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!
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.
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.
SCHOOL OF STORYING
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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*
“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*
FINDING MORE LOST SHEEP IN THE COMING YEAR
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.
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
Read the PDF version StoryRunners January 2018 Newsletter.