Bible storytelling in Central Asia connects the dots

By October 16, 2013

Western Asia (MNN) — It’s a well-known fact: Muslims and Christians sometimes view each other as enemies.

Although divisions are somewhat arbitrary, Western Asia encompasses the Middle East and countries that surround the Caspian Sea, including Kazakhstan and Russia.(Image, caption credit MODIS/U.S. Geological Survey via Flickr)

Although divisions are somewhat arbitrary, Western Asia encompasses the Middle East and countries that surround the Caspian Sea, including Kazakhstan and Russia.(Image, caption credit MODIS/U.S. Geological Survey via Flickr)

The divide dates back to 1095 and the start of a battle spanning nearly two centuries. In what became known as “The Crusades,” countless Christians and Muslims fought to the death for control of the Holy Land — regions known today as Western and Central Asia.

Nearly 20 nations in Western and Central Asia can be found on Open Doors USA’s World Watch List, a ranking of the 50 countries where persecution of Christians is most severe. Fighting gets pretty intense in the so-called “Stan” countries: Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, et cetera.

A worker of Scriptures In Use (SIU) says Bible storytelling is reversing the trend.

“It’s a spiritual war out there, but these really courageous story-telling church planters are making this approach to their Muslim neighbors in a way that doesn’t really create conflict,” explains the worker.

“It causes both parties in the Bible story-telling context to kind of move to common ground regarding the truth of God’s Word, who God is.”

SIU trains indigenous church leaders throughout the world in oral evangelism, or Bible storytelling. Sharing Scripture through story is a catalyst for Gospel work among unreached people groups.

“In one of the Western Asian Stan’s, we’ve seen public repentance going on in quite a few of these villages,” the worker says. “This is a new thing that hasn’t really been seen openly in a lot of [Western Asian] countries.”

In that same nation, an Islamic terrorist group claimed blame for recent church bombings. Some are calling these attacks the worst in modern-day history.

“We get a picture of Islam…filtered through these bad events,” shares the worker, “but our partners there told us that many Muslims came and helped immediately after the bombing.”

Because of the high risk posed to Christians in this nation, the worker doesn’t divulge many details surrounding the attack. However, he says one of SIU’s ministry partners was dealt a tragic blow.

“He had members of his fellowship really affected by that bombing,” states the worker. “Numbers of people with whom he worked flocked to that area, just to counsel and work in the hospitals.”

The worker says SIU sees a silver lining to this crisis.

“It has given them a chance to really dialogue and have interchange with [Muslims], and hopefully it’ll give them a place to really begin storytelling.”

Pray for reconciliation between followers of Christ and followers of Islam in Western Asia. Pray restored relationships lead to Gospel opportunities.

Many Gospel workers trained in Bible storytelling use “creative access strategies” to reach people in Muslim-dominated countries. Some of these strategies include community development, disaster relief, and peace and reconciliation ministry in areas of ethnic and religious strife.

To learn more about Scriptures In Use and what they do, click here to visit their website.

According to the worker, there are many ways you can take part in their story.

“By praying, by giving, by considering going,” he explains. “You know, not everybody’s called to be a cross-cultural missionary, but everybody’s called to taking a part in the worldwide missions effort.”

Ask the Lord to soften hearts to receive His Word in the regions SIU reaches.

“Pray for those courageous and committed workers who are working on the cutting edge in what has traditionally been really rough territory,” suggests the worker.

“They’re gaining a foothold for the Kingdom, so pray for those indigenous believers who are storytelling and dialoguing the Gospel in West and Central Asia.”

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