My French speaking capabilities lie somewhere between embarrassing and almost comprehensible, so when given the opportunity to run a third grade classroom for two hours, my options were pretty limited. Even when I did have the words necessary to ask the kids questions, I was met with blank stares. I'm still not sure if it was my pronunciation, word choice, or just the fact that I am a white American and understandable words were not expected to come from my mouth. However, with the help of a gracious and lively translator named Kader, I was able to communicate with the surprisingly well-behaved classroom.
"Voulez-vous une chant, une histoire, ou un jou?" was the question I learned to use over and over again, asking if the kids would rather a song, story, or game. I was shocked to discover that more often than not the kids wanted a story. From Jonah to the Prodigal Son, I had the opportunity alongside my friend Richard to tell story after story from the Bible and use them to teach the kids a little more about who God is.
One story stands out because while telling it I was given the exact message that needed to be spoken. It was the story of the servant who owed a large sum of money. In the gospel, Jesus tells how this servant was unable to pay what he owed, but rather than throwing the servant in prison, his master forgave him. That same day, the servant ran into a colleague that owed him a much lesser sum, but the servant chose to throw him in prison until he was able to pay back the sum. The master heard about this and was furious! He threw the unforgiving servant into prison, ashamed that he could not forgive such a small amount when he had been forgiven so much.
I've grown up my entire life knowing that this is a portrayal of why we should forgive others since God has forgiven us an insurmountable debt that we could never pay. However, while standing before wide-eyed Burkinabae children, the Holy Spirit gave me the words to go directly from this story into the weight of sin and the story of all that Jesus did for them and how much he loves them.
The gospel is simple. I over-complicate it in my head and think that there is no way to show all that needs to be known about God and Christ's sacrifice in one sitting. After all, you can't even know all that there is to know in one lifetime. Yet God's grace can be understood, on some level, by even a young child. It isn't my job to sugar-coat the gospel into an easy pill to swallow. I am not called to somehow have every answer to every theological battle. All I am supposed to do is tell those around me that Jesus died for them. Now that is something I can do.
|Telling Bible Stories in a Village Classroom|