Finding the Lost Sheep

StoryRunners logo - A good story in the making
By 2025, we will equip local followers of Christ to produce and use oral Bible stories in 500 languages to launch communities of multiplying disciples among oral cultures.
Finding the Lost Sheep - StoryRunners
An oral Bible storying session at the West Africa Train the Trainer conference.

Jesus paints a mind-boggling picture in Luke 15:4-6. He tells of a shepherd who leaves 99 sheep in the wilderness to search for the one that is lost until he finds it. I have spent almost all of my life in the suburbs so I don’t know much about raising sheep. But it seems counterintuitive to risk the 99 for the sake of the one that was lost. Better to keep the 99 and write the other one off. But Jesus risks the 99 for the one, and heaven rejoices. This speaks volumes about the heart of the Good Shepherd – that each person is truly precious and valued.

StoryRunners is all about finding the lost sheep that Jesus considers to be of great value. Many of these lost sheep live in oral cultures where either they do not read or they prefer stories to share their culture, values, and history. Oral Bible stories speak to them!

Last year, we were able to coach local speakers of 10 languages how to develop 42 oral Bible stories in their language and train them to use the stories for evangelism, discipleship, and church planting. Representing these 10 languages, spread in six countries, are a total of 56 million people who now have the possibility of hearing the Gospel through the Bible stories in their own language.

Finding the Lost Sheep - StoryRunners

Sharing God’s stories in the Philippines. Face blurred for security reasons.

Through our School of Storying (SOS) projects, we trained national ministry leaders, some of whom initiated the very first regional training in Africa. This training will now be replicated in other regions and take our nationalization efforts to the next level. We also invested in interns who went to remote parts of Francophone Africa to reach out to unreached people groups. Not only did they impact the communities they served but their lives were also impacted in the process. Read their stories on the following pages.

These accomplishments would not have been possible without your partnership. Thank you for helping us find lost sheep among oral cultures.
Mark Steinbach


My Sheep Hear My Voice
In 2017, we developed oral Bible stories in various countries. In Africa, we worked among seven language groups representing 5.1 million people. Somewhere among these millions are a number of lost sheep that can now hear God’s Word in a way they prefer, through stories. 
Finding the Lost Sheep - StoryRunners
A Story Fellowship Group among the K* people using objects to remember a story. 
We also visited the K* people group in Eurasia. Though considered culturally Christian, many of the 75,000 K* people still follow ancient beliefs. We worked closely with E3 partners, another mission group that uses Bible stories, to train them using our School of Storying model.
 Finding the Lost Sheep - StoryRunners
Revisiting the K* people group.
StoryRunners also conducted an SOS in the Philippines for the estimated 50 million speakers of Tagalog, a ‘gateway language’. A gateway language is a common language in a country. We train ministry leaders who speak the gateway language and can use oral Bible storying to help reach other unreached
groups in their country and beyond. Some of the participants in the Tagalog SOS were from various people groups in the country. The training enabled them to share the oral Bible stories with their respective groups in their local language. We also found new ministry partners in Asia.
Finding the Lost Sheep - StoryRunners
“I look forward to using this tool (oral Bible storying) in my ministry to the tribes of Mindoro.“ -Dan

The School of Storying (SOS) is a fast-track and innovative residence workshop for developing a set of 42 oral Bible stories in just five weeks. An SOS team coaches a group of local speakers of the language in a workshop environment to develop stories using a six-step process. Each story is a two to three-minute simplified version of a Bible passage that is biblically accurate, culturally relevant, and easy to learn and retell.

During the workshop, the participants engage in a daily Story Fellowship Group (a Bible study using an oral Bible story) where they learn to lead the group to share stories for evangelism, discipleship and church planting.
To date, we have documented 54 national ministry leaders in Africa who are qualified trainers for our future SOS projects. What’s more, each one of them is all in and is committed to begin story groups in villages. They are all passionate about sharing the gospel. Some of them go intentionally to very remote areas where there are no known believers.
Finding the Lost Sheep - StoryRunners
Parfait Mitchai, Cru national leader (in blue).

Last year, our African national leaders organized our very first three-week West Africa Train the Trainer (WATT) conference, a brainchild of Parfait Mitchai. A Cru national leader, Parfait gathered more than 40 leaders from various churches, including seasoned SOS leaders. The event resulted in 31 people from five countries getting certified as SOS trainers. This was truly a remarkable achievement.
Finding the Lost Sheep - StoryRunners
A story development in session during the West Africa Train the Trainer conference. 

The weekly updates these new African leaders send us via WhatsApp, a mobile messaging app, are quite encouraging. The leaders often share stories and photos of story groups, baptisms, or new churches being planted. They are committed to finding lost sheep.
Finding the Lost Sheep - StoryRunners

Yepabo was initially recruited to be one of our paid translators for an SOS in Africa. But once he realized what we were doing and how powerful oral Bible storying was, he quickly decided that he was not going to accept payment. He said, “This work is very, very important and necessary for non-believers.” He even offered to help anywhere else for free. Yepabo has since been instrumental in our ongoing work in Africa.
Two of our interns share how oral Bible storying changed and is continually changing their lives…
Finding the Lost Sheep - StoryRunners

“I had recently rededicated my life to Christ and He did not waste time revealing His plans for me. So here I am looking for those lost sheep who need to hear the good news of Christ. I am thankful to God for letting me serve with StoryRunners and help change lives through Bible stories. I can’t imagine what my life would be like if I hadn’t joined StoryRunners. These stories change lives as they continue to change mine.” MG*
Finding the Lost Sheep - StoryRunners

“I joined StoryRunners because of my commitment to help fulfill the Great Commission. It is a total surrender of my life—my security, comfort, time and future—to God. The hope that through stories God would be made more accessible and personal to these cultures encourages me to be all in. Being involved in a ministry like StoryRunners means I get to play a significant part in telling unreached oral cultures of the world that God speaks their language. At the end of an SOS, when participants tell me that they’ve grown closer to God because of these stories, it inspires me to continue to be all in.” PM*


There are still millions of lost sheep out there. In order to find them, we are hoping to complete 17 School of Storying projects this year. This is by far the biggest leap of faith for us. We are excited about expanding our SOS model to include projects led by national leaders to increase our capacity.

