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They Love to Tell The Story

Now Sapkota is teaching “Simply The Story” workshops, training church leaders, both literate and non-literate, to use the telling of Bible stories to start and lead churches and disciple believers. And the people he trains are having reactions similar to his own.

On the edge of their seats

An Hispanic pastor with influence over more than 1,000 other pastors called the God’s Story office the day after a workshop. “As a pastor for 30 years, I knew something was missing,” he said. “We Pentecostal and charismatic preachers have dramatized the stories of the Bible, adding what we thought would make the information more interesting. But you said to let the story speak. We have not been doing that.” For four days he told complete Bible stories from the pulpit, in the morning and evening services. “The congregation loved it,” he said. “They were on the edge of their seats with interest. Afterwards they said it was the best teaching they had ever heard.”

“I am Jonah”

But Sapkota is teaching more than storytelling. In his seminars he demonstrates how to walk through a story, get to know its characters and see what they saw. People from oral cultures seem to be especially good at it, such as the 35 Masai and Komba pastors Sapkota taught in Kenya in 2006.

“One day, as we told the story of Jonah,” tells Sapkota, “a man who had started 200 churches stood up and confessed, “I am Jonah. I have started churches, but never cared about the people.” That began a wave of confession and repentance.

At a second workshop with Komba believers in August, 2007, the group was so deeply affected by the story of Jesus in the home of Martha and Mary that they called for a special meeting of the elders. They had been shocked by the disrespect of Martha’s question to Jesus, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work?” Then these people, living in a remote and isolated area, realized that they had been asking the same question of God: “Don’t you care about us?” They were ready to adjust their attitude.

That is what the God’s Story Project is all about—giving people in oral communities, such as these, access to a significant number of the key events, characters and encounters of the Scriptures, and the expertise to search them out and gain understanding.

Perhaps these are precisely the kind of workers needed to see a vivid, vital, obedient church emerge among peoples that have seemed distant and uninterested for so long.


Great Commission Update 16 (August/September 2007). Used with permission.

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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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