Potential Harvest

Since 2013, StoryRunners has worked with national trainers to complete 26 School of Storying language projects in the Francophone Africa countries of Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad and Togo. People are coming to faith in Christ, and their lives are changed as they turned away from voodoo practices.  Story groups have formed and churches have been planted, often in very remote places where previously there were few, if any, believers. God is at work, and He is using oral Bible stories to advance His kingdom among oral people groups because stories speak to their heart, especially stories in their mother tongue. However, the impact of your gift doesn’t end after we complete a School of Storying.

Even though StoryRunners has never worked in Niger, a 99.5% non-Christian West African country of 22 million people, StoryRunners is still having an impact in Niger!  

With few believers and a literacy rate of only 19%, Niger is a perfect place for sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with oral Bible stories!

Eli*, a West African School of Storying leader, has seen the potential harvest firsthand. A Fulani from Benin, he is a multi-lingual veteran School of Storying trainer who has participated in six School of Storying projects, including Fulfulde, the language spoken by his Fulani people. When I met with West African School of Storying leaders in December, Eli* described the open door to take oral Bible stories to the 1.8 million Fulani people of Niger.

“Pastor Tambaya from Maradi in Niger invited me to share oral Bible stories with the Fulani people in Niger. He explained that they have serious difficulties reaching the Fulfulde and Tuareg people because they are nomadic. In November, I trained eleven people who are now ready to use oral Bible stories to reach the many, many Fulfulde who don’t yet know Christ. Also, Pastor Tambaya plans to train pastors at the Fulfulde Bible School in Dakoro, Niger.”

“I was amazed how quickly the word spread about the training. Soon after I returned from Maradi, some pastors in Niamey, the capital of Niger, invited me to meet with them. They proposed an orality strategy for evangelism throughout the entire country in languages like Hausa, the most spoken language in Niger, plus other languages such as Zarma, Dendi, Fulfulde, and Gourmanchema. Although I was there only one day, I met some truck drivers from Burkina Faso, and I used an audio player to share stories in their language, Moore*, and then I demonstrated how to lead a small impromptu story group.”  (*StoryRunners completed the Moore set in 2014)

Each visit to Africa strengthens my confidence that we are working with the right people. Eli* exemplifies these faithful, devoted people. Not only does he serve as a School of Storying trainer, but he uses the training he received from StoryRunners to reach people who need to hear about Jesus, most recently the people of Niger. StoryRunners did not ask him to go to Niger nor did we provide any financial resources for his mission trips to Niger. However, Eli* followed his calling from God, responding to this opportunity from God. Just like his evangelist grandfather and his pastor father, he is sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with those who don’t know Him, with those who live in a world of spiritual darkness. 

“It was a dark and stormy night…”

How many of our Halloween stories begin this way? Even though many people tell such stories for fun at Halloween–even if they’re a bit scary!–for others, fear characterizes their daily lives.

Voodoo practitioners are not myths or stories in West Africa–they are all too real. The spirits they seek to manipulate and placate with their magic spells and rituals are real also. Jesus recognized the reality of the spirit world when he said in Matthew 12:28, “But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.”

Parfait Mitchai, who works with StoryRunners in Benin, is the son of a voodoo high priest. As he was being groomed to succeed his father as high priest, he learned how to harm others with voodoo practices and spells. But he couldn’t protect himself from others who might practice voodoo against him. He was afraid of death from those who might try to harm him…until he heard the story of Jesus’ resurrection.He thought to himself, “If Jesus rose up from death, if I can be His friend, He can take care of me. Realizing the power of Jesus, Parfait put his faith in Him, and the next day, his fear of death had vanished!

As Jesus cared for him, Parfait learned to trust Him. Graduating first in his class in physics, the top student in all of Benin, he continued to trust God, who called him to join Campus Pour Christ (as Cru is known in West Africa). After joining the ministry, he eventually became president of the ministry in Benin. He regularly met with government officials, praying for them and advising them in spiritual matters. However, after Parfait attended a StoryRunners training in 2011, he resigned from leading the ministry in Benin in order to work with StoryRunners full time.

He always exclaims with a smile on his face, “Benin is a country shaped like a little key. It is the key to all of Africa, and stories turn the lock!”

 

 

No Barriers to the Gospel

“People love these stories,” one man, *Tony, told us. Tony was one of the participants in the first part of our *Cherry School of Storying project in Central Africa in November. After the training was over, he immediately began telling Bible stories to everyone he knew. “Everyone received them so well,” he reported. “In fact, they kept coming to me and asking me to tell them stories. This happened over and over until I was just so exhausted! So I decided to train five men to help me tell them stories.” This is exactly what we in StoryRunners want to see happening. Not only did the stories spread like wildfire through Tony’s community, but Tony took the initiative to train others to tell the stories as well, thereby increasing the spread of the stories even more!

 

Pass On What You Have Learned

On July 31, five of our Tagalog SOS participants are heading to Cambodia!

Cambodia is usually known for its predominately Buddhist and highly unreached Khmer people group. The country depends greatly on international aid, and education is extremely hard to come by due to Cambodia’s traumatic history. In fact, most of the population relies on NGO and mission-run schools for their basic education.

This presents an opportunity that our participants decided to seize. Partnering with three ministry-run schools in two different cities, these five teachers will use oral Bible stories to conduct English camps with over 500 children. They also hope to have opportunity to teach the full-time teachers how to continue to use stories after they have gone, and how to transition from the stories to a clear gospel presentation.

Please pray for these 5 Filipino participants and their mission trip in Cambodia. Pray for safety and open doors for them, that many children would accept Christ through the stories, and that their work there would lead to further opportunities for StoryRunners to work in Cambodia.

God’s Timing

“I was very discouraged when the Aja SOS finished,” remembered Dodji, our Aja translator and a current School of Storying (SOS) trainer. He explained, “It looked like my people were rejecting the stories.” 

So few participants in the Aja SOS in October 2013 were interested in telling the stories that we despaired of anyone ever using the stories in ministry, but God was still at work!

We recently learned that one of the participants, Francois, began telling stories in his home village. When people in his church wanted to learn to tell stories, he trained Germain and a few other men how to use the stories. As these men visited surrounding villages to share the good news of Jesus through the Aja stories, in one village, the people responded to the stories with such enthusiasm that Germain and his friends planted a church.  After Dodji heard Germain talk about the new church, he exclaimed, “I’m so happy to know that people are using the Aja Bible stories to reach our people.”

Sensing God‘s prompting to restart a storying movement among his Aja people, Dodji offered two storytelling trainings in April in Djakotomey, his home village. By the end of the trainings, 71 new storytellers had told stories to 596 people and had started 68 new story groups.  As Dodji follows up with these new storytellers, he hears how people are responding to the stories the training participants tell. He recounted, “Jean-Paul started a story group, and, in just three weeks, his group grew to 32 people, and 26 of them have become believers! Amele and her husband started a group in another village, and 60 people attend regularly!”

Dodji continued, “Now I realize that it was just not God‘s timing yet. It’s like I hear a voice inside me saying, ‘Don’t ever again think that no one is using the stories you are helping make. God is using His stories to do exactly what He wants among people groups. What you have to do is just go, make good stories, and train storytellers. God will use them according to His will.”