October 8, 2009

Power outage leads to great storying

Last night was a rainy night. Only 12 people showed up for the prayer meeting, there are usually around 30. My wife and son stayed at home. He’s had a fever for three days.

We began the church service telling stories of God’s work in our lives. After about 15 minutes the power went out and we were in the dark. As we ended the testimony time, Ronis is picked up a guitar and began to play. We sang praises for a good while. Then someone said, “Steve, tell the Bible story!”

Our eyes had adjusted to the darkness enough to see silhouettes. There wasn’t enough light to see faces, much less to read. So, I began. “This is a story from Luke 14.”

I told the story as it is in the Bible. When I finished. I helped the group to piece the story back together. We ended up telling the whole passage again as a group. What followed was about 15 minutes of conversation about that passage of the Bible.

When we were done, we broke up in to groups of 3 to 4 people and prayed for one another, as we always do. After about 20 minutes of praying together, we were all surprised by the return of the lights.

When we finished, one man told me, “We spent the whole time in the dark, but I never saw the scripture so well as I did tonight. I won’t forget this.”

September 16, 2009

New blog announcement

I have started a new blog called Beyond Outreach. Please go check it out.


This current blog, Chronological Bible Storying will continue. I’ve been slow lately with the updates, but that is just a reflection of what’s going on in our lives right now. Lot’s of medical issues with family and it’s just eating up a lot of our time. The updates will come. God bless.

August 11, 2009

Telling a Psalm

I was challenged recently at a Simply the Story workshop to also use the psalms in bible storying. The Psalms are quite different than stories and harder to learn and teach, but they are part of God’s word and they stick just like stories do. There is something very memorable and comforting in the way the Psalms re-tell the acts of God and announce the character of God. Sometimes you can connect a Psalm to another story of Scripture and open its meaning even further.

Sunday I was a guest speaker at another traditional church in the big city. I decided to try using Psalm 90 and 91 for the two services.

Psalm 90 is a prayer of Moses and is connected to the time when the Israelite men were denied entry into the Promised Land for the rest of their lives because of their rejection of God’s command to enter. The 40 years that they wandered in the desert wilderness were the years where this prayer has it’s initial context. I prayed this Psalm then told chapter 14 of Numbers. We then learned many things from Psalm 90.

Psalm 91 is a psalm about the Lord’s faithful protection of the godly and how he delivers them from dangers of war and plague. They do not suffer the wrath of God like the disobedient do. This was the psalm that the Devil used to tempt Jesus to throw himself from the top of the temple in Luke 4. I told this story after the psalm, so that we could learn from how Satan tried to misapply the promise of God and how Jesus applied it correctly.

Preparing psalms takes more time than stories, and to be honest, I did not use the STS method this time out, but am anxious to do that in a small group soon.

August 10, 2009

Busy Days

Today I took my mother-in-law to the hospital to stay for a week of chemotherapy. This will be followed by 7 weeks of radiation therapy and another week or chemo.

Earlier in the week when we were at the hospital, we saw friends of ours from the small town. Our friend who had breast cancer a few years ago now has cancer in her liver and lupus. She just found out.

We spent the day in the small town at their house on saturday. It was the first time I’ve been to the small town since returning from the US trip. I told John 9 to she and her family and we talked about what it means for God to show is power and glory in someone’s life, even through sickness. Pray for her. Leia is her name. She has 3 children.

July 27, 2009

First Post using Windows Live Writer

The updates to this blog have been slow since my trip to the US. I’ve been back in Brazil for nearly a month now and have not been to the small town (Though I have made contact by phone) and I have not been to the highway that leads to the dirt roads.

Getting back into the rhythm is really going to happen when two things happen. First, if I can confirm a helper to go with me on a certain day of the week. Second, what some upcoming hospital time in my family is going to mean for my availability to go.

Keep watching here for updates.

July 3, 2009

The Dirt Roads Project

Here I am, back in Brazil and ready to go. The trip to the US was wonderful and much needed. Sorry for the delays in blogging. Like I said, now its back to work. So here we go....

Between the big city and the small town is a winding highway that takes about an hour to cross. Along the way there are little roads that shoot off to the left and right. A few months ago, I drove down one of these dirt roads for about 20 minutes and came to a place where there were 3 houses. It's not a city, not a village, and maybe not even an arraial.

There are a number of these little unmapped dirt roads and at the ends of them are little communities. This year we want to bring the gospel to the communities at the end of these dirt roads.

