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The Power of Storytelling Changes Everything

by Stephanie Anfinson August 11, 2023

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Patrick Chapola, a local pastor and the administrative director at the Crown Malawi center, began his journey with the financial stewardship workshop in September 2021. In February 2022, he completed advanced training and became a dedicated champion of the cause. Recognizing his passion and commitment, John and Mary Beth Flippen, the Directors of Training at Crown Malawi, have since entrusted Patrick with all the financial stewardship outreaches for the center. He conducts financial stewardship training in the I Was Hungry and Foundations for Farming programs and serves as a mentor to other Malawians, multiplying the impact of the programs.

Recently, Patrick and his colleague, Frackson Chimkango, a Foundations for Farming Trainer and local church leader, facilitated a training for 23 pastors and their spouses in the village of Nselera, located 15 kilometers outside of Zomba in southern Malawi. Nselera is a farming community whose primary crop is rice. However, their fields were devastated by Cyclone Freddy in early 2023, leaving them in a dire situation. Despite significant challenges, the Church of Christ in All Nations, where the training was held, remained committed to hosting the workshop. Even in the face of adversity, the hunger for biblical financial training was, and continues to be, extraordinary.

Recognizing that Malawians are oral learners, this training employed a storytelling approach using the most powerful stories available – those from the Bible. Henry’s story from the African Money Map (AMM) was developed for this very reason. In the ten trainings Patrick has done since 2022, he has learned that scripture makes an immediate connection and impact on his listeners. They want to implement what they hear right away when they know it comes from the Bible. As an example of how Patrick used additional scripture to illustrate AMM principles, he told the story of Gehazi from 2 Kings 5:15-27 to emphasize the importance of integrity and the consequences of dishonesty. The trainers shared the story orally, without reading from the Bible, and followed it up with thought-provoking questions. This approach encouraged interaction and reflection among the participants.

One of the remarkable aspects of the workshop was the profound impact it had on the participants. After hearing the story of Gehazi, as well as the financial lessons found in Malachi 3, all present boldly and publicly engaged in prayers of repentance, openly expressing their remorse and seeking forgiveness. These prayers lasted anywhere from 20 to 45 minutes, demonstrating the deep spiritual impact the training had on them. The significance of the vulnerable openness that occurred cannot be overstated.  In honor-shame cultures, discussing money problems in public simply does not happen. God was clearly at work, and the trainers were awestruck by the transformation that took place before their very eyes.

Many pastors attending this workshop came from rural areas and had little to no formal biblical training. In these rural communities, the formation of a church is usually initiated by a group of villagers, who select one of their neighbors to be the pastor. Prior experience and training are immaterial. The lack of formal education made the financial stewardship workshop even more eye-opening for them. The story-based approach equipped the attendees with the ability to easily retell the messages and ask the same questions in their congregations, and many are regularly using storytelling in their Sunday sermons now, too.

At the conclusion, participants testified to the uniqueness of this training, remarking that they had never received anything like it before. They were amazed at the depth of the program and its transformational power. Through the dedication and commitment of individuals like Patrick Chapola and the use of storytelling, the financial stewardship workshop is making a lasting impact on the lives of pastors and their congregations, bringing heart change and improved resource management to both individuals and communities in Malawi.

The power of storytelling changes everything with Crown’s work in oral cultures. Pastors, excited by the knowledge they have gained through the workshop and confident in their abilities to impart it, are enthusiastically returning home to share the good news. Embracing the gift of storytelling is connecting more people to biblical truth than ever before.  It is as though God’s stories have wings!

In Matthew 9:37-38, Jesus says that the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few, and He tells us to pray for the Lord to send out more workers. As Patrick’s efforts have shown, when workers do go, they reap beyond measure. The work of Crown Malawi is a beautiful reminder of our need for mentors and companions on the journey to help us move from where we are to where God wants us to be. When we walk humbly and invest in others, the ripple effect is endless.


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