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.
“I’m nervous in big groups so, on mission trips I’m in the background, but this trip has pushed me to be a more confident Christian.” Hannah, Missouri
Hannah, second from right.
Spanning more than 265,000 acres and soaring up to 14,259 feet, Rocky Mountain National Park is a magnet for millions of tourists every year. Tourists and locals alike flock to the Park to bask in its natural beauty – multicolored wildflowers carpeting the park, meandering rivers, hiking trails snaking through subalpine forests, exotic animals and a plethora of recreational activities.
Earlier this summer, a group of college students and StoryRunners staff members, climbed up the mountain to soak in something different. Something far more precious and lasting than the breathtaking panorama. They came to immerse themselves in God’s Word, in the greatest stories ever told. In doing so their hearts were pricked and their lives were changed. Read on to hear about the experience of StoryRunners intern Allyssa.
“On July 25 college students from campuses across the USA joined us in the Rocky Mountains on a 10-day summer mission trip packed with adventure, fun and amazing opportunities to fellowship with one another. Surrounded by spectacular sceneries, the students learned 12 oral Bible stories from the gospels and learned how to use each story to engage people in spiritual conversations. Each evening, in a story group around a campfire, we dug deep into a story and committed each to memory. God pierced our hearts with His Word, changing us profoundly. Every morning, after a night in a tent, or, in my case, a hammock under the stars, we took our stories to the hiking trails.
“We enjoyed conversations with many people who were eager to hear a story. Each encounter was a great encouragement, not only to the listener, but also to the storyteller. For those who weren’t interested, we thanked them, and we prayed for them as we continued on our way. In 10 days, our students shared 237 stories with 561 people on the trails! It was so uplifting!”
After the 10 incredible days up the mountain, with hearts on fire and rekindled passions, the students returned home, ready and committed to share the stories they learned. At least a half dozen of them have already led story groups back on their campuses, and others are planning to integrate storytelling into their outreaches on campus.
Because of your support and partnership, these students have been impacted tremendously and they will continue to reach others in the coming years.
If you’re 18-25, consider joining us next year. Check storyrunners.org, ‘Get Involved’ section.
“I was losing my joy in serving God but this trip helped me get the joy back.” JiSoo, Buffalo, NY (bottom left)
“I have not encountered this much love in a group before. I am so overwhelmed.” Erin, Tennessee (center)
“This was the best week of my life!” “I was scared to pray out loud in front of a group. I was scared of talking to strangers and of bringing up faith in conversations. This week I realized that I don’t have to be scared of things I don’t know about.” Michaella, Texas (Michaella initially implored her boyfriend to turn the car around as they were making their way to the airport. Ten days later she had a new attitude … she didn’t want to leave! In this photo she confidently shares an oral Bible story to a hiker they met on the trail.)
“When Melissa gave that presentation about Unreached People Groups, my heart broke after knowing that most mission resources are allocated towards reached people. I realized how much God is calling me to work with international students. I’m involved in Bridges on my campus, and my Bridges leader wants me to bring Bible storying to campus so I’ll be teaching them the Bible stories and how to use them.” Amaryllis, Texas
Some of our new staff members prepare a studio out of materials available in the house during their five-week training in Orlando.
Meanwhile, back in Orlando, we welcomed six new staff members, volunteers and interns! After an intensive five-week training, they are ready to go to reach the ends of the earth to share our life-changing oral Bible stories. We are so blessed to have each one of them. Please lift them up in your prayers as some are still in the process of raising support.
PRAISE & PRAYER
- For sparing our lives, that our homes and the Cru office suffered minimal damage during hurricane Irma.
- For the 561 people on the trails who heard Bible stories.
- For God to bring healing and restoration to each person affected by hurricanes Harvey and Irma
- For the hikers with whom we engaged in spiritual conversations – that God would grow the seeds planted in their hearts.
Photo Credit: Dustin Brecht Photography
TWO WAYS TO GIVE: ONLINE | Give.cru.org/2817474 BY CHECK | Made payable to Cru and mailed in enclosed envelope
100 LAKE HART DRIVE, MC 1100, ORLANDO, FL 32832 • STORYRUNNERS@CRU.ORG • (407) 826-2396 • STORYRUNNERS.ORG
Click here to check the pdf version of the StoryRunners September 2017 Newsletter.
Ain’t No Mountain High Enough
Dance is an integral part of worship in Africa
“Every morning and afernoon session began with worship. Dancing is an integral part of worship, and everybody has to dance. I’ve never experienced anything like it. The beat, the style and rhythm are so diﬀerent, and ofen there is a lead singer with the crowd cheerfully responding with a chorus,” reported Mark Steinbach, StoryRunners Director. Mark was at the very frst West Africa Train the Trainer workshop held this summer.