Pray for us as we initiate work with teams from our church to reach these communities. We will be doing some workshops and seminars, as well as mentoring. If you would like to partner with us in prayer, send an email or look me up on facebook. Stephen M Young II.

June 4, 2009

USA trip

My family and I have been in the USA for a couple of weeks and participating in a number of things. Last week we went to a Bible conference in Mansfield, LA. Southside Baptist Church paid our trip. Bro Larry invited us last year when he came to Brazil and visited our home. While there I had the opportunity to speak at Grand Cane Baptist Church as well.

This weekend I will be leading a 3-day revival at Bayou Rouge Baptist Church in Evergreen, LA. We are looking forward to what God will do with that.

In a couple of weeks I will be going to Allen, TX for training and to train others in orality and church planting at a Simply the Story workshop.

I will return to Brazil on June 30th. Keep us in your prayers.

April 28, 2009


Just want to put up a quick post and apologize for the lack of updates lately. We've been dealing with some health issues in the family and some other logistical problems. Leading up to Easter and following I told the passion narrative and many resurrection stories.

This year I really keyed in on John 14 and 15 with the Christian groups. I believe that all of us understand the resurrection a little better now.

I've been studying through some of the essentials in creating small reproductive churches and have learned that much of what decides whether a group will EVER become an autonomous church or remain a leader-dependent bible study happens in the first 2 or 3 meetings. We've begun dozens of groups. Many of those groups produced new Christians, but none of them have become a church.

Some of the most recent groups have been nearest misses. They have produced the most obedient Christians and the ones who learn the scriptures the best. Still, no church.

We are going to make some small but significant changes as we begin the next few groups. Hopefully I can post how that process works as we get going. Of course, no real names and no real addresses.

April 3, 2009

"What did he do?" (a long post)

Last night, in the small town, I was visiting the store of a merchant friend of mine. He'd gone to the city and so I spoke with his wife. I've shared with this family a number of times, but they have not given themselves completely over to God. The woman told me that she has been reading the Bible each morning, usually Psalm 4 or 5. We began to talk about what it means to present yourself to God and pray, as mentioned in Psalm 5.

When she said she never asks God for anything, just thanks him for what she has, I told her that the only time I remember someone praying to God and not asking for something was the prayer of the Pharisee. She didn't know what I meant, so I told her the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector.

When she asked what she could pray for when she has everything... money family a good home... I told her she could pray for spiritual things. I then told the story of Abraham interceding for Sodom and Gomorrah and I also told the story of the widow and the corrupt judge.

As she began to name things that she would like God to change in her character and that of her husband, her youngest daughter walked in, cellphone in hand. She announced "That's my thing. I am really given over to stuff. This cellphone for example. It is the latest and best, but if I lose it or it breaks, I will cry and complain everyday until dad gets me a better one. I can't imagine not having my things."

I told the young teen girl about when a young rich man went and asked Jesus how he could have eternal life. She became very involved with the story, more than I expected.

As I told the story, she listened. "so, Jesus said, 'you know the commandments: don't commit adultery, don't murder, don't steal, don't give false testimony, honor your father and your mother.' Then the young man replied, 'but I've kept all these commands since I was a child.'"

Then she interrupted "Me too!"

I continued "Jesus looked at the man, feeling compassionate love for him, and said "But you still lack one thing... Go and sell everything you have and give the money to the poor, then come and follow me." I paused.

The girl's eyes got wide and perplexed and she asked "What did he do?"

I continued and told of the man's sadness and the statement that Jesus made. "How hard it is for the rich to enter into the kingdom of heaven. It's easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle that for a rich person to enter into the kingdom of God."

She was quiet for a moment. I imagine that she was thinking about that needle, because she and her mother are skilled at making clothes. She asked, "Can a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven?"

I answered with the question of the disciples "Well, then who can be saved?" and the reply of Jesus "What is impossible with man is possible with God," and then finished the story.

I asked her if she would be willing to give up all of her things and all that her parents earn in order to have entrance into God's kingdom. She quietly said "I don't know."

Her mother had been listening the whole time. As I left the two of them began to talk seriously about the stories I told.

March 29, 2009

The dance.

Thursday I did go to the small town as planned. Once there, I noticed that there was a special presentation in the pubic square. Several adults, adolescents and young children formed a circle and began clapping their hands as two men played drums and another two began to play a one stringed instrument. As soon as I heard the sound I knew what it was. Capoeira. A Brazilian martial art taught and practiced by dance and music.

