Revive Our Hearts Podcast

The Power of a True Story

Leslie Basham: If you wonder where in the world God wants you to serve Him, learn today from the wisdom of a story-telling missionary.

Deborah: Someone told me quite a while ago, “Put your ‘yes’ on the altar, and let God put it on the map!”

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Holiness: the Heart God Purifies, for July 31, 2018.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Today I’m joined by my long-time friend, Carrie Gaul. Carrie, welcome to Revive Our Hearts.

Carrie Gaul: Thank you, Nancy, it’s so good to be here!

Nancy: And you’re no newcomer to this ministry. You’ve served here at the ministry for how many years now?

Carrie: About fourteen, I think.

Nancy: Wow! Can it be? You’ve been involved in our biblical correspondence department, so you’ve connected to a lot of our listeners in behind-the-scenes ways. You’ve gotten to know some of them and to hear their heartbeat and to see how God is using this ministry to touch so many lives.

Carrie: Yes, I love to hear what God’s doing in the hearts of women across the world!

Nancy: As somebody said to me yesterday, “I’m addicted to stories of God transforming people’s lives.” It is a joy to see that!

Carrie: Amen!

Nancy: Yesterday we listened as you interviewed a woman who is ministering in such a meaningful and effective way, telling the story of Jesus to women with a Muslim background. I know this is something that has been of interest to you for a long time. How did God first touch your heart about this kind of ministry?

Carrie: For years I’ve had on my bedside table books written about what God is doing in the Muslim world, the way He’s drawing Muslims to Himself. But it wasn’t until about four years ago when I was in one of the most unusual places, actually, when He began to give me a burden for the Muslim world.

We had the privilege of going into Israel, and the incredible privilege of spending a morning on the Temple Mount. And if you were to look at all of my pictures from the Temple Mount, they are all pictures of Muslim women.

As we stood there on the Temple Mount, I just sensed my heart being drawn to these women. I just wanted to be with them. I wanted to hear their stories. I wanted to hear their joys. I wanted to hear their sorrows. I wanted to know what had brought them to that place.

A few months ago I was reflecting on that, looking back at some of those pictures. I really sensed the Spirit of God saying, “Carrie, that’s My heart, too! That’s actually the reason for the Temple Mount, because I want to be with them. I want them to have relationship with Me.”

And everything’s that’s happened, from the book of Genesis through Revelation, including the Temple and the Tabernacle into the Incarnation . . .

Nancy: . . . is for all the peoples of the earth.

Carrie: For all the peoples of the earth, that every tribe and tongue and nation might hear that He is God!

Nancy: So God put this burden in your heart when you were on the other side of the world, but then you got back home, you began to realize that there were women from Muslim background not too far away.

Carrie: Yes. I have a number of women whom I would count as dear friends who are Muslim-background believers. I’ve learned so much from them! But I didn’t have any local friends who were Muslims living in our area.

So I just began to pray and ask the Lord to bring a Muslim woman across my path as a neighbor, as a friend, just to be able to relationally interact with her. And so recently, within the last few months, the Lord has actually done that.

I have a new friend that I’ve come to love; she’s a young mom with a little one. The interesting thing is, Nancy, in so many ways the bridge to building a friendship hasn’t been hard because she’s a woman and I’m a woman; she’s a mom and I’m a mom; she cooks and I cook; she enjoys gardening and I enjoy gardening.

So we’re getting to know one another just as friends, as I would any other woman from any other culture.

Nancy: And I assume she has friends, so you’ve probably gotten to know more than just this woman. 

Carrie: She’s actually invited me into that place. So many of our Muslim friends are far more relational than we are, naturally, and so they spend a lot of time together. They spend time getting to know one another. So my friend has invited me, and I feel honored at that invitation, to begin getting to know her friends.

Nancy: And what a reflection your heart is of the heart of Jesus, who came to this earth to draw near to us and to make it possible for men and women of every background to draw near to God through Jesus Christ.

I think that’s the beauty of the gospel story, that He laid aside the glories of heaven to step into our story, the human story. And because He did that, we now have the joy and the responsibility to share His story with others.

Carrie, yesterday you introduced us to a friend who we’re calling “Deborah” who is using the whole means of storytelling to explain the good news of Jesus with others—especially in areas of the world that we would generally consider to be closed to the gospel.

