Many cultures define their worldview and pass their values and morals through story. Consider the story of the Coyote for many Native American Indians. He is portrayed as a trickster with anarchistic energy, a selfish individual without concern for the community. This description is passed down through stories about his schemes and the trouble that ensues from generation to generation as a picture of what not to do. He is just one character that defines the morals of the community.
Even in our own American culture, we tell stories of mystery and romance to find meaning in life. The story is considered better when the hearer, reader or watcher can relate to the character and experience the emotion and find significance in the message. Often families, such as my own, shares a good opinion about a movie because it relates to our family, a shared experience, or our shared values.
“Rational analysis is based on hard, objective evidence and logical, discursive analysis and creates abstractions from concrete reality. Stories, on the other hand, are based on both imaginative and rational analysis and deal with the complexities of human experience that cannot be probed by the rational mind along; they include contradictions, compromise, conflict, and crisis” . “Narrative knowing is different from critical, analytical knowing” .
Stories come into our life and travel with us. Eugene Petersen, the author of “The Message” says, “Learning stories isn’t the same as learning the multiplication tables. Once we’ve learned that three times four equals twelve, we’ve learned it and that’s that. It’s a fact that doesn’t change. The data is stored in our memory for ready access. But stories don’t stay put; they grow and deepen” . Such is the case of Bible stories.
Jesus mostly taught in stories and through parables, to share understanding and knowledge through experience. The Old Testament is almost entirely written in narrative form and the stories continue to resonate with new insight as new situations that relate to them arise in our life.
When bringing the gospel to other cultures, especially those that are oral cultures, it is critical that we present our Bible stories in a fashion that will open the hearers to changing their worldview. Anthropologist, Paul Hiebert says, “Conversion may include a change in beliefs and behavior, but if the worldview is not transformed, in the long run the gospel is subverted and the result is a syncretistic Christo-paganism, which has the form of Christianity but not its essence” . In a very simple example, if you present Christ to the Hindu culture, without a change of worldview he can become simply one more god of the three million gods they already serve.
Therefore, a presentation of a “Roman’s road” gospel can fall far short of bringing true salvation and a transforming life to the listeners. However, it is not uncommon that other cultures may come forward to an altar or agree in prayer simply to please the foreigners who have come to visit them.
It is often therefore necessary to disciple followers through a story that is memorable and repeatable. We are starting our first story of our 12 story set designed to share God and salvation. It is an evangelism and discipleship set. As we have talked about in past articles, we try and keep the Bible stories a length of 3 minutes. Below is our first story using poetry as a mnemonic. This makes it easy to memorize. The stanza pattern is expressed. I have also further separated the story into sections.
Section 1 is Before anything else, there was God.
Section 2: God is the Father of creation, He created the Spirit World.
Section 3: God created a chief angel.
Section 4: The chief angel rebelled against God
Section 5: The chief angel is the devil and the angels that followed are demons.
Section 6: The devil wants man and woman to follow him in his rebellion.
Section 7: God has a plan to rescue man and woman.
A second device in this story is the repetition of the phrase God, the Father of creation, is good. In so many cultures, including our own, God is thought of as being a judge anxious to punish wrongdoing in man. The phrase is driving the thought home that God is good and He is associated with a father.
God Created the Spirit World
A Before there was the world and the stars,
B Before there was the sun and the moon,
C Before there was the day and the night,
D There was God.
A Before there was light and darkness,
B Before there was man and woman,
C Before there was birth and death,
D There was God.
A God has no beginning and no end,
B He wasn’t born and will not die,
C He was never young and does not grow old.
A God always was,
B God always is,
C God always will be.
And God, who is the Father of creation, is good.
A God is the Father of creation.
B He made the earth,
C He made the heavens,
D And in the heavens he made the innumerable angels.
A The angels are good,
B And they are spirits.
C The angels serve God, the creator.
D The angels love God and obey God.
God, the Father of all creation, is good.
A God created a chief angel
B God created him wise and beautiful
C With every precious stone on his chest.
A God anointed the chief angel,
B To be the guardian of the Mountain of God.
C And God named the chief angel Day Star.
God, the Father of Creation, is good.
A Day Star was blameless in all his ways,
B Until unrighteousness found him
C And pride consumed him because of his beauty.
A He said, I will be like God,
B I will put my throne above God’s throne
C And the other angels will serve me.
A One third of the angels listened to him,
B They turned away from God
C This was sin.
A Sin separates from God
B Brings death to a relationship with God
C So God cast them out of heaven.
Because God the Father of creation, is good.
A Now, this evil angel is called Satan
B The father of lied, the accuser, the devil
C And he deceives us and appears as good,
D But he is evil.
A The angels that followed Satan are demons,
B Fallen from heaven,
C They no longer serve God
D And they are evil.
But God, the Father of creation, is good.
A The devil fights against man and woman,
B The demons fight against man and woman
C Deceiving man and woman to follow them.
A The devil roams the earth like a lion,
B Seeking whom he can devour,
C And seeking who will follow him.
But God, the Father of creation, is good.
A God has a plan to rescue man and woman,
B A plan of hope and a future.
A God has a plan to punish the devil and his demons
B Soon they will suffer for their rebellion.
Because God, the Father of creation, is good.
Choose this day, whom you will follow.
This simple story, recited in a verse pattern, introduces many Biblical concepts about God and is put together from scripture: God is the creator, He is good, in the image of a Father. He created the angels which reinforces that the angels are less than He since he is their creator, that angels serve God, and that angels are spirits. The story explains the beginning of evil and why evil and suffering exists as well as implying that the spirit world that the culture you are speaking to is a deception of the devil. It also demonstrates that the devil and evil are not equal to God and good and shows God as more powerful than any other creation. Finally, it demonstrates that God has a good plan for man and woman and that plan has hope for man, but ultimate punishment for evil. And then it presents an opportunity to choose to follow God. (Scripture references are from Genesis 1, Job 38:4-7, Hebrews 1:13, 14, Revelation 12:7-9, Ezekiel 28: 1-19, Isaiah 14:3-23, Jeremiah 29:11, Revelation 20:10, Nehemiah 9:6, Luke 10:18, Jude 6, 1 Peter 5:8).
The story does not represent that man is more than or dominant over a woman in God’s plan. This is necessary for many cultures in order to show that God cares for every individual.
This story is very important in animistic cultures who think that God simply created the world and left it to other gods and spirit beings. It is not difficult to memorize and should is interesting even in our own western culture.
Our next story is: God Created Man and Woman
 Hiebert, Paul G., Transforming Worldviews: An Anthropological Understanding of How People Change. Baker Academic, 2008 loc 1329 of 7737.
 Ibid. quoting Camery-Hoggartt, 2006. Kindle loc 1329 of 7737.
 Ibid. 1345 of 7737.
 Ibid. at 204 of 7737.