End of an era

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It was in September of 2004 that I returned to a conference where I had heard the previous year about this amazing idea of “orality” (and storytelling in ministry).

My impression about the men leading that conference, people whom I had come to respect and admire greatly, was “these guys are academics; but they’re awful mobilisers!”

“Clearly suicidal” was my response to the Lord’s direction in our lives! He said that year that I should, as a missionary, go back home, start a podcast (i.e. use a technology that no one had ever heard of and which had just been invented), and talk about a subject no one really knew anything about! Where were the funds going to come from?!?

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However, the direction was clear, so I obeyed.

And the Lord has done amazing things.  From instant interest shortly after launching the show (in May 2006 with our first show), and feedback coming in from 85 countries, I knew something was happening.

I kept meeting people, literally all over the world, who told me how the show had “changed their lives”, or was “an answer to their prayers” to help them when they “hit a wall” on the mission field, and even, rather unnervingly, I was frequently being recognised by the sound of my voice (rather than my name) as I travelled!

The response to the podcast (and the web site I put up as an afterthought to point people to the shows) was phenomenal and staggering to me. I used to constantly sit down and say, “What is the draw? I wouldn’t even listen to me!” But the praise, appreciation, and thankfulness kept flowing. As did the learning curve and skills.

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On one fun occasion, I remember going into a restaurant in Thailand where I was met by a chorus of three Singaporean children shouting “story4all!” as I opened my mouth to greet the family sitting there. And they did this before they heard my name and they had never seen me before!  Those kids were afflicted,  by their Dad (an avid follower), with having to listen to me on story4all podcast every week on their way to school! And the kids actually liked the show too! Unbelievable!

yvette 004 2.jpgFrom early days, with Yvette Wilkinson as my co-host, we began to hear of remarkable impact around the world. Like the man who gave up his pastorate in America to eventually go onto the mission field, having discovered the power of storytelling among non-readers and the semi-literate!

Then there was the young woman who, together with her husband, was kicked out of China because of the show! Rather than being unhappy about it, she said that they had “hit a wall” and they were seeing no fruit on the mission field until they heard about story4all. They learned about storytelling and started to put into practice the principles I was sharing in their ministry. They saw so much fruit that the authorities took notice and kicked them out! They are now happily relocated among another unreached people group in another “closed” land and continuing to tell the Story.

It has been a remarkable journey and also rather humbling. So many times I was at the point of giving up, feeling like I was talking to the airwaves, and then the Lord would allow me to meet someone “gushing” about the show or an incredible email would come in from a listener somewhere.

But … now it’s time for a change!

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In my new role with Simply the Story, and our imminent departure from the United Kingdom to a life of “no fixed abode”, it is clear (from this summer’s busy time ‘on the road’) that I will be unable to continue this ministry of recording and posting podcasts in our next season of frequent travel with no home and no office (except a mobile one!).

For some time now, the once acclaimed web site, has been showing its age and it is out of date, needing a revamp, and I have just been unable to get to that task for four years!

Also, the podcasts have been affected by changing technologies and unavoidable and substantial upgrades are necessary if we are to continue podcasting on the road.

My wife and I have realised that it is time to lay down the vision we began when we came to live in the UK in 2005. It has served its purpose and raised a banner for making disciples of oral learners in the Church, and others have picked up the baton to run the race from here. The call for us is now to train “the mobilised”!

In 2006 if you typed “making disciples” and “oral learners” into iTunes or Google you only got one result: story4all podcast. Now, we don’t even appear on the front page! And that is a good thing and shows success in our commission.

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We have done what we were called to do: to inform, mobilise and resource the Body of Christ to make disciples of oral learners. That task is now happening and many amazing organisations and people are out there with all sorts of creative resources and beautiful web pages (and great podcasts!).

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My wife and I have a new role and a new road to walk. We need to focus as we continue to tell the greatest Story ever told and to do it globally. No longer telling it over the airwaves, but going with our feet!

And so, today, I will record one last time … “Remember! Bible storytelling is truth that sticks. This story is for all; let’s story it all!

When the wind blows

A wee recording I made the day we arrived in Mexico.

A leper story and when God surprises!

It was fun and a privilege to present the story of the One Leper whom Jesus healed (Mark i 40-45) yesterday in a Slovak village Lutheran church up near the Czech border.

In the short time available to us the congregation (150 people approx.) and I discovered together how the leper came pleading, “If you are willing you can make me clean” and seemingly uncertain whether Jesus wanted to do it or not.

The compassion with which the Lord reached out and touched this unclean man before healing him indicated a much deeper inner healing was also happening.

The man got MUCH more than he expected.

That afternoon, as we continued some church activities, I was amazed by the Lord’s hand on four different people who asked for prayer. All of them received some special intimate touches as God came near, but it was the surprise two people got in particular that reminded me of the leper story that morning!

One woman and her mother came forward. The mother’s eyes were red with crying in her pain. She was due an operation this week for something that sounded like a herniated disc (or worse!) as she described it. We prayed together and I shared a couple of words with her afterwards and, when she nodded in agreement to that, I prayed into what was revealed in response.

Then I began praying for the daughter, who had a seriously difficult pinched nerve issue in her spinal cord, also needing surgery. I again got some words for her and she responded in the affirmative and said that as we prayed she felt a (good) pressure in her neck area (where the trouble was rooted).

At this point her mother excitedly, and moving rapidly, began to share how she had no more pain. The daughter told her to get up and test it. She did and she said she felt no pain at all!

As she was walking round I noticed she had a funny gait and I asked if one leg was shorter than the other. The daughter said, “Probably!”, and so we checked and sure enough, there was a 2 cm difference in leg length. We just sat there giving thanks to the Lord for His work in her body, and watched as the shorter leg grew out almost to full length. Perhaps half a centimetre short.

As we were sitting praying in the area where the worship team needed to start worship, we had to stop praying, but I told the pair of them to lift her legs (as we had done) each evening and give thanks and the Lord would complete the healing.

Meanwhile, we all rejoiced at what we had just seen. The unexpected and surprise touches of God loving people and healing bodies. And all in a church where that sort of stuff does not normally happen! What a privilege!

Unknown footsteps

How many today cannot see those (divine) footsteps because of busy-ness or haste in life or pain or through not meditating on Him and His Word?

The presence of God is there right where you are. Do you imagine that God is “not like that” in your life? He cannot be contained in a box.

Press in to know His ways and press on to know Him today!

Advancing

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Training fun in Siberia and a special story time at church yesterday.

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Siberia Start

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Arrival in Siberia, Khanty storytelling and ministry time and STS Advanced gets underway

Click to hear a little story or two on our time here
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24 hours


Another story begins. In just under 24 hours.

It has been a while since I last wrote, and resurrecting this blog is long overdue.

The storytelling training trips have been numerous – 11 workshops on 4 continents last year – and they have started again this year, beginning with a memorable trip to South America last month. See a photographic story here about the Amazon trip in February.

In my “morning watch” today I was thinking what an incredible privilege it is. The verse in the image with this post stood out for me.

To be an ambassador is an incredible calling. You represent, not yourself, but your sovereign or country in all you do, say and are. As an ambassador for Christ I do not take lightly the responsibility and as I “go” again – this time to the Arctic Circle – my prayer is the one prayed in my devotional this morning by Nicky Gumbel:

“As I look to the days ahead, help me to make known among the nations what you have done.”