Carrie: Yes, and the exciting thing is, Nancy, not only is Deborah introducing them to Jesus through these stories, but she’s equipping them with a method that they can use to share Jesus with others in that culture.

Deborah: "In another place, there was a woman who had been arrested because she was talking to someone about Jesus and had been thrown in prison."

Carrie: Deborah shared with us during one of our weekly chapel services. 

Deborah: When I met with her, she was going to be my sort of tourist guide in this country, so we had an excuse to be together. I asked her what was the worst part of being prison?

And she said, “When I was in prison, the worst part of it were those little black bugs that bit me all the time!”

So I just want to tell you, if you pray for the persecuted and those in prison, pray for the bugs. Be very specific. Put yourself in that place.

And she said, “It was so hard! The guard’s eyes looked like wolves’! I could pray, but I didn’t know any Scripture. How can I learn Scripture?”

Carrie: Of course, Deborah had a great solution: learn to story! Learn to retell the accounts in Scripture where God’s character is revealed through His mighty deeds.

Deborah: “A story! You can learn them. You will get confidence in who He is and what He can do in the midst of prison!” And so we were in a hotel room, and we didn’t even go to the tourist place. We sat in the hotel room—her on her bed, me on my bed—and we went to Exodus 3, because this is a great one with Muslims.

Carrie: Exodus chapter 3 is the story of Moses and the burning bush.

Deborah: I love doing the Old Testament where God shows Himself so personal. Everyone sort of stops at, “Do not come any closer . . . take off your sandals for the [ground] where you are standing is holy ground. For I am [indeed!] the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob. [And] at this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God” (Ex. 3:5–6).

 Do you know what comes next? The part we leave out. “[And] the Lord [God] said [to him], ‘I have indeed seen the misery of my people. . .[and] I have heard them crying because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So [now] I have come down to rescue them . . . and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land . . . [dwelt in by] the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites” (vv. 7–8). I learned C, H A, P . . . yeah, that’s how I had to learn it.

Do you see what’s revealed to a Muslim? And then I’ll say, “Well, what do you learn about Allah in this? What do you learn?”

“Gasp!”

“What?”

“He sees; He hears; He’s concerned; He comes down; He’s personal; He knew his name!”

I don’t say any of that. They tell me. I say, “I agree with you!”

"Wow, this God really cares!"

“I think so!” They say it, I don’t. And I learned in listening, the commitment they have. They just need the tools to be able to gently tell the stories. Because, you see, making these barriers porous is that you don’t seem like you’re preaching or proselytizing if you just tell a story from one of the holy books. No one ever challenges me.

Carrie: Outside of the Qur’an, Islam also considers these to be holy books: the Torah (the first five books of our Bible), the Psalms, and the Injil (the Gospels).

Deborah: And I know, within the trainings I’ve done and in working with Muslims, “They will tell you that the holy books have been corrupted,” and I've learned how to debate that. But . . . I have never had a Muslim tell me that . . . ever.

I just say, “I want to tell you a story.”

[Them:] “Eh, okay.”

They never debate with me. And so the barriers, everything just kind of flows through. Muslims who love their families, their friends, their community are looking for ways to be able to introduce these ones they love to a Holy God and to the Son that He sent to redeem them—without works, by faith. But they have to be very careful. So what tools do they use? How do they do that? They can story! And not only that, because they can’t walk around with a Bible . . .

I was in a group and I said, “Okay, I have the Bible hidden on me. Where do you think I’ve put it?”

And they guess, “On your phone? In your pocket? Do you have it . . .?”

It’s like, “No, come on!”

Carrie: Deborah pats her heart. 

[Them, with an intake of breath, realizing:] “Oh, yeah!”

You see, they can be arrested, they can be put in prison, but no one can take it when it’s been put here! Most of the world, and even the United States . . . The last ION conference (International Orality Network) has done the research (several years ago) and said that fifty percent of all American high school graduates will never read an entire book all the way through again in the rest of their lives.

Oh, they’ll read parts, on the Internet, on their laptop. And most of the world is oral. When you talk about memorizing here in the U.S., people roll their eyes back, “I have to memorize? I can’t memorize!” People in America tell me that all the time.

You go cross-culture. By the time you are through going through the story . . . You do it inductively; the process is inductive. You tell the story, then you go through it in observations, then you go through it in interpretation. Then you take what they say, in what they thought was happening, and then you ask them, “How’s that happening in your life?” Then you tell the story again, and by the time you leave, they have it memorized. They can tell the story without really being threatening.

