Story

Book Trailer #2: Theology of Storytelling

This is the second in a series of four book trailers put together by my friends Jon Hall and Peter Schrock.  It is easy to view the Bible as a compilation of individual stories that stand alone. As theologians and storytellers, it is important to understand the whole Bible as a grand narrative that is best (and most faithfully) told as one story. It is a story of redemption that continues to unfold today.

My book is currently available in Kindle form on Amazon.com.

It releases in paperback next month and is available for pre-order in the Youth Specialities Store.

As I continue to walk faithfully forward in writing, I feel called to serve the global Church and give a voice to the stories that are often forgotten.  It is a clear reality that I can’t be faithful in sharing and advocating through my writing without the support of others.  I need your partnership.

Here are two very simple ways:

1. Click here to “Like” my Facebook “Jon Huckins Writing” page.  This platform will focus solely on my writing.

2. Share this blog and/or share the book trailer video. Here is a link to the YouTube Channel with all the videos.

 

Book Trailer #1: Why I Wrote Teaching Through the Art of Storytelling

This is the first in a series of four book trailers put together by my friends Jon Hall and Peter Schrock.  Not only is the world filled with dynamic stories, the Scriptures tell God’s Story. Our role is to invite others into the Story and one powerful way to communicate such an invitation is through the art of storytelling.

My book is currently available in Kindle form on Amazon.com.

It releases in paperback next month and is available for pre-order in the Youth Specialities Store.

As I continue to walk faithfully forward in writing, I feel called to serve the global Church and give a voice to the stories that are often forgotten.  It is a clear reality that I can’t be faithful in sharing and advocating through my writing without the support of others.  I need your partnership.

Here are two very simple ways:

1. Click here to “Like” my Facebook “Jon Huckins Writing” page.  This platform will focus solely on my writing.

2. Share this blog and/or share the book trailer video. Here is a link to the YouTube Channel with all the videos.

 

One of War’s Forgotten Casualties

NOTE: While I wrote this post three years ago, it is more relevant today than ever. I just got off the phone with a national leader who works with refugees and he described how his organization gets waves of new refugees after each international crisis. Currently, Syrians and Iraqi’s are pouring in, each with their own traumas, stories and humanity. The UN recently announced that 51.2 million people were forcibly displaced in 2013.

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When pending or actual war invades the headlines of our news outlets and personal attention, we sometimes forget one of war’s worst casualties; displaced civilians.   In Libya alone, 75,000 people fled the country between February 19th and March 11th. Tens of thousands waited and continue to wait at the border seeking protection from their war torn homeland.

So what happens to them once they escape the war and oppression of their homeland?

Simply put, they become refugees who most likely will never be able to return to the life they once lived.  A migrant is one to leaves their country seeking socio-economic recovery, most often because of their homeland is experiencing oppression is some way.  In contrast, a refugee is fleeing physical persecution, oppression and/or war.  Death is an immediate reality.

When a refugee escapes their oppressive homeland, they most often have to live in a refugee camp awaiting resettlement in a more developed country.  While they keep their physical life, their daily reality is remains in dyer straights.  Sometimes refugees live in these camps for up to 20 years awaiting resettlement.

My wife and I work with a refugee family from Somalia each week.  After fleeing persecution in Somalia, they lived in a refugee camp in Kenya for years waiting for resettlement.  They are now in San Diego (which is a resettlement city) living in a crowded apartment complex alongside refugees from dozens of other countries.  The family we work with has 8 members and lives in a tiny two-bedroom apartment.

While modern day refugees have escaped physical death, they have experienced profound social and relational death.  First, they have been forced from their physical homes and the rich culture/heritage that make them up.   Second, a refugee family is NOT resettled alongside the rest of their extended family.  The family of our Somalian friends are now scattered all over the U.S. and Europe.  With their modest income, seeing the family they grew up with is now close to impossible.

