By Joshua Stevens, Faith Contributor, Valley Ag Voice
StoryRunners is a ministry dedicated to church planting in people groups whose cultures are more focused on the oral tradition. Many of these people groups and cultures have never heard the gospel, much less ever seen a Bible. “If you hand them a physical Bible, they’ll never be able to learn from it or internalize truth from it as well as they will from an oral means of presenting the Word,” says Nolan Cason, fund development representative for StoryRunners.
“Our ministry focuses on developing a set of Bible stories into the language we are working with at that point.” (Cason, 2022) StoryRunners uses “School of Storying” which involves anywhere from 12 to 18 locals as well as the Story Runner staff going through 42 stories called “The Promise” and translating them into the native language as well as teaching those locals how to deliver those messages. These stories are developed in “cycles” where six stories are taken each cycle and developed to be biblically accurate, orally reproducible, naturally told, and appropriate to the culture. “The goal is to get an unchurched person to get a story that conveys the truth of God’s word but in a way that’s going to make sense to them.” (Cason, 2022)
In March, Nolan went and saw the process firsthand heading off to Tanzania where they are doing their third school of storying in six months working with a tribal people group who live primarily as herdsmen. During this storying they had twenty people, all of which were Christian. “What was special about this storying compared to others is that nine of the volunteers we had were essentially training to be able to do these kinds of school of storying’s on their own with minimal American assistance. That’s our long-term goal is to be able to train local people to be able to run the whole thing with little American assistance. They’ll always be some of course, in back translating and making sure the stories that are developed are faithful to Gods word. By the end of the project, they were leading the story development with little oversight and help from the American trainers.” The project wasn’t only successful in preparing the local trainers to do the school of storying, but all of the participants were excited to evangelize. “The morning and part of the evening is spent developing the story and the rest of the evening is spent going out and telling those stories to the people.” (Cason, 2022) The last part of the storying is training participants on how to lead a “small group” where a leader will learn how to tell a story, teach others the story, engage, and reflect on the story. “The goal after the project is that the participants will form these groups and these groups will form the basis for a church.”
“My biggest passion is unreached people groups—unreached people groups still around three billion people where it’s unlikely in their lives that they will receive the gospel, meet a Christian, go to church. Each ministry is valuable but when we’re talking about unreached people groups, I consider it a mission’s emergency.” (Cason, 2022) “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20 (Crossway Bibles, 2001) A passage known as “The Great Commission” and StoryRunners has taken that calling and ran with it.
To listen to “The Promise” as well as find ways to support or pray for this ministry you can visit their website at StoryRunners.org.
Cason, N. (2022, March 25). Fund Development Representative. (J. Stevens, Interviewer)
Crossway Bibles. (2001). The Holy Bible English Standard Version. Wheaton : Good News Publishers.