And so, if the Muslim world is to know Jesus, Muslim-background believers will need to be mobilized!

One of the friends that I’ve work with, I’ve asked her permission to tell her story. I cannot tell you what country, because she’s asked me not to. She lives in a highly, highly persecuted area.

She was actually raised in a Christian home, then came to know a Muslim young man. They fell in love. He began to listen to her, and he began to be a follower of Jesus, and he committed his life.

When his father found out, his father came to him and said, “You are disinherited! You are no longer my son! I no longer even will say your name!” Then left, went home, and had a heart attack. So this man’s brothers (his name’s Abdul) decided that he needed to pay the price for his father’s death because he had changed, he had left the family and betrayed them.

They decided they needed to take his life, because in Islam that’s what you do. So they armed themselves, they stood on a corner early one morning and waited for him to come by on his way to work, and they were going to kill him!

As his car rounded the corner, they riddled it with bullets! There was no way he could survive! The only problem was, he had loaned his car to his mother that morning, and they murdered their own mother!

And so, you know what that Christian couple decided to do? They decided to go back into Islam. She covers; her daughter covers. She goes to the mosque; he goes to the mosque. She takes the Qur’an. They have a madrasa (an Arabic Islamic school) attached to their little house, and she teaches people the Qur’an. She teaches them all the verses that lead them to Isa al-Masih!

Carrie: That’s Arabic for “Jesus the Messiah.”

Deborah: They are leading Muslims by staying inside and in secret, and they are using stories. I went and visited her. I had to stay in the hotel. I couldn’t even leave it. But she had me come to her house and she said, “I’d like for you to story at the Madrasa.”

I’m like, “Okay . . .”

So I got to story at the Madrasa. It’s a story from one of their holy books. But they got to see Him in living color, not me, but Him—face to face!

As God is leading me more towards refugees in the Muslim context, I began to pray as I would visit. You can’t get into the camp. It’s far too dangerous! You have to have a police escort. Only Angelina Jolie can get into the camp. (laughter) You have to be somebody!

Some of them have bribed their way out, some of them have come out. And so this poor, little tired town has a lot of the refugees that can’t go anywhere else. They’re not allowed to work. The U.N. gives them a stipend for food. 

So I’m story-ing with different ones. As I began to see how this was happening (that they don’t support each other) the women have seen unbelievable things! I mean, one of the families I went to story with, the husband was a chef in Homs (Syria). And if you’ve followed it at all, it’s kind of like what has happened to Aleppo. Homs was just leveled! They all have cell phones, and they show you pictures of Homs, and how it was beautiful and once a great city.

As we were there, they get all the food they have [to feed me] because, you know, Muslims are so hospitable. I have so much to learn from them! They just cooked this dish. I love this dish that they have!

We’re all sitting on the floor eating, and my friend who’s going to translate said, “Tell a story.”

“You bet!” I had visited them, and now when I go, the father will say, “Well, I want to tell a story!”

I say, “Okay! Tell a story.” So he tells one from the Qur’an. 

I say, “Great! Can I now tell a story?” So then I tell one from one of the other holy books. But that first time, as I began, I went into the storm story.

And he said, “You know, we had to leave all of a sudden, because we got up one morning and our neighbors had been beheaded on the front lawn! We had to get our kids out!”

And so now, every time you go, he wants to trade stories. Where are they in this process? I don’t know. That’s His business. I know I just keep loving them, and they keep loving me. And slowly, little by little . . .

The little girl was so terrified of airplanes because they were dropping bombs. He’s a big smoker. He would take the little cartons of cigarettes when he was finished and use the carton and make a little paper airplane out of it so she could play with it, so she could start feeling less terrified of airplanes. The wounds that these people have . . . There’s only One Person who can heal it!

Carrie: Storytelling from the Bible can encourage believers, and it can plant seeds in the hearts of people who know little to nothing about the Bible. Deborah saw that in the life of a woman at the refugee camp.

Deborah: I had been praying for God to give me a woman who would be a leader amongst the refugees, someone that would come to be a follower of Jesus and then would bring the other women along, someone who was in their own context, someone who was in their own culture, someone that spoke their heart language.

