When pastors’ wives in Burkina Faso attend theological training with their husbands, they go to cook and wash clothes.
“We want more than this,” they told IMB missionaries. They wanted to learn Bible storying and evangelism like their husbands, so they would be equipped to walk alongside them in ministry. Most of the women could neither read nor write, so they had never learned deep truths from the Bible in a classroom setting such as their husbands received. The missionaries and their local partners stepped up with the Story Together curriculum to start the “Training Women to Share God’s Stories” project. The women responded with enthusiasm.
One trainee said, “I didn’t know that from the creation of the world until Jesus, that it was one grand plan from God. I didn’t know that it was all connected. We just thought that Jesus came to save. We could have never imagined that there could have been a plan prepared in advance.”
Another woman said, “As soon as I get home, I’m going to teach this to my sisters at church. I’m going to tell them [evangelism] isn’t just for men; we women have the right to do it.”
Story Together teaches believers to share God’s Word orally through stories that are retainable, reproducible, and biblically accurate in the storytelling style and language of their target audience. Kathy Daniel, the IMB missionary leading the project, said, “The overarching impact was the empowering and mobilization of the women. They never dreamed of the Bible knowledge that was available to them. Once they gained the knowledge and empowerment, they never slowed down.”
Daniel’s training team identified eight languages that would touch the majority of women throughout Burkina Faso. They tasked the trainees with creating a Bible story set, or panorama, in those languages. These training sessions occur over two years because of family responsibilities and farming seasons, but the women immediately share each new Bible story with their families, neighbors, and fellow church members.
“The women have far surpassed all that we could have dreamed,” Daniel said. “They embraced everything about it and began training others immediately, not waiting to begin until they received the entire training at the end of the two years.”
Through the Story Together training, the women more fully understood God’s Word for the first time. They are empowered to share it and to teach others to share. “We wanted to share Christ, but we didn’t know how,” one woman said. “Now, with these stories, we can talk with anybody.”
One team entered a village and began to tell the stories, hoping to plant a church in that location. On the church plant’s first Sunday, eighty-seven people attended.
“As soon as I get home, I’m going to teach this to my sisters at church. I’m going to tell them [evangelism] isn’t just for men; we women have the right to do it.”
Another team trained seventy-seven women to share the Bible stories. The newly trained women go to the wells where other women come to collect water daily. The village women now come to the wells early so they can hear the stories.
Another team shares the stories with Muslim women. The women’s husbands will not allow them to attend a church service, but they are allowed to join the women’s group to hear the stories.
“Many have accepted Christ,” one of the team members said. “We have prayed for the possessed, and they are healed. The people see that Jesus is stronger than their fetish.”
Eight teams of thirty-two women attended the initial training, representing twenty-nine churches. In two years, the women have shared the gospel with 4,500 people, and 538 accepted Christ. They have trained 2,019 more people to share the stories and planted four churches. The most recent training included twenty-eight new women, plus several young adults and thirteen pastors. By July 2019, participants from fifty-six more churches will be trained to share the gospel through the Bible story panorama.
“National-lead training is by far the most effective,” Daniel said. “The deeper understanding of culture, boundaries, and examples unlocked many doors that we did not even realize were closed.”
“What we have learned, we have put in our hearts,” one of the women shared. “So, we should take it and evangelize everywhere, even to the ends of the earth.”