The concept of these blogs started to come to me when I was working as a missionary in South Asia where there is a great need for teaching normal believers the richness and beauty of Scripture. Stories are a powerful, memorable way to communicate information, and a large portion of the Bible comes to us in the form of narratives. What if we took the stories of Scripture and taught them as stories, but include theological insights and explanations that help make their meaning clear? What if we supported readers in identifying deeply with the dilemmas of the characters and how God was working in their lives so that we can have a deeper understanding of how we move forward in our own lives with God? Stories can do that because they engage both our minds and our emotions, are highly memorable, and they come to us in the format by which we understand and interpret our own lives. It is a powerful combination for deep transformation.
When I returned home from the mission field I went to Talbot School of Theology. Actually, it was more like I collapsed at Talbot. It was a needed place of rest and transformation as I healed from the challenges on the field. One day I sensed the Lord’s leading very clearly. This was the perfect situation to write up that idea I had been dreaming about overseas. Here I was studying under the guidance of wonderful scholars in the form of my professors and my reading assignments. I was also keenly aware of the worldview issues that might make the Bible confusing for cultures where the name of Jesus is rarely spoken…and the ways westerners reformat Scripture through our own means of study in ways that truncate their meaning for people who are not from the West. Narratives are a powerful way to overcome cultural barriers because they tend to resonate in every culture. And so it began.
In the process, as the work of articulating the stories imbedded them in my own heart, I discovered their power in new and transforming ways. Abraham was no longer a character in a story, but the father of my faith whose enduring willing to wait on the Lord became a source of strength in my own periods of waiting and trusting (Is. 51:1-3; Ro. 4; He. 11:8-12)…and believing that our God is sovereignly ordaining the timings of our lives. I began to recognize the magnificence of the stories of Joseph and David as they stood…flawed but faithful, in the midst of the complex situations that arise in a corrupted world, and found hope in God’s grace and His ability to make the story end well on the other side. I fell in love with Christ again as an adult facing the uglinesses of our time…the brokenness of even our best religious leaders, the harshness of suffering, the power of evil…and then watching this Jesus come on the scene, demolish the lies of religious hypocrisy and abuse of power, declaring God’s hatred for sin and shame, bringing healing and hope wherever He went. His life was beautiful. He is beautiful.
As I wrote, I sought to use the best resources possible to bring clarity to the stories, not only in terms of theological truth, but in terms of educational theory. I have an MA in Education from Azusa Pacific University, an MA in Theological and Biblical Studies, and a Ph.D in Christian Education at Talbot School of Theology. I have worked in the inner city of LA, as a public school teacher in California, and as a church planting missionary among a least reached people group, and now as a professor graduate education. While I have been blessed by this opportunities and experiences, in all truth, we know that the most important thing is that I am a sinner who has been saved by grace.
The focus of my Ph.D. was on the narratives of Scripture. I specifically studied the effectiveness of using them among oral learners (those in communities where the majority of people don’t read) in the Majority World. There are exciting developments on the field in this area, and if any of you would like to learn more, I’d love a chance to share.
I am excited about the way the internet opens doors for publishing and communication…there are whole new ways to be creative, reach out, interact, and continue to develop. It is all terribly wonderful if only we harness it well. Please feel free to contact me about questions or comments about the blog, using it for ministry, the topic of Biblical narratives, your own desire to write, go on mission for God, etc. We are all in this together.