So when I was in this particular place, one of the ladies came to me and said, “We know a Muslim woman who is a person of peace.” This is the person I always look for, from Luke 10:5–6. “When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If someone who promotes peace is there . . .”

A person of peace, someone who’s not going to argue, debate. They just want to talk and discuss. “Well, we think we have this woman. We’ve met this woman. She’s a perfect example of a person of peace. Would you like to meet her? She likes stories.”

Great, because I’m a storyteller.

So she invited myself and my friend (who was going to translate) to her home for breakfast. We sat on her floor for an Arabic breakfast. She invited her two sisters and her mother. So we’re sitting eating and my friend eventually (after an appropriate amount of time) said, “Deborah is a storyteller. Would you like for her to tell you a story?

They all agreed, “Yes, we would love a story!”

So I began. I prayed quickly, because I never know for sure what story He might want me to tell. I thought, “Yes, this is the one!” So I started. 

That morning early, before dawn, Jesus appeared again in the Temple courts, and the people gathered around Him, so He sat down and taught them.

Then the teachers of Sharia [the law] and the Pharisees brought in a woman who had been caught in adultery, and they put her before them. And they said to Him, “Teacher, we caught this woman in the act of adultery! In the law, Musa [Moses] tells us that we should stone such a woman. What do You say?”

And before I could go on with the story, they interrupted me: “You have chosen a wonderful story! This is the best story! This is a very good story!”

Carrie: These are the Muslim women interrupting you?

Deborah: Yes. So we’ve got the sisters, the one lady, and her mother. “This is a wonderful story! This is a great story! You have chosen well because every religion in the world says a woman like this should be stoned! Not only stoned, but she should be stoned with eighty stones [I had never heard that!] until she’s dead! This is a great story!”

And _____ looks to me and in English says, “They have no idea what’s coming.”

And I’m thinking, We could go either way with this. It’s like, “Okay . . . I’m going to tell the rest of the story.”

 So they were using this question, yes, as a trap in order to accuse Him. And Jesus bent down and began to write in the dirt with His finger. And when they kept questioning them, He stood up and He said, “You who are without sin, go ahead, you throw the first stone.” And He bent back down again and drew on the ground.

And upon hearing this they began to leave one at a time, the older ones first, until no one was left except Him and the woman still standing there. And He stood up and He said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

“No one, Sir.”

“Then neither do I condemn you. Go your way and leave your life of sin!”

[Then the women react:] I mean, there was like dead silence! We’re on a carpet because we’re in an Arabic home, we’re sitting. But there is dead silence; you could have dropped a pin, even. Dead silence, mouths wide open, like, “Whoa!”

And I thought, Okay, we’ve got one shot. So I asked the one question: “What do you think of Him?” I didn’t even use His Name.

And their three responses I will never forget: The first one is, “He is so forgiving!” “He is so loving!” and “Kind!”

And I said, “Yes, I think so also.” As we were picking up the breakfast dishes off of the floor and moving on, getting ready to leave, I asked this one woman that had been the one that had initiated the invitation, “Do you think you might tell that story to some of the refugees in the camp?”

She said, “Absolutely not! I’m going to tell that story to everyone I know!” So we have a Muslim woman who has just seen Jesus face to face, who thinks He is forgiving, loving, and kind.

Little by little, she is going to continue to fall in love with Jesus one step at a time, and it isn’t because this Western woman came and told her who Jesus was. She said it and her sisters and her mother—they said it with their own lips! It was a self-confession, it was self-discovery. 

Carrie: Yes, through the Word of God.

Deborah: Through the Word of God. The Spirit of God revealed to them His character by what He did. I just need to free up God’s Word to allow Him to meet them where they are with what they need to see, because I don’t know.

Carrie: There was a day when not knowing all the variables may have caused Deborah anxiety. But experience has taught her to leave the results in the Lord’s hands.

Deborah: There are times when you tell the story that you don’t know . . . It’s like dropping a penny into the well. You wait to hear it hit, and you don’t hear anything. That’s when I’m constantly reminded by Him that it is not our performance, it is our faithfulness. Right?

I can’t tell what the results are of this that I do, because I don’t belong to an orality organization. I travel mostly by myself. I’m with small groups. This is not some big world movement. Someone told me quite a while ago, “Put your ‘yes’ on the altar and let God put it on the map.”

Carrie: Many times Deborah’s story-ing is used by God to encourage believers to trust Him more.

