Discovering the Stories:
Our Field Consultant Shares How it all Began

It’s not an exaggeration to say Share the Story would not have existed without the dedication of our field consultant. She’s the founding member of the Share the Story team and our connection with the people of North Africa. We are so grateful for the years she has poured into this project and for her willingness to help us with future projects and partnerships!

Recently, she sat down with us to begin documenting the story of Share the Story and our first project in North Africa. Keep reading to learn about how the Lord has been at work for years, through different teams and even political uprisings, to bring the gospel in a visual platform to the people of North Africa.

Tell us a little about your ministry background.

I’ve been serving in full-time ministry for nearly 20 years, both stateside in youth work and leadership development and cross-culturally in North Africa on a church planting team.

The whole idea of Share the Story really originated with you several years ago while you were living in North Africa. Tell us about how your team discovered these audio Bible stories in the local language that weren’t being used.

So about 18 years ago, a team came to North Africa with the purpose of developing [a biblical audio] story set, which they accomplished. They created 39 stories from creation to cross. Unfortunately, before they could really implement, strategize, or really work with the local people and put the stories to use, they had to leave the country. And so the stories just kind of laid dormant.

Fast forward 10 years, and we arrived — new workers on the scene. And we’re asking the question, “Hey, are there any Bible stories available?” Nobody knew of any. So I went to a storying training for two weeks to learn how to start a storying project. Well, it was quite humorous because by the second day I was there, I learned we actually had a story set in our country! So I went back and told my colleagues, “Hey, look what I found out! Here they are!” And some people started learning the stories for the sake of sharing stories orally.

ben-ostrower-564579-unsplash

Then a couple of years later, a political upheaval really shakes things up the North African region. How did that affect the creation of Share the Story as we know it now?

It put a huge dent in a good way in the culture because it opened the doors for more media to be able to enter into the country. So we decided, “OK, with all of these different networks, what else can God do? What else can we do to get God’s Word in the hands of people who are seeking?” So we all decided, “You know what, it would be really great if we could visualize these Bible stories.” Nobody knew how to go about that because we just didn’t know what to do. That was the bottom line, we just didn’t know what to do [next].

Since your team wasn’t equipped with video production, you started reaching out to other groups to try to partner with and eventually got connected with our video team. That got the visual side of things rolling, but there was still work to do back in North Africa with the story sets. You gathered a group of 10 to 12 locals to make sure the stories actually resonated with the intended audience. Then what?

The first testing phase was the story set itself because we wanted to test and see if the thread of redemption and the idea that you are saved from something to something else — a new life in Christ — was clearly communicated throughout the story set.

So we met several times throughout the course of, I don’t know, months, trying to decide do we have the story set correct? Are our stories good? And the testers were great. We had, obviously, some funny stories throughout the time.

One guy got so irate, he was like, “This is blasphemy. I cannot pretend that I agree with this.” And one of the other testers were like, “They’re not asking you to agree with this. They’re not even asking you to pretend. They’re just asking, from this question, what your answer is. From this story, what is your answer, according to the text.”

This one particular guy, though, he just couldn’t do it anymore so we didn’t ask him to come back. But he actually ended up becoming our storyteller!

Wow, that’s hilarious! Sounds like God was definitely involved in bringing in the right people to the testing group.

Yeah, when we first chose the testers, I was just looking for people of peace. I mean, that’s what we were looking for — people that would be sympathetic and open to what we were doing, and really honest. And we found that for the most part. God really blessed, and we had a great group of people.

Thank you so much for sharing some of what the Share the Story process was like from your perspective!

zoltan-tasi-571194-unsplash

Hitting All the Right Notes:
A Chat with Our Composer

It’s hard for our team to reflect back on this initial Share the Story project without remembering the amazing experience we had working with the composer for this series. Unlike most of the team, our composer is not involved in full time ministry but does musical scoring for a living. However, we were consistently encouraged by his faith in Christ and understanding of the gospel. Even from our first conversations, we felt like we were already on the same page and shared the same passion for bringing the gospel to people who had never heard it.

A few of our team members were able to travel out to our composer’s studio and be there in person as the live instruments used in the STS score were recorded. During that trip, we were able to sit down with him and hear about the project from his perspective. We hope you enjoy reading his responses!

What has been unique about working on the Share the Story (STS) project?

