The Age-old Power of Story

Stories have been with us from the very beginning of human existence. They go back long before writing and the invention of the alphabet. In some strange way, we all need stories to make sense of life.

“Once upon a time, there was the story, told by word of mouth, and that was how it was for tens of thousands of years. For most of human history stories have been painted on walls, danced, acted—and above all, said and sung.” -Robert Leeson

“The tribal storyteller was truly ‘the oldest profession’. He was excused from hunting, but if he failed to amuse the hunters round the fire each evening, they slew him. The storyteller still needs courage.” -Simon Jenkins

Long before the Bible was written its stories were told, passed on from parent to child, from teacher/teller to a group of listeners.

“Our entire faith is based on stories, starting with the story of the creation of the world and of the human race—stories about wars, triumphs and defeats, love affairs, marriages, births, deaths—the whole thing is stories, all the way to that magnificent, wonderful story of the birth of Jesus. And then Jesus came telling stories.”
-Frances Fuller

Story disarms and persuades. The reader is not on guard, but open. So the story can go straight to the heart, engaging interest, emotions and imagination to effect change.

“If anyone questions the power of art to change reality, let him consider what propagandist cinema, music, architecture, verse, rhetoric have done to whole populations.” -Walter Wangerin

There is a great flexibility in story: the reader takes from it what he or she wants and is ready for. If it’s a good story—one you want to read again and again—you may find something new each time. That is one of the great things about the Bible. Even when it is familiar to us, it is always new.

This article was excerpted from MAI’s booklet, Effective Story Writing, by Pat Alexander. It’s packed with practical principles of story writing. You’ll find this booklet and other resources for writing and publishing are available on MAI’s website.

Photo above courtesy

I am here

If Jesus were to were to write a letter to Christians in the Philippines, this is what He would say, as submitted by Cha Ilog for the LittWorld writing contest:

Filipinos, I am sure of you as being joyful people. Amidst the storms that crushed your livelihood into pieces and fires that burned your homes into dusts, you cry, but you still tend to smile. After every calamity that comes to your country, you still try to start anew and even lend a hand.  I’m proud to be your Brother.

Remember, Our Father will not give you any challenge that you can’t surpass. He knows that you are strong enough to hold on to Him. Do not be ashamed to cry to Him. He will never turn away from His children.

I know sometimes you are the ones who attempted to turn away from Our Father but I am not blaming you for that. Your hearts are enclosed in guilt, fear, pain, and sins yet you are still welcome for forgiveness. You are welcome to be cleansed in the hands of God for the reason that He does not keep any record of wrongs. God Himself is love.

I want you to repent, humble yourselves, and surrender your hearts to Our Father through Me. I am the way the truth and the light. No one comes to the Father except through Me (John 14:6). I want you to know that He loves you more than anyone else can ever love you. He sent Me, His only begotten Son, to be crucified in order for you to be saved.

Brothers and sisters from the Philippines, I love you as much as I love the citizens of every nation. I must preach the good news to other towns also because that is why I was sent (Luke 4:43). Filipinos, this is why you are sent too.

I am always here. I am your Brother; God’s manifestation of his irrevocable love for you.

Announcing the Top 25 Entries of the LittWorld Writing Contest

We are pleased to announce the 25 finalists in the LittWorld 2012 writing contest, “Blogging for Global Impact.” We hope you will enjoy perusing these inspiring and thought-provoking posts and commenting on them.

Winners will be announced on August 1, 2012. One first-place Best Blog Article winner will receive US $300. One honorable-mention Best Blog winner will receive US $150. Our judges will be evaluating the entries on the basis of content, writing quality, creativity and impact.

The top 25 articles are arranged in no particular order:

Bread for the Body, Bread for the Soul
Christianity and Culture: enemies or friends?
Dear Church in Nigeria
From Mama Mzigo to Mama Kanisa
Gone Fishing!
Holy Rap
I Assumed I Understood
If Jesus were to write a letter to the Church in Kenya, what would He say?
In Spite of All Our Ills
Jesus says, “It’s more fun in the Philippines!”
Jesus Writing to the Church in India
“Job Vacancies”: More Publishing Christian Authors Needed in Nigeria Urgently!
Letter from Jesus to the Church in Cameroon

Letter to the Church in Egypt
Listening and Reading the Written Word Is All It Takes
Love Isn’t in the Details
May I come in, please…
My Dream: Entrepreneurial Love
An Ordinary Man with an Extraordinary Faith
The Parable of the Tissues
Preach the Word
Readers are Ripe for the Harvest
Spiritual Transformation through the Written Word
Weathering the Storm

Jesus says, “It’s more fun in the Philippines!”

We are delighted to have received more than 90 submissions to the LittWorld writing contest as of last Friday’s deadline. Thank you to all who participated and to all who encouraged the writers. Judges will review the submissions, and winners will be announced here on August 1. We will continue to post compelling submissions we have already received. Not all submissions will be posted here.

Jose Paolo Cheeseman Calcetas of the Philippines responded to the writing prompt: “If Jesus were to write a letter to the Church in your country, what would He say?”

It has been a habit of faith for Filipino Christians to write their prayers, with fervent hope that the Lord will hear and grant their requests. But what if the tables turned, and Jesus had control of the pen? What would He tell the Filipino people? Perhaps, His letter would be like this.

Dear Philippines,

Since you have been discovered in 1571, I have always been overwhelmed with how you have worshipped Me. I know that you have gone through the worst of times. But I know that your faith in me remains steadfast because amidst all the trials you have experienced, you never fail to smile and appreciate even the simplest joys unfolding before your very eyes.

The bountiful always shares his blessings to the less fortunate. The homeless sleeps on the streets and wake up grateful for being safe the whole night. The victims of natural calamities still thank Me for keeping them safe. Whenever you pass by a church, you always do a sign of the cross. In good and bad times, you never forget to mumble simple prayers which always warm My heart. You even named some of your towns and streets after biblical characters. You also hold the longest and biggest celebration of my birthday in the entire planet.

The Philippines will always have a big space in My heart. I am with you everyday, walking with you on the streets, talking to you on the cab, shedding tears in your grief and celebrating in your achievements.

As long as you maintain your faith, I assure you that no trial will be powerful enough to tumble your indomitable faith. Your country may have big problems, but you have a bigger GOD, which makes it more fun in the Philippines!


Photo above courtesy stock.xchng