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Training Info:

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Training Info:

Workshops

Oral Schools

Practitioner Audio

Certify Leaders

After A Workshop

Multiplication
Strategies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Training Info:

Workshops

Oral Schools

Practitioner Audio

Certify Leaders

After A Workshop

Multiplication
Strategies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Training Info:

Workshops

Oral Schools

Practitioner Audio

Certify Leaders

After A Workshop

Multiplication
Strategies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Training Info:

Workshops

Oral Schools

Practitioner Audio

Certify Leaders

After A Workshop

Multiplication
Strategies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Training Info:

Workshops

Oral Schools

Practitioner Audio

Certify Leaders

After A Workshop

Multiplication
Strategies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Regional Empowerment

New Program from The God’s Story Project

(update 9/3/11)


God’s Word, Understood

We see Kenya rising as a poster child country. There is no doubt that evangelism and discipleship results are leaping in Kenya from the effective oral training of Simply The Story (STS) being used to teach the Bible.

But more than that, onlookers are seeing Regional Empowerment as a financially efficient and effective strategy where just a few STS trained believers can completely change the face of regions that before had very little Christian activity. Already, mission workers have become inspired and encouraged by the success of Regional Empowerment in Kenya. We are helping these mission workers to utilize this strategy in their countries of interest.



What Spurred The Development of This Program

In 2006 Bramuel Musya watched our 80-minute film, God’s Story: From Creation to Eternity. This chronological storytelling overview of the Bible touched him, so he contacted us at The God’s Story Project (TGSP). Bramuel stated, “We need this. How can I help get God’s Story produced in Swahili?”

He confided, “Kenya is supposed to be 80% Christian. Don’t believe it! Our Christianity is a mile wide and an inch deep. We go to church and clap and sing, and a pastor recites a Bible verse, then preaches at us—and everyone sleeps. Very few Kenyans really know the Word of God. The seminary-trained pastors often preach over the people’s heads, so again (maybe with eyes open) the people sleep.”

(Happily, we now do have Swahili as one of 300 languages of God’s Story, and it is highly successful at communicating God’s Word because it is oral story-style in design.)

Bramuel’s report matched many we have heard first-hand while ministering in Africa and Asia. To continue counteracting this communication gap and dearth of Biblical understanding, in 2007 TGSP developed a new training program to add to its flagship tool of God’s Story. With this new tool, called Simply The Story (STS), we teach oral learners how to deeply study and share the Word of God.

Resulting from almost five years of handing off STS, literally hundreds of thousands of pastors have deepened their understanding of the Word of God. We have letters from workers in some of the 80 countries in which STS is being used that attest to STS producing spiritual depth in their parishioners. These pastors also report an increased number of people being saved and attending church.

This rapid multiplication occurs because of the integral part of the STS workshops that trains people in STS and then helps them learn how to teach others. If we call our core developers of STS the first generation instructors, then those in the USA or overseas whom we teach would be called 2nd generation instructors. Those who the 2nd generation instructors teach would then be 3rd generation and so on. We have frequent reports of STS multiplication to the 5th generation within one year!

Country That Demonstrates Regional Empowerment

From the many five-day STS workshops held in Kenya over a four year period, a core of 32 active STS instructors began serving as unpaid volunteers in leading workshops in Kenya and surrounding countries.

Some of these 3rd and 4th generation leaders are bishops and many are pastors. The congregations of these pastors and leaders are continuing to pass on the stories by telling them to families and friends. That makes the congregations 4th & 5th generation and those to whom they tell the stories, the 5th & 6th generation.

This core of instructors also acts as supervisors of Oral Bible Schools. As well, in response to many invitations, these instructors are using STS to minister in a wide variety of venues including private and government schools.

Regional Empowerment combines all of the above uses of STS and more into one effective and efficient program. Described next are some of the STS outreaches in this empowerment program.

Oral Bible School (OBS)

In 2009-2010 we planted pilot Oral Bible Schools in five countries. An OBS consists of twelve students who meet together for six months to learn and discuss Bible stories and passages. Most schools meet for two weeks on and two weeks off for a year.

