In Luke 10, Jesus instructs the 72 trainees to look for ‘households of peace’. That is, people, like Cornelius in Acts 10, who are God-prepared for the good news and ready to invite you into their networks. We’ve been looking and praying for these kind of people for eight years. Many times we’ve thought we’ve found one and then their interest has fizzled out.
I met Mrs Chen paying a bill in an electrical shop. She was immediately friendly and willing to listen to the story I was telling the shop owner. After the story she said, “Would you come and tell me more stories at my breakfast shop?”
I found her shop on one of the main streets. It’s a tin shed but has been in the same spot for twenty-five years. Mrs Chen is 72 and runs the shop with three assistants. Most of her customers are regulars and she greets them by name.
The best time for me to go was 11 a.m. as business slowed down. Each time I’d go Mrs Chen would invite customers to “come and join us.” A few weeks later it became obvious that
her three assistants were trying to listen in. Mrs Chen told them I’d tell them stories too. It wasn’t easy because they were often mopping the floor while I tried to tell them a story.
After hearing about four stories Mrs Chen said, “My family really need to hear these stories.” So she invited me to come to her home at 3 p.m. on Sunday afternoons. I expected to tell stories to her daughter-in-law and grandson but it has been two daughters (middle-aged) and occasionally the daughter-in-law. All these years we’ve longed to see simple churches forming with multiple members of a network coming to Jesus. This is the first time I’ve felt a group has that potential. There is much laughter as we meet and discuss stories.
Since the second story, I have taken Debbie, a local Christian who has been trained in storytelling, with me. She started by simply telling the story but now she tells the story once and then reviews it in various ways. Then she leads the discussion. I am only setting up the story. Each week after we’ve finished, Debbie and I debrief together and pray for the family.
Over Chinese New Year, we had about two months where the family were too busy to meet but since late March we’ve settled into an every second Sunday routine. After three stories one of them said, “Don’t you Christians pray? Could you teach us?” So they’re learning to thank God for what they learn in the story and pray for others. We’re all praying for the son, who is an alcoholic. He has listened in on one story and surprised us because he has some background from watching many biblically based movies.
The younger daughter really struggled with ‘feeling stupid’ compared to the others so she decided to start reading the Bible for herself. There has been a marked change in her ability to participate in the group.
Could you pray that these three all decide to follow Jesus together and want to be baptised? Also, that God would transform them and through them (weak though they are) start many other groups. So that our vision of “through God’s grace seeing the flame of the gospel igniting families lives and multiplying fervent communities of disciples” may be fulfilled.
Christian Dillon – Donggang