Thursday, January 22, 2009

Update- J Film Program!

UPDATE OF THE J FILM PROGRAM, and STORY in the local ‘Agape’ language told by one of the story-tellers I’m working with!

* Thank you to ALL of you who sent me emails saying you were praying for Manny and me during the program. I was feeling excited, but overwhelmed with it, and your emails really lifted my spirit and enthusiasm. Thanks for keeping me going – and His Work here!!

Short Version:
- 1. “I almost threw-up before telling the story!: - in spite of stage fright or the Enemy working against the program, Manny did a great job telling His story.
- 2. “It wasn’t in my language…” – a remark from a viewer that reminds us of the importance of reaching people in their heart-languages.
- 3. “She’s sitting with them” – the strange foreigner, being outside of the cultural system, can cross lines that aren’t normally crossed!

Long Version (yeah, it’s a little longer than normal…)
“I almost threw-up before telling the story…”
At the Jesus Film program in a village, about an hour away from where I live, ‘Manny’ from the Agape team shared a story in the local language. We had worked on the story – something that started with Creation and told 1-2 stories, but had a link to Jesus too. After he told the story, he came over to me and asked, “how did I do?” I couldn’t stop telling him how proud I was of him. And then again the next day, I said – “Do you see what you did? When you were telling it to your own people? You made it almost 2 minutes longer, but not because you added anything. You only repeated, and reinforced things – and you did it naturally because you were telling it to a group of people (about 1500 people!!).”

I was really impressed with his natural telling of the story, and that it seems he has grasped not only the accuracy aspect of the story work, but also the importance of telling it in a natural, culturally relevant way – two really hard to concepts to combine.
(I found out the next day that he had almost gotten sick before telling the story!!!)

“It wasn’t in my language…”
Manny told his story in the local ‘Agape’ language, which ended with something like, “Then, later, God not only sent someone to save his people, he actually came himself…and his mother was a girl named Mary…” Then, after the story, the Jesus Film started. The first scene in the Jesus film is Mary walking down some steps and an introduction of who she is. It connected very well to the story!!

Now, the Jesus Film was in the national language – Hindi – which most people there can understand.

However, it was interesting talking with the local people afterwards. Some of them, especially the women (at least that was who I talked to), didn’t know Hindi at all. They could of course understand a lot- as the two languages are related, but in general, they don’t speak it. I asked one woman how she liked the video and if she understood it (meaning more of less the content, not so much the language). She said, “Well, I understood a lot, but it wasn’t in my language, so I didn’t understand all of it.”

Another reminder of the importance of reaching people in their heart languages. A great encouragement for the storying work in minority languages in many countries. After the film, still many people went forward for prayer, but I had to wonder if they had fully grasped the meaning of the film - they need the Stories to know how to live daily in the Truth.

“She’s sitting with them…”
It was one of the first times I’ve been able to get out into the villages, with the local people in the place where I work. In general, the story teams have been traveling to me, and we meet in an office to discuss their stories. Then they go out, and do the testing and checking of stories with the local people – something I miss from my previous project.

Anyway, I was excited to be with village people again, and in spite of them not fully understanding my broken Hindi, and me not understanding their “Agape” language, we enjoyed each other’s company.

After mingling with the people for a while, we took our seats in preparation for the program and Jesus film. I naturally sat with the people I had been talking to – holding a little baby in my arms- praying one day he might grow up to lead his village in the Truth. Of course, he wasn’t wearing any pants, and I knew I was taking a chance he would go the bathroom on me! And actually, after a while I gave him to his mother, and about 5 minutes later, he did go to the bathroom…all over!

Anyway, that’s beside the point…the place where I was sitting was the point. I didn’t realize until afterwards, but the “staff” that had come from the Bible college, or the hostel where I live all took their seats away from the local people- near the front.

I heard a few comments about me sitting with the people and them standing or sitting away from them, but didn’t realize until the next day what a weird thing that was. In debriefing the program with a few of the staff, they were really shocked that I would sit with “those” people – they were dirty, some barely clothed, many with no shoes, matted hair, etc, etc.

The caste/class system so ingrained in this culture still affects the Followers today…While they try and fight it, you can tell it’s hard to go against hundreds of years of the culture. Being a foreigner probably has more drawbacks than assets in general, but here was another time when being a foreigner proved to be a striking contrast to the culture. A positive contrast. Knowing I had crossed boundaries that were actually good to be crossed, I smiled and said, “We went there for them, didn’t we?”

And yet…there is a lesson in that for me too. In thinking about my own culture, I wonder how many times I would sit with people I might call “them” or those I might not consider as good as me, or as important as me, or whatever the reason is. We may not have a formal caste/class system, but we certainly make unreasonable distinctions in our own minds.

Let’s ask Him to show us WHO He wants us to sit with this week. Who he wants us to talk to. In fact, I wonder where would He sit…

-Praise for Manny’s story, and Sam’s prayer – both in the local “Agape” language. Praise also for Stewart’s boldness in MC’ing the event.
-Praise for the positive response from many of the people – and invitations to show the Jesus film in other villages.
-Praise for positive meetings with 5 of the 6 teams the past two weeks.
-Prayer for meetings with the last team this week before meeting with them all over again!!
-Prayer for health- emotional and physical – I need to depend on HIM more!!
-Prayer that I remember that relationships are important!!

In Him,

~ Elizabeth

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