Tuesday, October 19, 2010

99

"I love to tell the story
Of unseen things above,
Of Jesus and His glory,
Of Jesus and His love.
I love to tell the story,
Because I know 'tis true;
It satisfies my longings
As nothing else can do..."

It was a storytelling day. In fact it has been a storytelling week. I have to hand it to my friends working here in China. For the past ten years, they have seen the same tricks, and heard the same stories told over and over again. They still laugh, and they still take great delight in seeing the enthusiasm on the new "crop" of students' faces.

Each year they have remarked how the individuals I choose to "help" with the story are the perfect match. They are either the really shy ones that need a little encouragement to be engaged, or they are the class clowns that can really add to the delight of their classmates by their energy and participation.

"I love to tell the story,
'Twill be my theme in glory,
To tell the old, old story
Of Jesus and His love."

As I was reading His story, I noticed how the parables always created questions. This same scenario has played out year after year in China. The performance is the hook for putting the students at ease. We have always provided an opportunity for questions afterward. Generally they begin asking the secret of the "tricks" I have shown. Then they move on to more serious matters.

"I love to tell the story;
More wonderful it seems
Than all the golden fancies
Of all our golden dreams.
I love to tell the story,
It did so much for me;
And that is just the reason
I tell it now to thee."

The theme of many questions regards how I made a choice for "this type of work." After the lead in (I am a Christian) I always answer with the James 1:27 on caring for orphans. It gives ample room for, "As a Christian, the Bible is the foundation for my life choices... My love for God and His love for me compels me..." They listen, they take notes, they nod in agreement. My friend will always affirm, "The Bible, you understand, the book The Bible?" "Yes, yes, we know the Bible."

We work in tandem. Whether in the classroom or weeks after I am gone. They will use the questions (and answers) to create more opportunities and more seeds to be sown. "Remember when you asked the clown about why she went to other countries? Remember...?" In ten years we have heard thousands of students ask the questions (Why? How?) in one form or another, and we are prepared with the same old answer.

"I love to tell the story;
'Tis pleasant to repeat
What seems, each time I tell it,
More wonderfully sweet.
I love to tell the story,
For some have never heard
The message of salvation
From God's own holy Word."

Today, one of the students asked me to tell them a story about my children. I shared a time when they were very young and I was busy downstairs cooking dinner, they were busy playing school in the attic. I heard some strange banging noises and went to check on them. I opened my closet door that led into the attic storage area where the "schoolhouse" was located. As the door opened they all came piling out on top of one another, crying with despair. "What is the matter?", I asked. "We were locked in! We would have died in there! We would have starved to death!" I just laughed and said, "Didn't you think I would come looking for you? Did you think I would just sit down to dinner without my children? Don't you know I would miss you?" Of course they looked at each other and knew of course I would.

The students thought this was funny. But then, I was able to share His story about the "ninety and nine" sheep and the one that was lost. "I told you I am a Christian. Did you know Jesus taught those who followed Him by using stories. When this happened with my children, I immediately thought about Jesus' story of the one sheep that was lost. The Shepherd left the 99 that were safe and went to look for His sheep that had wandered off. That is how much God loves His children! His children that are lost in America, in China, in Africa, in India, He comes to look for them." They smiled. Perhaps some of them were hearing the Voice.

"I love to tell the story,
For those who know it best
Seem hungering and thirsting
To hear it like the rest.
And when, in scenes of glory,
I sing the new, new song,
'Twill be the old, old story
That I have loved so long."

Smiling, telling, and singing the same old song!