Spreading our wings in West Africa

 

StoryRunners logo - A good story in the makingOur vision is to help people in 500 unreached language groups become followers of Christ in
a growing community of faith by the year 2025.

 

Dance is an integral part of worship in Africa


“Every morning and afernoon session began with worship. Dancing is an integral part of worship, and everybody has to dance. I’ve never experienced anything like it. The beat, the style and rhythm are so different, and ofen there is a lead singer with the crowd cheerfully responding with a chorus,” reported Mark Steinbach, StoryRunners Director. Mark was at the very frst West Africa Train the Trainer workshop held this summer.


The workshop saw 41 leaders from churches, para-church groups and other ministry leaders gather in West Africa along with three members from StoryRunners in the US. With representatives from Burkina Faso, Benin, Cameroon, Chad and Togo, the event was the frst of its kind for StoryRunners and the African leaders. Its main purpose was to train the African leaders to become trainers for future School of Storying (SOS) projects.

Some of the West Africa leaders and StoryRunners team members

During the three-week training, everyone developed oral Bible stories using our six-step process and learned how to coach a story development group. The participants also gained practical experience. Using Bible stories developed on the ‘F’ SOS project (name undisclosed for security reasons), some of them taught
‘ F ’ – speaking people how to learn and discuss stories in a Story Fellowship Group (SFG).

For many of the participants, it was their first authentic cross-cultural experience. They had to work with a translator to reach a people who spoke a language different from theirs. Another team also reached out to students at a nearby university to help plant a new Cru ministry in that campus. 

Story development in progress


The workshop culminated with the certification of 31 participants as ‘Assistant Trainers in StoryRunners School of Storying.’ This is a huge milestone for us as we have now more than doubled our training capacity—with African nationals ready to work with other unreached language groups. We are incredibly grateful to
these African leaders. Please pray that they will faithfully share the gospel through these oral Bible stories. 

We are also very grateful for your prayers and partnership. We could not have done it without you.

 

A glimmer of hope for the Haka people

This summer, we joined forces again with E3, a partner mission agency based in Dallas, Texas. We sent one of our team leaders, Hallie, to revisit the *Haka people, an unengaged and unreached people group who live in a restricted country in Central Asia. 

Afer a challenging two-week session, we were delighted to see encouraging improvements among the participants. When Maria, one of the participants, told the story of Jesus calming the storm to her son, she experienced a ‘breakthrough’ moment. She told our team, “Suddenly, the story came alive to me for the frst time. It was like I was sitting on the boat with the disciples, feeling the water on my face.” We are now planning to complete the project in early 2018 to fnish the story set and continue our training with E3 partners in Bible story development. We praise God for this glimmer of hope. Please also pray that the Haka participants will be steadfast in sharing the gospel among their people.

“I was losing joy in serving God but this trip helped me get the joy back!” Exclaimed one of the 25 students who exclaimed one of the 25 students who
participated at our Rocky Mountain Summer Mission. look out for more exciting stories on this in our next edition!

Praise & Prayer

PRAISE:
1) Praise God for the recently concluded second part of the Haka School of Storying, for the changed hearts among our participants there, for their renewed
commitment to using oral Bible stories, and for their partnership with us.

2) Praise God for the recently concluded Cru17 US Staff Conference in Colorado that our team attended from July 16 – 24.

3) Praise God for our summer mission, which fnished earlier this month. Our 32 participants learned about oral Bible storying and shared their faith all over the
Rocky Mountain National Park using Bible stories. Read next month’s newsletter to learn more.

PRAYER

1) Pray for our upcoming SOS trips in the fall: for preparation by our nationals in the feld, safety and health for our travel teams, and for full funding for each
language. 

2) Pray for the 31 African leaders we trained to be School of Storying Assistant Trainers to continue to develop their storying skills and gain more experience.

To receive regular updates from StoryRunners, follow us @storyrunners on our Social Media sites: Facebook, twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube

More Stories and Songs for the Ewok

StoryRunners logo - A good story in the makingOur vision is to help people in 500 unreached language groups become followers of Christ in a growing community of faith by the year 2025.

“The rain pelts the metal roof and creates a dull roar for the background music of our lunch. But the cacophony inside is much louder, composed of voices in fve different languages, with songs of various genres playing from phones for good measure. One man stands up from the table as he shouts and points. No, he’s not mad—it’s just another lively discussion over lunch between the participants. I looked around at the 30 or so people gathered together for this School of Storying—men and women, young and old, pastors and laymen, Francophones and Anglophones—and I can’t help but think that only God could assemble this particular group of people for his work. It’s a little taste of heaven to be able to worship together with seven different tongues, tribes, and nations represented, all of us united in Christ to praise our glorious God,” writes Darren, leader of Team *Ewok.

