In my family, each year Grandma (or sometimes Grandpa) gathered everyone in the living room to tell the miraculous story of Jesus Christ’s birth in a manger and the three wise men, guided by a bright star from Bethlehem, who came to see our Savior and shower Him with gifts of incense and myrrh.
As children, we had visions of sugar plums and other treats dancing in our heads BUT most importantly, we had the restful peace and comfort that comes from knowing that Jesus came to earth to be with and to redeem forever all those who believe!
I come from a long line and legacy of Grandma and Grandpa Kiefers who knew Jesus, who are with Him now and whom I will see again soon!
Storytelling is a powerful means of communication that goes straight to the heart! Just ask 5.7 billion people around the world who communicate and learn primarily through storytelling and other oral methods, such as song, poetry and drama. Many of them can’t read or write, but many more simply grew up in a culture where the primary means of communicating life’s truths and traditions is through storytelling—and that’s what speaks to their hearts.
Since the majority of the world’s storytelling people have never been introduced to Jesus in a way they can relate and respond to, Scriptures In Use (SIU) works and trains local Christians among these people how to tell the life-transforming stories of the Bible to their families, neighbors and friends. In other words, use the power of story.
Rohit and his wife, Shazia, are two such local Christians in India, and it is my privilege to share with you their inspiring story:
India is a dangerous place for Christians. Radical Hindu groups throughout the country are notorious for using any means to eradicate other religions—and these groups are steadily growing in number and influence. Tragically, Rohit and his wife, Shazia, (names changed for security reasons) have experienced firsthand the brutal persecution of Christ-followers like themselves.
In 2008, the couple and their Christian parents lost everything when their homes were burned down by Hindu radicals. Most horrifying, Shazia’s brother was burned alive for his faith. Her cousin was hacked to death, as each time he refused to deny Christ another body part was cut off.
It’s hard for me to imagine the kind of pain Rohit and Shazia have suffered, and the threat they continue to live under each and every day. It’s even harder for me to imagine the depth of Shazia’s faith as she smiles and says, “Our God never left us. We have everything in Him and we are very blessed.”
During a recent SIU training, Rohit said to me, “Storytelling is how the nation of India originally started out with the Hindu people. We have exactly what we need now in sharing the stories of the Bible with them. We are sending out 10 new disciples to reach 50 villages in our surrounding community with unreached people groups. Many of them have never heard any part of the Word of God in their mother-tongue language. This training will work mightily with them.”
Even in India’s dangerous environment, caring friends like you have made it possible for Rohit, Shazia and other courageous Christians to expand the gospel through the use of the power of story.
They have been trained in SIU’s Bridges method of communicating God’s Word in ways that speak most powerfully to the hearts of their Hindu neighbors—through stories, dance, drama and song.
And now, this faithful couple is training other Christians in these effective, orality-based techniques of evangelism and discipleship. Rohit and Shazia are committed to doing all they can to accomplish the Great Commission in India, where only 2.1% of the country’s 1.3 billion people follow Christ.
But the task is daunting:
There are more than 1,576 languages recognized in India, almost one-quarter of the total 7,102 recognized different languages across the earth. Oral communicators speak the vast majority of these Indian languages. Most of these languages are not written down, and a translation of even one verse of the Bible does not exist.