December 21, 2007

December 21st, 2007

Earlier this week, my trip into the small town was cancelled. Those that I was planning to meet were unable to keep the evening free with all that is happening at the end of the year.

So, we're done for the year with Bible storying and will restart in early January.

Merry Christmas.

December 18, 2007

December 18th, 2007

Well, last night was our last bible storying session with the family in the big city. In order to draw a close to our stories, I went back and told a simple story from Matthew 13, Jesus telling the story of the sower and his explaining of the story. We followed the same pattern we always followed. I told the story, they retold it to me, we stepped through it with questions about the story, then we had a discussion of meaning and application.

We talked about what happens to people after they hear God's message. They really identified with rocky soil, but were afraid of that as well. They wanted to be good soil. We talked about what their lives would be like in the future if they based on each type of soil. Hopefully, this family will be obedient and reproduce. Only God knows right now.

We are going to leave the discipleship of this family to the care of another Christian family and we will start new storying groups in January. We will check up with this family from time to time, but our meetings will no longer be weekly. I will post when they are baptized. They have an opportunity at the end of the year. We'll see.

Tomorrow I will go to the small town.

December 14, 2007

December 14th, 2007

On Wednesday I went to the families on the hill in the small town. It was the second to last meeting we will have this year. We met in De's house and this was a change. Lu, in the wheelchair, had to be pushed up and around the hill from his house to attend. This family is glad to do this, though it is hard, hard work.

I told, after reviewing the birth story of Jesus, the story of the baptism and the story of the temptation of Jesus. Since I had told the stories recently and they were fresh in my mind, I didn't spend much time preparing for the discussion. Big mistake. Fortunately, God's Word has its own power and the Holy Spirit uses it to change people. Still, I found myself meandering a lot in our discussion time. I remembered things we should have talked about after having moved on to other parts of the story. Anyone who is doing storying needs to realize that fresh preparation is key to the dynamic of the study. They learned the stories and retold them well. That is key. This group is also very close to faith.

On the way home, I gave a ride to the family of a man who is a folk singer. He is a friend of mine and I have been offering steadily to tell them the Bible. His wife is strongly culturally catholic. She has politely but firmly resisted any attempt to talk about God. Well, the trip takes about an hour and it was really late, so I offered to tell a story as I drove to help pass the time. I told the long version of the Christmas story. It took about half and hour and they were all amazed at the story. I believe the door has been opened, so pray that the singer's family can begin to learn the Bible.

December 11, 2007

December 11th, 2007

Last night, Loaise and I went to the family in the city for the second to last meeting of the year with them. I told the story of Paul and Silas being arrested, beaten and thrown in Jail and subsequently leading the jailer to Christ. After we reviewed and talked through the story. We continued to talk about baptism using the example from the story. I am pressing them to act in obedience.

One comment I'd make at this point from my experience with them is this: When we started the series, one of the women offered coffee to the group and we all accepted. Over time this turned into a light snack and lately a heavy snack. Every week, it takes a little longer to get started. While the time together is nice, it is a burden on the host, because she is preparing more and more each week. It is a burden on the storying session, because we either finish very late or have a shorter time story the bible. I am going to suggest that our future groups avoid going beyond coffee as a hospitality.

December 10, 2007

December 10th, 2007

This journal update is more of an announcement than anything. A couple of things: With the end of the year coming up, people's schedules are changing rapidly. My posting will be a little less frequent until January.

Currently, we are discipling the family in the big city and encouraging them to be baptized and to join a local church. The families on the hill in the small town are now hearing and learning stories about Jesus. Our meeting will now be on Wednesdays and no longer on Tuesdays. The target date for them to be baptized and form a church is Mardi-Gras. (That is the biggest holiday here in Brazil. Our church has rented a campground and will host a retreat during that weekend. Our goal is to baptize this group on that weekend and commission the church.)

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We are still planning to start 3 more storying groups in the small town, there are many who are interested, but getting them organized always proves to be a challenge.

December 5, 2007

December 5th, 2007

Yesterday, I returned to the small town and met again with the families on the hill. We did not meet with the family in the big city on Monday. They were travelling.

After having set the stage by storying through a good portion of the Old Testament, I began the story of Jesus. This was the 4th time I've told the birth story of Christ for a group, and not only was it easier to prepare, I told it in a way that was much more interesting and full of life. The more you tell a story, the more it becomes part of you.

I told the story in small parts, as it is found both in Matthew and Luke. My real goal for the night was to enable everyone who participated to be able to tell the story of the birth of Jesus well. It is getting close to Christmas time and this story is one that can be naturally told. I am going to challenge each of them to tell the story at least 5 times before Christmas. We had a lot of fun telling and repeating the story many times last night.

Our discussion roamed a bit, while they interacted with the story. A lot of questions they asked and answered had to do with the differences in the authentic biblical story and the popular versions of the Christmas story.

One other interesting exchange was this: I asked them if anyone noticed from the story anything special or miraculous about the birth of Jesus. Some mentioned the star that appeared, others the angels, someone mentioned the prophecy, but no one mentioned the virgin birth. I asked them if they thought it was special that Jesus was born of a virgin. Then it hit them. Wow! They talked about the story and agreed that this was a big miracle. I then asked '"them if Mary continued to be a virgin after the birth of Jesus. The all immediately replied "Yes!" Then one woman's eyes got big and she exclaimed "Wait, no! Remember the story. Joseph didn't have relations with Mary until after the baby was born." They all thought that was very interesting, since Mary is to them "The Virgin Mary"

I'd never really seen it before, but in Brazilian folk theology, the concept of "The Virgin Mary" is that Mary's virginity shows Mary's purity and Mary's virtue, not that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit. Last night, for the group, the emphasis was placed back onto Christ.

December 2, 2007

December 2nd, 2007

This morning I finished my sermon series on Jesus. I told as a single narrative from the moment Judas went to meet with the religious leaders to plan to deliver Jesus up to the moment that Jesus was taken up into Heaven in Acts 1.

I really enjoyed the chance to tell Bible narrative as a sermon for the past 4 weeks. I am glad to be getting a break for a while. Many of the church members asked me how I could remember such a big story and wondered if I have a super memory. I told them that I actually don't have a great memory, but that I learned the big story as a series of small stories that are only about 2-3 minutes long each. Then when it is time to tell the big story, I string the stories together as a narrative.

After the new year, I will begin a group within this church. I will help them to learn Bible stories, learn to tell them, learn to teach others to learn them and tell them, and learn how to lead people to think through the stories as they hear them, as a form of Bible study.