I love to tell the story of unseen things above, of Jesus and his glory, of Jesus and his love. I love to tell the story, because I know ’tis true; it satisfies my longings as nothing else can do.
I love to tell the story; ’tis pleasant to repeat. What seems, each time I tell it, more wonderfully sweet. I love to tell the story, for some have never heard the
message of salvation from God’s own holy Word.
I love to tell the story, ’twill be my theme in glory, to tell the old, old story
of Jesus and his love.
These days, we are telling the story here in Rough Rock, and it has been so much fun! I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that studying the Bible is so difficult here. The reading levels and comprehension make it terribly difficult for people to read, understand and apply God’s word. Added to that, there isn’t an understanding of the big picture. Sermons are pulled here and there out of scripture and most of the congregation isn’t even sure about what part of the Bible the lesson comes from, or even the difference between the Old and New Testaments.
My friend and mentor, Paul Armstrong made a wonderful suggestion- why not borrow from the Navajo tradition of story-telling to teach the whole Bible story? Genesis to Revelation? I asked the church if they would be interested and got a resounding YES!
So I started in Genesis and typed out a story and practiced telling it so that I wouldn’t be “teaching”, but rather “story-telling”. I made up a fill-in-the-blank sheet to go through after the story (as a review) and I used a really neat re-telling of the creation story in Native American terms that was given to me by one of my pastors in Fort Wayne, Chris Starn. The recording is done by RainSong. Click here to visit their website.
The first story night came, and I had 4 adults and 12 kids. We told the story of creation, the great flood and the tower of Babel. It was so much fun! The kids loved the fill-in-the-blank review, and everyone liked the RainSong retelling. Afterward, I gave them a blank sheet of paper to use for drawing pictures to illustrate the story, or to re-write the story in their own words. (You can see an adorable drawing of the tower of Babel in my photo- I love the “displeased” God behind the cloud!)
It went great, but afterward I had a little chat with God about how many people needed to be there, had said they would be there, that weren’t. I was disappointed.
Later that week I was walking with my friends Rod and Lavina, and Rod was talking about how he went to visit a church here on the reservation one Sunday and when he walked in there was nobody there, but there was a man in the middle of preaching a sermon. Rod listened to the sermon and then afterward asked the pastor why he was preaching to an empty room.
The pastor replied, “I decided a long time ago that I prepare and teach a lesson for the glory of God, and out of obedience to Him. It doesn’t matter who He brings to listen. It’s an act of worship for me.”
Oh, to have a heart like that pastor. I apologized to God for criticizing His choice of listeners to the Story. As I prepared for this week I prayed that just the right people would come.
Friday night, one family came. Delbert, Lula and their 2 sons. We continued the story. We reviewed the week before (and they remembered!), and then continued the story with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. I have the whole Old Testament in animated videos sent to me by a friend in Fort Wayne, Judy Schneider and they are really good for kids, so after the story and the worksheet, the 5 of us went back to my house to watch the video about Abraham and Isaac. They really knew the story by the time we finished. In fact, one of them connected the story of Isaac to a scripture we studied at Bible study earlier in the week. We had read James 2, which talks about faith without works being dead. It referenced Abraham and Isaac. They said, “Wow, it makes a lot more sense when you know the whole story.”
Just as they were saying their goodbyes, another family showed up. They had forgotten about story telling night and had just remembered. One mom with 8 kids. We told the story again. One of the little girls showed me all of the pictures she had drawn from last week and how she had written the entire story out, so she wouldn’t forget it.
I got to the part of the story when Abraham is asked to sacrifice Isaac and two of the little girls started to cry. I had to reassure them that the story had a happy ending!
After the video and review sheets and lots of questions, they were on the way out of the door when 2 more people from the church came. “Is it too late to hear the story?” they asked.
I am not sure why God does the things He does, but sometimes I see a glimpse and it makes me smile.
The third time around, I told the story and we filled in the worksheets and watched the movie. At the end of the movie (that I’d already watched 3 times), Abraham is so incredibly heartbroken to sacrifice his son and in the movie, Isaac is so accepting that he must be obedient. I was struck by what a perfect picture that sacrifice was of the future perfect sacrifice, when God gave his own son in place of a lamb. It was such a good reminder of the cost of salvation, and I’ve thought about it all weekend.
Maybe God needed me to hear and see the Story three times.
This approach to teaching seems to be a good one. Everyone who is coming is really listening and remembering the story as we move along. Please pray for us! Pray that God continues to bring just the right people here to listen and learn. Pray that I would tell the story correctly and in a way that is meaningful to them.
This week our first work team is coming! Quint Bryan is a pastor from Ohio who has worked with the Navajo for years, and he will arrive on Tuesday. I’m picking him up in Albuquerque (after I get a much-longed-for Starbucks coffee!). The work team from Michigan arrives Thursday. They will be roofing, fencing and cleaning up the cemetery here. Please pray for safe travels and a good time of learning, growing and serving for each of the people involved. Very exciting!!
Thank you so much for doing such a great job of supporting me and this little community in prayer! Have a wonderful week!
A little note at the end: I wrote this blog last night and this morning two little boys ran up to me at church, SO excited to show me the pictures they drew of Abraham’s sacrifice. I snapped a picture of them with my cell phone and just had to share it with you guys– they are just adorable….
“Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth.” Deuteronomy 11:18-21