryRunners, ask Him if He wants YOU to become a monthly giving partner or to make a special gift.
You can make a difference for people who have never had God’s word in their own language. To give towards a specific School of Storying project, contact Pam Lilly.
Click here for your tax-deductible contribution.
Click StoryRunners March 2017 Newsletter to read the pdf (printed) copy.
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A Good Story in the Making
We met him in Zimbabwe in October of 2012. Our School of Storying host, Nhamo Chigohi, pastored a church and ran a small orphanage there. Wanting another participant for the training who spoke the Shona language, he had just the man in mind – John, his older brother. Having no interest in Nhamo’s Christianity, John poured his passion into his job as a big game-hunting guide. Nhamo told our training team, “I keep telling John he’s been caught in Jesus’s net-he just doesn’t know it yet!”
He was rough and iron-willed, but hearing story after story during the training, his heart began to soften. It was pierced when he heard the Parable of the Sower. John realized how badly he wanted to be the good soil that received the Word, and he knew that meant following Jesus. Soon after, upon hearing the story of Philip baptizing the Ethiopian, John told Nhamo and the others: “THAT’S ME! I WANT TO FOLLOW JESUS AND BE BAPTIZED!” And baptized he was-in a freshly-dug, plastic-lined hole in the ground filled with water. Surrendered to Christ, John Chigohi became a new man.
Desiring to devote more time to learning stories and serving in his brother’s church, John left the game-hunting guide business and turned to farming. He began teaching Bible stories to adults in the church on a weekly basis, and soon ventured out into the surrounding community. It was outside the walls of the church where he met spiritual opposition.
“Some community leaders did not want me to teach or tell stories,” he told us. “They blocked me and threatened to hit me. But one day they sent word for me to attend a community development meeting. I don’t know what happened to them, but that day they allowed me to teach stories! With boldness, I taught two stories that left them demanding more. The head of the village gave himself to the Lord after two visits to his home following that community meeting… and that old man is now with us in the church!”
John talked about how his aim in life was “to keep teaching stories so that people can understand better what God wants them to be.” Five story groups have been meeting under his leadership, and two more are “second generation” story groups (started and led by group members that John taught). His favorite story group, however, has been the one in his own home with his wife and eight children. “I hope Josphat (his son) is also going to continue telling stories, even to his new friends at college”, John says.
His dream is for each member of his household to lead at least one story group, somewhere. John’s health started declining in December, and on Thursday, February 9, as he was en route to the hospital, he took his final breath and his faith became sight. He is now with the One he chose to follow and serve for the last 5 years of his life.
John Chigohi took to heart the story that changed his life-the Parable of the Sower. “I must be the good soil,” he said. “I must multiply.” And that’s exactly what he did.
*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
They live tucked away in a rugged mountain region where roads are merely mule tracks and footpaths that wind endlessly around the outer slopes of the Himalayas. Snowbound in their villages for up to four months a year, they must live entirely on what they’ve stored away before winter. Though there are nearly four million of them, only a handful of believers exist. Statistics show there are 0.0% Christians among them.
Yet weeks ago, that handful – twenty, to be exact – experienced their first School of Storying in the Iraash* language of South Asia. You can almost hear their excitement in the words of our StoryRunners team. Here are some of their narrations:
“They are constantly telling us how easy and practical using the stories in their communities will be. ‘Everyone wants to listen to a story,’ one told me. ‘We have stories in our culture, and everyone loves them. We even have religious stories from the local major religion. With this training, we can now have religious stories that tell the truth of Him. This will be so effective in our villages, especially with the older generation.’”
Another thing that they’ve really loved is how we make songs to go with our stories. When I announced that, you should have seen their faces light up. They got so excited! One participant was shocked. He said, “Before I became a believer, I would write songs all the time. But when I became a believer, I thought that part of my life was over. I never realized I could use those gifts and passions to glorify Him!”
During our people check phase of the storying process, a couple of the guests were impacted by the stories and were very eager listeners. One guest said, “I was so excited when you called me to come back this week! When I hear the stories, I feel so much peace. I want you to come to visit me in my house–I want you to come tell me how I can follow this Jesus! Please tell me more stories!”
Pray for these Iraash* believers as they begin story groups among their people. Thank you for your partnership that has made it possible to take His Story to them.
*changed for security reasons
“Tell Me More Stories!”