The casualty of war that is often overlooked is that of the refugee’s loss of “home.” Everything they would equate with “home” has been taken (physical home, family relationships, culture, etc…).  It is no wonder that refugee’s often cling to their last symbol of “home” in the form of their inherited religion/tradition.  Without a physical setting or extended family, their identity is now only found in such tradition.

For this reason our friends from Somalia quickly cover their heads when we come to their door, have passages from the Quran on their wall and obey a certain diet.  Their tradition is all they have left and it offers them the security of “home.”

From early in the Story, YHWH commanded his people to make a “home” for the foreigner within their community and tradition.  Jesus always had a special place for the deserted outcast and socio-political refugee.  May those that follow Jesus (and those that don’t) mourn the casualty of the loss of “home” for those fleeing Libya today.  And may we honor their traditions while offering them a “home” within ours.

How can we help?

  • THIS is a good article with some suggestions
  • Follow the International Rescue Commission and/or UN Refugee Agency on Twitter to keep up to date
  • Get connected with local organizations that resettle refugees and help them in their transition to a new “home” -- See the IRC and UN Refugee Agency websites for more info
  • Pray and advocate for the stories of the refugees to be told and considered in time of conflict

 

Theology of Reflection: part 2

I recently took Harry for a walk around our neighborhood of Golden Hill.  Ending up at a park where Harry proceeded to pee on roughly 96 different bushes, I had a perfect view overlooking downtown San Diego.  There were lights everywhere, the highways were packed full of cars speeding to their next event…everyone seemed to be moving so fast, as though they were on their last mission in life.

I think YHWH may have felt that way when he looked over his people scurrying about their everyday business after he had faithfully rescued them from exile in Egypt.  They had become so quickly taken up with the mundane of the everyday that they had neglected to reflect on the extraordinary of their past and present. As you read the earlier books of the Hebrew Scriptures YHWH’s reminder to his people almost sounds redundant, “I am the LORD, who brought you up out of Egypt to be your God.” (Lev. 11:45)

But…it is not redundant.  It is necessary.  They needed to remember and reflect on their story in order to fully embrace their identity.

So, YHWH has them party.  These festivals are scattered throughout the year as a reminder to reflect and celebrate his provision (Lev. 23).  They create a rhythm of reflection and remembrance in the midst of chaos. A reminder that the God that worked in history is still at work today.

Today, the Jewish tradition slows down to celebrate holidays like Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) and Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year).  Times to reflect on their story and realign themselves as individuals within it.

Christians celebrate holidays like Easter and Christmas to remember the central figure in our faith, Jesus.

These festivals on our modern calendar have the potential to create space for reflection and examination.  With that said, I believe we often experience more chaos than peace in those times.  Whether it is shopping, family drama or endless travel, we haven’t created a sustainable space to remember.

I believe there may be one exception; New Years.  This is the season full of reflection on the past year (discerning what we do and don’t want to carry on into our next year) and resolutions for the year to come.  We actually slow down long enough to take some personal inventory and realign ourselves with the Story we long to be participants in.  We choose to remember that the God that worked in history is still at work today.

It is great that we reflect on New Year’s, but that doesn’t cut it.  My life gets swept back up into the expectations, responsibilities and culture of chaos that surrounds me and I have the potential to become an empty shell of a man (see Part 1).

What would it look like for us to slow down between running from one meeting to the next and create sustainable rhythms of introspection throughout our year?

Ultimately, if I’m not rooted in God’s Story and receiving a divine breath from YHWH, I have nothing to say.

Walking on the streets of London a couple months after my chaos detox in Costa Rica, my friend Darren Prince encouraged me to check out St. Ignatius’ Prayer of Examen (click for worksheet).  It creates a place to reflect on our past 24 hours and identify areas where we have aligned or separated from the Story of God.

It creates a place to reflect and remember that the God that worked in history is still at work today.

