About a year ago, I was off to Orlando, Florida to a Bible Story workshop called “Simply the Story.” I wanted to know how I could share God’s Word effectively in a culture that prefers oral modes of communicating. I was growing discouraged at a lack of connection between my style of teaching (Western, literate) and my community’s style of learning (African, oral). In other words, I wanted to know how to teach people to understand the Bible even when they aren’t comfortable reading the Bible.
When I began the training, I expected that the greatest impact would be on my neighbors whom I serve in our village. I should have known better because God “is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think” (Eph 3:20, CSB). First, he impacted me.
Since I started learning and telling stories this way, I’ve unearthed new treasures in so many familiar Biblical stories, even in the smallest of details. When sharing from Luke 8, I found Jesus’ use of the word “daughter” when addressing the woman who had been hemorrhaging blood for years (Luke 8:48) to be an incredible restoration of her worth as a human even after he healed her physically. I had read this story many times and had probably even looked at one of my Bible commentaries for more insight about it. I discovered this by working through the story in a community.
The impact went beyond me, too. After I taught a class this spring on how to use this method, one person decided to introduce it to their small group. Another person incorporated this method in their camping ministry. Another local church is interested in learning about this method as well. What I had originally intended only for my neighbors in Africa has spilled over into our community in Northeast Ohio.
Disciple-making is not something I only engage in when I’m in Africa. I have the privilege of making disciples everywhere I go. All in all, I’m glad God doesn’t stick to the small boundaries I assign to Him but is in the business of making His name and His Word great in the hearts of all people, everywhere.