Callum & Fiona McKinlay, OMF missionaries who have recently returned from Taiwan, spoke at our church yesterday. Having spent years reaching out to blue collar Mandarin speakers more used to the oral tradition than reading scripture, Callum demonstrated the storytelling methods he uses to share his faith. He told the story of Jesus healing the paralysed man (Mark 2:1-12) who had been lowered through the roof by his faithful friends.
After telling the story, Callum asked us to chat to those seated next to us and consider any new insight that we gleaned through hearing the story. Most of us commented on how hard they had worked to bring the man before Jesus and how He healed the crippled man by forgiving his sins in response to his friends’ faith.
It also occurred to me that a crippled man such as this, living 2000 years ago, would have probably lacked the benefits of medical care and basic hygiene. This being the case, he may well have been lying in his own waste for years and it struck me that this could also be a metaphor for what we strive – and sometimes struggle – to leave behind when when come to faith.
While exegesis can be enlightening and knowing a bit of Greek and Hebrew help unpacked a verse or two, nothing beats a good story told well. As for the paralysed man, wouldn’t you love to know why he hurried away without so much as a ‘thank you’?