STS - East Africa
How could going to school bring villagers to the Lord? Could a non-literate old man meditate on God’s Word day and night? How could elderly women in Ethiopia offer anything to the movement of God in Ethiopia? What is causing pastors to ask to be included? We can often discount others, who do not meet a certain criteria, from being part of the labor force in the Kingdom of God, but Jesus said pray for the laborers. Over the years, we learned that laborers need training, coupled with opportunities of mentoring and practice. The following update comes from an amazing leader in Ethiopia who has implemented Simply The Story oral Bible schools (STS-OBS) in villages and has been requested to do more!
Click here for amazing leader update.
Ethiopia and Kenya
Cult Leaders Stopped! Ekalakala, Kenya "Most of the attendees expressed appreciation for the privilege to be trained to get back in the Word and even to teach it.
One pastor said, 'Cult leaders have recognised our ignorance in the Bible and they're taking advantage of it and bringing their teachings here, but now we can go back to the truth through God's stories.'"
"Now We Know How!" After STS workshop in Mutyambo, Kenya "The general overseer of the pastoral fellowship in the region spoke on behalf of all participants saying that, 'real transformation has come to the district.'
He shared how churches had been focused on unnecessary matters and neglect to disciple members. He said this happened because most pastors did not know how to teach the word so they had abandoned the responsibility. But he praised God saying, 'but now, through the STS, we know how!'"
Ethiopia: Better than Money?
Picture this...as our East Africa Director travels 600 kilometers in a jeep, the driver occasionally remarks, "Well there used to be a road here!"
Then, our director arrives at a remote place to vision cast STS to 80 illiterate tentmaker/evangelists. Their elderly leader greets our director with, "I didn't know when you would arrive and it is late in the day. You have 20 minutes to tell them whatever you came to say. Oh yes, while you are speaking, each man will be going to the paymaster to get his allotment."
Our director jumped straight to telling a Bible story. The elderly leader translated while the evangelists collected their money. On his way to the paymaster the third man hesitated. He stopped, listened to the story for a moment, and then turned around and sat back down. As the leader translated, he occasionally wept. In time, his translation became more and more animated.
No evangelist left his seat to collect his money.
Our director told the story, oversaw the retelling of the story and asked the interactive questions that revealed the spiritual insights and applications. The elderly translator turned to our director. "How long was that?" "An hour and a half," our director responded.
"We want to learn how to do this!" the evangelists called out.
Five vision castings took place across Ethiopia. Illiterate village evangelists there have prayed for a way to learn Scripture and understand it. To a person, the church officials, the academic leaders and the evangelists excitedly embraced STS as the answer to their greatest need. All promised to do their parts to bring more language versions for Ethiopia into existence and to record the 66 Bible stories needed for the STS.
The TGSP leadership in Africa is expanding and maturing in ability to train people in this brand new concept. As funding and trainers become available, we want to go back and respond to the pleas of these believers in Ethiopia.
“Where You Have Been
That You Did Not Come To Us Before”
An STS instructor wrote us …
About 500 km from Addis Ababa, in southern Ethiopia a workshop was held. This people group are above 90% oral communicators.
This workshop was peculiar in that we were starting from 5:00 am through 9:00 pm. After going through the STS process with the Pastor D.A., he was impacted so much that he wanted his churches (He has 332 churches) to be trained.
He organized the church leaders who are government workers and students to attend the workshop from 5:00 am to 7:45am and then from 6:00pm- 9:30pm. Actually I had two workshops. Those who attended the full day (From 8:30am-5:00pm) and then Workers/students group that attended the early morning and the evening sessions.
Attendees brave the morning cold to come for STS.
The tribes learn the stories
And age did not make a different.
These two old ladies could not be left out. The one on the left is above 100 years. It was amazing to hear here retell the story of Abram in Egypt. Although she could not remember the names of places, she told the stories with such accuracy.
She said, “I did not go to school any time of my life. I know Jesus loves me, but I did not know how to tell others about him. Thank you preacher for showing us about stories. Now I will tell other His stories before I die”.
As they received players, they had this to say. “Women in our community are not educated, especially those old like us. Men just marry our girls and they don’t want to educate them. We talk about many things as women in the markets and at home when we meet.
Now that we can hear God speak to us in our language, we will be telling His story. In fact we have already started telling the stories to our families before even the preacher goes back to his homeland. This “radio” speaks to me the word of God. It is God speaking to me and to us”
“We will tell the stories of Jesus. Please come many times and teachers more stories”.
Pastor D.A. has 332 churches in 7 villages in the region. All of them are speaking the same trade language, but different dialects. These are his words;
“I have been impacted by the STS. Before I was telling stories but not like the way you have trained us. Our community is an oral one and they pass information to each other in story forms. STS is very ideal for us. I want to request that you help us in this kind workshop in other places we have planted churches. We have 332 churches in 7 different villages. I will take you to all of them to have the same workshop. We need this to help us evangelize the Mu.s.lims.
I don’t know where you have been that you did not come to us before. We could have gone farther than where we are now. I need this in all 332 churches and I am sure we will take the villages. I am also requesting you to help us with more players. You just gave us 12 of them. So each will be shared among 27 churches. Please help us the way you can”
[The instructor finished this report telling us, “Evangelists and missionaries received the players with God’s Story in their language. I only distributed 12 players which will be shared among the 332 churches in 7 villages. This means each player is serving 27 churches.
They are already using stories in their preaching and ministries.”
