Into the Bush

Into the Bush - Telling oral Bible stories in the jungles of Africa - StoryRunners

Deep into the bush we drove, winding our way along the pot-holed dirt road, the jungle pressing in on both sides. After miles of trekking up and down the mountains we arrived at a small village where a family greeted us. Over the next hour, more and more people showed up at the house to hear the story. *Zeb began telling the story of Jesus’ triumphal entry to Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. He skillfully guided them through the steps of a story fellowship group, which culminated in a discussion of the story.

Into the Bush - Telling oral Bible stories in the jungles of Africa - StoryRunners

The man pictured in the grey suit volunteered to retell the story, and he recounted it almost verbatim. The School of Storying participants who helped develop the story a few weeks ago were thoroughly impressed at how well the man learned the story and retold it. They were audibly ooohhh-ing and aaahhh-ing every time he nailed a line.

Into the Bush - Telling oral Bible stories in the jungles of Africa - StoryRunners

This man is but one example of how transferable Bible storying is for communicating God’s Word. During the discussion, another man asked what happened at the feast (the Passover in the story). *Zeb answered with a smile, “You’ll have to come back to find out in the next story.”

Darren for the Ewoks

This is the latest update from our team in Africa currently running a School of Storying for the *Ewok language group. If you missed our earlier updates, please check our previous posts. May you be blessed.

*Names changed for security reasons

Into the Bush 

‘Douma’ Means Glory

Here’s the latest update from our team in the *Ewok (name changed for security reasons) language in Africa. If you haven’t seen our earlier updates, please check our previous blogs…

“Douma douma douma, a Zamba. Douma eh, douma eh, a Zamba.” “Our voices harmonize to send up these praises every morning. Glory, glory, glory to God. Glory oh, glory oh to God.” The word ‘douma’ is also used for really big trees. How big you may ask? Check out the picture below – that’s me in the bottom right!

StoryRunners - 'Douma' Means Glory
Darren, one of our team leaders, poses next to the humongous tree in Africa.

This week we confirmed the fact that *Ewok and *Etok (both names changed for security reasons), though generally mutually intelligible, are different enough languages that they warrant their own story sets. In light of this, we have been working very hard to get the stories recorded in both languages. Most of our current participants speak Etok, so the priority is to get whatever stories they tell translated into Ewok. If time allows we will also do the reverse​.

Mie and I had quite an eventful lunch. We stepped onto a road quickly when the yells of a child didn’t stop. She was sitting in a ditch clutching her lower right leg, with two young boys looking on. We would find out later that a run-in with a wheelbarrow​ had caused the injury, quite possibly a fracture or at least a deep bruise. After examining the knot forming and discovering that it wouldn’t bear her weight, we decided to help the girl back to her home. Someone suggested tossing her in the wheelbarrow, but Mie compassionately scooped her up in her arms and started walking, with a small crowd of locals following. 
StoryRunners - laundry day among the Ewoks in Africa
A glimpse of everyday life among the Ewoks in Africa – laundry day.

The girl said “here” in French when a small path appeared at the side of the road, and off into the jungle we trekked, weaving in and out of various plants and fallen trees. Midway through, Mie handed her over to me to carry. Finally we reached another dirt road that led to the girl’s home and called for her mother. 
Remembering the rarely-used cold compress that we packed in the medical kit, I ran back to get it. Theresa was there to find it for me when my search turned up void, so it was truly a team effort to take care of this girl. Upon returning to the girl’s home, I found Mie telling a story via a translator to the crowd that had gathered. We activated the compress, gave instructions for how long to keep it on, and recommended taking her to a doctor. Then we prayed for her and disappeared back into the jungle.

 

What a week it has been. Please pray for continued wisdom, strength, and discipline as we develop, record, and rerecord stories. And pray against the bugs – they don’t seem to understand that repellent means we don’t want them to bite us. Mie must be especially sweet, as she is covered in bites. We’re thankful that Theresa and I have been more or less restored to our healthy selves! Darren for the Ewoks

 

Thank you for your continued prayers. Our team among the Ewoks are almost getting ready to wrap things up. Please pray that the Ewok School of Storying participants will be faithful in proclaiming the gospel through our oral Bible stories. That they would be effective in using the stories in their personal ministry, Bible study groups, discipleship and hopefully church planting.

