How will elderly Japanese ever understand the good news?

I trained up my Japanese co-worker on story telling, and he decided to give it a go with a monthly community outreach group. It’s attended sporadically by elderly people living nearby, survivors of the 2011 tsunami and earthquake. Normally it’s a cafe style events – tea and cakes with hymn singing and a short Bible talk. This time we advertised it as a Bible storytelling event, and prayed hard for anyone to turn up.

And someone did! An elderly non-Christian woman who has attended many Christian things. We told the story of the bleeding woman who was healed when she touched the back of Jesus’ clothes.

Since the regular events normally revolve around a short talk with no discussion, this was really the first time to do serious interaction. I think they’ve tried asking questions before, with mixed results. As the attendees are elderly (75+) and quite shy, discussion normally goes nowhere.They were really surprised with how much they saw the woman think about the story…  Later she wondered, ‘Was it a coincidence that Jesus was passing by the bleeding woman?’  A surprisingly thoughtful question. Also, many possibly have early stages of Alzheimers disease, so we wonder what they might be hearing at all.

I’ve done a lot of storytelling in the past, but never with the elderly so I wasn’t so sure if it would work. And even as the discussion bits occurred, I wasn’t so sure if things were going so well.

But from the perspective of my co-workers, they were really surprised with how much they saw the woman think about the story. At first she got a lot of details of the story completely wrong – she thought Jesus reached out and touched her and basically had no memory of how the story ended. But later she wondered, “Was it a coincidence that Jesus was passing by the bleeding woman?” A surprisingly thoughtful question.

My co-worker and his wife now quite keen on doing more of this. They’d like to start a series starting from Genesis, but are thinking of doing a one more New Testament story before starting a series – mainly to see if anyone else will turn up next month.

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