There’s a really exciting element to be able to create something for a re-telling of the Bible, but it’s also incredibly frightening in many senses. And I think it was really interesting and equally exciting and terrifying to know that [it] was going to have to be told in a North African musical language. We wanted to make sure that we hit all of the important emotional elements that go with the story of the gospel but doing that in a way that transcended cultures. [This way] it would work for somebody that spoke English and was a Westerner but [it] also spoke immediately to somebody that was in the East. The beauty of the gospel transcends cultures and transcends languages.

Did you know anything about North African music before you started working on STS?

I did a little bit of research when I was in graduate school about musicological tendencies in different cultures. One of the big parts of that [research] was percussive, and looking at its traditions and how it came from slave tradition and the European tradition. And one of the ways that we see that, obviously, is the African roots. But because North Africa is a musical smorgasbord, it draws from the French Indian tradition and the African tradition and the Western tradition. So it was fun to do some of that research many years ago and to see how God was preparing me to understand some of that for this project.

How did the North African musical style influence the instruments you used?

North Africa is interesting because it does draw from a lot of different parts of Africa and parts of Europe. We really zeroed in on using the oud. It’s a guitar that looks like it swallowed a watermelon. We used a lot of different flutes, specifically there’s the ney flute, there’s bamboo flutes, and there’s also different types of reed instruments so different bagpipes, different zurnas. And we also ended up using the fiddle which we associate with a Western context, but it’s played very differently in the East.

Tell us the story behind the horns.

If my memory serves me correctly, the horns are exclusively used in reference to God or Jesus. That actually came about the very first time in The Fall [episode]. We hear horns in Creation because we see God is creating the world, but then in The Fall, the first time it’s presented is when we have [the] crushing [of] the serpent’s head and seeing that as a foretelling of Christ.

I remember calling [the producer] and saying, “I have this crazy idea,” because at that point in time the score was just strings and ethnic percussion. I said, “What if we bring horns into this? It will make it feel a little bit more cinematic, but every time we use horns [it will be in] association with the person and the work of God.” I think her response was, “Yeah, sure! Let’s try it and see what happens.”

So we tried it, and it was just like a lightbulb went off, and [I thought] it has to be associated with God because it’s the one instrument that doesn’t really fit with that Eastern context necessarily because it’s so radically different than all those [other] winds. It has this very warm and rich and almost epic kind of quality. One of the things that’s always struck me about the horn is that it’s an instrument that sounds bigger than itself. In thinking of the concept of God’s story, that makes total sense in my mind. It may not make any sense to anybody else, but to me it was perfect.

Screen Shot 2018-05-31 at 5.13.43 PM

How did you use different musical themes throughout the episodes to help tie them together?

One of the things we talked about very early on in the project was that because there were so many different episodes, that all of those stories and the whole point of the project is that everything points to Christ as Messiah and Redeemer. So there obviously had to be a “Christ theme” that was central. We knew that [theme] would be a unifying factor through all the episodes. So out of [the “Christ theme”], other themes emerged because, theologically speaking, if we view Christ as the center of all things, [then] everything comes out of that. All the melodic material that’s in the project relates to the “Christ theme” with the exception of one and that’s “Satan’s theme.” [It’s] diametrically opposed to the Christ theme – both in texture, melodically, rhythmically – and that’s intentional.

The other theme that was central is the “Redemption theme.”That kind of happened by accident because we were working on The Passover episode, and we came to the end and it talks about how God was using that to essentially foreshadow the redemption of his people. And there’s this tune that emerged that I really initially thought was just going to be something totally separate, and [the producer] was like, “Oh my gosh – we have to use that. Can that be our redemption theme?” At that point we’d already written the main theme for the project and I was like, “Sure. We’ll just come up with a second version.” And it was great because it was totally right. It was exactly what it needed to be, and everything else shaped from there.

What ended up being your favorite scores from the project?

I feel like that’s almost like asking which one of these children is your favorite. I love all of them for different reasons. I think some of them are more interesting for different reasons musically. There’s a variation on [the] “Christ theme” in The Resurrection [episode] that I wrote it, and I looked, and my wife and I were like, “Oh that will just sock you right in the gut.”