“Wow. Three weeks, six trainers, 17 participants, 18 stories, countless memories, and one God that we serve. Idaasha means “people who are chosen,” and we know that the Lord of the harvest has chosen these people, mostly farmers from a nearby village, to sow the seeds of His Word. Our prayer as we said goodbye was for God to prepare the hearts of all who will hear these stories, making them good soil that is ready for planting. Thank you for your continued prayers during this School of Storying. At least one of them was answered when Etienne, our translator, decided to accept Jesus just the other day. I’m sure when you meet him in heaven someday he’ll tell you a few Bible stories, in English or Idaasha.” – From an SOS team working with the Idaasha people of West Africa
A Chosen People
Meet Sharon—wife and busy mother of one high- schooler and one college student—from north central Texas. So how did ONE WEEK in Orlando, Florida become, as she says, “one of the greatest gifts in her life”?
Back up to October 2010. Involved in a local church in their area, Sharon and her husband were in search of new ways to minister within their congregation and beyond. After hearing about a 5-day training in oral Bible storying, the couple set aside a week, made arrangements for their kids back home, and headed to Florida. What they learned and brought home with them was life- changing.
“Within 3 months, our church had asked me to lead and teach a women’s group in Bible storying. In another 3 months, I found myself on a church- sponsored trip to the Middle East where we ministered to women in Jordan through storytelling.” Imagine the joy she had standing on the banks of the Jordan River, telling a diverse group of tourists the story of Jesus baptizing people in that very place! Later, she shared with Jordanian women from broken homes the story of Moses—of how God uses the broken to be His messengers of hope. “Then the following year, I traveled to Cambodia, partnering with long-time missionaries in training pastors and church leaders from Thailand, Cambodia and the Philippines,” Sharon says. She taught them how to use oral Bible storying, and as they practiced their newly-acquired skills in the afternoons, Sharon and her group went outside the city to camps where they ministered to children. “It was beautiful to hear the creation story delivered to the children in their own language, and then to see the children delighting in answering the questions after the story,” she recounts to us.
Since then, she’s journeyed to Ethiopia to teach more pastors and church leaders how to use storying in their churches and ministries. “I received an email last week from a youth pastor who was very excited about the training and how it was impacting his church,” Sharon tells us. “He said that storying has changed the way the pastors are preaching. They no longer lecture, but use stories about Jesus—and this is CHANGING LIVES.”
A Mom With A Mission
“I hardly opened my mouth to talk to anyone,” Corine* confessed. “Before coming to the School of Storying, I was quiet and reserved, and never knew how to talk to people about God.” But learning to tell stories has been life-changing for her! “It is like the Lord gave me a voice and filled my mouth with the words,” she says. “I can tell these stories boldly and with confidence.” Even her family and friends remarked about the difference, and Corine even found herself chosen to share a story at a nearby radio station!
* name changed for her security reasons
“The Lord gave me a voice…”
“The harvest is truly plentiful.” Those words of Jesus have never come more alive to me than during our recent School
of Storying project in northern Benin. Over and over again we were impressed by the evidence that the people are so ready to respond to the gospel–as long as you approach them in a way that is appropriate to their culture. If you come to them as one of them, speaking their language, holding out simple truths, then it is amazing to see the movement that God ignites! Over the 5 weeks of our training, we saw 25 ongoing small groups started.
From the first day, the people in these villages were begging our participants to come and share more stories with them. “These stories are just so interesting!” one man told one of our participants. “I want you to come back and tell these stories to my whole village.” Our non-believers that are involved in the training were also enraptured by the Word of God. “If these stories are true, then I’m going to become a Christian. Pray for me,” one of them told me. We knew at that point that the Holy Spirit was doing some powerful work, and we weren’t wrong.
Over the course of a few weeks, we saw all 11 non-believers that were involved directly in our training decide to follow Christ! One of them explained to me, “Before I came here, I was always worrying. I was obsessed with thinking about all of my problems and all the terrible things in life. But now that Jesus has come into my life, I have so much peace!” I could see the change in their lives as they became children of God. For me, this training felt like we were riding on the edge of an unstoppable avalanche. We were attacked from all sides by Satan, but nothing he could do could even slow down the advancement of the mighty kingdom of God. I am so overwhelmed and humbled to have gotten to see it. – From one of the StoryRunners team members