Part 1: Inspiration to Tell God’s Stories
In this information age, we live with nuanced facts being shot into our brains in a constant barrage. It is hard to sit still and compose a story, even a story of something significant and profound we experienced or observed. Usually, upon returning home from a missions trip, we end up with bullet points of what we did, places we visited, or a list of people we met. Those points, if you do in fact write them down, might help jog your memory later, but they don’t offer much insight to others, until you add more words and create an atmosphere where those bullet point come alive in a story.
The most profound way we humans learn and experience life is through stories. Think of a dozen things you’ve learned from reading your Bible. I’d be surprised if more than 20% of those lessons you’ve learned to live by came from memorizing a Proverb that you read. Most of what you know, you learned from stories of someone’s real-life experience.
Humans learn and add growth experiences to their lives in story form. Pastors recognize this and use illustrative stories in their messages.
The reason we connect to stories is because WE are characters in a living, breathing story ourselves. We are part of God’s story. God’s story is where all stories, even fairy tales and modern movies, come from: The guy wants/needs something, meets a girl, (or vice versa), he gets the girl and they overcome some personal weakness and defeat the bad guy and they live happily ever after. This is the grid every story is part of. It is the longing of every soul to participate in this story. So when you tell this tale you can’t go wrong.
On your missions trip, you got to meet some great people, but it wasn’t their names that impressed you, it was their stories: getting to know them, coming to understand what they overcame, who they have become, their learning experiences, their coming to freedom or healing. These are the stories that inspire growth in others across cultures. But it is important to learn (or remember) how to share those memory moments and God stories in a format so others can share our experiences and the insight and inspiration we gained from it. Not only do we gain from sharing or hearing these stories, but God receives more of the praise, glory, and fame that is due Him for “stepping into our story” (which is really the story He has been writing all along!). What we are doing when we write our missions stories is recording part of God’s story in the earth, the ways in which He is redeeming mankind and every part of the heart of those who trust in Him.
An important note: Writing is one place where gender, age, race, ethnicity are all equal. Each part of you contributes to your story and your voice, and the story of your observations is uniquely yours and God’s to share. Every story and experience has intrinsic value just like the person, made in the image of God, who is writing it.
Now that you’re inspired to share your stories, part 2 of this blog series will provide a tried-and-true format. Click here to continue on to Part 2: The Anatomy of a Story.
Kim Frolander started attending Inverness Vineyard Church in Birmingham, Alabama in 1994. She spent two years as a volunteer/missionary in Jerusalem, Israel, and upon coming home, she trained with Bubba Justice and led missions at IVC for 3.5 years. Now she uses her experience and degrees in research and writing, (formally known as English and History) for curating resources for Vineyard Missions. She has authored eight books and recently founded a non-profit ministry, the Ruth Israel Initiative.