June 27, 2008

Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!

I am walking evidence of God working miracles, and I still struggle to see it and believe it when it happens. There are people in the small town that told me yesterday that they never expected to be talking to me again. For them, a miracle is a miracle.

Yesterday I went to the families on the hill. A few weeks ago, a one more relative attended a storying session. She came because she wanted prayer. She had been suffering a strange heart condition for a long time. I was telling about Jesus being crucified and she began laughing and crying at the same time, grabbing her heart in pain. After this happened a few times she went to lay down in the bedroom. They told me that she needed heart surgery and would be going to specialists to do many tests to know exactly what to do. After I told the story, my helper and I prayed for her complete healing in Jesus name.

Yesterday, she rejoined the group. Smiling, she had a stack of papers in her hand. EKG, stress tests, MRI, everything. The results were that her heart is healthy and functioning perfectly normal. She says that our prayers made her well. It was the first time she has participated with us from start to finish.

I told the story of the sower from Mark 4. We thought through and talked through what effect God's message has on people. It was one of our most dynamic and helpful times together. As we finished we agreed to allow God's message to produce in our lives every time we hear a portion of it. This group is committing to action, to live out what they have learned. This is what we've been praying for and waiting for.

Maybe we just needed a miracle.

We have several invitations to share the gospel through storying to many families. We are unable to do it yet, but we trust God to make it possible.

June 20, 2008

The wise man builds his house upon the rock.

Yesterday I returned to the small town and met again with the families on the hill. I told the story of Pentecost from Acts 2. This is the second time I've told this story in a story sessions. Last year, when I told it to the family in the big city, it took about 15 minutes to tell and was not retained very well by the listeners.

This time I did not use the quotes of Joel and David in Peter's sermon, but rather referenced them in passing. This gave the sermon and the overall story a better flow. This time it took about 5 minutes to tell. Retention was much better and after going through it together three times, the families on the hill could retell the story well. I do see a need, however to make recordings of these stories on CD so the families can listen to them and have them for themselves.

Our discussion was fair. I try to ask questions that will lead them to see the truthes in the scripture, but I don't want to do it in a way that is manipulative. Even so, we came across the question of baptism in this story. Peter said "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." I had hoped a simple recognition of this would be all it took to begin talking about when and where our group could be baptized. Instead, they all agreed that this didn't apply to them, since they were already baptized as babies and went through confirmation as children.

I asked them to keep thinking about the story and to be open to what God might show them. I may need to tell tell the story of Apollos in Acts 19. Apollos was already baptized by John the Baptist, but was still urged to be baptized in the name of Jesus. This might be a good story to show that believer's baptism is the ultimate baptism that takes the place of all other baptisms. Whatever direction we take with the stories, it's obvious that this is something that will be resolved only with prayer.

After coming down the hill I met with a businessman of the city. He and I have had a friendship for a while, but he is not often open to spiritual truth. He asked me if I'd was winning any souls for Jesus on the hill. I went to his home and told him honestly. "Some people like to hear the stories of God in the scriptures, but they don't put let it change their lives." His wife asked for an example and so I told Acts one and two as a narrative. I then asked them what they thought of the things the early Christians were doing at the end of the story. They replied "We wish there were a church like that one." The conversation got cut short as I nearly missed the bus and had to run.

June 13, 2008

I love telling God's Story.

Yesterday, my sister-in-law loaned us her car so I could take Loaise and Nilson to the small town. It is the first time I've gone by car since going deaf in Jauary. We didn't take our car because it is needing a little maintenence work before we take it out of the city.

We went to see the families on the hill. I told the story of Christ's ascention to heaven from Acts chapter 1. I've gone back to telling shorter stories in order to ensure that they will be completely remembered. It also enables us to go a little deeper in our conversations about the text. The families enjoyed imagining what it might have been like seeing Jesus taken up into heaven and imagining what it might be like when he returns.

We also took two large bags of Nilson's old baby clothes (he's grown a lot) and gave them to De, one of the women in this family group who is expecting in a few weeks. We visited the singer and his family and expect to start storying with he and some of his neighbors sometime next month.

It is becoming obvious that we need more help from our city church and that we need to be in the small town at least twice a week. I will be training new workers at the church and we will be praying for God to make it possible for us to go to the town more often.

June 10, 2008

Opportunities, commitments, and wishes

Last week I went back to the small town for the first time since recovering my hearing. The last real storying meeting we had was in January. Now we are getting back to business. Thursday Loaise and I will go and begin telling Acts 1 to the families on the hill. We will visit 3 other families.

There are currently 4 opportunities waiting for us: The singer's family, the families on new street, the families across the river, and the family near the bus station. There are 4 other possibilites. The problems are time money and help. I need to go to Tabuleiro twice a week (time and money). I also need to bring some helpers from the city church.

I have already advised the church that I will be doing a training workshop in a few weeks. We plan to introduce 15 or so people to chronological Bible storying and church planting. Most of them will work in the high city (the part of the big city that is on the moutain).

People are also asking for recordings of the stories. This is something else we need to get going.

Pray for all of this to come together soon.

Oh, my hearing is still improving. Keep praying for that too.