God touched my heart through stories

posted in: The Church on Mission

Workshop: Storytelling that Transforms

(l) Safari tells his story with Doug Hiebert

What do a jail cell story, a story of radical forgiveness, a housekeeper turned pastor and a church in Las Vegas have to do with each other? These are all stories told at the ICOMB Consultation about God at work in the Mennonite Brethren family.

In a workshop about storytelling, we learned that the length of the story doesn’t matter as long as it’s compelling. It is important to tell your own story or testimony, but tell it in a way that draws people to the gospel and moves them closer to God.

Our time together at the consultation was launched with a compelling story from Brother Samir of a believer arrested for giving out Bibles who led a prisoner to Christ before release, only to arrested again – an answer to prayer for the new believer who wanted to be discipled.

Each session, we heard incredible testimonies of God on the move using the MB family to spread the gospel. We sat under the teaching of Pastor Naat, housekeeper turned pastor/church planter. We wept at the story of Pastor Kham killed for his faith, and we rejoiced that his wife is carrying on his ministry. Brother Safari from Malawi shared his story of a murdered father, of becoming a refugee, and not only coming face to face with the murderer, but leading him to Christ.

Our hearts broke for our brothers and sisters in Ukraine as we heard stories from Brother Roman of life in a war zone.

We received a greeting from a pastor whose brother had ISIS involvement.

A story of redemption from Brother Mvwala of DR Congo focused our attention on the Batwa pygmies who find in the gospel redemption from an age-old identity of being despised and rejected.

Johann Matthies (l) translates as Roman Rakhuba tells about his aid work in war-torn Ukraine.

These stories testify that we are a diverse family. We are blessed to have churches in refugee camps, in prisons, and in the unlikely city of Las Vegas. One Burmese pastor has started 11 churches, and, amazingly, he’s only been a Christ follower for 13 years.

Who are the Mennonite Brethren? These stories are us. We come from 35 countries. We look different, speak differently, and do church differently. But we God’s people, participating together in God’s purpose to redeem all creation. Our stories are compelling and God is using them to draw people to himself. This is our heritage.

My hope is that in reading this, you too are inspired by how God is at work among the Mennonite Brethren around the world.

What is your story? And what will be the story this MB family leaves for the generations to follow?

May God continue to drive his story forward in us for his glory.

Jana Hildebrandt is impact & connections director at First MB Church, Wichita, Kansas, USA, and is a member of the USMB Board of Faith and Life.