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.
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!