The workshop saw 41 leaders from churches, para-church groups and other ministry leaders gather in West Africa along with three members from StoryRunners in the US. With representatives from Burkina Faso, Benin, Cameroon, Chad and Togo, the event was the frst of its kind for StoryRunners and the African leaders. Its main purpose was to train the African leaders to become trainers for future School of Storying (SOS) projects.
During the three-week training, everyone developed oral Bible stories using our six-step process and learned how to coach a story development group. The participants also gained practical experience. Using Bible stories developed on the ‘F’ SOS project (name undisclosed for security reasons), some of them taught
‘ F ’ – speaking people how to learn and discuss stories in a Story Fellowship Group (SFG).
For many of the participants, it was their first authentic cross-cultural experience. They had to work with a translator to reach a people who spoke a language diﬀerent from theirs. Another team also reached out to students at a nearby university to help plant a new Cru ministry in that campus.
Story development in progress
The workshop culminated with the certification of 31 participants as ‘Assistant Trainers in StoryRunners School of Storying.’ This is a huge milestone for us as we have now more than doubled our training capacity—with African nationals ready to work with other unreached language groups. We are incredibly grateful to
these African leaders. Please pray that they will faithfully share the gospel through these oral Bible stories.
We are also very grateful for your prayers and partnership. We could not have done it without you.
A glimmer of hope for the Haka people
This summer, we joined forces again with E3, a partner mission agency based in Dallas, Texas. We sent one of our team leaders to revisit the *Haka people, an unengaged and unreached people group who live in a restricted country in Central Asia.
Afer a challenging two-week session, we were delighted to see encouraging improvements among the participants. When Maria, one of the participants, told the story of Jesus calming the storm to her son, she experienced a ‘breakthrough’ moment. She told our team, “Suddenly, the story came alive to me for the frst time. It was like I was sitting on the boat with the disciples, feeling the water on my face.” We are now planning to complete the project in early 2018 to fnish the story set and continue our training with E3 partners in Bible story development. We praise God for this glimmer of hope. Please also pray that the Haka participants will be steadfast in sharing the gospel among their people.
“I was losing joy in serving God but this trip helped me get the joy back!” Exclaimed one of the 25 students who exclaimed one of the 25 students who
participated at our Rocky Mountain Summer Mission. look out for more exciting stories on this in our next edition!
Praise & Prayer
1) Praise God for the recently concluded second part of the Haka School of Storying, for the changed hearts among our participants there, for their renewed
commitment to using oral Bible stories, and for their partnership with us.
2) Praise God for the recently concluded Cru17 US Staﬀ Conference in Colorado that our team attended from July 16 – 24.
3) Praise God for our summer mission, which fnished earlier this month. Our 32 participants learned about oral Bible storying and shared their faith all over the
Rocky Mountain National Park using Bible stories. Read next month’s newsletter to learn more.
1) Pray for our upcoming SOS trips in the fall: for preparation by our nationals in the feld, safety and health for our travel teams, and for full funding for each
2) Pray for the 31 African leaders we trained to be School of Storying Assistant Trainers to continue to develop their storying skills and gain more experience.
Spreading our wings in West Africa – StoryRunners
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
SUMMER MISSION TRIP | July 25 – August 3, 2017
NEW SCHOOL OF STORYING CLASSES | August 20-25, 2017 & March 11-16, 2018
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
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
Kelsie (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
Savoring my successful climb to the top of a mountain peak in the Arizona desert, I spent some time giving glory and praise to God for His awesome creation,
Unaware of anyone noticing, I was singing and smiling as I descended the peak, until I caught up with a fellow traveler on the trail named Michael.
“I saw you up there so full of life, lifting your hands up to the sky! Wow, you really appreciate this beauty!”
“Absolutely! I can’t help praising God for His awesome creation! “Do you know Our Creator?” I asked. “I’m Jewish,” he said! “That is wonderful!” I exclaimed! “Through the Jews, God brought His covenant of love, and I am grateful to you and your people.”
We continued our exciting conversation, as I explained about Jesus, “Yeshua,” being a Jew. Michael told me his name meant, “Like God” and I told him that Yeshua knows him by name, and had a purpose for his life.
As he listened curiously, I asked him, “How would you like to hear a story?” He readily agreed. So I told a simple story of Yeshua’s encounter with a tax gatherer named Zaccheus found in the Bible. His curiosity heightened as we discussed the story and his faith journey. Considering himself an agnostic, he asked how I could be so sure of my faith. “When Yeshua changes your life, and many others’ lives, there is tangible evidence, plus all the fulfilled prophecies in His Word.”
Evidently, the Spirit of God was drawing him as I gave several examples of God’s faithfulness to His covenant people, the Jews.
Michael told me he had never met anyone like me and was considering what I shared. Willingly he accepted my offer to pray for him, as well as give him some Bible verses to read on his own.
After praying for him to discover for himself who Yeshua was, he hugged me and thanked me for being “a little like God” to him.
Visit our Get Involved page if you would like to learn more about how to become a better storyteller of His stories.