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.