We haven’t seen any decorations or heard any Christmas music, but the OBS participants that arrived in Wewak on Monday, September 1, are busily working on learning stories related to Christmas. The goal – five consultant checked stories that can be taken back and shared with the language communities in the months leading up to Christmas. This week they are tackling the stories of John’s Birth from Luke 1, Jesus’ Birth Foretold from Luke 1, and the Angel Visits Joseph from Matthew 1. Stories familiar to many of us can still surprise us with new insights. For some, these will be entirely new stories.
With five stories planned in two weeks, memory aids are necessary to be able to learn all five stories accurately. During this course, we have stressed the importance of storyboards. After reading a verse or paragraph from the story, participants draw a picture that will help them remember that portion of the story. They continue this process until the story is finished. With stories like the Birth of John which includes 31 verses, many pictures may be needed to make the meaning clear. We encourage them to use the storyboard until they are confident with all the details of the story.
Our PNG trainers, Titus, Peter, David, and Gilbert have prepared diligently to teach sessions on Bible background for these stories. In the past, this was taught by a SPES team member, but part of the strategy of SPES is to equip and build capacity among the Papua New Guineans. At the last course, they asked if we could teach them how to prepare a background lesson. So at the beginning of this course, the “how-tos” were taught and now they are putting that theory into practice. They have been challenged and are thrilled with what they are learning as they did deeper into God’s Word and see how one part supports another. Learning about Jewish culture is fascinating as well as they learn similarities and differences between their own culture and Jewish culture. Even those who have been to Bible school have expressed how much they have learned in the last few days. God’s Word will continue to go forth even after the course is finished as people tell the stories in their communities.
Maybe some of these communities will hear Christmas stories in their own language for the first time this year!
Photos by Gary Abbas