I love how The Crucifixion turned out as well. It was very emotional for me as a writer to work on because it really puts your faith in perspective. That was the Lamb of God that was sacrificed for me. [As] I think in the ways that the Lord has grown me over the past couple of years, I’ve realized that [the crucifixion] is the pinnacle of human history and to see the mercy of God displayed through Jesus Christ for sinners – it’s magnificent. And so I hope that that’s illuminating for people as they come to see Christ for the first time.

Screen Shot 2018-05-31 at 5.05.55 PM

 


If you have any questions or topics that you’d like for us to cover in this series, send us an email at sharethestoryseries@gmail.com. We’d love to hear from you!

Pray for Ramadan 2018

Today marks the third day of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month. Many of those who have been exposed to Christianity and the gospel through the Share the Story series launch in North Africa are still wavering between belief in Jesus and belief in the teachings of Muhammad. This month could be a critical time for seekers as many around them refocus on their Islamic faith. Ramadan can also be a challenging time for believers in Muslim regions as they face increased pressures during this month to blend in to the Islamic majority.

Because of these heightened spiritual stakes, the month of Ramadan can be a critical time for strategic prayers. We encourage you to take advantage of the resources provided by WorldChristian on their website: 30daysofprayer.com. You can find a daily prayer request for a specific Muslim people group by clicking “participate > today’s prayer theme.” We would love for our prayer partners to join us in praying for the Muslim world during the month of Ramadan! We are working towards getting the gospel via Share the Story to new Muslim-dominated regions in the months and years to come. Pray with us for the gospel to be believed and Jesus to be worshipped throughout the Muslim world!

If you’re interested in learning a bit more about Ramadan, check out this short article from The Gospel Coalition.

A Chat with Our Illustrator

Though the initial launch of Share the Story in North Africa has concluded, our team hasn’t stopped working! We’ve been busy exploring partnerships to develop new campaigns in other regions that need to hear (and see) the gospel. We can’t wait to share with you about these opportunities in the coming weeks, but in the meantime, we wanted to do a small series of posts looking at a few important roles within the Share the Story team.

We want to highlight these roles and teammates not because they deserve or need attention but because their stories paint a clearer picture of God’s sovereignty and work through our journey so far. He is the main character of every story, and we’re thrilled to be used by him! So, without further ado, we invite you to “listen in” on a short conversation with our illustrator (read all the way to the end to see other teammates’ attempts at illustrating… we promise it’ll be worth it).

What training do you have in illustration/animation?

I attended [a university] for my Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts, with an emphasis in Illustration.  During my final few semesters of college, I stepped into the realm of digital illustration, and also took the one required Beginning Animation course – which happens to be my only formal education in animation.  At the time, I was annoyed that it was required because I wasn’t interested in animation, nor did I think I would use it in the future. Boy was I wrong.

Was STS anything like what you expected to be doing after college? 

Not at all. I assumed I would find any sort of creative position after graduating, and then eventually work myself into a freelance illustration business.  But, several months before graduating, I was asked to illustrate a series of Bible stories for an unreached people group (what became Share the Story).  First of all, the Lord’s timing is perfect.  Secondly, this position was the dream job I never knew existed. Praise God for providing this opportunity to combine my skills and passions!

What was it like working on the same project for so long?

To be honest, there were times when it was really hard.  This was usually when I didn’t like the way a scene or story was coming together, when I was stressed about deadlines, when I was overwhelmed with feedback and revisions, and when I was discouraged by the daunting list of stories and scenes.  However, it helped a lot that I was moving onto a new story every few weeks and that the process had enough variation to keep things interesting.  But when I got too focused in on my work, stepping back to refocus on the big picture and remembering the end goal of the project was all it took to rekindle my motivation and passion.  After 2.5 years, it definitely felt surreal when it all finally came to completion!

What were some points of encouragement that helped you through the long months of illustrating and revisions?

The biggest encouragement throughout the creative process was the excitement and support of others. Seeing other people get excited about the project would always make me feel excited all over again.

Another encouragement for me was getting to go to North Africa and experience the culture of the people who would one day be watching the very work I was creating.

What are some things you’ve learned about Scripture from having to study these stories so carefully?