Kevin and Charlie: Last Chapter

This is the last part of the story.  Thanks for jumping in and I hope it can be a helpful example of how to start putting storytelling to use within your teaching context.  Feel free to “pirate” this story, amend it for your audience and initiate some dialog on the myth of Redemptive Violence, Forgiveness and Restoration.  The book releases on Tuesday, Dec. 14th, so please support by picking up a copy and passing the word!  Catch up: Intro, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.

After getting halfway to the meeting area and turning back to the safety of his cell, Kevin eventually built up the courage to turn around and walk toward his mother. He felt as though he were walking in a dream, and each step felt as though there were a ten-pound weight tied to his feet. After turning the final corner, he saw his mother sitting on the other side of thick glass and looking down into her purse. As she looked up, he sat down straight across from her. Both of their eyes filled with tears. She could sense that something profound had happened to her son, and he could see her love for him in her eyes.

In the twenty minutes they had together, they quickly shared stories and got caught up on the lives of family members. Kevin knew this wasn’t the first time she’d come to see him, as the guards notified Kevin of her presence each month—he never chose to see his mom. She slowly looked down and then back up to meet Kevin’s eyes. She said, “I’ve sat in this seat on the fourth Sunday of every month since you were put in prison. I knew you were probably angry with your father and me; we made so many mistakes. But I wanted you to know that I’ve always loved you, son.” Kevin was saddened that his anger and bitterness kept him from reading her letters and spending time with her during her visits. He’d missed out on so much.

They only had a few minutes left, but Kevin could see some concern in his mother’s eyes.  She said, “Kevin, I have to tell you that the cousin of the boy you killed has been put into this same prison. I don’t know anything else, but I’m sure he’s angry with you. So please look out for yourself.” Kevin’s heart sank, and for a moment he was filled with fear. But just as quickly, he felt overcome by a spirit of peace. He told his mother he loved her and forgave her. They parted ways as both cried again, but this time they were tears of joy.

As the months passed, Kevin and Charlie became the best of friends. And Kevin established a reputation among the inmates and prison employees as a respected and honorable man. One of Kevin’s favorite times of the day was when he’d walk around the back of the courtyard and feed the local stray dogs through the chain-link fence. Kevin would use the time by himself to think and pray while talking to the shaggy, four-legged creatures. He wasn’t sure if anyone knew he went to this secluded spot, until one afternoon when he heard a low voice call out his name. Kevin spun around feeling startled. Standing there were three guys who didn’t look all that happy. Kevin’s heart dropped when he realized who the guy in the middle was—Cory’s cousin.

The three backed Kevin up against the fence with the dogs yapping on the other side. Kevin could see that Cory’s cousin had his hand wrapped tightly around some kind of sharp object. Stuck between panic and divine peace, Kevin could think only of Jesus’ third way. Kevin had no desire to fight back and use violence to defend his cause, but he also didn’t want to give in to the certain death these guys intended. Surprising even himself, Kevin began singing—loudly. One of his favorite bands was U2, so he sang, “It’s a beautiful day . . .” It didn’t take more than a couple of seconds until one of the guards heard the loud singing and looked around the corner to see Kevin and the three men. Cory’s cousin hadn’t drawn the weapon, so the three men just backed away as if nothing was going on. The guard walked closer to them.

Kevin couldn’t help but smile. It was a nervous smile, but it was also a smile of hope—for a life that meant something. Kevin had been invited into the story of Jesus, and he couldn’t wait to experience it every day.

follow-up discussion and Questions

Have teenagers pull out the main “nuggets” from each teaching and write them on the board.

Break into small groups to discuss personal impact and application.

Discuss the role of family in your life—how have you dealt with pain, hurt, and bitterness? Do you still have a lot of pain, hurt, and bitterness in your life? How do you respond to those who hurt you physically, emotionally, and verbally? In what ways have you been “taught” to respond? In what ways can you respond using this third way (or Jesus’ Way) of retaliation? What examples in the world today show that we must either respond in a passive or violent way? What can we do to break that trend?

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