In the first two weeks, students are trained in the STS process of preparing and sharing Scripture. After that, in each two week session students learn and discuss an average of twenty new stories and passages. During the school term, students learn to accurately tell over 200 Bible stories and can teach deeply from them using an oral style of discussion.

In Kenya, by the time the first OBS students graduated, a total of ten OBSs were meeting. Students cover their own costs. The first three schools had only men as students. Then, a surprise occurred. A group of volunteer ladies came daily during the first two weeks of school to cook the midday meal for the men. These ladies listened to the men tell their newly learned Bible stories and also, to gain experience leading discussions, the men utilized these cooks as listeners. After the two weeks were over, everyone retuned home for two weeks.

Then, for the next two week session of school, a new shift of volunteer ladies came to do the cooking. But the first group of ladies that cooked came back too, and they refused to leave! “We want to hear more stories,” and they stood firm.  Since the new shift would not leave either, the local pastors who hosted the school realized what God was showing them. They needed to add an OBS for ladies …and it happened! A school for women opened up. Now in some locations women and women join as students in the schools that meet during the day.

For example, Africa Inland Mission (AIM) stands as one of the two oldest denominations in Africa. In May 2011, we inaugurated the first OBS for AIM.  Note in Clouds Without Rain, one of the short videos linked in the right side of our web site pages, what the chairman of the executive board of AIM, Meshack Chenze, says.

“In Africa, things come and they go. All make promises, but most are like clouds in the distance that promise rain. The cloud arrives, but nothing happens. I attended a workshop and heard the promises. But since then I have just been watching our leaders who attended. Let me say that lives are being affected and people are being reached. It is raining. We must plant.” District leaders for AIM came to the inauguration from throughout Kenya in May to find out how they too could start a school in their areas.

 

School Ministry

Currently, trained STS instructors minister regularly at seven Kenya high schools! Prompted by the very positive response of the students to one of the school visits, our Kenya STS director received an urgent request. That school principal asked our STS director if STS teams could come and minister through stories three times in every one of their schools over a period of nine months.

That principal helps oversee a chain of 52 high schools! Each visit would be three days long. The student population averages 700 in these live-in schools.

Becoming Highly Efficient

Prompted by that school request and the interest in the OBS and workshops, we decided to combine our already successful outreaches in Kenya into one efficient plan for meeting the need and interest in Kenya to learn how to study God’s Word orally.

As funds arrive, our current goal is to use the core 32 Kenya STS instructors to empower new leaders and to minister in 27 regions of Kenya. Teams plan to travel and minister 81 times to 27 of the 52 waiting schools. Also members of these same teams would lead 81 workshops to train pastors in STS (including having the pastors work alongside our teams in the schools). As well the teams would establish 27 OBSs. Ministering in schools and the pastor training will take 9 months. The one-year OBSs would finish later.

We are implementing this program in Kenya now! But, in any country, STS leaders can do the same program. Regional Empowerment uses the oral method of Simply The Story and combines workshops, leadership development, ministry to high schoolers, pastor training and establishing of Oral Bible Schools. Already each of those five separate ministries and trainings are currently being done in multiple countries where Christians have been trained through programs initiated by TGSP.

Regional Empowerment can be started right now in many countries where STS is planted. We can use trained instructors in the country to combine all five of these outreaches in order to efficiently deploy leaders and maximize use of their time and TGSP funds.

TGSP’s responsibility in Regional Empowerment is to help national STS leaders orchestrate these five ministry uses of STS and to provide minimal funding. STS instructors native to the culture go to a selected region to do the initial training. Then leadership and financial responsibility are gradually handed off to local nationals. To be eligible for Regional Empowerment, a region must be within a day or less commute by bus of three qualified STS instructors, at least one of whom has full certification.


 

How Regional Empowerment Begins

The initial invitations to come to a facility and train are usually generated by relationships, word of mouth, attendance at an STS workshop or visit to the STS web site. We respond as instructors and funds are available.

First Team Visit

First, an invitation to minister at a “facility” comes to TGSP.  Among what we classify as facilities are schools, live-in youth institutions, prisons or orphanages with a substantial population of children (20 or more) who are 10-years old and upward.