It was interesting to read stories that I’ve known since I was little but with a totally different lens.  When reading the stories with a visual mindset, I had to start by looking for as many cues as possible from the text and then make creative decisions to fill in the rest.  There are so many little details that are not always obvious.  For example, what time of day was it? Were the pyramids built yet?  Where were the pyramids in relation to the Nile?  What types of vegetation are common in that area?  What types of clothes would that class of people have worn?  I’ve picked up or learned many of those little things that I never would’ve thought about or noticed before!

What was your favorite story to illustrate and why?

Definitely Jonah.  The most fun stories to draw are those that have a unique setting and a dramatic storyline.  The setting and storyline of Jonah is just so different from all of the other stories, so it was really nice to switch gears and do something new.

What was your least favorite story to illustrate and why?

My least favorite would probably be Abraham and the Covenant.  There was very little action, and the script consisted primarily of conversation between God and Abraham – which is hard to illustrate.  Not only that, but one of the main topics is circumcision.  Which is also hard to illustrate…

What was the most challenging part about making art for another culture?

There is a lot of pressure in making art for a culture that you know very little about and even more pressure when the artwork is depicting the greatest story ever told.  I felt the burden of responsibility to depict the stories of Scripture both accurately and beautifully – but I had to trust the feedback of our team for cultural specificity and ultimately trust the Lord to guide my mind and my hands.

Share a funny or embarrassing story related to STS:

I seem to have issues with the hands that I draw sometimes.  In the Creation story, I drew a version of Adam where his hand was partially covered by the dirt he was laying on – but it ended up looking a little deformed.  Or in someone else’s words, “like it was run over by a lawnmower.” In addition to the “lawnmower hand” was the “potato hand.”  This term originated from my version of Moses’ leprous hand in the story of the burning bush.  I did go back and fix it to make it look less potato-ish – but in my defense, I looked at references (not fun), so at least it was accurate!

In case anyone was wondering why none of the other team members assisted me with the artwork, there are a few hidden drawings I have tucked away that will answer that question for you…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

In one particular scene of Jesus’ Birth, I was struggling with one of Mary’s arms – so I let a few of my team mates make an attempt.  I still had to find a solution for Mary’s arm, but it was good entertainment to say the least!

Crucifixion4
Another teammate’s attempt to “help” our illustrator out by adding a few characters to the crowd at Jesus’ trial.

If you have any questions or topics that you’d like for us to cover in this series, send us an email at sharethestoryseries@gmail.com. We’d love to hear from you!

Responses from North Africa

We’re excited to share with you a few snippets of conversations that our on-the-ground teammates have been having as a result of the Share the Story campaign! In many of the stories we’re hearing about, the STS videos have become an important connection point between people looking to learn more about Jesus and those eager to share about him. Below are some of the online responses to the STS campaign, and most of the people who’ve reached out online have had or will have the opportunity to meet with a local believer in person to continue the conversation.

A female respondent: I am at the start of getting to know Jesus. The most beautiful thing I read was about the Messiah and the sermon on the mount. I want to know much more because I feel at peace and I am convinced.

A man who used to be an Islamic Mystic: Thank you my dear brother. I love our teacher the Messiah very much because he is the Spirit of God and the Savior from our sins. I want to know more, to make my path clearer in the company of our teacher the Messiah and his honorable Spirit. I am a new Christian.

A female seeker: When I got to my late teens, I felt that something was missing. I am a country girl. The only way to know things was through the internet and books. My questions were shameful, to the point that they called me an atheist and a blasphemer because I feel connected spiritually to Jesus Christ… I search for a Gospel online and I found it… My eyes were opened… I cried and I laughed; it was a beautiful journey… I thank this Facebook page for your efforts…. My hope is to see Jesus face to face.

A male seeker: I am a Muslim, and I’m not sure that the gospel is corrupt. I want to read the true gospel so as to know the truth – if that’s OK with you.

An anonymous female respondent: I am a teenager from a Muslim family, I read the gospel when I was a teenager, and I felt drawn to the Messiah, his sayings, and his deeds, and I believed in him that he is my savior. I don’t know how to talk to my family about this, and I haven’t found anyone who could give me good advice. Everyone says that I am a blasphemer.

A male seeker: I visited your [Facebook] page twice yesterday. I don’t know why… I have felt lost, but I feel at peace in Christianity. I am being honest, please take me seriously. I would love to receive a book or drawings.

