I Must Multiply

StoryRunners - John - I Must Multiply

We met him in Zimbabwe in October of 2012. Our School of Storying host, Nhamo Chigohi, pastored a church and ran a small orphanage there. Wanting another participant for the training who spoke the Shona language, he had just the man in mind – John, his older brother. Having no interest in Nhamo’s Christianity, John poured his passion into his job as a big game-hunting guide. Nhamo told our training team, “I keep telling John he’s been caught in Jesus’s net-he just doesn’t know it yet!”

He was rough and iron-willed, but hearing story after story during the training, his heart began to soften. It was pierced when he heard the Parable of the Sower. John realized how badly he wanted to be the good soil that received the Word, and he knew that meant following Jesus. Soon after, upon hearing the story of Philip baptizing the Ethiopian, John told Nhamo and the others: “THAT’S ME! I WANT TO FOLLOW JESUS AND BE BAPTIZED!” And baptized he was-in a freshly-dug, plastic-lined hole in the ground filled with water. Surrendered to Christ, John Chigohi became a new man.

Desiring to devote more time to learning stories and serving in his brother’s church, John left the game-hunting guide business and turned to farming. He began teaching Bible stories to adults in the church on a weekly basis, and soon ventured out into the surrounding community. It was outside the walls of the church where he met spiritual opposition.

“Some community leaders did not want me to teach or tell stories,” he told us. “They blocked me and threatened to hit me. But one day they sent word for me to attend a community development meeting. I don’t know what happened to them, but that day they allowed me to teach stories! With boldness, I taught two stories that left them demanding more. The head of the village gave himself to the Lord after two visits to his home following that community meeting… and that old man is now with us in the church!”

John talked about how his aim in life was “to keep teaching stories so that people can understand better what God wants them to be.” Five story groups have been meeting under his leadership, and two more are “second generation” story groups (started and led by group members that John taught). His favorite story group, however, has been the one in his own home with his wife and eight children. “I hope Josphat (his son) is also going to continue telling stories, even to his new friends at college”, John says.

His dream is for each member of his household to lead at least one story group, somewhere. John’s health started declining in December, and on Thursday, February 9, as he was en route to the hospital, he took his final breath and his faith became sight. He is now with the One he chose to follow and serve for the last 5 years of his life.

John Chigohi took to heart the story that changed his life-the Parable of the Sower. “I must be the good soil,” he said. “I must multiply.” And that’s exactly what he did.

JOHN CHIGOHI
1964 – 2017
I Must Multiply

I Forgive You

I Forgive You

*Felix was running for his life.  He had become the most wanted man in his community for drug dealing, and he knew the police would catch up with him soon.  He found the perfect place to hide, where no one would ever think to look – a pastors’ prayer retreat!  But as the providence of God would have it, Felix was befriended by a wise, compassionate pastor who led him to faith in Christ.  Today, Felix is a changed man and a pastor himself.  

When Al and Nancy (StoryRunners staff living in the Philippines), met Felix and invited him to participate in the Cebuano School of Storying two years ago, he eagerly tried Bible storying in his own congregation.  “My people (in my church) no longer fall asleep since I started telling them stories,” he told Al, and soon Felix was learning how to lead storying trainings himself.

The following year, Felix (photo below) helped with an SOS among an unreached language group in another area of the Philippines. Of the 12 SOS participants, one was a secret follower of Jesus, and all represented a religion that has been hostile to Christianity for centuries. Yet they eagerly learned the Bible stories and were even happy to record them with our StoryRunners team. During the closing ceremony of the SOS, Felix confessed to the entire group why he had been hesitant to come to help with this language group.  “Your people killed my grandfather, but I have forgiven you. I’m glad I came.”  Suddenly one of the participants stood up and spoke.  “And my grandfather was killed by YOUR people. But I forgive you, too!” The two men hugged each other and shed tears of healing as the rest of the group watched walls crumble and bridges being built between two warring cultures.  “Now we know more about the Christians’ Bible than we do about our OWN book,” the other participants rejoiced. “We didn’t know what the Bible teaches about Jesus.” Some also shared, “You treated us like family!” They learned that summer that the weapons of Jesus’s followers are not guns, but the bullets of love in action through the power of the Spirit!

Please pray for the graduates of the two Schools of Storying held in the Philippines, along with many others whom Al and Nancy have trained in storying. Many of these are now networking with other believers in very closed southeast Asian countries, teaching them how to share the gospel orally through Bible stories!  

 

*name changed for security reasons

 

I Forgive You

“Tell Me More Stories!”

“Tell Me More Stories!”

