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They Love to Tell The Story

Special Report about reaching oral cultures with the story of Jesus

“Oh stories!” exclaims Ramesh Sapkota, leader from Nepal. “I eat stories, sleep stories, drink stories, tell stories. Not only me—it is like a communicable disease. Everyone can tell stories. Blessed be God!”

Sapkota has caught the virus, and his new-found passion for Bible stories, from Genesis through Revelation, is characteristic of an emerging harvest work force. It’s a force that is energized and motivated by its love for the story of God in all its color, drama and depth. Along with this is the realization that in all kinds and cultures of people, this powerful story speaks for itself with the wisdom of the ages.

The thread, that runs through testimony after testimony from this cadre of workers using narrative portions of the Bible as its mainstay, is a thrilling sense of discovery. Non-literate believers who never imagined they could be teachers, leaders or trainers, are seeing that the story of God empowers them. Literate leaders are finding that when they tell pure stories of the Bible, without extra commentary, but with questions and discussion instead, their disciples are hearing and learning as never before.

“I want to translate this”

Sapkota was already a church planter and leader in his country when he made a fresh discovery of the scriptures. He’d been a believer in Jesus since age 13, but had only read one or two stories in the Old Testament for himself. “Most of the preaching I heard was from the New Testament,” he explains. That left him confused about a lot of things. “Questions that people would ask, I wouldn’t know how to answer.”

Then he heard about the Amsterdam 2000 conference for evangelists. He didn’t go, but he did request the materials from the event. By the time the package arrived at his door, he had forgotten about his order. “Who is sending me a Christmas gift?” he thought as he opened up a box of videos and materials.

Inserting the God’s Story video, produced by Dorothy Miller, into his player, he watched the whole story of the Bible in 80 minutes, starting from creation and beautifully illustrated with still-life drawings. “I felt like I was watching a movie,” said Sapkota. “The story was told in a way I could track it, in order chronologically. It talked to me in the cultural way that I think—I loved it.”

After seeing the video in English he said, “I want to translate this.” Getting it into his own language of Nepali became his first project. Since then, he has overseen the translation of the God’s Story video into 16 languages including all the languages of Tibet and Bhutan, and most of Nepal. “We have several languages to be done in a queue,” he says.

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Category: Living the Faith

About the Author: The editors are Raul Mock, Mike Dies, Joe Joslin, and Jim Dettmann with significant input from other writers including John Lathrop, Amos Yong, Tony Richie, and Kevin Williams.

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