August 24, 2008

Why we do this...

Storying through the scriptures is our method of evangelism and discipleship because it works best for oral learners (people who don't learn by reading). Today there was an article in our city newspaper that confirmed to me the need for ministries that do not use literate methods.

In our city, out of the 370,000 registered voters: 200,000 have not gone beyond 8th grade education. Of those 150,000 did not finish elementary school. A full 50,000 of this group can't read or write more than their own name.

How are gospel tracts going to reach these people? How will logical, outlined gospel presentations reach this group? How will projecting the words to music on the wall help this population? Certainly, our ministries need to include literacy education, but evangelism and discipleship can not wait for 200,000 people to learn to read. Literacy is neither a biblical prerequisite to salvation nor a scriptural requirement to be a pastor or deacon.

August 23, 2008


This week we did not go into the small town. Sunday, I led another workshop training couples to evangelize groups of families through storying. We've got several couples that will be doing this in the high city. I will be helping them prepare and lead their groups. Three couples have already started.

Friday, as usual, I told a Bible story for those at Loaise's company. I had told through creation, the garden of eden and Cain and Abel. The next story in the biblical chronology is the flood, but one man asked where Satan and the spirits are from. So I told a composite story using passages from 2 Peter, Jude, Revelation, Isaiah and Zechariah. I don't like telling this story unless necessary, because it's not a story you can point to in any one place in the Bible. It's also a little speculative, in the Isaiah passage. The group from work is very excited to hear these stories. We should have started sooner.

Now, the reason we did not go in to the small town is that Loaise had to have a biopsy of her chin bone. There is possibly a tumor growing in that bone, and the biopsy didn't have bone marrow or blood, so it is likely a tumor, though the results will be in in a few weeks. This could lead to a serious and painful surgery to remove the tumor from the chin, and possibly the chin itself. Pray for her. This first part of the year I was deaf, and now my wife is going through a trial. Pray that God gives us victory in all of this.

August 15, 2008

Learn as you go

Yesterday José António and I worked through what we would do in the storying session as we were travelling to the small town. I'd selected Acts 14, a portion of Paul's first missionary journey. I told through the story, as I had it prepared. He told me that he thought it was pretty long. As we went we reduced the story down to just what happened in the city of Lystra, when Paul and Barnabus were mistaken for gods. (This is a good story for dealing with veneration of saints. It shows, like the story of Peter and Cornelius, that the apostles did not accept worship or reverence)

I mentioned my partner that we would tell the story of the Paul and Silas and the jailor next week, and then the story of John's disciples being baptized again the week after that. He told me that he thought that the jail story would have been better for this week, because these families are dealing with the issue of baptism and have already freed their homes of idols. I agreed with him, but it was too late for me to prepare the other story.

Once we arrived, we discovered that the families on the hill were unable to meet because of a work meeting that night. We took advantage of the time by meeting with two families across the river. They both are anxious to being meeting regularly, just not together.

We then went to the family by the bus station. This time we were able to meet with them and I told the story of Creation. One thing that I wanted to do with this family that I hadn't done with other chronological bible storying opportunities is to call them to obedience to God's word in every story. In this story, they noticed the importance of people in God's creation. Made in the image of God and put in authority over all creation. We drew out an application and comitted to being obedient to God's word by doing good for people and treating all with respect, as they are all our brothers and sisters and are created in the image of God. We also comitted to take good care of the earth and its creatures as stewards of God's creation. Each person will tell how they obeyed God in a new way in the next meeting.

August 9, 2008

Arraial (n) - a small village

On Thursday, as José António and I went to the small town, we talked about how the Gospel of Jesus could spread through the rural areas along the road leading to where we are working. In the big city, Christians are a very small minority, but there are a number of evangelical churches in the city. In the country, however, there are many small villages, that have no church bearing witness to Jesus and salvation in his name. We want to begin to focus on systematically reaching these villages by finding, in each one, a person of peace through whom we can reach the village and plant a church. We took a detour on the way to our work and surveyed one of these little villages. We are going to begin mapping these places out so that we can make a plan to reach them. Some of these villages are not recognized as municipalities and don't appear on maps, so we will have to do some research, we will try to map out one new "arraial" per week.

Now, in the small town, we had another very good meeting with the families on the hill. The group was very large and included people who had been missing for a few weeks. The newcomers to the group are also returning. I told, once again, the story of Pedro and Cornelius. This is a long story. I told it well, and I believe I kept the interest of all who heard the story. No one wanted to try and tell it back, however. We decided to act it out in role-play. Each person chose someone in the story to represent. As I narrated through the story again, each person acted out the content of the story. This is the second time we've done this as a group, and it is amazing how well they respond to it. Everyone agreed after acting out the story, that they understood all the difficult parts of the story and could now tell the story to someone else. In the past, I'd thought about trying this, but I'd thought that the idea would not be accepted or would be though of as childish. On the contrary, this has attracted even more people to come hear the stories. Everyone enjoys it and smiles through the whole thing. After dialoging about the story, everyone who came took some time to pray for one person and be prayed for by one person. We are seeing a transforming Christian community being formed before our eyes.

The husband and wife in the family by the bus station were once again in a nearby village, taking care of his mother. We entered the home and prayed for their son and the wife's mother who lives with them. We promised to return next week, ready to tell the story of creation.

We also went to the singer's family. The singer is running for town council and is going out nearly every night trying to get votes. He won't be easy to catch at home until the end of November. We are praying about holding off on our plans to begin storying with those who are running for office. They are not going to make themselves very available until after the elections.

We went to visit one of the families across the river as well. We were well received. This family received Jesus a couple of years ago, and was part of one of our first attempts to start a church. They have been stagnant since that time. As we began to tell them of our continued work, they were encouraged and indicated that they would like to begin again to help form a house church. Pray for this family.
There is much more to say, and I will need to write another blog entry on another day.

August 1, 2008

Stories are concrete, Theology is abstract.

This week we had 3 different opportunities to use storying as a means of evangelizing and training disciples. On Sunday I was invited to preach at a church that was ending its VBS week with the neighborhood kids, inviting their parents for a special service. They were concerned that traditional preaching might not reach these parents, so they asked me to do storying. I told several narratives about Jesus and gave just a little commentary between the clusters of stories. It was well received and I was asked to return again another day.

On Tuesday, Loaise, Nilson and I went to the home of some church members that want badly to evangelize their neighborhood, but don't know how. They read, but not well, and though they are eager and sincere at the church services, they don't deal well with abstract ideas. After we had dinner with them, I told the story of Jesus resurrecting a widow's only son. I then had them tell the story back to me and coached them through the important parts of telling a story faithfully to the scriptures. They were all excited that they were able to get several verses of the Bible by heart in only a short time. Soon, I will begin teaching one or two stories a week at the church in the big city and helping members to learn and tell these stories. We will call this "The Oral Bible Project."

Yesterday I went into the small town again. This time, I went alone, as my helper was unable to go because of a last-minute problem. I told the story of Peter and Cornelius to the families on the Hill and then went to meet with the family by the bus station. They weren't home. We will start with them next week. (It will be better with my helper anyway).