“They have never tried to force us to believe anything. We are learning so much at this school, and we like these stories,” said Mariana*, defending the Beruna* School of Storying.
Mariana was one of 15 participants of the Beruna School of Storying (SOS) this winter. She and the others devoutly follow a regional religion and had never before been exposed to God’s Word. In describing the lack of Christian resources in Beruna, the local host said, “It’s hard to describe how much nothing is available to them in their language.” In fact, one of our Christ-following translators has only ever met two other Christians from this people group. Additionally, these Central Asian participants live as refugees in a Western Asian city, displaced from everything they hold dear.
Initially, the participants, most of whom are uneducated or illiterate, seemed skeptical of developing these oral Bible stories. They had never encountered these theological concepts before, like the Holy Spirit or Jesus being the Son of God. Because affiliating with Christians or the Bible could be shameful in their community, our team felt amazed that so many had agreed to participate in the project. Our trainers began to pray that the Holy Spirit would make these participants’ hearts tender to His truth and that they would own the process of developing these oral Bible stories.
Incredibly, by the second week of the SOS, the participants had warmed up and began inviting the trainers into their homes. The women even occasionally went into the kitchen to have dance parties with our female trainers! In this setting of kindness, trust and openness, the participants, who had never before been exposed to the gospel, began wrestling with key theological concepts, like what Christ’s death and resurrection meant. When they returned home each night, the participants even told the stories they had developed that day to their family and friends! God was at work in their hearts.
All seemed to be going well until the last week. Fahm*, who had participated in the first week but sat out weeks two and three, returned the fourth and final week of the SOS. Her heart hadn’t softened to the gospel nor had it grown in trust of our trainers. Fahm is firm in her regional religious beliefs and has a strong personality. Upon her return, she began taunting the other women participants, telling them the Americans were teaching them heretical stories.
That’s when Mariana, a quiet woman in her 60s, spoke up. “They have never tried to force us to believe anything. We are learning so much at this school, and we like these stories.” More women joined in, defending the stories, the trainers and the project.
These participants, who just weeks earlier had been skeptical about working with Christians and developing stories from the Bible, now stood up for these stories! They had taken ownership and great pride at the work they had done. Though they haven’t yet received Christ, they have moved closer and closer to Him as they have encountered His character through God’s Word in their language.
It’s because of your partnership that the gospel truth has taken root in the hearts of participants like Mariana. Your commitment to the Word of God going forth is exposing this people group to God’s Word in a way they’ve never had access to before! Thank you for your partnership!
Please join us in praying that:
– God would continue to use His Word in the hearts of the Beruna SOS participants. Pray many would come to know Him and that His Word would spread throughout their community.
– Please pray God would soften Fahm’s heart to His truth and reveal Himself to her through inexplicable ways.