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.

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

An Incredible First Week of School of Storying in Manila

 

Here’s a fresh update from our Team #alog in Manila, currently running a School of Storying there.

Hello everyone! Greetings from the hot, steamy tropics!

What an absolutely incredible week it’s been. I cannot imagine a trip better set up than this one. We had everything we needed – great translators, super helpful guests, a friendly back translator, and 27 OUTSTANDING participants. Seriously, I don’t think I’ve ever been on a trip where we’ve had better participants. They are stoked to be a part of the training, totally on fire for sharing their faith, super quick learners, and just so much fun to be around. Everyone is always laughing and joking and telling stories!

Participants worship before starting a session.

On the first day when we were doing introductions, they kept going on and on about how they’re already planning on using the stories. Their answers spanned a broad spectrum of uses, and I know that over this past week, they’ve come up with even more.

Seeing them sharing the stories has been such a wonderful experience – and God is already blessing their efforts abundantly. In this past week, our participants shared stories with 227 people, and 115 of them prayed with our participants to accept Christ! We feel so humbled to be a part of what God is doing in this country!

A very enthusiastic group of participants indeed.

One quote I want to share that I think really gives you an idea of how these participants approach everything with eagerness and excitement. During our people check where we have non-Christians come listen to the stories and answer questions, one of the participants asked me, “Can we have a third round of this check? Can you bring another guest? This is so fascinating! They’re giving such interesting and useful responses!”

God is so good, guys!

– From the Team Leader of our trainers in Manila, Philippines running a School of Storying. We praise God for all these fruitful results. Please pray for the 115 people who have decided to give their lives to Christ after hearing our oral Bible stories. Please also continue to pray for everyone’s health, safety and commitment to telling His life-changing stories.

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.

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A Good Story in the Making

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!