I gathered in and watched as two men began to move very slowly crawling and doing small slow cartwheels and then gradually sped up to a full fast dance with back flips, spin kicks, twists and many other turns and twists. Two by two, others entered the dance circle replacing the two that were there, doing their own dance with the same kinds of moves. They danced in pairs of all ages, once even a 5 year old girl with a 40 year old formado (similar to black-belt).

Once the exhibition was over, many people stayed in the park to talk. I was able to speak with two men and present the Gospel and was invited to their homes. I will try to find their homes next week.

I still need a partner for this night of ministry, so be praying for that.

March 25, 2009

Community, Living Word, Community

Yesterday, we had our second home meeting with the family from São Paulo. This time we were able to spend a little bit more time with the scripture than in the first meeting. This group is highly literate, so instead of storying, we are reading the scripture passage together until we've got it in a firm way. One person read and everyone follows along in their bible. Then another reads the passage again, then we try to put the passage into our own words. In a few more weeks, this will be natural. Right now, it is new for many.

Of the obedience statements from last week, we had about 50% who did what they said they would do, and some others who partially did it. Everyone enjoyed the share time about their obedience and are anxious to do even better this week.

Last night, we had a special dinner to receive our friend who went to africa "H." He is here for this week only to visit, and will return. People from the company and their families met together. I began talking to one young man (20 years old) who's father works with Loaise. He'd been on our prayer list many times, because of problems with family and possibly drugs and theft. I shared the gospel with him telling Isaiah 53 and the story of the crucifiction and resurrection. He asked if the people I tell these stories to believe. I told him that some do and some don't. He asked if people who are addicted to drugs come to Jesus. I told him the story of Jesus and the Demoniac from Gerasa who had the legion of demons, but wasn't able to talk more because the restaurant was closing. We left.

Today his father came by Loaise's office and told her that his son spent the whole ride back home telling the stories I told and that it was the first time that they had all talked as a family in 2 years. Something is changing in his son. Pray for him.

Today I had a meeting with "H" and the young african lady who helps with evangelism from time to time. We practiced having a home bible study and prayer time. "H," who accepted Jesus just months ago, will begin a bible study where he lives and works in Angola, Africa. Pray for him.

Tomorrow I will go to the small town.

March 17, 2009

The family from São Paulo

This morning we had our first home meeting with the couple from São Paulo. There were ten people present, including me and all are Christians. After 8 weeks, probably only four of this ten will remain and the others will begin a similar work in their neighborhoods. (During these 8 weeks the families will learn together how a home worship service works and each couple will have an opportunity to lead once or twice. After each family feels comfortable with the way meeting in homes works and feels they will begin to reach out primarily to lost people on their street.)

One thing that happened is that as we began, I introduced this family to the others who had come from our church. As we began the prayer time, three families soon realized that they were all involved in taking care of an invalid family member over a period of years. It was the first time they'd been able to talk about the burden and difficulty freely. The Holy Spirit enabled these three families to minister to one another and encourage each other in a way that none of them had experienced before. Our prayer and sharing time lasted 50 minutes!

Each person, at the end of our time together made a specific commitment to obey Jesus this week. These were the statements, as I remember them.
  • I watch too much TV and don't pray enough. I will make a commitment to pray for a time before I turn on the TV each day. I will not turn on the TV without spending time in prayer first.
  • There is a man that works across from my house. I am going to learn his name and tell him about Jesus before Thursday.
  • I am going to pray daily at 4:30 in the afternoon.
  • I will begin my day by reading something from God's word. You can ask next week how many mornings I was able to do it. I hope to say seven.
  • I will pray for your mother and for you as you take care of her.
  • I will tell my neighbor about Jesus tomorrow morning.
  • I will pray every night at 10:00pm.
  • I am going to tell my friends at school what I learned from the Bible each week.
There were a few others, but I can't remember well. The point is, each person wanted to put his faith in practice. I believe this group will produce fruit.

March 14, 2009

The singer and his family

Thursday when I went into the small town, I stopped by the singer's house first. He's been in rough spot because his keyboard fell and broke. He has to borrow one to do his performances in the small towns. I was just finishing telling the story of Manoah's wife (judges 13) when the phone rang. He went and answered and his wife was listening to what he was saying from the back room. His uncle in the next town up had just died.

In the next few moments he called his older brother and sister to his home and told them. They all shook their heads and began to talk about how uncomfortable they feel at funerals. I asked them if they wanted to hear what the Bible says about what happens to people after they die. They all agreed. I told the story of the resurrection of Lazarus (john 11) and emphasized the words of Christ about the resurrection. I then told the story of Christ's death and resurrection.