 

If you are new to StoryRunners and would like to know more about our oral Bible stories, please check our ‘Stories‘ section. Please feel free to contact us should you have any questions or would want to know more about this amazing oral Bible storying ministry and strategy among unreached people groups.

School of Storying in Africa continues to impact participants

Here’s the latest update from our Ewok team currently running a  School of Storying in the *Ewok (changed for security reasons) language.

Ma Soul! (Hi in the Ewok language)

“Wow, there is much wisdom in this. We go so deep in the Bible stories – even more than in Bible college!” *Matt (name changed for security reasons), one of our amazing participants, exclaimed during story development this week. This was in response to one of the trainers suggesting 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 riches of God’s Word. 

 *Matt testifies about how deep school of storying goes.

*Chuck (not real name), a participant/translator, intimated, “When I sing in French it is somehow not so deep. But when I sing in Ewok I feel it with my whole soul.” This is the reason why we focus on these particular languages, even though many people here can speak French or even English. Stories of Jesus in your heart language will touch your soul in ways other languages cannot.

 

StoryRunners - Chuck testifies of how deeply he is touched when he sings in his (#Ewok) language rather than in French.

Chuck testifies of how deeply he is touched when he sings in his (#Ewok) language rather than in French.

 

 We have all worked very hard on six new stories this week, and will continue to put the finishing touches on the 24 previous stories. Thank you for your steadfast intercession on our behalf to the Lord.

—-Ewok team—

 

Thank you for your continued prayer and support. Because of you people like *Matt and *Chuck are able to know God deeper and worship Him in their heart language. The Ewok team members are also gradually recovering from various illnesses.

School of Storying in Africa continues to impact participants

Another StoryRunners School of Storying kicks off in a jungle in Central Africa

School of Storying - Central Africa
The road to the village where our team is currently carrying out a School of Storying. Looks like a serene place.
“We have been in the village for two days now. It is in the jungle actually. And very beautiful,” reports one of our trainers.

“We have 20+ participants which is amazing! They are a great bunch and good storytellers. Nine have returned from the first training and have many testimonies of how God is using the stories in their villages. It is so encouraging.” She continued.

It sounds like our team is having a great time in Central Africa and our prayers for translators have already been answered. Not everything is well though as one of our trainers had been ill. She had fever, swollen tonsils, cough, etc. She did manage to grab some sort of a Z-pack and she seems to be on her way to recovery. Please continue to pray for her complete healing, especially for cough and nasal congestion. She badly needs her voice in order to help with the training.
School of Storying - Central Africa
Participants at our School of Storying in the ‘E’ language.

“Our back translator is here. And we have three translators, with a fourth coming soon. We feel so spoiled. And the food has been amazing.” She further writes. “Pray for this first week of story development. We are working on the Passion stories, and the Resurrection.”

“Pray for our newest translator, N, who is struggling in life. She is also lacking confidence in her translation skills, but we tested her out today and she did great. We know she will improve a lot as time goes on and hopefully this will boost her confidence.” “Pray for our team leader and our host as they are juggling many things.” “Thank you! Your prayers are heard.”

Thank you indeed. We covet your prayers.

Please note that we are unable to reveal the names (and faces at times) of our trainers or disclose the name of the place for security reasons.

 

Another StoryRunners School of Storying kicks off in a jungle in Central Africa

“GOD DOESN’T SPEAK OUR LANGUAGE”

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.

GOD DOESN'T SPEAK OUR LANGUAGE - StoryRunners

Recording songs in Ewondo.