When an STS team within traveling distance is available and funds are designated for this, the empowerment program can be started. For brevity’s sake, in the rest of this document, the people being ministered to at a facility will be referred to as “youth” although those in a facility may be students, orphans or prisoners (youth or adult).

The next part of setting up empowerment is that the pastors and or Christian workers local to the facility need to commit to joining the STS team for three days of ministry at the facility. (In Kenya, as an average, the pastors who have been coming alongside the STS teams have come from ten or more different villages.) These pastors will form the core group that will continue ministering in the facility using STS and will be hosting the ongoing OBSs once one is planted in the region.

The STS team is joined by local pastors and Christian workers (at least six and a maximum of thirty workers). Facilities being served by STS teams vary in population from 20 to 1,000, so the need for assistance is determined by facility size. Live-in schools often select Friday, Saturday and Sunday for their three days, but details such as this are decided locally.

During the first visit, the STS staff ministers using STS through interactive teaching and discussion of various Bible stories. The God’s Story video is shown (or broadcast in audio if a projector is not available).

On this initial visit, the STS team spends time introducing STS to the local workers and discussing the workers’ roles in counseling at the facility. Typically, many youth respond spiritually as Bible stories are discussed, so afterwards many counselors are needed.

If the youth respond positively to the three days of interaction around the Bible stories, the STS team will commit to return two more times, at three month intervals, to minister in this facility. Each time ministry takes place, the STS team hands off some of the how-to of STS to the youth in that facility.

An STS bookmark is given to each youth. This bookmark carries the basics of the STS style of investigating Scripture. For those who are able to read and who have heard some Bible stories and participated in discussing them STS style, the bookmark encourages them to use STS as they study their Bibles and the written conversational Bible stories the team gives to the youth.

Local Commitment Determines Next Step

If the facility management commits to implementing an STS follow-up program in the facility of at least one hour weekly using TGSP material, then audio and visual training supplies are given to the facility. Depending on the facility size, one or two solar-powered audio-players with God’s Story are given to the facility. (These players are also formatted with available recorded Scripture, STS Practitioner Audio Training and sample interactive Bible stories.) In some facilities, where electricity and a projector or DVD player are available, a God’s Story DVD and STS interactive stories on DVD are given as well.

During the first visit, local pastors and workers are able to observe the results of STS in the lives of the youth, and often even in their own lives. From that, a core group from these leaders will emerge who want to continue learning the STS process for their own edification and applications within their ministry.

At the end of that first three-day time of ministry and short time of teaching STS, the local pastors and workers are interviewed. At the time, if they commit to learning the full process of STS and to assist the STS team on future visits as they minister and plant STS. If this core group commits to helping the team during two added ministry/training visits, a leader is elected by, and from within, that core group of pastors and workers.

This elected leader has two responsibilities. One is to oversee the loaning out of TGSP material for the pastors and workers to use in their various villages.  Depending on the number of villages represented, and the traveling distance between those villages, availability of DVD players and electricity, some DVDs and a few solar players will be given. The core group shares those resources equally over the next three months.

The other responsibility of the elected leader is to arrange a three-day STS workshop that will precede the second time of STS team ministry at the facility. Pastors and workers from that original core group will assist the STS staff in the workshop. These local leaders also will receive a special day of STS preparation training before they take part as assistants in a three-day workshop that follows.

During the second time of ministry at the facility, the pastors and leaders who show readiness will assist in the STS ministry and training of youth, as well as still helping to counsel.  Also, those workers and pastors who are new to STS, and who attended the workshop, may join in the time of ministry and counsel if they show readiness.

At the end of this second three-day visit, added TGSP material, as needed and as available, is left behind. The local, elected leader encourages continued use of STS and meets with the local core team to choose the location in their region for an Oral Bible School. A local committee is set up to interview and select twelve students for the OBS.  Often, some of the pastors and leaders in the core group also make up part of the student body of the OBS.

