According to Australian Christian author and speaker Naomi Reed, reading Biblical narrative stories is a good way to get a new and fresh perspective on reading the Bible.
When Naomi was studying the Old Testament herself, she found she very much enjoyed reading the narratives found within. She recalls, “It was fantastic to be reading and understanding the narrative. I really like an accessible, storytelling style.”
After serving as a missionary with her husband Darren and family in Nepal for six years, Naomi returned to Australia and discovered an attitude towards Bible reading in Australian churches that surprised her. “I visited hundreds of churches and the first thing I became aware of was a bit of a ‘ho hum’ attitude towards the Bible stories, and that Christians were a bit bored with the message, because it’s not new.” This struck Naomi, since, as she says, the Bible “was never meant to be a boring message”!
Naomi began a speaking ministry in Australian churches, and as a part of her ministry began to focus on telling the same message in a new way. “I focused on telling the story, the gospel, the answer in a fresh way,” she says.
One result of this ministry was her book, ‘The Promise’ which Naomi published in 2009. The book turns the Bible into a narrative, using the voices of women from the Bible, telling their story, in an accessible story telling style. The twenty dramatic monologues aim to capture the sweep of God’s plans and promises for the world – from Genesis to Pentecost.
“There are a lot of people who won’t necessarily read from Genesis,” Naomi observes. Naomi’s goal in writing the book was to make the Biblical narrative accessible in another way. “It doesn’t replace Scripture,” she explains, “It just gets people in, and addresses the reason why Jesus is the answer.” After reading the book, Naomi hopes Christians will pick up their Bibles, ask questions, and look there for answers. “It’s good to get the big picture and the narrative in an accessible story telling style, and from there, to pick up the Bible.”
Naomi says, “What I’ve enjoyed is taking a Biblical narrative, taking it from a different perspective, and trying to tell the same story and the same message. I’ve enjoyed using my imagination and trying to bring to life the white bits in between the black type on the page.”
Naomi continues to pursue fresh ways of exploring and re-telling Biblical narrative, both in her speaking engagements, in churches, in her writing and in her personal Bible reading.
She says, “I recently wrote using the perspective of Jairus’ wife. How would she have felt? What would she have thought about Jesus?
“I was trying to imagine it a bit more. It pushes me to do this. I can also read it, thinking, ‘I already know this story’ – but to push ourselves into the narrative, and think, ‘What was God saying then? What is he saying to me today?’ is so important. We can be really lazy. But I like to think of new ways to read God’s Word, and let God speak through his Spirit.”
Naomi will be the running day conferences in the art of storytelling throughout 2013. To attend one of these (Sydney on March 23, Brisbane in May, Launceston in June) find more details on the events page of Naomi’s website.