The Power of Story
Stories can show readers truths in ways that can be more understandable than a simple lecture. Jesus liked to tell stories. His many parables taught His disciples better than explicit lessons. By imagining the actions of the Good Samaritan, his Jewish followers understood they were expected to help everyone. The story made this clear much better than if Jesus had simply said, “You need to help everyone, not just the people who are like you.”
One ardent pet peeve of mine is when pastors read a section of biblical text on a Sunday morning that describes anything from Jesus performing a miracle to a prophet’s warning before a king, and then said pastor begins to expound the text, talking about the “characters in the story.” Unless the people in question are actors in one of Jesus’s parables, the people mentioned in the Bible were real. Jesus of Nazareth was a real man, who walked the earth; Peter and his brother Andrew along with ten other disciples were real men who followed the Messiah; the people healed were real. However, we are only given a mere glimpse into the lives of these people documented in the Scriptures. There were many other people on the scene and events happening that are left only to our imaginations because the writers could not or did not include every detail in their texts. By imagining these missing people and events, one can paint a more complete picture of the Scriptures and even see new insights. This is what I do with my biblical stories. These stories are well-researched and based on the biblical text and evangelical truth. I consult with pastors, writers, and Bible scholars to ensure I do not go in a direction that would contradict the truth of God’s Word. I have written three stories and accompanying Teacher’s Guides and activities designed to open the imaginations of middle school readers and to make the Scriptures come to life for them.
Story 1: The Fall of Man
A cursory reading of the first three chapters of Genesis would leave the reader to believe that God created the world in six days, rested on the seventh, and then awoke on Monday morning to find the two humans He created had broken His world. But we have no way of knowing how long Adam and Eve had been in the perfect garden before they were led astray as described in Genesis 3. After they were kicked out of the garden, the Scriptures note that Adam knew his wife, she conceived, and gave birth to a son, Cain. Her response was “I have gotten a man-child with the help of the Lord.” While meditating on that statement, I began wondering, since surely Adam had quite a bit to do with the child from conception to delivery, why would Eve attribute the event to the Lord? By imagining the perfect garden, I envisioned the perfect couple watching the animals. What if Eve, seeing that all the animals were having young of their own, began questioning why she didn’t have a young one? How else could the tempter tempt her? One must have a need or desire in order to be tempted to do something they know they shouldn’t do. I began seeing how Eve, instead of turning to the One who could help her, listened to the lies of the one who could only trick her. Thus, “Beginning” came to life.
Story 2: The Birth of Jesus
Every Christmas, crèches are displayed with a wooden manger filled with straw and the baby Jesus. In 2020, my sister sent me information that described the incredible significance of the manger being made of stone, and asked her “Bible scholar” little sister, “Is this true?” In forty years of Bible study, I was never told about a stone manger, but fact-checking the information in the article, I found something that would forever change the way I look at that divine baby wrapped in swaddling cloths. Thus, young shepherd characters began to materialize in my imagination and soon “God’s Lamb” was drafted, describing the shepherds at the birth of Jesus. Jesus’ birthplace, Bethlehem, is much more significant than it appears by its casual mention in the Bible. One of my pastor consultants enjoyed the story but took exception to Dalia, my female shepherd who wants to be a rabbi but can’t because of societal constraints. My pastor noted that in the first century, Jewish girls would never aspire to places outside expectations of society. While this is a credible note, as I read history, females have aspired to many places outside of societal norms. Deborah, the first female judge in Israel, though given a divine appointment, was still outside societal norms. I imagine Mary Magdalene was not expected to follow a group of men around the Middle East. Women all through history have made an impact because they followed their dreams, not public restraints. Not many know of Sybil Ludington, a heroine of the American Revolution. Madame Marie Curie broke out of social constraints and Jerry Mock was the first woman to successfully fly solo around the world, and the list goes on. I think a young Jewish shepherdess in the first century could have ambitions to be a rabbi.
Story 3: The Resurrection
One of the most puzzling details of the resurrection for readers as well as for Peter and John is the facecloth, folded or rolled and put to the side of the burial cloths in the tomb. I’ve heard so many preachers explain that this shows the orderliness of the Messiah. That explanation never rang true to me, especially with a whole mess of burial cloths still on the table. Then I heard a preacher give an explanation that made sense. Yes! That is exactly what a carpenter’s son would have done to show the grand significance of His work! So began a story that imagines how the Son of God grew up under the tutelage of the carpenter who was entrusted to raise him. I have researched the preacher’s explanation many times, but I have not found any evidence to support it and thus, the main thread of my story “Finished,” but it, nonetheless, makes sense. It also makes a very good story and Easter lesson for youth!
Bible Truth and Comprehension
Not only do my stories clarify biblical truths, but the Teacher’s Guides and activities give busy teachers an easy way to present them, and they give readers the opportunity to learn vocabulary and practice reading comprehension skills. Questions are designed to plumb the depths of a reader’s understanding, to have them think beyond the Scriptures and make personal application.
The Teacher’s Guides are the perfect resource for Christian schools, homeschools, and Sunday schools. Even literature teachers in public middle schools can coordinate unit studies with social studies teachers when students begin studying world religions and learn about sin and forgiveness and Jesus as the Messiah of Christianity, as stipulated in some state standards.
The Teachers Guides contain everything a busy teacher needs to present the lesson and can be purchased separately or bundled in the Christian Stories for Youth. Each story can be purchased separately or all three stories can be purchased in a bundle without the Teacher’s Guides and activities.