A male respondent: The Messiah sacrificed himself for humankind. Why don’t I follow him? He loved me without seeing me. I am not in the capital [city]. Pray for me, my friend, so that I may have peace, and so that we may meet in the presence of the Lord and that he may illuminate me to walk in his ways.

A male believer: Yes, I want to attend the Facebook Live event. I am a new Christian from a Muslim background, in secret. Glory be to God, may he protect us.

An anonymous respondent: A beautiful episode. I thank you. Could you give me a copy of the book?

A male believer: I am from a Muslim family. They are conservative. They always pray and fast. When I was a teenager, something happened to make me change my mind on Islam, and I became non-religious, but I felt that there must be a true religion out there. I studied Judaism… and then Christianity… I read the Bible, I watched a film about the Messiah, and I became very drawn to our teacher the Messiah and his teachings, and I decided to become a Christian, thanks be to God.

We rejoice with those who have come to know Jesus and want to grow in their faith, and we join together in prayer for those who are wrestling with belief and the consequences that may come as a result of identifying with Christ.

Pray for: Campaign Finale Video

Today is the finale of the initial Share the Story campaign! This short video will be included in a final Facebook Live discussion in just a few moments from now with all the different facilitators that have interacted with our audience throughout the series. This video highlights the testimonies of some local believers in North Africa.

  1. Pray for lots of participation and engagement from our audience in this finale event.
  2. Pray that our audience will be encouraged and challenged by the testimonies of their countrymen who have become followers of Jesus.
  3. Pray that even though this campaign is ending, the relationships built and truth shared will continue to bear fruit long after today.

Thank you all so much for going on this journey with us and being part of what the Lord is doing through your faithful prayers! We will continue to keep this blog updated as we hear more stories from North Africa and explore more opportunities to share the story in additional regions and languages!

 

 

Three Stories from North Africa

As the initial Share the Story campaign wraps up in North Africa, stories of specific seekers are trickling into our inboxes. We are anticipating more coming in the following days and weeks, but we wanted to share these first three stories with you now.

“Before me are two paths; which one is true?”

Amala’s* messages have captured the hearts of our team over the past couple weeks. She has been the most consistent viewer and participant in the Facebook Live discussions about the Bible stories each week. While it’s been to encouraging for our team to see her engagement, her comments reveal a deep, agonizing struggle within her heart. This is a woman who has begun to question her faith and is now entertaining ideas that she’s always believed would send her to hell. And that scares her. She writes, “I am waiting for your episode tonight. I am hoping to see the truth… Right now I am afraid of God, and I can’t control these feelings… I am very afraid that I am on the wrong path… Just like God created paradise, he created hell, and I am afraid of hell.”

Even amid all her doubts and uncertainties, her desire to know the truth is real and earnest. She wrote this prayer in another message, “O creator of the cosmos, of the mountains and the rivers and the seas, of all of humanity and of me, guide me to your way.” Our hearts long for Jesus to answer her prayer and reveal himself to her. We are so thankful that she realizes Christ is at the center of the key differences between Islam and Christianity and knows that they are two opposing views: “My problem isn’t in knowing the stories of the prophets before the prophet Jesus, not at all. I know them well, and I believe in them. My issue is what I should believe now. Should I be a Christian and believe in the crucifixion and be persuaded completely to be a Christian? Or should I be a Muslim and be fully persuaded before it is too late? Before me are two paths, which one is true?”

Join us in praying for Amala and others who are wrestling with belief, especially this week as they watch a final video sharing the testimonies of other people in her country who have turned from Islam and decided to follow Jesus.

“I want to change everything in my life.”

Kassim’s* perspective is not uncommon among the younger generations of North Africa. Many have grown disillusioned with Islam and religion in general and are searching for something more. Kassim told our on-the-ground team, “I just want to know. I don’t like my current state… I found your page by coincidence, and I spoke to you.” Praise the Lord for guiding Kassim to the Share the Story page and leading him to reach out to one of the local believers! Pray that Kassim would come to know the source of joy, satisfaction, and purpose – Jesus. Pray that he will see these qualities in the video testimonies of fellow North Africans this week.

“If people find out, I will lose my job.”

