In early August, 24 Ethiopian women gathered in Addis Ababa to participate in the Sheba Summit, a “storying” workshop for local women faith leaders. They were leaders in their churches and communities – some lead women’s ministries, some are counselors from a local program that rehabilitates sex workers, some lead Bible studies, youth groups, or other outreaches in their communities. They were all there to learn the technique of “storying” – a way to engage with other women who might be outside the reach of the typical church, through telling Bible stories in a relatable but accurate way.
A joint effort between the International Mission Board, Brentwood Baptist Church in Brentwood, Tennessee, African Leadership U.S., and African Leadership Ethiopia, the Sheba Summit was incredibly impactful for those in attendance…and is already starting to make an impact as those women journey back to their homes and share what they learned with those around them.
Hear from some of the women involved:
Director of Donor Engagement | African Leadership U.S.
How many Bible stories do you know? I mean, really KNOW?! If you’ve been in church for any amount of time you’ve no doubt heard a teacher speak about popular figures in the Bible. But can you share a Bible story in an accurate, simple and interesting way?
What I recently learned alongside a group of 24 Ethiopian women from areas all around the country is that sharing a Bible story can be a beautiful way to love others and bring them to Jesus. How? By engaging their hearts with questions like, “what did you like about this story?” or “what does this story teach you about God?”
The ladies who were part of the Sheba Summit, a trauma-healing workshop held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, learned to listen well to others and how to share a Bible story that meets others in their places of hurt, loss, sin, shame, suffering, and trauma.
I listened in as the ladies shared what they learned about God from these stories. They have been reminded of God’s love for them! From the story of Joseph they saw that God is present with them in all situations. Through the Creation story they learned that God is a God of order and creativity, and from the story of the Fall they learned that God doesn’t give up on us even when we fail. The story of the bleeding woman had great impact in this group as they learned of God’s great compassion. And from the story of Jesus’ crucifixion, they learned that God keeps his promises and that He loves us enough to send His Son to die for us.
The women who attended the workshop are servant-leaders in their churches. They are teachers, preachers, evangelists, women’s ministry coordinators and Bible study leaders. Many of the people of their villages cannot read or write so they see this approach as a way to affect positive change in their communities. During the workshop, they shared each of the 7 stories they learned with others simply by making phone calls at the end of each day. We heard testimonies of siblings who had fallen away from the Lord willing to return to church as a result of what they heard and learned. Of the Muslim neighbor who is eager to hear more stories of Jesus. Of families gathering together waiting hours for the call to come in so they could hear the story of the day!
As African Leadership continues to invests in Africa’s servant leaders so that every African can discover common ground with the Gospel, trauma-healing has become part of our program. My passion and hope is to learn this method for myself… and to share it with others! Even as the 24 Ethiopian ladies are putting together small groups to train, I’d like to do the same right here at home. And I believe God will use this knowledge to further His Kingdom both here, in Africa, and around the world!
“My expectation was to do some translation and to help people to understand some of the things the trainer would teach them. But I found it to be very interactive. I didn’t expect that I would receive a lot from this workshop for myself. But I am learning about trauma-healing, about story-telling, how I can make Bible stories short and simple so that I can go and share it with others.
I am relearning again and again some lessons about God. This week I learned again that I am loved.”
Ethiopian Translator for the Workshop
“What I like most is that we learned to tell stories in a very simplified but accurate and interesting manner.
Because our way of living is communal, I believe this can have a positive impact in the community.”
Women’s Ministry Coordinator for Ethiopian Kale Heywet Church
“When I counsel the women in the program, I often open the Bible and read stories. But sometimes this offends the women because they believe they will be preached at about religion. Now I am able to share Bible stories without ever opening the Bible. I believe this will help me serve the women more with love and care.”
Counselor at Ellilta Women at Risk ministry