Monday, January 23, 2012

When you tell one of God's stories, don't let anyone change it!

The local village elder was a recent convert from Islam and was eager to learn more of the stories himself. A hush fell over the indigenous home because when a village elder speaks everybody listens. The man began to repeat a portion of the story he heard from the boy. But the boy grew uncomfortable. We didn’t know the language but we could tell there was something wrong. The boy’s youthful impatience bubbled over until he finally interrupted the elder. Shock and laughter blew through the crowd.

I asked what had happened. It turns out the elder had misremembered a point in the boy’s story and while his comments were by no means unorthodox, they betrayed he did not know the boy’s story as well as he thought he did. The boy’s father had taught him that God’s stories were the most important stories on earth and that when you tell one of God’s stories you must not let anyone change it. The boy was not willing to let even an elder change the story he told.

The elder joined in on the laughter and thanked the boy for his correction. In that one moment, the boy was more than a boy. He was a brother helping another brother to better follow Jesus. It just so happened that at that moment his brother was the village elder and he was a skinny shoeless boy who knew one of God’s stories.

The boy learned this story, as he did dozens of others, from his father. His father learned it from a neighboring village elder. That elder had learned it from an Ethiopian Christian trained to plant churches using Chronological Bible Storying among his native people. The boy was using the same methods and stories that his father was using to plant churches. While the boy’s current audience happened to be all believers in Jesus, he continued to do what he did in any context: share the stories of God’s Word. To our amazement standing in front of us, was a nine-year-old boy who was trained to be a church planter.

(extracted from Doug Bender and Steve Sims, Short-Term Trips, Bible Storying and Church-Planting Mission Frontiers, January-February 2012, U.S. Center for World Missions)

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