I grew up in a Christian family where my grandmother told me stories from the Bible and so began shaping my biblical literacy. I found the stories fascinating at the age of six; I still do and I remember them in the way my grandmother narrated them to me. Thanks to her good storytelling, the stories allowed me and my siblings to be connected to the Bible and to Jesus and his story and internalized my understanding of God and his Son, my Savior. They give meaning and value to my life in the Lord Jesus.
The childhood experiences of connecting with Jesus and his story is helpful in my ministry of connecting with children, even with children who hear these Bible stories for the first time.
My favorite story is the grand narrative of creation in the book of Genesis. The best tool I’ve discovered to capture the attention of children when I tell the creation story is to twist balloons into different shapes, to represent flowers, animals etc.
Through this interactive storytelling, the children begin to discover, see, and sense the glory, wonder, and power of the creator God. In this way, I trust that the seed of the gospel will be sown in the hearts of the little ones. I believe and pray that God will help the children to embrace him and become the bearers of light to shine for Jesus in this world of darkness and hopelessness.
Another effective way of engaging children in storytelling is through drama. During the Christmas Eve worship service in Hirosaki Nozomi Church, in northern Honshu, I was impressed when the Sunday School children performed a play about Jesus’ birth. They wore tailored costumes and the play was presented with simple stage backdrops and props. It was creative and enjoyable for both adults and children.
I’m thankful for this wonderful experience of seeing the children being serious about performing the play and yet at the same time being themselves; acting in playful ways and also embracing the story of Jesus’ birth. Let’s pray that God will make ready the hearts of children to meet him in his Word, as they hear and experience these Bible stories.
By Ann, OMF missionary