Deborah: I was at another place where the family (the parents) had been arrested, thrown in prison, and had later been released. I was with them for a very short period of time. We were getting ready to go, under cover of darkness, somewhere else. We were waiting, and the thirteen or fourteen-year-old daughter wanted to practice her English.

When her parents left the room, she said, “Sometimes I’m very afraid. I’m frightened!”

“What are you frightened of?” 

She said, “I’m frightened when the police come and they arrest my mummy and my daddy and they take them away. I’m afraid they’re going to die!”

You know, I’m not prepared for that kind of talk from a thirteen or fourteen-year-old young girl. But the family came back in. We still weren’t ready to leave, and the father said, “While we’re waiting to go and meet other people to hear about the story-ing, would you just story with my family?”

So I said, “Of course.”

So they called her back in (because she’s a teenager and had left the room). “We’re going to listen to a Bible story.” Well, she sits on the couch with her mother, with her arms folded and rolling her eyes (because she’s done!).

So as I get into the story, I tell the storm story, and we’re coming down through when Jesus says to them (after He calms the waves and the wind): “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

And I asked the question (not particularly of her; she wasn’t talking), “So, what do you hear in His voice here? What is this that He is saying to them? What do you think of Him? What is the meaning behind this?”

And she leaned forward so she could make eye contact with me, and she said, “Oh, I know! There is a brick wall outside our house, and I like to climb on it. And my mummy and daddy have told me not to climb on it because I’m going to get hurt.”

And she said, “I was climbing on it, and I fell and cut my hand. I ran into the house and my mummy called my daddy. They’re washing it, and they’re putting medicine on it, and a Band-aid on it. They’re, “Are you okay?” and “Did you get  hurt? Are you bleeding anywhere else? Are you sure you’re okay?” And I know they love me!

And she said, “And then, all of a sudden, my dad says, ‘Why were you climbing on that wall? We’ve told you not to climb on that wall’” She said, “Jesus is just being a good father!”

And so her being afraid, she didn’t say it but it’s like, all these things, if you’re listening, you’re hearing.

Carrie: Yes. It’s the living Word of God drawing people out, drawing them to Himself. 

Deborah: Instead of me. So when someone comes and tries to talk them out of it, which within the Islamic context this does happen. The Imam will come and try to “reconvert,” as they use that word.

But their process has come about through self-discovery. It is not because some American man or woman told them this. It’s like, “No, I know this, and I’ve learned it from one of the holy books.”

And it’s like, “No. This is where I stand.” They can stand firm and not recant and not fall back. There will be the winds of adversity. It doesn’t matter in the Middle East or the Far East or even here. There will always be the winds of adversity.

And so, faith is built slowly, steady, on a firm foundation, on the Rock—not on the sand!

Nancy: We’ve been listening to a conversation between Carrie Gaul, from Revive Our Hearts, and a woman that we’re calling “Deborah.” We’re not using her real name in order to protect her identity, for security reasons.

Deborah’s been showing us how storytelling can connect people to the truth of God’s Word, even when they might ordinarily resist hearing about the Scripture. During this series yesterday and today, we saw the power of life-on-life interactions between women.

We heard how women in the Middle East might join together for tea, and then be willing to hear a story that could change their lives. Now, I want to tell you about an opportunity to do something similar this September. That’s during the True Woman '18 conference on September 27–29.

The bad news is that this event in Indianapolis is already sold out. But the good news is that this year our team is putting together an enhanced livestream experience hosted from Indianapolis, where you’ll have a chance to see backstage interaction with our speakers and other guests—things that you’ll only experience on the livestream.

So that weekend women from around the world will be gathering together in homes or in other locations, churches, to watch True Woman '18 together and have that kind of life-on-life interaction that we’ve been hearing about today.

I want to ask if you would consider hosting a True Woman '18 group in your home or perhaps in your church or in your business or in some other venue. Invite women to join you to watch the livestream together, and then talk about what you’ve heard and how to apply it to your lives. To get more details and to sign up for the livestream, you can visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

Carrie: So if you ever feel like this world has gone completely crazy and you need a solid dose of perspective, then I’d like to invite you back for tomorrow’s Revive Our Hearts program. Nancy will help us see what God’s Word has to say to to us to help us live for the age to come. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth helps you tell God’s story. It’s an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the NIV.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.

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