The story of Amazing Bible Stories INC.
A 501c3 Non-Profit
It’s only fitting to introduce Amazing Bible Stories by telling you our story. The seed for this organization was planted in Frisco, Texas in 2008 at the Lone Star Storytelling Festival. I was sharing an office at Frisco Square and had seen the signs advertising the Storytelling Festival for several weeks. My wife Shelley and I took our four kids to the festival that year because it was free and sounded fun. I like free, and the rest of the family likes fun. We were amazed! The kids sat there for hours listening to stories. Our kids were four, six, eight, and ten at the time. These incredibly talented storytellers mesmerized them. In addition to stories the festival had crafts and food. The kids still remember learning how to make pottery, and we still have the four-by-four-inch tiles they decorated. That wasn’t all. They wanted to buy DVDs so they could watch the same stories over and over.
The storytelling seed, planted in my mind in 2008, has been watered many times and allowed me to begin recognizing the power of story all the time. Our youngest son, Peyton, was only four in 2008, and he loved the book Goodnight Moon. We had to read that book to him every night. Most nights we read it more than once. We would try to read other books, but Peyton would always insist on Goodnight Moon. I even resorted to hiding the book to no avail. Peyton would always find it… not that he needed it. He had it memorized and could recite it word for word, so we had no chance of ever skipping a page or changing a single word—he’d know it and protest! Our other three kids, Lauren, Drew, and AnnMarie, each had their favorite books too, so I figured the power of story was consistent with all kids. The seed germinated and became a plant!
The young plant was watered in the fall of 2009 when we moved to Portage, Indiana, and I began working with the Portage Church of Christ as their preacher. Shelley was homeschooling our kids, and we joined a co-op called Homegrown Hearts. The president asked if I would do a short devotional each Wednesday before the kids went to class. I decided to tell a short five-minute Bible story and make a few brief points from the story. The stories were enjoyable to tell, and I sensed the kids and moms were enjoying them as well. After a few weeks I remember one of the moms telling me that the five-minute story was her kids’ favorite part of the day. Again, I was amazed by the power of story.
As a result of what we had learned about the power of story my family and friends decided to host a Bible Storytelling Festival in the summer of 2010. We invited our friends from church and co-op and the day was a huge success. After our second Bible Storytelling Festival I decided it was time to discover why stories have such a powerful impact on people of all ages. The thought of doing comprehensive research into secular literature seemed overwhelming and, to be honest, boring. I knew that stories were powerful and didn’t think I needed to prove it. After all, we have each experienced the power of story many times in our lives. Were you sad when you read Ol’ Yeller? Have you ever watched a movie with a compelling storyline? Have you watched that movie multiple times? Growing up in Indiana, the movie Hoosiers is one of my favorites. I’ve probably watched it more than ten times. We never outgrow the power of story. In the end, I was stuck. I didn’t want to research the psychology behind storytelling. What other, more exciting, approach could I take?
I’ve always been impressed with how God’s word provides us with amazing answers to life’s perplexing questions. Since the seed of story was first planted in my mind it has affected the way I look at God’s word. So, I decided to dive into God’s word and see how He used the power of story. How did His stories affect people? I became more impressed when I realized He was writing stories deliberately to have a desired effect on people throughout history. When people heard His stories, they reacted exactly how God knew they would react. Then it hit me, God created us for story. He created us with a natural inclination to be influenced by story. Then He brilliantly wrote His story (some call this history) in a way that changes the way we think and live! Amazing!
Shelley, the kids, and I moved to Columbus, Indiana where we hosted our first Columbus Bible Storytelling Festival in 2014. That same year, I also published a book called God’s Gift of Story. A group of Christians in Columbus eagerly joined in and we have hosted several Bible storytelling festivals in our hometown.
In 2018 a good friend and brother, John Baughn, decided to retire. John is a respected Bible class teacher and he is also deeply passionate about the tradition of storytelling. I asked John if he would help lead Amazing Bible Stories and plan our annual Bible storytelling festival. John readily agreed. John worked diligently to forge our future. He organized meetings to lay out his ideas for our blossoming group and eagerly sought input from others. He also took the important step of finding us a permanent location and a consistent date to host our festivals. We are holding our festivals the third weekend of September each year at CeraLand.
We decided that Amazing Bible Stories would focus on three important activities. First, we will continue to host local Bible Storytelling festivals and help Christians in other locations host similar festivals. Second, we plan on putting every Bible story online. We hope to organize the stories chronologically as well as topically. We believe it is important for believers to know how each individual story in the Bible fits into God’s amazing story of salvation. It is also important for parents and Bible class teachers to have a resource where the stories are categorized topically so they can share stories of what, for instance, compassion looks like in real life. That’s what Jesus did when He told the story of the Good Samaritan. Third, we hope to be a resource for people wanting to learn how to tell Bible stories accurately and effectively.
We decided the best way to accomplish those three goals was to get recognized as a non-profit organization by the IRS. This allows people to donate with pre-taxed dollars. We are pleased to announce as of June 2020 the IRS recognized us as a 501c3!
Our hope is for Christians who believe God’s stories and His story posses the true power to change people’s lives will join us in our quest to honor him by accurately telling His story . Please consider donating to Amazing Bible Stories as we honor Him by accurately retelling His story.
Board of Directors
John Baughn, Thomas Day, Amy Dukes, Dwayne Gandy, Jerry Gehring, Darlene Herridge, and Jeff Hilycord.