Tag Archives: stories

The Gap: To Fill or not to Fill?

Years ago we had foster kids living with us. During one of the first weeks, I told our 12-year-old foster son, “We’re going to the library!”

He was not impressed.

“I don’t read books,” he firmly stated, wanting to leave no room for arguments or discussion.

Nice try, I thought. “I think I know what the problem is,” I told him. “You don’t read because you have not found any good books yet. You just wait. We’ll find you a good book. Come with me.” And off to the library we went.

There was only one problem. I had grown up in The Netherlands, but we were living in Canada. And although I had put a lot of effort into reading children’s books by Canadian authors, I did not know any books that he might like. It only took one conversation with a very helpful librarian to find some easy-to-read, funny, high-interest books for him. She even ordered some books from other libraries in the province. Our foster son loved the books she recommended, and within a few months he was reading the thickest books for his age group. He even competed for ‘read the most pages’ during Christmas break the following school year, and although he didn’t win, he came very close! Needless to say, we were very proud of him.

During our first years in Ethiopia I had the privilege of teaching my oldest two children how to read, and their love for reading and the amount of books they have read and reread over the years is mind-boggling. Reading has benefitted them in countless ways, and I am thankful. But then I turn to look at the local children, and my heart aches. As the years have gone by, I have had this recurring dream for the children of Ethiopia, because there is this gap. Yes, there are many gaps, but, perhaps because I am a writer, the one that keeps on coming back to me is the lack of children’s books. There are a few available in Amharic, but there are only so few.  Ethiopian children will never be able to develop the same love for reading that my foster son had and that my kids now have — or at least they won’t be able to still their hunger for reading once it might sprout, because there simply are not enough books available.

It’s obvious that there are many advantages to reading. There are educational advantages; vocabulary improves, they’ll learn to be better spellers and better writers. They’ll learn many things about this big, diverse world and about all kinds of people and problems and challenges and solutions. But beyond that, they’ll be inspired to dream dreams — dreams for themselves, for their families, their communities, their country and the world beyond. They will learn about courage and passion and perseverance. Their creativity will be ignited. And they will learn to appreciate beauty as the stories they read touch their hearts and their lives.

Although I had this dream, this longing, to write stories for the children of Ethiopia for quite a few years, I didn’t find the time or the inspiration to work on this, and honestly I didn’t expect that I ever would. I hoped someone would fill the gap. But, like so many times in my life, God put the desire in my heart because His plan was for me to be a small part of the solution.

So I did write a novel for children, “Friends of the King”. It was translated into Amharic by Meti Ketema and published by SIM Publishing. It’s been such a blessing to work on it. I pray that by reading the story the children will catch a glimpse of how beautiful, amazing and loving our God is. I pray that they will realize that God sees them, cares about them, and takes care of them as He walks along side them. I long for them to know that God desires for them to trust Him completely, that they can be forever friends with Jesus, children of the most high God. I also long for them to enjoy books and stories. Stories that will put smiles on their faces, that will touch their hearts and give them courage to live their lives fully for Him, without holding back, so that the stories they write with their lives may be meaningful and beautiful and may reflect Him. I also pray that others may be inspired to join me in filling the gap by writing and developing lots of stories and books for the children of Ethiopia.

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Acts Curriculum – Available now!

In our shop now:

acts cover

Downloadable Children’s Ministry Curriculum.

So after Jesus went to heaven, what happened? Here’s a resource to help you teach your kids in creative, fun, engaging ways!

There are so many powerful, beautiful and encouraging stories in the book of Acts. They show us so many things, like how God wants to use us and encourage us, how we can tell others about Jesus, how we need to serve Jesus with a pure heart, how we can be guided by the Holy Spirit, and how we can praise Jesus no matter what our circumstances are. And so much more!

Download a free lesson sample here:  Acts Sample Lesson

Download a brief overview of the lessons here:  Acts Summary

Purchase the full curriculum or go to the Resource Shop


Find out what others are saying about Reach Out Kids Children’s Ministry Curriculum.

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Storytelling Videos

How to explain some of the techniques used in storytelling…?
I figured that it’s better to use videos! Here are a few.

Here’s a video that shows how important it is that we pay attention to how we say words when we tell a story:

Do you know the story about Bartimaeus? It’s in Luke 18:35-43. It’s one of the great stories included in our He Loves Me curriculum. Here is a video that introduces the story:

Our Joseph curriculum tells the great stories about his life, and helps children discover how they can live their lives for God as well. The story of Joseph’s life was full of drama, hardships, unexpected twists and turns. If you don’t know the story, it’s found in the Bible in Genesis 37, 39-50. Here’s a short video from one of the lessons.

Get some great storytelling ideas! Read more about storytelling, and watch more videos about how to step into the story, how to switch roles as you tell a story, and how to step into the narrator’s role.

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Strategy 8: Value Storytelling Techniques

A room full of children. Eyes are on the teacher. No one makes a sound. The kids are not even aware of the fact that they are in the room. Hearts are fully engaged. Their imagination has transported them into the story. The story captivates them. They may have heard the story before, perhaps even many times, but this time the story is fresh and new once again.

Telling a story. When I started to realize how much I enjoyed telling stories from the Bible, I didn’t really want to learn about storytelling techniques, because I was worried that it would make storytelling mechanical and take away from the experience of engaging with the beauty of the story. I figured that beauty should not be reduced to a bunch of techniques, because it will come out damaged and harmed and it will never be as beautiful. But as I discovered storytelling techniques and tested them, I realized that I was wrong. Storytelling techniques can greatly improve the delivery of the story, do greater justice to it and help the listeners engage at a deeper level. The beauty of the story will actually shine through in a more powerful way.

So what are storytelling techniques? There are a bunch of interconnected things we can focus on as we figure out how we want to tell the story in a powerful way. Storytelling techniques are skills we can work on and improve and take to a higher level. Storytelling techniques help us conquer the Barrier of a Poor Presentation. This blog does not allow me to elaborate on them, so I have created some separate pages with training videos.


I’ve done storytelling workshops in different places, and honestly, of all the training sessions in Children’s Ministry that I have done, these are the ones that I enjoy the most. My favorite part is when, after struggling to make it clear, suddenly “the light goes on” and the faces of the participants suddenly shine with joy as they discover the beauty and power of the story! Such joy it brings – to them and to me!!

Check out these pages:
Step into the Story
Switching Roles
Step into the Narrator’s Role

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