Jakeem* found Share the Story from an interesting place: his hospital bed! We’re not sure why he’s in the hospital, but we’re thankful that the Lord is using his time there to reveal the truth of his word to him! Jakeem told our local team that he loves Jesus and wants to know how to live as a Christian, but he is afraid of losing his job if people find out about his faith. It’s sobering to remember the real cost many of our viewers face if they follow Jesus. Thankfully, he gave his phone number to our on-the-ground team to set up a meeting with a local believer. Pray that Jakeem will be encouraged by his interactions with our team and the testimonies shared in the video this week. Also, pray that he’ll recover quickly from whatever illness or injury put him in the hospital and will be able to go home soon.

*names have been changed to protect our viewers

Pray for Episode 20: The Resurrection

Prayer Requests

  1. Pray for seekers to believe and respond to the reality of the resurrection.
  2. Pray for seekers to desire to be involved in fulfilling Jesus’ mandate to his followers to make disciples of all people, near and far.
  3. Pray for the many facilitators that have been involved in the FB LIVE discussions as they all come together for a LIVE celebration during the upcoming final broadcast. Pray that all obstacles to their involvement would be removed. Pray that seekers would be willing to engage the facilitators in conversation and that God would give wisdom to the facilitators as they respond. Pray for the facilitators to be bold and that the seekers would be drawn to the love between them.

The Story Within The Story

We want to share with you not only each completed video in the series but also a glimpse of the story behind their creation. Enjoy this peek behind the scenes!

Resurrection5print
In this final story, our illustrator wanted to make some visual ties back to the story of creation. In the illustration above, she included some flowers from the creation scenes to indicate the start of God making all things new. Those flowers turned out to be a distraction for the audience because they didn’t think it made sense for flowers to be growing inside a dark tomb and didn’t pick up on the symbolism. We removed the flowers from that scene, but included them in the scene below of Jesus’ ascension.
Screen Shot 2018-03-29 at 10.44.59 AM
The music in this scene is most of our team’s favorite in the entire series. Our team leader, who is a drummer, even got to play the shakers that were recorded for the final score. Even though she killed those shakers, it’s the beautiful fiddle playing in the finale that really takes our breath away – and most of it was all the musician improvising the music on the fly during recording!

Pray for Episode 19: The Crucifixion

Prayer Requests

  1. Pray that seekers will believe the true account of Jesus’ crucifixion and death, even though they have been taught in Islam that Jesus did not actually die on the cross.
  2. Pray that seekers will recognize their need to confess their sins receive forgiveness and that they would be assured by the story of the repentant criminal that Jesus will not turn away anyone who comes to him.
Adherents to Islam do not believe Jesus actually died ( “…for of a surety they killed him (Jesus) not,” ~ 4:157-159) on the cross and have a few theories matter: replacement and swooning (fainting).  A student of history and/or a reader of the Bible can easily rebut these false theories, however, the barrier remains. Please pray for seekers as they see and hear the true account of the death of Jesus.

The Story Within The Story

We want to share with you not only each completed video in the series but also a glimpse of the story behind their creation. Enjoy this peek behind the scenes!

Screen Shot 2018-03-29 at 9.58.29 AM
This was a difficult and emotional story for our team to illustrate and bring to life. One of our animators remembers animating this scene in particular: “I felt such a heaviness as I was trying to capture Jesus’ suffering and how agonizing it was for him to breathe as he hung on the cross. I realized that just as I was making this image of Jesus strain and struggle for breath on my computer screen, my sinful thoughts and actions caused the real Jesus that pain in real life. Now that’s what I think of every time I see this scene, and it really helps make the gospel message alive and personal for me.”

 

Pray for Episode 18: Lazarus

Prayer Requests

  1. Pray for seekers to respond with curiosity and openness to the revolutionary economy of the gospel – that in Jesus, living is dying and dying is living.
  2. Pray for seekers to understand that Jesus is God as they see His power even over death.

The Story Within The Story

We want to share with you not only each completed video in the series but also a glimpse of the story behind their creation. Enjoy this peek behind the scenes!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The first image is an old version of the scene when Lazarus emerges from the tomb. We ended up going in a completely different direction with the final version. We wanted Lazarus to look less like a mummy to emphasize the life Jesus gave him. We also feel that the final version better captures this story’s powerful climax.

Screen Shot 2018-03-26 at 5.13.28 PM

This is the only “confirmed” instance where team members make an appearance as silhouettes in the series. Our two animators may or may not have begged our illustrator to be cast as Mary and Martha, and she decided to humor them.