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Resource uses Bible to help people deal with crisis
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The Rev. Kwasi Kena

Dec. 5, 2005

By Linda Green*

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — A new online resource from the United Methodist Board of Discipleship uses Scriptures to help people who are in crisis or recovering from disaster.

“Stories for Survivors,” a collection of Bible stories with discussion questions created for survivors of disaster, was launched Nov. 20 at

The holidays are stressful times under normal conditions, but when you add homelessness, separation from the familiar and the other issues of displacement, the stress factor increases exponentially, said the Rev. Kwasi Kena, a staff member in the board’s evangelism section. 


“There are so many challenges involved with reaching displaced people: Where are they now? Where will they be next week?” he said.

When people experience stress and trauma, they look for hope, he said. “Sharing Bible stories with people in distress is a gift of hope and strength and faith that we can offer to people who are trying to rebuild their lives.”

“Stories for Survivors” was launched online with the story of Elijah on Mt. Horeb because so many people were hearing messages that God’s judgment was being poured out through the hurricanes that struck the Gulf Coast, he said. “When Elijah met God on Mt. Horeb, there was terrible wind, and earthquake and a fire, but God was not in them. God spoke with a quiet whisper.


“The people in the Gulf region need stories of hope like these,” Kena explained. “The Bible stories, the life lessons from the Bible story and the discussion questions are catalysts to enable the survivors to discover or rediscover faith through the Bible and to discover their own faith stories that witness of God’s grace at work in their lives through the disaster.”


Seven more stories are included to help people get through their first  Christmas season following a disaster.

The stories are told without commentary to enable personal and group discovery of spiritual truths most relevant to the needs of those in crisis and transition. In a disaster, few people pause to pick up an armful of books or sermon notes, Kena said. “Hearing and discussing Bible stories encourages people in crisis to see their unique challenges as stories of faith, struggle and perseverance.”

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A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose

United Methodist Dora Jackson, 77, gathers a few belongings from her home in Slidell, La., after it was flooded by Hurricane Katrina.

Initiated as a joint project between the Board of Discipleship and Jack and Doris Day of Bible Storytelling Inc., the resource also is a response to some evangelism scholars’ claim that the United States is entering a third or fourth generation of biblical illiteracy.    The Days of Ashville, Ala., are former missionaries to Brazil, and Jack has written methodology books and trained people in Bible storytelling.

Preaching is often more explanation than telling the Bible story, Kena said. Bible stories are powerful when simply shared with people, which is how the Scriptures were shared effectively for hundreds of years.

“When people are presented with the context leading up to the Bible story, and when Bible stories are told chronologically, people are able to gain a panoramic perspective of God’s activity with humanity,” he said.

“By simply telling the Bible story and allowing people to mine the truths for themselves, we leave room for the Holy Spirit to teach, inspire, convict and comfort people. Sometimes we get in the way of the biblical message.”

*Green is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in Nashville, Tenn. 

News media contact: Linda Green, (615) 742-5470 or

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