Not long ago, some disciples of Jesus visited a nearby village in rural north India. Just as Jesus commanded in Luke 10, this small group walked through the village until they found a family interested in talking. They were invited into the hut of this very poor family. After quietly listening to the disciples share their personal testimonies for a while, the wife finally looked at her visitors and said, “You are outsiders. You’re not like me. Your words are no help to me.”
The disciples had to agree. Their lives were very different from hers. They knew that though their words wouldn’t make a difference in her life, Jesus’ words would. They offered her an audio speaker with excerpts of Scripture on it. They said, “Please take this. Listen to God’s Word. His stories will always bring benefit. Listen to them over and over again. But don’t just listen. At the end of each story is a set of questions. Understanding comes through discussing these questions; not just listening to the stories. We can’t always visit you, but you can always have God’s Word.”
After several months, the disciples returned to the village, expecting to find the same depressed woman. Instead, they found happy people! Lots of happy people! The first time they visited, the disciples had only met with the wife and children. This time, the husband was also present, as well as many neighbors and extended family. The disciples asked, “What is the reason you are so different from before?”
The wife began to cry tears of joy. Others cried too. When she was able to speak, she explained that she and her children had listened to the stories. Every day during their afternoon chai break from the fields, they had listened to and discussed a story. Like most Indians, their eldest son and his wife live with them. It was not a happy marriage. Their son was a drunkard who beat his wife regularly. The day he heard Genesis 2 and the creation of Adam and Eve, however, that all changed. Astonished, he had cried out: “This story says that my wife was taken from my rib. That means we are of the same body! But…” looking at his wife he said, “. . . I beat you and drink too much!”
The son repented of his attitude. His marriage improved. Others in the community joined the daily story-hearing and discussion time. Those husbands began to recognize the value of their wives. Those marriages also changed. The wives shared with other women about the stories they were hearing and how their lives were changing. Their husbands no longer beat them, but now saw them as part of themselves.
The disciples of Jesus were thrilled. While their words had been powerless to produce change, God’s Word had been enough. The Holy Spirit had given life to the stories. Today that original family and others in the village have been baptized, are being mentored by a local leader, and are reaching out to their extended families in other villages.