He came to her with a simple request, but the implications would be huge. Hallie, leading our first School of Storying (SOS) in Cameroon just two months ago, tells the story:

“God told me to ask you something,” one of our translators told me. “For a long time, I’ve been bothered that we have no real worship songs in our language. When the missionaries came through our area, they taught us songs in French, and those are the songs we sing today. Our mentality is that God doesn’t speak our language. But I think we should be able to worship God in our own language, so I’ve translated some of the French songs. Would you record me singing them so that we can worship in our heart language?”

We crammed five people and a keyboard into our sweltering makeshift recording studio, a tiny 2×8 foot space. With sweat running down their faces, they raised their voices in praise to God in their heart language. I felt so privileged to be there to record. Eight songs later, the translator thanked me profusely. “You have no idea how appreciated these songs will be. They will change everything.”

GOD DOESN'T SPEAK OUR LANGUAGE - StoryRunners

Acting out the Pentecost story to help them remember.

I adore that my job is to give people the opportunity to realize that God speaks to them in their heart language – that they don’t have to have a fancy education to talk to God and learn about Him!

As the fifteen SOS participants diligently worked to develop Bible stories in the Ewondo language, we witnessed the impact the stories were having on their own lives, too.

“Listening to all these stories really touched me,” one man, Moses, explained. “The stories came alive-as if they affect us still today. I’ve been waiting 30 years for a training like this. Now, after just three weeks, I have all these stories. I can’t tell you how much that means to me.” Another participant, Luke, exclaimed, “When I listen to these stories, I’m really struck that I’m part of this spiritual legacy of prophets and kings, taking God’s rescue plan to the world.”

GOD DOESN'T SPEAK OUR LANGUAGE - StoryRunners

Retelling His story.

We have had an incredible ministry here! More than 1800 people heard stories over three weeks, and 308 story groups were started in this area. They plan on starting another 88 groups over the next three months, on top of continuing the groups they’ve already started!
Thank you for praying for Hallie and her SOS team in Cameroon! Your gifts and support are helping us take His stories to people who have never heard them.

-Hallie, from Team Ewondo

WHAT ARE YOU DOING THIS SUMMER?
If you are 18-24 years old, join us for a fun-filled 10-days camping and hiking in the Rocky Mountains as we reach out to other hikers by sharing
Bible stories to
spark spiritual conversations. Learn how to tell your story, how to listen to another person’s story, and how to tell God’s
story.

It’s from July 25 – August 3, 2017. Get more information and apply at: storyrunners.org/summer-projects.

 

Subscribe to our newsletter and keep abreast of our ministry around the world!

“GOD DOESN’T SPEAK  OUR LANGUAGE”

A Day in the Life of a StoryRunners Trainer

A Day in the Life of a StoryRunners Trainer - StoryRunners

We had been driving for an hour when our driver stopped by the side of the dirt road next to a carpenter’s shop. “Why are we stopping?” I asked our translator. “Are we not going to the church our friend planted using stories?” “Yes we are,” the translator replied. “But we can’t go any farther in the car because we will get stuck.” So we piled out of the Range Rover and hopped onto the backs of motorcycles. I clung to my driver as we drove off along a narrow, foot-wide dirt path.

A Day in the Life of a StoryRunners Trainer - StoryRunners

We drove past endless corn fields and pineapple fields. Tall grasses brushed against my skirt as we rode on under the African sun for half an hour without seeing a single hut. I was already beginning to wonder how anyone had even found this village in the first place, when suddenly, a hut loomed in front of us. And then another and another. We entered the village and drove straight towards the center. As we approached, I heard loud voices singing. Turning at the corner, we finally saw the church—a makeshift one. It was basically an open-air meeting place with a thatched roof made of dried palm leaves supported by wooden planks. The place was literally spilling over with people. Every single one of them was dancing, singing and praising God at the top of their lungs.

A Day in the Life of a StoryRunners Trainer - StoryRunners

The church was planted by one of the trainees who attended our School of Storying (an oral Bible strategy) conducted in this unreached people group. Our trainee turned trainer had come here faithfully doing oral Bible storying, and so many people had accepted Christ. It felt like the church had sprung up almost overnight and had grown to over 150 people. I quickly joined in the singing and interacted with as many people as I can. It was a glorious day spent with this unreached people group in Africa. What a day it was.

