Biblical Story Tellers Forge Ahead

Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Biblical Story telling which arrived in The Gambia since last year by some Americans has now taken a new positive turn for the better. Story telling is not new in the Bible as Jesus Himself was quite good at making His points known through story telling. Jesus preached through telling His stories and making parable and saying to His listeners, if they have ears let them hear. The Biblical Story Tellers are formed and tasked with the proclamation of the Word of God in Churches and religious gathering. They have no boundary but proclaim the Word of God from the heart. They have held a training programme to empower their members who would tell Biblical stories in their churches.
Donald Davies, the coordinator of the Network of Biblical Story Tellers The Gambia, said he and others were invited to USA to train and see how the Biblical Story telling was done and how they could keep it going. "We were taught how to memorise the Bible stories and make it part of us and dramatize it at ease. It may seem very difficult but it is quite an easy thing to do. We shall train on the basics of how to set up the group and how to keep it going. I therefore welcome you all to the workshop," he said.
The main objective of the training was to train the Body of Christ to be conversant with Bible Story telling by heart with deep conviction and expression. Thus enhancing both youth and adults to grow spiritually, morally, and physically.  It will also help them to be active members in their local churches and also to spread the Gospel to the Glory of God. They call it soul filled package of Bible Story Telling.
According to Lisong A. Bah, the programme facilitator dealing with telling the story by heart said they had trained in America for that purpose and were willing to share with others in that light. She says, "The goal of doing Scripture Story telling by heart is to 'internalize the Bible story, not just to 'memorise' it. It is to have the story become a part of who you are so you can tell it naturally. This takes time, so give yourself time because it means studying the same story for a while (days, weeks and sometimes a month)."
She said story telling by heart enables deep learning of Word of God become part of who we are scriptures, helps with face to face telling, helps to make the as individuals and as communities of faith, it helps experience what was originally experienced, it allows to communicate the scriptures in their original media for the sake of authenticity and power, it enables meeting the need to communicate their original meaning and helps with the practice of internalizing and telling scripture stories.
The advantages of the above she said was, "The congregation would pay more attention to the storytellers and the story teller would prepare more carefully. The groups can be formed in any local church, the story tellers can develop basic skills of human memory and makes learning by heart easy for people with performance anxieties could overcome through training."
Lison Bah said in order to learn the storylines one should "Read the story through out loud, read it again. Say the words slowly enough that you can visualize the story in your mind's eye, pausing after each sentence in order to allow an image to form. Decide what the structure of the story is. How it can be broken into episodes (scenes or episodes). Try to get 95% accuracy when telling the story. Write or type the story in sense, in lines and episodes. Give each episode a title; underline verbal threads; circle characters, draw squares around notices or setting (time/place); list key words. Create a simple storyboard outlining the structure of the episodes. Standup and move through the story, telling the basic story to an imaginary audience. Go all the way through, even if you have to make up parts," she said.
Madam Bah advised that one should learn the words, one episode at a time, working on getting on getting those words off the paper and into your head. Practice, repeat, do gestures, say it while you work or drive, going to sleep or waking up. It does require mental work and time but it really IS possible! If it is hard for you, just learn a little at a time, saying a sentence over and over making a chant, song, drama or game out of it. She says "Pray the story or whatever episode you are currently working on. Breathe deeply; ask God for breath and peace. Tell God what you know of the story. God knows the rest so don't worry if you forget something. Listen to what God might want to tell you. Thank God for the story."
The final point she said is to tell the story. "Tell it to yourself, to another person, or to a small group. There is nothing like telling the story to learn it in your heart.
She told a story by heart in English, Wollof and Aku. The gathering was advised to set up Biblical Story Tellers in their various churches if they were not already there.
Aunty Jannet, on whose invitation the Network of Story Tellers came to show The Gambia, showed the group how to study the stories and make it part of you. She analysed the parable of the Unforgiviving Servant.