Third Team Visit

On the third and last visit by the STS team, a two-week stay is involved (ten working days with the middle two weekend days off). During those ten days, a 5-day workshop and an OBS orientation is led by the STS team for the newly selected twelve Oral Bible School students. The STS team is assisted by a few core local leaders who had participated in the previous workshop and who have been using STS and pursuing STS skills using the training material.

Also ministry is done at the facility, and some of the core local leaders take a main role in STS ministry of story presentation. These new storytellers are assisted and fine tuned by the STS team.

OBS students observe and assist in the ministering as they are needed and ready to do so.  Then, during the remaining two days of the team’s visit, a review of the first 20 STS stories learned and the STS process is done with the twelve OBS students.

At the end of this first two weeks of OBS foundational training, each student is given a solar player. The solar players will assist students in learning the STS process and stories. As well, over time, OBS students can use the players to supplement their ministries while at home for the two weeks. Also at this time, two God’s Story flip charts are given to the OBS for students to share. They use the charts in ministry during the two weeks they are at home. These elaborate charts come in nice carrying cases. The charts, along with the audio version of God’s Story on their solar players, transform the students into low-tech mobile, movie-theaters!

During this third time of ministry in the facility, up to ten audio players, and DVDs as deemed appropriate, will be given to local pastors and leaders who need the audio resource. Priority will be given to those who have shown the desire and commitment to learn more and to use STS in ministry and to become qualified to assist in teaching STS in workshops to others. Because of impact of the interactive learning and discussion of Bible stories in the facility and the STS experience which the newly trained local pastors and workers have gained, on-going ministry by locals in the facility proves to be a natural outcome.

Oral Bible School Operation

For the next eleven months of the OBS, school is in session for two weeks and then students have two weeks off. Toward the end of each two weeks that the OBS is in session, one of the STS staff people who has become that OBS’s overseer, returns to visit the school. The overseer stays for three days to encourage students, to check on their story understanding and depth of spiritual discovery in the stories. Overall, the overseer assists and encourages as needed.

At the half-way point in the school, the overseer comes for the full two weeks that the school is in session. For a week the overseer works with the students, preparing the students to serve as STS instructors. The following week, a full five-day STS workshop is led for those in the region new to STS. The pastors we trained in the earlier workshops are part of the workshop staff. Attendees must bring their own lunches.  If local believers are able to house people from afar who want to attend, those attendees may be asked to bring their own food.

Results

Individual parts of the Regional Empowerment program are currently in action in various places around the world. The Regional Empowerment program effectively ties together the travel and times of training so that the efforts of the volunteer instructors and the funds spent will most effectively be used.

Based on current responses by the youth in the schools, during each three-day visit, 4% of the students would accept Jesus and hundreds would come for counseling. As Bible stories are discussed and made real to the students, instructors see confession, repentance and amazing openness in asking for spiritual guidance. Teams report that the local pastors who observe these amazing responses and who assist in the counseling become totally convinced of their own need to learn the STS way of sharing Scripture.

Pastors who have been assisting the STS teams in the schools represent an average of ten different villages. We have found that when the pastors return to their villages and begin telling complete Bible stories and using the oral style of discussion, their ministry effectiveness explodes. As we traverse the globe training people, literally hundreds of times we have been told later, “The people don’t go to sleep in church any more!  And after church they walk out still talking about the story and what it means to them!”  God’s Word—understood—does the work!

In Africa, STS is called a “bush fire.” Numerous countries report five-generation replication in one year!  Those who learn how to study and share using the oral methods of STS keep saying, “Now we go deeper.” Desired outcomes of competent godly leaders, salvations, witnessing, repentance, changed lives and church plants become spontaneous. Why?  Spending time sitting at the feet of Jesus (who is the Word), listening and understanding Him, changes people.

Outside observers attended the first OBS graduation in Africa in April of 2011. They represented ministry in 15 different countries. People in missions are already watching STS. Over 80 graduates and students had gathered for the momentous occasion of the first graduation of an OBS in Kenya. The observers came because they had seen STS in action in other countries and had heard reports about the Kenya OBSs. They traveled to Kenya to interview the students and to find out first hand about the results in evangelism and discipleship these students were seeing.

