Story telling in practice
For a week I had been teaching orality at a conference and whilst going home on the last night I passed a couple on the side of the road. Feeling convicted that I should help them, I stopped and then reversed back to them. Their motorcycle had broken down and they needed a ride. The young man was a 19 year old Shan from Myanmar who had been in Thailand for 10 years. I asked if the girl with him was his younger sister and he said, “No, this is my 16 year old wife of one month.” They both worked on a coffee plantation outside of Chiangmai. I was able to tell this couple ‘The Good Samaritan’ story and was pleased when the young man answered my questions about why the two religious people walked by without helping. This couple thanked us profusely when they left our car.
The next day I caught a taxi in front of my condo. A tourist was sitting in the back and I sat up front with the driver. The first thing the driver asked me was, “Why did that foreigner in the back give 1000 baht to a stranger?” as he had seen this transaction in his rear view mirror. When we dropped off the tourist and he paid the fare I said, “This driver is curious as to why you gave 1,000 baht to that Thai.” The tourist simply said, “He needed it.” This prompted a discussion with the driver about giving generously and freely to people who might not be that deserving.
I chose then to tell the driver of when Jesus was having dinner in the house of Simon the Leper and a notorious woman anointed Jesus’ feet. In that story Jesus uses an illustration of a creditor forgiving a large debt out of simple generosity. I asked the driver a few questions about the story and then compared it to the “works” orientation of all world religions, including Buddhism. When we got to the airport I tried to give him a tip; at first he refused and in the end would only let me give him a smaller amount. I am praying he will read the tract I gave him and realize that his human works will never attain the righteousness that God requires and that the only way to experience true peace is by receiving the free gift of salvation through Jesus.
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