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.

DO YOU BELIEVE?

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.

“I have never ever heard this story before,” said translator Nadine* during StoryRunners’ Elkanlen* School of Storying (SOS) workshop in West Africa earlier this spring.

StoryRunners - Nadine Akasalam in Africa

As a native Elkanlen speaker and a follower of her people’s majority religion, Nadine was exactly the kind of person the StoryRunners SOS team needed to test how well the Bible stories would be understood by other Elkanlen-speaking people who also follow the majority religion. As a fluent English speaker, Nadine was a critical and integral part of the fnal process of checking for accuracy and comprehension. She worked long hours alongside SOS team members Joey and Allen, listening over and over again to the Bible stories.

Joey reflected on his experience with Nadine:

Although hearing the Bible stories is important, a key component of non-believers from this religion coming to faith is experiencing the welcome from followers in Jesus. First, they realize that Christians do not fit in their pre-conceived notions. Then, the stories in their own language and the Spirit work together to bring their hearts to saving faith, and they often make decisions to follow Jesus.

During her time working with us, Nadine grew more positive towards following Jesus instead of following her way. She joined some of the worship times with our believing participants, and one day we heard her singing a song she had learned during worship to her seven-month old daughter to get her to sleep.

Not long after that, Allen and I were quite encouraged by a conversation he and Nadine had.
Allen: “Do you believe these stories?”
Nadine: “Oh, I believe ALL of the stories!”
Allen: “And do you think it was an accident that you came here to work with us?”
Nadine: “Oh no, God has called me here! When I come here to work on the stories, I feel a joy that is from God.”

As you can imagine, we were praying fervently for Nadine to choose to follow Jesus instead of the way of her people. During our last week together, afer our entire group listened very closely to the 24 stories we developed together, Nadine and two of her friends (non-believing participants in the workshop)
decided to follow His way!
Rejoice with the entire StoryRunners team that Nadine and her friends now know the joy that comes only from the Lord! Thank you for your partnership with us, so that many more of Nadine’s people can come to know Christ.

 

TAGALOG REPORT

Each School of Storying (SOS) training is unique. In some locations, developing Bible stories is easy, but telling stories in community evangelism is difficult or impossible. In other places, telling the stories is easy but developing them is a huge challenge. In the April Tagalog training in the Philippines, everything synced.

StoryRunners - Tagalog School of Storying
From the team leader: The Tagalog participants were so sharp and they picked up the training so quickly, resulting in excellent, natural, Biblically accurate stories. They were also on fire for God so they excelled in using the stories also.

One of the highlights was sharing stories with high school and college age basketball players whom we met through an ongoing outreach of a local church. Of the 19 guys who heard stories, 11 players prayed to receive Christ!

These stories will spread quickly because the SOS participants are from islands and provinces throughout the country, and they plan to tell stories to co-workers and to unreached tribal groups during evangelistic community outreaches and various ministry opportunities.

Not only will many people hear these Bible stories and trust Christ in the months to come, but developing the Tagalog Bible story set will foster opportunities for StoryRunners to schedule SOS trainings to develop stories in the languages of the more than 30 Unreached People Groups in the Philippines.

StoryRunners - Tagalog School of Storying - basketball players pray

“I LOVE THAT WE IMMEDIATELY APPLY WHAT WE LEARN BY TELLING THE BIBLE STORIES IN EVANGELISM.” JADA*

“SHARING STORIES WHILE I’M WITH PEOPLE FROM THE TRAINING GIVES ME THE CONFIDENCE TO SHARE JESUS ON MY OWN WHEN I GET HOME.” DARWIN

 

PRAISE & PRAYER

PRAISE:
In the Philippines, in just two weeks 360 people heard Bible stories and 190 indicated decisions to follow Christ. Praise God!

PRAYER: WE COVET YOUR PRAYERS. PLEASE PRAY:
1) For the church with the basketball ministry to help the 11 new believers to grow in their new relationship with Jesus.
2) For the SOS team in Central Africa to stay healthy and the SOS participants to share stories boldly in spite of community opposition.
3) For the 25 college students participating in the StoryRunners Rocky Mountain Summer Mission to raise their support by July 1.

SURVEY UPDATE

How well are we communicating our message to you?

Last month, StoryRunners director Mark Steinbach sent an invitation to everyone on our newsletter list inviting them to participate in an online survey. We learned that:
1) Over 70% of you understand clearly that StoryRunners is translating Bible passages into stories to take the gospel to unreached groups living in oral cultures.
2) 87% of you enjoy reading about how lives are changed through hearing the gospel in stories. Thank you for participating. If you would like to add any further comments you can contact us at storyrunners@cru.org.

*Names have been changed and faces have been blurred for security reasons.

To receive regular updates from StoryRunners, follow us @storyrunners on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and Youtube.

Check May 2017 StoryRunners Newsletter to read it in pdf.

DO YOU BELIEVE?

‘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

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