Incredible Multiplication in a Few Short Months as God’s Story is Told
As with most mornings, I began today with God’s Word. How wonderful it is to allow His stories to come to life and to hear the Holy Spirit speak. It is hard to imagine not having God’s Word in my own language. Still today, over 1,600 languages do not have a single Bible story translated. In Part 1 and Part 2 of their story, we saw Leo, Tori, and their team working among Bibleless people in Asia. They were confident God’s Word would bring change. And what a change it is bringing!
What Did It Take To Translate Bible Stories?
Many Alze people speak their own language plus the national language of their nation. Alze helpers would listen to a Bible story in the national language. Next, they would record it phrase by phrase in Alze. This was followed by rigorous checks. This meant someone else translated the Alze version back into the national language. Then that version was translated into English. By doing this, they were sure the translation was accurate. Any mistakes or misunderstandings were discovered.
In the second half of 2018, the team finished crafting the thirty-five Bible narratives. In October, Leo contacted their Wycliffe story consultant. Every line of every Bible story was evaluated by the Wycliffe linguistic experts. This was because this set of stories was the oral Bible for these people, the only Bible they would have in their language. Accuracy was very important. One day this would be used to create written copies as well.
Leo now needed approval from Wycliffe to go to the final stage–recording the Bible story set in a studio. He was surprised when his consultant wrote back to tell him that there were further requirements.
Each Bible story must be tested in an Alze house church gathering. Leo needed to get feedback on the quality of each story from those who took part in these meetings.
Was There Time?
Leo and Tori had a big problem. They needed to return to their home country in two months. There were only two months to test thirty-five Bible narratives in a house church setting . Could it be done? With no idea how, they prayed.
God Gives A Plan
They rented a large apartment near their home. Mr. and Mrs. R., believers from the village, were invited to come to the city for a month.
Next, they contacted seven of their believing Alze friends who lived in the city. They asked them to spend every day with them for the coming month. This became a “30-day crash course” in doing Alze simple church and story testing.
For the first few evenings, Leo and Tori taught Mr. and Mrs. R. the story for the next morning. They would then tell that story during simple church the following morning. After lunch, they taught teach the couple the next story. It would be retold in the late afternoon in a second simple church gathering.
Leo, Tori and nine Alze friends had simple church meetings twice a day. After the third day, they started to rotate who would learn the story for the next session.
By the end of the month, every Alze believer had been able to lead at least three house church meetings! Some of them led as many as six times.
All month, Leo told them that they were not only doing this to test the Bible stories. It was so every Alze person could hear the Word of God in their own language.
Alze Stories Begin to Spread
After two weeks, everyone went to the town near the village. They booked a three-bedroom hotel suite. Twenty-six Alze people from the villages crammed into the suite with them. In the morning they sat together and held house church. Three of the team led the meeting. In the afternoon, they split into three groups. Three team members each led a group in one of the bedrooms.
That evening, the three leaders taught three villagers how to lead a house church. The next morning they did it. That very afternoon, villagers from five of the villages went home to start regular meetings using the Bible stories. The villagers were all given 35 stories on MP3 players. They were ready to go make disciples!
They did it! The result? Five new house churches birthed!
With such encouraging fruit, Leo and Tori decided to do another training two weeks later. They invited villagers from another cluster of villages. Leo didn’t realize it, but he had scheduled the meeting right in the middle of the wheat harvest. When they got to the town, they were told only one person was coming!
They decided to go out to one of the villages. When they finally arrived it was already 10 pm. They thought there was not much likelihood people would be interested. Much to their surprise, twenty-eight people showed up. They had finished harvesting for the day.
Leo asked one of the girls to tell the story for house church. She told the story and helped the villagers learn to repeat the story back. Then, she led the group in discussing what the story had to say.
Each of them worked to find a personal application of the truths they learned from the story. By then it was midnight. Leo stood up. He thanked everyone for coming. He explained that he knew it was wheat harvest and they would need to get back to the fields in the morning. “You must be very tired,” Leo said. The owner of the house came out saying, “No, no, no, we’ve made food for everybody. Now it’s time to eat.”
At around two a.m. Leo made the same speech.
All the people told him they had come from far away and they didn’t often get this kind of opportunity. They wanted to hear another story! After the second story, they decided to spend some time praying for each other. It was now 5 a.m. Time for everyone to get back to the fields!
This second training resulted in three more house churches among the Alze people.
Appointing Elders in an Alze Way
Three months passed. Leo and Tori returned from their trip. They eagerly headed back to the villages to discover how the believers were doing.
The villagers joyfully told them they had started yet another three groups. At this point, leaders had not yet been appointed. Even so, organic growth continued through faithful disciples. There were now eleven house churches.
It was time to appoint elders, but how would they do this in both a Biblical and Alze way?
Leo felt from God there would be a ‘godly Alze way’ for choosing elders. He would include the Alze believers in the process of deciding how to do this.
Leo told them two Bible stories. Mark 9:33-37, “Whoever wants to be greatest in the Kingdom of God should be the servant of all,” and John 13:1-15 – Jesus washing the disciples’ feet. To demonstrate the story, Leo washed the feet of a respected couple. Turning to the onlookers, he explained why he did this.
Afterward, they looked at 1 Tim 3:2-7, the passage explaining the requirements of an elder. They learned together using the Discovery Bible Study pattern. After lunch, everyone joined in discussing the scriptures. “How should Alze followers of Jesus choose elders to serve the Alze church?” They let everyone share their thoughts.
They decided that each person who wanted to be an elder should stand up and tell everyone about how they intended to serve their village. All the others would consider the sincerity of that speech.
If there was agreement, they would lay hands on that person and pray for him or her. Then, that person would go back to their village. The same speech would be given to all the believers in their village as well. After the speech, he or she would wash the feet of all the believers in that village. The Alze way of appointing elders began.
That day twenty-four elders were chosen from seven villages.
God’s Story In Their Language Brings Amazing Increase
When Leo and Tori began their work among the Alze, they found between fifteen and twenty believers. They were a dwindling remnant of a Presbyterian work from many years earlier.
The result so far? The number of Alze believers has increased by 20 times! Alze disciples making new disciples. The first generation started the second generation of disciples. The second generation started the third generation. When it was time for Leo and Tori to leave there were around 300 believers. They were now equipped with God’s Word (God’s Story). They also had a good understanding of disciple-making movement principles. Multiplication had begun and would continue.
What stands out to you from this story? How will you apply it to your own context and ministry?