 

And that’s just another day in the life of a StoryRunners trainer. Please pray for this particular church plant in this unreached people group in Africa. That the members would continue to thrive and glorify God. That they will continue to grow in their faith and multiply.

A Day in the Life of a StoryRunners Trainer

A Good Story in the Making

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.

StoryRunners - A Good Story in the Making

Our 2017 Orlando School of Storying participants praying before going to a nearby mall to reach out to anyone who would be willing to hear His story.

EVERYONE LOVES A GOOD STORY. Jesus knew it. He didn’t engage in debates to convince people to believe in God. Instead, He told STORIES about people whose lives were changed-so they could listen and identify, without feeling confronted and condemned. He KNEW the power of a good story! And THIS is why the development of oral Bible stories is at the HEART of our School of Storying. But what does this process of story development actually look like?

In a workshop setting, via translators, a StoryRunners team coaches speakers of the local language as they develop the stories in their own language. Our goal is to always ensure that our stories are “BONA-fide“: Biblically Accurate, Orally reproducible, Naturally told and Appropriate to the culture.

BIBLICALLY ACCURATE

For example, in Southeast Asia, on a SOS project in a language without a Bible, we discovered there are two possible words for “spirit”. After learning that we had wrongly used the word that refers to the spirit of a dead person, we knew we needed to use the other word for “spirit”. Ensuring we use the right words in the local language to convey the meaning of the Biblical text accurately can be a tedious process of discovery. But it’s a crucial step that we must always take!


ORALLY REPRODUCIBLE

It’s important that we keep our stories short enough to be easily learned and retold. Each Bible story is no more than two to three minutes long.


NATURALLY TOLD

In local languages, there are often natural storytelling styles, including, for example, culturally appropriate ways to introduce stories and characters as well as the “pause” time for transitioning between stories-all of which make the story easier to retell. In the Anufo language in Togo, one SOS workshop participant always began his story by saying “My story flies and flies and lands on”, and he finished his introduction with the name of the main character. Part of the process of developing Bible stories includes finding those cultural nuances to ensure that the stories sound natural in that language.

StoryRunners - A Good Story in the Making


APPROPRIATE TO THE CULTURE

Some words have special meaning in the culture. In the Fulfulde Borgu language, the word used for the oil that Samuel pours on David’s head when he anoints David as the king of Israel is the same word used to describe the special oil, derived from milk, used to anoint chiefs. The Fulfulde really connect with this detail in the story (not to mention that David was a shepherd, and they are nomadic people). The use of this word is a simple but powerful detail that can help people connect to the gospel through their culture.

Every SOS trainer will quickly tell you how exciting and rewarding it is to see local participants develop and tell these stories in their own language. Relationships grow as they see cultural barriers fall because of the bridges the Holy Spirit builds through His Word. It’s what makes saying goodbye at the end of each mission trip so difficult for both our trainers and the participants. But before any of this can happen, we must do the hard work of making sure the stories are “BONA-fide”. When they are, we can celebrate-because we know the stories that we leave with each group are going to be effective, powerful tools for evangelism and for growing communities of faith.

Thank you for partnering with us in taking these life-changing stories to those who have never heard them!


UPCOMING EVENTS

SUMMER MISSION TRIP | July 25 – August 3, 2017
MORE DETAILS

NEW SCHOOL OF STORYING CLASSES | August 20-25, 2017 & March 11-16, 2018
CLASS INFORMATION


WOULD YOU PARTNER WITH US?

StoryRunners partners with people like you who fund our School of Storying projects and our day-to-day operations. If you are encouraged about how God is using StoryRunners, ask Him if He wants YOU to become a monthly giving partner or to make a special gift.

You can make a difference for people who have never had God’s word in their own language. To give towards a specific School of Storying project, contact Pam Lilly.

Click here for your tax-deductible contribution.

Click StoryRunners March 2017 Newsletter to read the pdf (printed) copy.

Subscribe to our newsletter!

A Good Story in the Making

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

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!