I made an appeal for them to all pray and receive Christ. The two women affirmed, having been raised Roman Catholic, that they believe in Jesus. The singer and his brother pondered a moment and shook their heads, meaning they heard me, but needed to think. Soon everyone left. I will speak with them again next week.

March 2, 2009

Updates: Evangelism

I don't see myself naturally as an evangelist, but the scriptural promise is that if we sow broadly we will reap broadly. I've been spending Saturday afternoons for the past several months taking church members with me to make two or three evangelistic home visits. In the process I am sharing the gospel, (usually through a selected Scriptural story or story cluster based on the need on that home, followed by an appeal to repent, believe and be baptized) and I am training others to share the gospel.

It is more and more obvious that there are some who hear and accept the Good News, who will not be able to participate in our traditional church as members because of distance or scheduling problems. We really want to help these families become churches together with their relatives and neighbors, as they come to Christ as well.

Baptism is still a stumbling block on both sides. The traditional church is uncomfortable baptizing new believers right away, and new believers are uncomfortable doing something that is "different."

Updates: Traditional Church

During the Carnaval (Mardi Gras) holiday we took 50 members and friends of our traditional church and had a 5 day retreat at the retreat center I wrote about a few times. I was able to share stories daily about how the early church suffered for Jesus. I told through the warnings of Jesus about future suffering and the suffering stories of the book of Acts. Each group acted out each story and spent time telling the stories they learned to members of other groups.

Soon, we will begin new Sunday School classes using storying and inductive Bible study.

We will try to begin a youth service that will spend half the year telling through a set of Scripture stories in chronological order and the second half of the year selecting stories that deal with specific issues of faith and obedience. Hopefully this can become a patern that will cycle through from year to year.

Our wednesday night service continues to grow rapidly since our switch to oral-style biblical preaching. We've been seeing an average of 2 first time visitors to our church each Wednesday nights for the past 2 months.

We have not yet begun the church -wide oral Bible project. Pray for that.

Updates: Small Town

Currently I am looking for a new partner to go with me on Thursdays to the small town. In a few weeks, I may begin going on Saturdays until May. I will need partners for this as well. Please pray for this need.

February 25, 2009

Updates: High City

There is a couple who came from São Paulo to open a restaurant in the new city mall. They are Christians and members of a Baptist church in their old city. Since moving here over a year ago they have made few friends. They work 12 hours a day 7 days a week and have no car. Their home is a long way from any local baptist churches. Ours is the closest.

They visited on a Wednesday night and Loaise and I have gone to visit them often. The Monday before last we went to their home and had breakfast with them (the only time they are not working). We prayed with them and talked for a couple of hours. They have a real need to be involved in church, but their schedules do not fit the typical operating hours of most churches. We made a comittment to help them begin a church that will meet in their home in the morning, at least once a week. Once our local pastor told other restaurant workers and owners about this, many began to weep with excitement.

We will spend 8 weeks helping them learn how to have a home worship service and use inductive bible study in place of traditional preaching.

February 6, 2009

Ninety-nine are NOT enough!

Thursday, as I drove through the rain and dodged potholes on the highway, I began to regret having decided to go to the small town. I ended up having to stop twice for machines to clear away mudslides that had covered the road. This is exactly the reason I go less in the rainy season.

However, when I arrived in the small town, something happened that changed my mind. My meetings with the families on the hill have been irregular through December and January, due to the rain. Inconsistency in meeting usually means delays in progress. This group has been a nice group, but closed and nonvocal about their growing faith in Jesus.

We read together and told to one another the story of the lost sheep in John 15:1-7. I asked them to do three things. Hear the story, learn to tell it themselves, then look for things they could do to obey God as a response to the story. The learning of the story is what took most of our time. We told it several times and even made hand-signs to help remember each part. Then, as the families looked for what to do to obey, one man said this. "God would be much happier with us and be more full of joy if there were more than 99 of us." Of course, there weren't even 10 of us in the home. Then he said "We need to find the lost sheep and bring him to God."

So as a group, we all agreed that this week we would look for sinners of bad reputation and tell them that God is going to have a big celebration they repent and turn to God. This group is now planning to share Jesus with the lost. Pray that it happens.

The drive back was just as miserable, but I didn't regret it a bit.