Matt captivates the crowd with his story.


Darren and his team recently went to Africa to complete the second part of the 42 oral Bible stories they were developing in the Ewok language. At least 30 people participated, 9 of whom were also present in the frst part of the training in March. That in itself is incredible as former participants are not always able to attend the second session for various reasons. Everyone proved to be enthusiastic participants and turned out to be amazing storytellers. Many of the returnees also had testimonies of how God was using the stories in their villages. Coming from various backgrounds and professions, the team worked tirelessly for three weeks to develop and complete the set of oral Bible stories. In the process, everyone has been impacted, with many stories of lives changed. Here are just a few of their testimonies.


“Wow, there is much wisdom in this. We go so deep in the Bible stories—even more than in Bible college!” *Matt was one of our Ewok participants who came to a realization during story development time one day. One of the trainers had suggested a rewording of a question to get better responses from the guests who would soon test the stories. It seemed trivial at the time to the trainer, but had a profound impact on how this man would view Bible storying as a way to dive deep into the richness of God’s Word.


“When I sing in French it is somehow not so deep. But when I sing in Ewok* I feel it with my whole soul!” *Chuck was an Ewok participant who also served as a translator, and he saw the signifcance of having songs in his mother tongue. This is why we focus on these particular languages, even though many people in this region can speak French or even English. Stories of Jesus in your heart language will touch your soul in ways other languages cannot!


“Before my frst School of Storying I was a big pastor, always commanding people to do this and do that. That’s not how God made me. I didn’t know how to have fun with people. But now I can tell a story and just be free with them.” *Lew, from West Africa, served as one of our national trainers. Using Bible stories for ministry inside and outside the church has had a tremendous impact on him and those around him. He told about one little girl who had been struggling with reading and other literate learning methods in church and in school. But when Lew began using stories to teach, she quickly caught on and became one of the best storytellers in the church at only ten years old. And now she’s doing much better in school!


Ethan (right) smiles with another of our translators.

One of our translators, *Ethan, had a similar experience with Bible storying. Because he spent all week at this training, including evenings, he didn’t have time to prepare a sermon to preach. So he shared the story of Jesus walking on water, and to his surprise, the church loved it! Everyone actively discussed the story and had it learned by the end of the service.


Because of your partnership and prayers, people like Matt, Chuck, Lew and Ethan have learned to develop oral Bible stories that they
can now use in their local ministries, Bible studies, evangelism and discipleship. Personally, they’ve also learned how to dig deeper into God’s Word. Please keep the Ewok language group in your prayers, and pray that they will be faithful in retelling God’s life-changing stories!

 

Praise & Prayer

Praise:

1) For the successful completion of phase 2 of the Ewok* School of Storying and the safe return of our trainers.
2) For the successful West Africa “Train the Trainers” conference with 30 ministry leaders from five countries on the African continent in attendance.

PRAYER:

WE COVET YOUR PRAYERS. PLEASE PRAY:
1) For the newly graduated Ewok participants to be faithful in using the completed 42 oral Bible stories in
their personal ministries, in evangelism efforts, and in discipleship.

2) For our upcoming Cru17 US Staff Conference in July—that our StoryRunners team will be encouraged
and refreshed spiritually.

3) For the upcoming Rocky Mountain Summer Missions trip participants—for God’s provision and that they would all be encouraged and equipped to use oral Bible storying in their personal lives and outreach opportunities.

 

Get to Know

In a survey we ran earlier this year, you mentioned that you would like to know more about the StoryRunners team—so here’s an opportunity to take a personal look at who we are!

Mark Steinbach – StoryRunners Director

Mark has served on staff with Cru for the past 37 years. He came to Christ as a Penn State student through the influence of Cru, graduating in 1980. He later earned his MBA degree from Rollins College here in Orlando. Before his role with StoryRunners, Mark served with The Jesus Film Project. He was part of their executive management team for 13 years that included directing the studios for recording and post-production of JESUS (the most watched Christian flm in history) and its associated flms in over 850 languages.

When not immersed in our business operations or overseeing various StoryRunners projects, Mark loves to read and catch up on current events. Mark also enjoys going to the beach with his family, yard work with his wife, and cooking. He’s become quite famous around the StoryRunners’ offices at Christmas time for making the best fruitcakes in town too!

Mark has lived in Orlando since 1991 with his wife, Jenny, and their four sons. They are now enjoying life as empty-nesters.

Click here for the pdf version of our June 2017 Newsletter.

More Stories and Songs for the Ewok

 

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?