About Amelia Boomershine

Rev. Amelia Boomershine is Director of GoTell Communications, Inc. and Director of Children's Ministries at Grace United Methodist Church, Dayton. Amelia is a member of the Network of Biblical Storytellers, International. This will be her fifth overseas mission trip for the purpose of teaching biblical storytelling and her first visit to Cambodia.

Post-Retreat Training

The pastors and their families finished their “retreat” (they did a lot of work for a retreat!) last night and went home this morning. However, two groups stayed on for another six hours of training today: the faculty of the Methodist Bible College in Phnom Penh (most of whom are also District Superintendents) and 25 Christian educators and Christian education trainers. Tom Boomershine, Tom Rand, and Angela Meeks led the faculty training and Elizabeth Rand and I led the Christian Education training. Both workshops were very productive and energizing.

In our work with the Christian educators, Liz and I plowed through a great deal of material about how to teach biblical stories to children, youth and adults. We outlined the four basic stages of a biblical storytelling workshop: Learn, Understand, Connect, Tell. We led specific activities for each stage, using the story of Jesus Calming the Sea from Mark 4 as our model story. I have never had such a responsive and creative group, and I’ve had some good ones in the past. It was amazing how fast they caught on to each activity, especially given that everything was done in translation.

We also gave the participants significant time at the beginning of our work together to discuss what they have learned this week, what they have heard pastors say about the retreat, and what obstacles they identify to establishing biblical storytelling as a primary approach to the mission and ministry of the church in Cambodia. And at the end we provided opportunity for them to consider next steps in their districts, congregations, and communities.

Hearing (through our translator) their reports on these topics enabled us to assess what had been of value for them and what they intend to do in the future. It assured us that the time, money and physical stresses of the trip were well worth it. We all felt that the results far exceeded our highest expectations. Here are excerpts from some of their comments:

–I learned that as children of God the pastor and teacher need to study the Word of God deep in the heart, to learn it by heart, to have faith in the stores, to believe in the stories.

–We heard from other pastors that this is a very good and helpful training to help them tell stories in Sunday School.

–When I was young I went to the pagoda and heard monks telling stories so I haven’t taken stories seriously. Now I think it is very important for me to tell the stories.

–We have learned to tell the story using our body, voice, facial expression. Also that it is best to use the words of the Bible to tell the story.

–This is a very simple way of telling stories, but very powerful.

–We will include all these techniques in our CE plan and have a trainng in local church and district.

–I will teach my congregation to tell the stories.

–Every month we share the good news with children by hair washing to rid them of lice and nail clipping. Now we will use storytelling as an opening part of this time.

–I see the potential for children in sharing the good news this way.

–In my community most believe in animism. My vision is to have a preschool in my church. We plan to do this in Oct-Nov. We cannot share the good news directly to older people in the village, but if we tell biblical stories to the children, they will tell their parents. This is God’s response to my prayer.




“I will tell this story”

cambodians and ameliaFirst thing this morning we had our third and final storytelling workshop. The last story I taught “my group” was the anointing of Jesus in Mark 14. The group was so cooperative and responsive in learning the story, telling it to each other and sharing connections. Our connection today was to recall how the woman showed her love for Jesus by pouring fine oil over his head and then to consider how we can show our love for Jesus by telling his stories from the Gospels, and also by telling the stories of his people as recorded for us in the Hebrew scriptures.

Our questions to reflect on were: What story will you learn by heart and tell when you go back home tomorrow, and to whom will you tell it? First I shared my reflection: I will be learning the parable of the Lost Sheep to tell the children of Grace Church in Children’s worship. Then I had them pair up and share with each other their answers. Lastly, we went around the circle and everyone stood and told what stories they would tell and to whom. It was such a blessing to hear the variety of stories and settings for teaching, and also to hear the confident commitment to this basic way of proclaiming the Good News.

I will miss this group and our story-work together, but I will be happy to remember it and to imagine the stories being told in their churches and communities.

For the kingdom of heaven is like…

Mt 20:16-20
“Fields of Plenty” by Cortney Haley

In these hectic days before our departure I wondered what image I might post as a symbol of preparations for this mission trip. Among a host of other last minute tasks, Tom and I have been scurrying to get the upcoming commentaries edited for our GoTell site. We just finished the Gospel lection for our second Sunday in Cambodia: the parable of workers in the vineyard. “Workers in the Vineyard” is a good metaphor for our mission and work together with the Cambodian Methodist pastoral leadership to tell the Gospel story in Cambodia.

What truly caught my imagination, though, was the graphic for this story and its title: “Fields of Plenty” by Cortney Haley for www.gotell.org. I guess most Americans associate Cambodia with the nightmare of the killing fields. I know that’s been my primary association and frankly I’ve been nervous about visiting a country with such horrific events in recent history. So I offer “Fields of Plenty” as a new association, more fitting for current realities and possibilities, descriptive of the beautiful country I am told we will experience, and an apt symbol of God’s ripe harvest there.

Last Sunday I attended Grace United Methodist Church in Springfield, MO where I was visiting family. I had never been to this church before and didn’t know anyone there. One of the hymns we sang, also totally new to me, seemed to have nothing to do with the rest of the service. But I knew why we sang it–just for me! It was like a word from God blessing me personally as I prepare for this trip to the other side of the world:

As a fire is meant for burning with a bright and warming flame,
So the church is meant for mission, giving glory to God’s name;
Not to preach our creeds or customs, but to build a bridge of care;
We join hands across the nations, finding neighbors everywhere.

#2237 in The Faith We Sing; words by Ruth Duck; music from The Sacred Harp, 1844