They live tucked away in a rugged mountain region where roads are merely mule tracks and footpaths that wind endlessly around the outer slopes of the Himalayas. Snowbound in their villages for up to four months a year, they must live entirely on what they’ve stored away before winter. Though there are nearly four million of them, only a handful of believers exist. Statistics show there are 0.0% Christians among them.StoryRunners - Himalayas - Asia

Yet weeks ago, that handful – twenty, to be exact – experienced their first School of Storying in the Iraash* language of South Asia. You can almost hear their excitement in the words of our StoryRunners team. Here are some of their narrations:

“They are constantly telling us how easy and practical using the stories in their ​communities​ will be. ‘Everyone wants to listen to a story,’ one told me. ‘We have stories in our culture, and everyone loves them. We even have religious stories from the local major religion. With this training, we can now have religious stories that tell the ​truth of Him​. This will be so effective in our villages, especially with the older generation.’”

​Another thing that they’ve really loved is how we make songs to go with our stories. When I announced that, you should have seen their faces light up. They got so excited! One participant was shocked. He said, “Before I became a ​believer​, I would write songs all the time. But when I became a ​believer​, I thought that part of my life was over. I never realized I could use those gifts and passions to glorify ​Him​!”

StoryRunners - Himalayas - Asia

During our people check phase of the storying process, a couple of the guests were impacted by the stories and were very eager listeners. One guest said, “I was so excited when you called me to come back this week! When I hear the stories, I feel so much peace. I want you to come to visit me in my house–I want you to come tell me how I can follow this Jesus! Please tell me more stories!”

Pray for these Iraash* believers as they begin story groups among their people. Thank you for your partnership that has made it possible to take His Story to them.

 

*changed for security reasons

 

“Tell Me More Stories!”

A Chosen People

A Chosen People

Jpeg

“Wow. Three weeks, six trainers, 17 participants, 18 stories, countless memories, and one God that we serve. Idaasha means “people who are chosen,” and we know that the Lord of the harvest has chosen these people, mostly farmers from a nearby village, to sow the seeds of His Word. Our prayer as we said goodbye was for God to prepare the hearts of all who will hear these stories, making them good soil that is ready for planting. Thank you for your continued prayers during this School of Storying. At least one of them was answered when Etienne, our translator, decided to accept Jesus just the other day. I’m sure when you meet him in heaven someday he’ll tell you a few Bible stories, in English or Idaasha.” – From an SOS team working with the Idaasha people of West Africa

 

A Chosen People

Finding Them Faithful

StoryRunners - School of Storying - West Africa

One year ago, our School of Storying team leader wrote to us from West Africa:

“I am happy to report that we completed all 42 (stories), copied them to solar powered Megavoice audio players and gave one to all of our participants.  We left behind a useful tool in the recorded stories, but we also left behind something even more valuable: We left behind 19 participants who are trained to tell stories in their own language to start groups that will continue to meet together.”

So what’s happening today among the Tem people? Fourteen of those 19 SOS graduates are leading at least 2 story groups each, and one of those is a “2nd generation” story group – started by a member of an original group last year who stepped up to be a leader himself. New churches have been planted as a result of these story groups. And people in an unreached language group are coming to Christ.

StoryRunners - School of Storying - West AfricaOne village leader who practices the local non-Christian religion actually began hosting a story group in his home because he witnessed the miraculous healing of his wife after a Christian prayed for her. Still, local villagers put so much pressure on the man that he had to discontinue hosting the group. But imagine the excitement of our Tem story group leader when the village leader then offered to buy land so that the group could have a permanent, and safe, place to meet!

Two years ago when a different led a School of Storying with another unreached people group, the Anufo, they struggled with participants and translators. Falling short of the 18 desired, they StoryRunners - School of Storying - West Africaforged ahead with only 13 participants and completed all 42 stories in the Anufo language. Our team prayed for them and encouraged them to persevere and start story groups everywhere they could.

Today? Nearly 200 people are meeting in story groups throughout six different villages — led by these faithful SOS graduates!

Taking Bible Storying To New Heights

College students from campuses all over the country shared a week together in the Colorado Rockies this summer, conquering way more than the fear of the rugged outdoors.  Leaving their comfort zones below the timberline, they quickly learned how to initiate spiritual conversations by sharing stories from the Bible.  The result?  Nearly 250 visitors to the Rocky Mountain National Park heard about God’s love for them and had a chance to respond.  And the best part?  These students returned to their campuses this fall with a powerful tool for reaching their peers!
Taking Bible Storying To New Heights - Rocky Mountain Summer Mission - StoryRunners

God showed me I can share my faith!! He took away the fear of judgment and the fear of not being perfect at talking with people about Jesus.   -Sam | Texas

This summer mission helped me take God out of my little Cru (ministry) box and learn ways to evangelize other than the typical ways I’ve done it back on campus.  -Micah | Michigan

We really wanted to share stories, but, on the first day, we were scared of initiating conversations with people. Now, I am so fired up to do more outreach on my campus this year because I am equipped with these stories.  -Camille | California

StoryRunners - Rocky Mountains - Summer MissionsKelsie (a Florida sophomore) shared this after returning home: “At a youth Bible study, when the leader read the Scripture passage about the pearl of great price, I was sitting there thinking, ‘They aren’t getting it. Say it in a story!’  So when they let me chime in, I retold the passage in the form of a simple story.  I wish you could have seen their reaction.  And they were able to answer the questions better.  I am so excited!!!” This semester Kelsie is involved in a Bible study with international students on her college campus.