Since this report came in, the Lord arranged for a donor to sponsor 150 players to go to these people.]
Below is Full Report on the First African Simply The Story.
This STS ran outside Nairobi Kenya. Ramesh, our leader in the Buddhist world, and Bramuel, our East Africa Director, trained 35 Masaai and Komba pastors.
These pastors, mostly non-literate or semi-literate, were taught inductive Bible-study, oral style. We call this method, "Simply the Story."
Attendees first learned how to tell complete and accurate Bible stories. Then these attendees were introduced to ways to find the spiritual treasures in the stories. Next these pastors started to learn how to form their own questions that allow them to use discussion style teaching to lead their congregations to those treasures.
Lastly the attendees learned how to use those questions to lead listeners through the story, enabling each listener to make personal applications of the truths.
In STS, as pastors show skill in all of these areas of study and presentation, for "graduation" each is given a solar-powered audio-player formatted with 66 Bible stories, God's Story and in some languages the recorded New Testament.
(MegaVoice company manufactures these players.) Can you imagine the joy each pastor experiences when receiving this Scripture-laden player?
The time usually needed for STS to produce "graduates" is two weeks. However, we seized this opportunity for a four-day training to begin this African pilot. The trainers took attendees as far as possible in the four days. Even though we had only 21 of the goal of 66 Swahili stories recorded, we wanted to run this pilot. So, the players we sent contained those 21 Bible stories, plus God's Story and the New Testament in Swahili.
After four days, the pastors attending were not technically graduates, as there were not enough days to solidify their skills. However, the attendees did gather the concepts very well. They so badly wanted (and needed) the solar players, that the STS instructors and I decided to "loan" out 25 players. (When the 66 stories become available on the players we will complete their training and swap the player with 66 stories for the players with the 21.)
The non-literates were very very grateful for this tool as it gave them access to God's message.
Amazing Power of God's Word
At the beginning of the first day, the expectant attendees were surprised (and frankly somewhat unhappy) when they thought that these visiting instructors had come only to teach them how to tell "Bible stories." They wanted a "pastor's conference."
It wasn't until the attendees listened to the 80-minute audio version of God's Story in the just completed Swahili that they begin to soften.
By the second day the attendees had heard the STS instructors present three stories and the attendees had participated in the discussion of each story. As well the pastors started learning and telling new Bible stories assigned to them and crafting their own questions. Gradually, the light of perception of what STS was truly about began to dawn on them.
Then the third day, something wonderful happened. The morning of the third day our leaders again modeled two stories. Bramuel told the story containing God's instruction to Moses to strike a rock to provide water for the Children of Israel. Besides the many questions and applications of truth, one verse outside the story was given to show that the rock represented Jesus.
Afterwards, Ramesh told the story in Numbers 20 where Moses struck the rock after God had instructed Moses to just speak to the rock. The room became dead silent. Then Ramesh began to walk slowly through the story and ask questions. Through discussion, the dreadfulness of Moses disobedience was understood. When the pastors saw for themselves form the story that this great man, God's appointed leader, lost his expected blessing of leading the people into the Promised Land, they were stunned. Then, when the pastors figured out that Jesus, as that rock, should not have been stuck again as in the first story, all that could be heard was the mouth sound of clicking, signifying the seriousness of the moment.
Later, that day, after one of the pastors told the story of Jonah chapter 4, and the questions began to be given by one of the newly trained attendees, a leading bishop from the area stood up. "I am Jonah," he confessed. "I have been praying for some people, but I did not want God to answer my prayers. I do not like these people!" He began to repent openly. Then others stood up and a wave of confession and repentance took place.
At the end of the third day, the pastor who closed in prayer mentioned every one of the stories they had covered in this STS (maybe 10 by then). He praised God for many specific truths that they as attendees had gained from the stories.
Afterwards, the people flocked to Ramesh and Bramuel saying, "We now know that God will speak to us out of His Word! We did not even know before that many treasures were in the Bible stories!"
One pastor told the STS instructors "If I had ten years with a commentary I could not have found the truths we have learned here in three days."
We All Learned
The fourth day brought more tears and cleansing. Through the stories delivered by the attendees and the discussion of their spiritual truths they each contained, God's Word impacted the attending pastors in amazing ways.
We had asked the Masaai and Komba leaders to send 35 all non-literates for the STS, but some of the literate leaders managed to fill spots. Although that was NOT "our" plan, later, we learned a lot from that mix of attendees (and so did the attendees as you will see next!)
At the beginning of the training, when the questions were asked, the literates dominated by answering all of the questions. But, Bramuel noticed that the non-literates were softly mouthing and answering the questions too. So, he ignored the waving hands of the literates who wanted to respond. Instead, Bramuel walked over to the non-literates and said, "What did you say? I want to hear your thoughts."
Over time the literates began to realize that the non-literates could give answers that were just as deep and wise as they could being literate. The non-literates also discovered that they were not inferior spiritually just because they had never learned to read.
"Please stay and finish our training," the pastors and bishops all begged.
Instructors will return again to complete the task. We hope soon to have the Masaai God's Story and 66 Bible stories in Masaai produced for the completion of training these leaders. Then we expect to see hundreds of added STS run among the Masaai, as the newly trained pastors will soon become the instructors. Why not?
We are seeing that this training (and where needed, Bible content in recorded format) empowers. Now literate and illiterate pastors are able to lead their congregations in a biblical way that they have never before been able to do.
To see the explosive results from some of these pioneer STS trainings in Africa see Fruit Bearing.