Sadder and Sadder

African Man Moved to Tears After Hearing Passion Story - StoryRunners

“Stop! What’s that?” Our non-Christian translator, *Edward, held up his hand. His face was pale, as we sat under the mango tree outside our training room translating stories from the Passion Week. We all listened. We heard one of our trainers calling one of our participants, but to our translator, he heard, “He is dead! He is dead!” God was clearly touching this man’s heart. We continued working through the stories. After each story, he’d say, “Wow, these stories are getting sadder and sadder! Last week in the stories, Jesus was doing miracles and healing people, and everything was happy. But now they are so sad.”

Edward is a very kind and gentle, smiling person, but we noticed that he was unusually somber today. It was very apparent to us that the stories were affecting him. Edward was beginning to see Jesus in a different light from what he was used to. Before this School of Storying he viewed Jesus as the ‘Christian God’. But he did not know or understand who Jesus really was. We continued playing the stories for him, sentence by sentence. We noticed that with every sentence, he was pondering the real meaning and weight of what was being said, rather than just translating them. When we got to the crucifixion story, he listened to the line, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” At that point, tears began to fall down his face. He started shaking his head.

“Jesus was at the point of desperation,” he whispered. “I understand.” He excused himself and went away for a few minutes, washing his face and composing himself. But he was still shaken when he returned. When we reached Jesus’ resurrection, the tears flowed again, and once again, he had to excuse himself for a few minutes. At the end of our translation session, he told us, “In the beginning I didn’t realize where this was going. But now I realize it is about Jesus’ life. And beyond all this he rose from the dead and went to heaven promising his Spirit to his followers. When people hear these stories, they should believe, because Jesus proved over and over again that He is the Son of God.”

*Name changed and face has been blurred for security reasons.

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 

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 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

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!