Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Unity of the Spirit

When I first shared Bible stories in the indigenous community of Alto Rio Peje near Turrialba, Costa Rica a few months ago, I sensed Kenneth and his bride, Maye, would be taking Bible storytelling to a whole new level. The Cabécar couple did not only learn Old and New Testament stories easily but they also framed sets of questions flawlessly, drawing rich and poignant answers from the audience.

The pair naturally came to my mind when the Director of Missions for the Assemblies of God in San Jose, Costa Rica asked us to train their denominational leaders with the skill of Bible storytelling for the purpose of discipleship among indigenous people groups.

Although Kenneth and Maye could not recall the last time they were in the “big city” of San Jose, they were awestruck by the sight of tall buildings and loud traffic horns. Once the training began, they swiftly presented a story from the Gospel of Matthew to the pastors, missionaries and seminary professors in attendance. Maye told the story of the calling of Matthew from Matthew 9 and Kenneth solicited questions from the listeners as it related to the Gospel story.

When the first day of training ended, many of the leaders came and congratulated them for their ability to concisely and convincingly tell the story. “You never once used note cards nor reference notes while sharing your story tonight; thank you for teaching us this incredible tool,” said the head of the missions department to the Cabécar couple.

What many leaders also learned that night was that Kenneth and Maye had been leading other Cabécars to Christ through Bible stories in nearby villages in Turrialba.  A six-member group led by Kenneth and Maye, under the supervision of their church pastor, diligently practiced telling Bible stories for weeks before sharing them in other remote villages. Even though the group speaks Spanish and Cabécar, the stories are told in Cabécar because it draws a bigger audience. According to Kenneth and Maye, not only do the Cabécar listen more attentively when they hear a story in their own language, but they also participate more freely when they are invited to give their insights and spiritual observations in a large group.

By the end of the training, I stepped to the side and allowed Kenneth and Maye to teach directly to the group. To have the couple instruct on the how-to skill of Bible storytelling with the men and women was very rewarding. What a marvelous sight it was to see the unity of the Spirit displayed for all to see.

- Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. - Colossians 3:16

Kenneth and Maye at Instituto Biblico de las Asambleas de Dios (IBAD)
Kenneth instructing the leaders on how to present Bible stories 
Kenneth and Maye coaching the participants
More than two dozen leaders came to the training