Mission leader Ted Olsen, head of Dawn Ministries International, was one of the observers in attendance.  He commented on the high quality of the leaders in Kenya, leaders who are being produced through STS training.

We are praying that as STS in Kenya goes, so goes the world. In each location that Regional Empowerment is put into action, we are expecting the following numbers of people to be impacted.

Approximate Number of People Impacted During the First Year:

  1. A minimum of 25 leaders and pastors, who have demonstrated their commitment to evangelize and to disciple, will have learned a wealth of Bible stories and will have been trained to teach solid, understandable, provable truths from Scripture.
  2. By God’s grace, at least 2,500 people, some believers and some unsaved, over a year from beginning will have been exposed to Bible teaching they can understand!  Most of those will have been reached in local churches through the local pastors. As well, an average of 700 at the ministry site will have experienced nine days of interactive Bible study led by the STS staff.
  3. Twelve students will be receiving Oral Bible School training. Wonderfully during the full school term, the students learn over 200 stories. As well, they gain the skill to teach deeply from Scripture using the oral style method of discussion. They also will have had 4 weeks of training and experience in leading STS workshops so they can continue to train others in inductive Bible study, oral style.


The cost to TGSP, or to a donor wishing to support a Regional Empowerment in one location, is $2,525.  God’s Word, Understood.  2,525 People are touched and local leaders are empowered to continue to effectively evangelize and disciple, all without any added outside support.

Conclusion

Our prayer is to hand off this successful way of empowering others and to see much of the work in missions move from addition to multiplication tactics. We want nationals, whether literate or not, to know they are capable of learning and discovering the deep treasures the Bible contains.

We love seeing people learn to depend on the Holy Spirit to show them how to use God’s Word to verify what God wants them to know and do. We enjoy seeing people break the cycle of dependence on wealthy nations and gaining confidence and local ownership of teaching.

Thankfully, we are seeing this oral presentation of God’s Word reaching Muslims, animists, cultural Christians, Hindus, Buddhists and secular humanists. As J. Vernon McGee used to say, “God always puts the cookies on the bottom shelf.”

Areas For Prayer

We do encounter pastors who prefer to have their flocks stay dependent on them as the spokespeople for God. So they unconsciously (or consciously) will not embrace a method that empowers people. This is an obstacle when leaders will not embrace STS, or stand in the way of others who want to learn STS.

The strong belief among most oral learners (and those who teach them) is that to really know God you must learn about Him using literacy style methods. We see this as being in bondage to one style of communicating Scripture.

After We’re Gone, Results Continue

From what we have already seen occurring, this is what we expect to see after STS teams complete their training:

  1. Deepened skills of all STS team instructors who minister and plant STS.  As well, we have learned that those we teach to train others need to spend part of their time using STS in ministry. The encouragement that comes to instructors from using STS and seeing people saved and lives changed gives these volunteers much needed blessings.
  2. We are finding that many of those youth who are ministered to in the facility are forever changed. Not only are some saved and others counseled in areas of need, they also do receive some training in STS.  This allows them to learn more in their private times of Bible reading.  We have also observed that many of these youth share the stories they learn with their families.
  3. The facility managers/principals are blessed. Many have commented on the changes in those they oversee. Whether prisoners or students, youth or adults, reports from those who invite the STS teams to come and minister tell of changed lives and more cooperative “populations.”
  4. Pastors and workers who learn STS attest to the way the people to whom they minister respond so well to STS. These workers experience a Great Commission fulfillment explosion.
  5. The students in the OBSs become pillars in their churches and are seen as needed “teachers” by those they serve and those they serve under. Students currently in OBSs are committing to setting up new OBSs in their regions after they graduate.

Among graduates thus far, we have seen an average of 4 of the 12 graduating students continuing on to become STS instructors and planters and overseers of new Oral Bible Schools.  The rest of the graduates have been returning to the churches to serve as pastors, Bible teachers, church planters or evangelists.

We are climbing this mountain range of misconception one peak at a time. But throughout the world we are seeing changes in thinking. This strategic plan of Regional Empowerment is working in Kenya.  We pray that Kenya will be seen as an example that those working in the rest of the world can and will follow.