January 31, 2009

"I don't trust them to tell me what it means"

Back in the small town last week, I spoke to a couple who have frequently been interested in being part of a new church, but have never committed to it. We began talking about what it means to follow Jesus. As I listened, I didn't hear any aversion to Jesus, but rather a genuine interest and affection for his teachings. This couple has never joined a church, because they have been put off by priests and pastors who speak for 30 or 40 minutes to explain 5 verses of the Bible and by the time they are done, no one understands what those 5 verses were about.

When I began telling them stories and encouraging them to learn God's word for themselves... not what someone says it means, but what it actually says, they showed great interest. We may have a new group starting in the next week or two. Be in prayer for this couple. "E" and "S."

In the High City, only one helper could go on the visits today. She is from a coastal island of Africa and will go back in 3 years after she finishes her studies here. She is the only one in her family that is a Christian and the rest are Spiritists. She came to Christ from the work of a pastor that went from his island to her island and shared the Good News. She has been helping for the past two weeks, but today I learned why. She wants to know how to evangelize her family and start a church among them. Her name is Linda.

January 18, 2009

Tracing back over some mis-steps

Thursday I returned again to the small town. I stopped by the retreat center to schedule a day-long pastor's meeting for next Thursday. I ended up talking with the people there for an hour and arrived late into the small town. One of the families I was going to visit gave up waiting, so I missed a chance there.

I'd been listening to a podcast called Story4All as I drove, and heard a missionary tell his stories of work in Africa. One of the things he told was about how he'd gone a pretty good distance away to tell someone about Jesus, and then his neighbor asked him "Why did you drive past me to get to them?"

That made me think of "R" and "F," who were my employers when I worked at the English school in the next town up the road. I decided to pay them a visit. When I arrived I was readily received in their home. I told them that I'd come to see them, because I'd told them many times I was a missionary, but never sat down and told them the Gospel the same way I did for others.

They ordered a pizza for us to eat and I began telling the story of Jesus. The time passed, the pizza was eaten, and I needed to go, but the story wasn't finished. They asked me to spend the night. So, I called Loaise and she told me that it would be fine, as long as I left early enough in the morning to get back home before 8:00.

We stayed up until 1:00 AM talking about Jesus and all he did. I need to go back and do some follow up, but as I was leaving at 6:00 AM, "R" said to me: "Your message you came to share is important.... it's already having an effect on us. Thank you"

January 11, 2009

It never happens the way you expect.

Thursday I returned to the small town and Saturday we did home visits in the high city.

We went to the home of the woman who takes care of so many children. We'd planned on beginning a short evangelistic story set, but when we arrived we saw that she was not well. She'd been sick and wasn't able to receive us in her home. She came out to the street and asked us to pray for she and her mother and the children. We prayed and then left, a little disappointed that we weren't able to start evangelizing.

Sunday morning she brought the children to our church and sent them up stairs, where Loaise was leading the children's service. She came up to me after the service and said. "I know that you are right, I want to be baptized. Come again to my house on Saturday and you can tell the Bible stories to my family."

In the other home we visited on Saturday, I pleaded with a young man to give up his drunkeness and drug use so that he could follow God. He smiled and was polite, listening to the stories from scripture we told, but as we finished, he made it to the crack-house before we got back to the church. The next day, two women from the home came to our service and said. "You are telling the truth, we want to hear more."

May God give the harvest.

January 5, 2009

A neighborhood that needs Jesus

Saturday we returned to the same area of the high city. We made a number of visits, and I was able to tell stories in two of them.

One interesting visit. A father was having trouble controlling his six-year old son so he picked him up and held him. It looked like they were playing for a minute, until the father screamed and dropped his son on the ground and swatted him in the face twice making his nose bleed. He then lifted up his own shirt to reveal a pretty serious looking bite mark.
Wow. We stood there for a minute, not sure exactly what to say.

In another home there was a woman who takes care of her children, her sister's children, and her neighbor's children. All together there are 9 or 10 of them. They live in extremely humble conditions.

In another visit, I was able to tell the story of Christ's death and resurrection. I'd been telling through a number of stories at this house. As always, more first time visitors came. The most interesting was a man in his 50's, drunk on cachaça (a brazilian moon-shine). He interrupted the story 3 times asking us to pray for Jesus, so he wouldn't get too hurt in the crucifixion.

In all of these families (broken families and blended families) there is poverty, there is illiteracy, there are relatives in jail, there are addictions to drugs and alcohol, there is violence, and there is sexual sin. There is also a yearning to escape and an attraction to Jesus.

Pray for us as we continue to bring the message of Jesus into the homes of these families.