Men in South Sudan learn to tell oral stories as a way to effectively spread the gospel. Photo by Mie Millard
South Sudan

Giving up healing in South Sudan

Rachel Ferchak June 8, 2015

They were dripping sweat as a dozen people crowded into a dark, one-room house in South Sudan. Not knowing what to expect, Betty and her husband waited.

A traditional animistic healer entered and sat on a stool in the center of the room. All eyes were on him. He had witnessed relatives become Christians and watched their lives noticeably change. He wanted that.

Yagub, a Christian, told the healer the story of Jesus healing Jairus’ daughter and bringing her back to life from Mark 5:21-43. Yagub asked the healer what he thought of the story. “Are you willing to trust Christ?” Yagub said. “Are you willing to give up being a healer?” The healer agreed.

Animistic healing – a manipulation of the spirit world to either bring blessing or curses – was not new to the couple, who were missionaries with Pioneer Bible Translators and Outreach International for 20 years. In Equatorial Guinea they had created a New Testament Bible translation. They watched the Gospel take root and the Church grow in Equatorial Guinea as a result of the Bible translation and the training of nationals.

But they noticed that in other parts of the world, Bible translators didn’t see people becoming Christians through written Bible translations, because the people were illiterate. When they heard about Bible storytelling and how quickly it could spread the message of Jesus, they were intrigued.

The couple changed their focus to oral Bible storytelling, or orality, as an effective way to spread the Gospel. Still missionaries with Outreach International, they began partnering with StoryRunners, Cru’s orality ministry to unreached people groups.

The ministry makes the Bible accessible and equips believers in communicating the Gospel, mentoring, and church planting. In a five-week span, StoryRunners teaches believers 42 Bible stories, how to train other believers, and how to use stories in talking about Jesus.

“I can teach people how to learn Bible stories and share those stories,” Betty said. “I don’t have to be a great storyteller, but I can still share God’s Word.”

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