Finding the Lost Sheep - StoryRunners
Some of our Tagalog SOS participants sharing God’s stories in the Philippines. 

We are also considering expanding our efforts among unreached people groups in Asia. Lastly, we are praying for opportunities to partner with other ministries to share our SOS model. So they too can take the gospel through oral Bible stories to the lost sheep everywhere still waiting to hear the Savior’s message of love and forgiveness.
Thank you for praying for us and being all in with us!

*Names were changed for security
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.

African Man Moved to Tears After Hearing Passion Story

Last week, a team returned from their School of Storying trip in Africa. They shared so many incredible stories. Here is just one of them, shared by one of our interns.

African Man Moved to Tears After Hearing Passion Story - StoryRunners


“Stop! What’s that?” Our non-Christian translator, *”E”, held up his hand. His face was pale, as we sat under the mango tree outside our training room translating stories from the Passion Week. We all listened. We heard one of our trainers calling one of our participants, but to our translator, he heard, “He is dead! He is dead!” God was clearly touching this man’s heart. We continued working through the stories. After each story, he’d say, “Wow, these stories are getting sadder and sadder! Last week in the stories, Jesus was doing miracles and healing people, and everything was happy. But now they are so sad.”

E is a very kind and gentle, smiling person, but we noticed that he was unusually somber today. It was very apparent to us that the stories were affecting him. E was beginning to see Jesus in a different light from what he was used to. Before this School of Storying he viewed Jesus as the ‘Christian God’. But he did not know or understand who Jesus really was. We continued playing the stories for him, sentence by sentence. We noticed that with every sentence, he was pondering the real meaning and weight of what was being said, rather than just translating them. When we got to the crucifixion story, he listened to the line, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” At that point, tears began to fall down his face. He started shaking his head.

“Jesus was at the point of desperation,” he whispered. “I understand.” He excused himself and went away for a few minutes, washing his face and composing himself. But he was still shaken when he returned. When we reached Jesus’ resurrection, the tears flowed again, and once again, he had to excuse himself for a few minutes. At the end of our translation session, he told us, “In the beginning I didn’t realize where this was going. But now I realize it is about Jesus’ life. And beyond all this he rose from the dead and went to heaven promising his Spirit to his followers. When people hear these stories, they should believe, because Jesus proved over and over again that He is the Son of God.”

*Name changed and face has been blurred for security reasons.

African Man Moved to Tears After Hearing Passion Story

Experiencing God Among the Unreached

StoryRunners logo - A good story in the making
By 2025, we will equip local followers of Christ to produce and use oral Bible stories in 500 languages to launch communities of multiplying disciples among oral
“Tall, African bush almost towered above us. 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.” 
Experiencing God Among the Unreached - StoryRunners November 2017 Newsletter - Road to Nowhere
The road that seemed to lead to nowhere.
“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
Beautiful singing filled the air as this group worshiped.
“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!” Michael, one of the StoryRunners new interns, shared after returning from his recent trip to Africa.
Experiencing God Among the Unreached - StoryRunners November 2017 Newsletter - Enjoying church
Enjoying church with an unreached people group
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.

Would you like to spend a year helping unreached language groups hear the gospel for the first time while you travel the world? Like Michael, does your heart skip a beat when you hear people worship God in a language different from your own? If so, consider interning with us. Visit for info.


Pressed on every side but not crushed

As a result of his oral Bible storying ministry, *Brother T, one of our participants at our School of Storying in Manila last May, had already started two house churches on an island in southern Philippines. Using sports as a platform to share the gospel, the elementary school students that he previously discipled had grown. They too had started discipling others, starting second-generation oral Bible story groups.
Experiencing God Among the Unreached - StoryRunners November 2017 Newsletter - Acting Out
Acting out a story
Brother T’s ministries had not been devoid of oppositions though. He had already received numerous death threats as he operates in a non-Christian dominated area of the country. Yet Brother T remains steadfast and has been instrumental in a daily screening of a Christian film on TV for a whole month. Pray for Brother T and the amazing work God is doing on this remote island in the Philippines.
*Name changed and faces were blurred for security reasons.


Orlando Intro to School of Storying 

Learn how you could use storying in your personal ministry! Join us at the next Orlando Intro to School of Storying from March 11-16, 2018. Visit for details.


Advent Series

Bring our five-part Advent Bible stories into your celebration. Hear stories from the prophecies of Isaiah to the birth of Christ at Starting Sunday, November 26, 2017.


  • For God’s amazing work among the unreached around the world.
  • For Brother T’s ministry in southern Philippines, for the School of Storying currently happening in Manila.


  • For God to continue to open partnership opportunities for us around the globe.
  • For Brother T’s protection and the people he ministers to; for the human trafficking victims our missionaries in Manila are reaching out to.


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.