Eye Unit Retreat & Bible Storying

Have you ever thought or even known God was speaking to you?  Perhaps it was to share a warm meal with a homeless person shivering on the city's unforgiving winter sidewalk or to do something crazy, like, move your wife and young children to Africa.  Over the past several months, I have felt God encouraging me to share His WORD in new ways with those we serve in DEED in the eye unit.  I began to plan a spiritual retreat for the eye unit staff with this in mind but wasn't quite sure what it should look like.  I remembered hearing about missionaries using "Bible Storying" with remote, illiterate tribes to effectively communicate who God is and how man and the world relate to Him.

Let me explain a bit.  Using story telling, you start with creation and the fall of man and work your way through the key biblical stories.  At the end of each story, thought-provoking questions are asked of the audience (ie what does this teach us about God, creation, man...) and the story is repeated multiple times until it can be told perfectly by the audience (this is how oral cultures transmit their history, knowledge and wisdom from generation to generation).  The meaning of the narratives are largely self-taught as the group ponders together and sees how they are all part of an overarching story of God's redemption.  It might take a year before you even get to Jesus, but the audience truly understands their desperate need of a Savior just by the time you are leaving Genesis 3.

As this idea was pinging around in my head, the Kenya director of Christian Blind Mission (the eye unit's founding partner) paid me a visit and happened to mention a friend of his using "Bible Storying" with the Maasai.  I took this as a Divine appointment, and, to make a long story shorter, his friend, George Mixon, agreed to be our retreat speaker, along with Julius, a Kenyan pastor he works with in the Nairobi slums.  So, the day after returning from Burundi last month, I took off in the eye bus with the eye unit staff for a 3-day retreat in the Kakamega Rainforest (about 4 hours away).

We couldn't have been at a better place for learning how to tell the story of creation and the fall of man.  Kakamega is as close to Eden as you'll get on this earth.  It might have been there!  We really enjoyed learning how to share these biblical narratives as well as how to get the audience actively participating.  We all agreed a modified, bare-bones curriculum could work for storying in the eye unit.  We decided on 7 stories to share over a typical 36 hour patient admission, and we divided up into teams of 2-3 people.  Each team was assigned a story and a time slot to share it.

Monday Night - Creation of the Spirit World and Creation of the Physical World
Tuesday Morning - Creation of Man and Fall of Man
Tuesday Afternoon - Noah and The Birth of Christ
Wednesday Morning - The Crucifixion and The Resurrection of Christ

The cycle can repeat itself Wednesday Night - Friday Morning for the next wave of admissions.

The staff and I have been so blessed as we've shared these stories with patients over the last month.  We have seen many things in a new light ourselves.  The patients enjoy the stories so much that if we are late for the next round, they begin to ask, "Hey, what happened to the story I was supposed to be told next?"!  Below is Emily Keter, our nurse-in-charge, sharing a story in Kipsigis with her teammate, Richard Tonui, translating into Swahili for the out-of-tribe patients.

Below is a cloth we use, depicting in chronological order 42 key, biblical stories.  Sadly, we only have time to do a few of these.  The Western equivalent to this cloth is the stained glass windows of Europe's Medieval cathedrals.  They too tell the stories for a time when our culture was largely oral.

Pray that we will continue to see our lives and the lives of our patients transformed by the powerful message of hope, reconciliation and redemption we find in the Good News of Jesus Christ.  Because He is Risen, all things are being made new.

1 comment:

Sarah Lorenz said...

What a neat way to share the gospel with people while they are there.