We met him in Zimbabwe in October of 2012. Our School of Storying host, Nhamo Chigohi, pastored a church and ran a small orphanage there. Wanting another participant for the training who spoke the Shona language, he had just the man in mind – John, his older brother. Having no interest in Nhamo’s Christianity, John poured his passion into his job as a big game-hunting guide. Nhamo told our training team, “I keep telling John he’s been caught in Jesus’s net-he just doesn’t know it yet!”
He was rough and iron-willed, but hearing story after story during the training, his heart began to soften. It was pierced when he heard the Parable of the Sower. John realized how badly he wanted to be the good soil that received the Word, and he knew that meant following Jesus. Soon after, upon hearing the story of Philip baptizing the Ethiopian, John told Nhamo and the others: “THAT’S ME! I WANT TO FOLLOW JESUS AND BE BAPTIZED!” And baptized he was-in a freshly-dug, plastic-lined hole in the ground filled with water. Surrendered to Christ, John Chigohi became a new man.
Desiring to devote more time to learning stories and serving in his brother’s church, John left the game-hunting guide business and turned to farming. He began teaching Bible stories to adults in the church on a weekly basis, and soon ventured out into the surrounding community. It was outside the walls of the church where he met spiritual opposition.
“Some community leaders did not want me to teach or tell stories,” he told us. “They blocked me and threatened to hit me. But one day they sent word for me to attend a community development meeting. I don’t know what happened to them, but that day they allowed me to teach stories! With boldness, I taught two stories that left them demanding more. The head of the village gave himself to the Lord after two visits to his home following that community meeting… and that old man is now with us in the church!”
John talked about how his aim in life was “to keep teaching stories so that people can understand better what God wants them to be.” Five story groups have been meeting under his leadership, and two more are “second generation” story groups (started and led by group members that John taught). His favorite story group, however, has been the one in his own home with his wife and eight children. “I hope Josphat (his son) is also going to continue telling stories, even to his new friends at college”, John says.
His dream is for each member of his household to lead at least one story group, somewhere. John’s health started declining in December, and on Thursday, February 9, as he was en route to the hospital, he took his final breath and his faith became sight. He is now with the One he chose to follow and serve for the last 5 years of his life.
John Chigohi took to heart the story that changed his life-the Parable of the Sower. “I must be the good soil,” he said. “I must multiply.” And that’s exactly what he did.