Madeleine L’Engle said, “Stories make us more alive, more human, more courageous, more loving.” They also can make us more faithful.
When the prophet Nathan wanted to bring David to repentance, he didn’t cite the Law on adultery; he told the king a story. When Jesus wanted to show a lawyer what kind of heart God requires of those who would inherit eternal life, He told the man a parable of the Good Samaritan. When Jewish people think about what it means to be a Jew, they return to the stories of God’s saving acts in Egypt and afterwards. Do you sense a pattern here?
An old proverb says, “Tell me the facts and I’ll learn. Tell me the truth and I’ll believe. But tell me a story and it will live in my heart forever.” As we’ve said before on BreakPoint, the Bible isn’t primarily a theological textbook, or even a legal code—though it has plenty of both of these elements. No, it comes to us as the Grand Story of God’s working in history. Through it, we look back and see what God has done, which enables us to look ahead and see what God will do—all while placing ourselves as responsible participants in God’s glorious plan to redeem all things.
The Bible’s story of creation, fall, redemption, and restoration has fired the imaginations and strengthened the limbs of countless believers in diverse cultural moments, inspiring them to heal the sick, open the eyes of the blind, found universities, discover the universe’s secrets, free the enslaved, cross the oceans, and otherwise follow God’s call. That’s what the Christian story does.
And, it encourages us to tell the world our stories about the Lord working through His people, and not just the famous ones. It’s easy to think “Well, I’m no Colson. I’m no Wilberforce.” That’s why this year, we’re committed to telling the stories of those people of whom you’ve never heard. And we could use your help.
My colleague, Warren Cole Smith, is spearheading this effort. His new series, named “Restoring All Things” after the book that he and I wrote together a few years ago, will highlight the stories of followers of Jesus making a difference in their communities and around the nation.
In a recent article, Warren tells the story of Colin Pinkney, who runs The Harvest Center in Charlotte, North Carolina. Colin is the seventh of nine children, and his father abandoned his family when he was just nine years old. “Fatherhood is the silver bullet, if there is one,” Colin says. “It’s clear there is a fathering issue in our nation.”
Colin now has six children himself, and his office bookshelf is filled with volumes on fathering. When he was the president of the PTA at his children’s school, Colin led a seminar on effective fathering, and more than 100 people showed up.
Now, at the Harvest Center on Charlotte’s west side, Colin leads a full-time staff of 12 and oversees a budget of $850,000. Four thousand people a year get help there. Many become self-sufficient.
How much government money does Colin accept? “Zero,” he answers, emphatically. He models his ministry on, you guessed it, a story—the one found in John 5 in which Jesus heals a man lame for 38 years. Before He does so, however, Jesus asks him, “Do you want to be made whole?”
“I always think of that story as we evaluate our work,” Colin says. “We’re asking tough questions. We have to reeducate this community to a better way than what they’ve been receiving in the past.” You see, what he’s doing is teaching people a different story than what they’ve known up to this point.
You may know a story that would encourage and instruct the rest of us. If so, please let Warren and The Colson Center know. Send your stories to Warren’s email: firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re eager to hear from you!
And before I leave you today, I’d like to invite you to join a movement whose story continues to be written. The pro-life movement has made incredible strides, and we want you to pray for life this month by joining our annual 21 Days of Prayer for Life. We have a beautiful, free downloadable prayer guide, for you, your family, and your small group. Just visit BreakPoint.org/21 Days.
Stories that Encourage, Inspire, & Restore: Send Us Yours
Do you have a story that would encourage, inspire and teach? Then take a moment to relate that story via email to Warren Cole Smith (email@example.com). We’re eager to hear from you! And get involved in the story of the pro-life movement: download our “21 Days of Prayer for Life” prayer guide and app. Click on the links in our Resources section for more details.