 

“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news!”  Isaiah 52:7

She Said Yes!

StoryRunners - Africa - School of StoryingServing as a translator for the Aja (Benin) School of Storying, Dodji sensed God’s invitation. “But how could someone like me ever become a servant of God?” Young, single and inexperienced, he couldn’t see it. But God could.

Coached by Parfait Mitchai, Dodji began his missionary training by sharing the gospel on a nearby campus using oral Bible stories as one of his strategies. But Parfait wasn’t finished recruiting.

One day Dodji learned that a young lady would be joining the campus ministry and be trained, with Dodji, in how to lead future SOS’s in West Africa. “I was sitting there with Parfait when she came in,” Dodji recalls. “We were like brother and sister… people started asking if we were twins!”

As Dodji and Doriane began working together as trainers for the Fulfulde SOS, our American trainers could see that God was up to something. “They think alike, their personalities are so similar,” Hallie remembers. “They even have the same sense of humor!” Mie, a StoryRunners intern, agreed. So, as might be expected, Hallie and Mie put their matchmaking skills to work. It didn’t take much convincing.

“It was when the SOS ended in May of 2015 that I realized it,” Dodji recounts. “I knew she was the one God had prepared for me, and I knew she would be my wife!” Dodji didn’t waste a minute. Without one date, Dodji told her what he knew from God. “Will you be my wife?” he asked her. “I thought you might ask,” Doriane replied to him. “And I had already decided to say YES.”

After a year of preparing and getting to know one another, Dodji and Doriane were married last May in a beautiful ceremony that several of our StoryRunners’ staff were able to attend.Dodji Doriane

“Now that we are married, we want to continue working with StoryRunners as full-time trainers and missionaries.  We are ready to go anywhere and everywhere God wants us to go!”

Dodji and Doriane will be dynamic and strategic in the work of nationalizing StoryRunners’ Schools of Storying in the entire region of West Africa. Together, they have already begun training many local believers and will be leading SOS’s for many unreached languages in the future.

 

 

 

 

 

 

She Said Yes!

A Mom With A Mission

Meet Sharon—wife and busy mother of one high- schooler and one college student—from north central Texas. So how did ONE WEEK in Orlando, Florida become, as she says, “one of the greatest gifts in her life”?

StoryRunners - A Mom With A MissionBack up to October 2010. Involved in a local church in their area, Sharon and her husband were in search of new ways to minister within their congregation and beyond. After hearing about a 5-day training in oral Bible storying, the couple set aside a week, made arrangements for their kids back home, and headed to Florida. What they learned and brought home with them was life- changing.

“Within 3 months, our church had asked me to lead and teach a women’s group in Bible storying. In another 3 months, I found myself on a church- sponsored trip to the Middle East where we ministered to women in Jordan through storytelling.” Imagine the joy she had standing on the banks of the Jordan River, telling a diverse group of tourists the story of Jesus baptizing people in that very place! Later, she shared with Jordanian women from broken homes the story of Moses—of how God uses the broken to be His messengers of hope. “Then the following year, I traveled to Cambodia, partnering with long-time missionaries in training pastors and church leaders from Thailand, Cambodia and the Philippines,” Sharon says. She taught them how to use oral Bible storying, and as they practiced their newly-acquired skills in the afternoons, Sharon and her group went outside the city to camps where they ministered to children. “It was beautiful to hear the creation story delivered to the children in their own language, and then to see the children delighting in answering the questions after the story,” she recounts to us.

StoryRunners - A Mom With A Mission - Sharon using storyboardingSince then, she’s journeyed to Ethiopia to teach more pastors and church leaders how to use storying in their churches and ministries. “I received an email last week from a youth pastor who was very excited about the training and how it was impacting his church,” Sharon tells us. “He said that storying has changed the way the pastors are preaching. They no longer lecture, but use stories about Jesus—and this is CHANGING LIVES.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Mom With A Mission

“The Lord gave me a voice…”

StoryRunners - "The Lord gave me a voice..." - School of Storying

“I hardly opened my mouth to talk to anyone,” Corine* confessed.  “Before coming to the School of Storying, I was quiet and reserved, and never knew how to talk to people about God.”  But learning to tell stories has been life-changing for her!  “It is like the Lord gave me a voice and filled my mouth with the words,” she says.  “I can tell these stories boldly and with confidence.”  Even her family and friends remarked about the difference, and Corine even found herself chosen to share a story at a nearby radio station!

name changed for her security reasons

“The Lord gave me a voice…”