We may not always be aware but there are different ways to tell a story so that it has maximum impact or so the hearers of the story feel a connection to the story. Some story telling is more powerful at conveying its message than other story telling. Some people are better story tellers than others. Stories are a powerful way of communicating important information. A story has the ability to challenge hearers of it in ways that other forms of communication don’t and if they are great stories then they remain with those that hear them in ways statements of truth may not. Jesus utilised stories to convey many different messages. He conveyed messages that were confrontational or challenging and more difficult to receive if not ‘dressed’ in a story. He used stories of things that were familiar to his hearers and yet he re-framed them to give new understanding. Jesus was a master story teller.
When we are working in cultures that have a strong oral emphasis the manner in which we tell a story can have a major effect on how the story is received and how or even if it is retold. This week one of our language tasks was to ‘write the story’ of a wordless book. We had the images so that we could interpret the story as we chose, we just needed to write in Swahili what was happening. I found this a valuable exercise as it gave me some insight into how stories are told here in Kenya. I had deliberately used some story telling techniques that work well in English to see what would work or be acceptable here so that when we come to tell bible stories to people we can share them in ways that speak to the culture. Please pray with us that we will learn this storytelling art well as we believe it is an important tool for ministry.