Saturday, January 11, 2014

Is Your Name Haman?

     A girl named Esther volunteered to tell a Bible story at her local YMCA.  A host of small children gathered around her as she told the story of an ancient Persian queen.  At the beginning of the story, Esther told the children that she shared a name with a character in the story.
     Esther had memorized the story well and her audience seemed captivated by the story of the queen's adventures.  It was a long story and there were many interruptions as the children asked questions.  Things had to be explained as they went.
     For example, the concept of different countries had to be introduced.  Thankfully, one of the group leaders was a young woman from Canada.  With her permission, Esther used her as an example.  Pointing to the child who had asked the question, she explained "you are American and your friend (indicating the group leader) is from Canada."
      The children interrupted Esther's explanation with a correction, "She's not our friend -- she's a group leader." 
     Seeing an opportunity to teach a good lesson (as well as rescue the young Canadian woman), Esther told the children that group leaders can be friends, too.
     A light went off in the eyes of the children.  "Ohhhh," they said.  They spun to point at another group leader.  "Like him!  He's our friend," they said enthusiastically.
     Esther tried not to laugh.  The children didn't mean to be giving hidden insults.  But Esther could see that the friendship lesson was not necessarily helping, so she guided everyone back to the exciting story.
     Her 10 minute story slot turned into 30 minutes.  But the children were good through it all.  When the story was finally concluded, one child sighed.  "That was a LOOOOONG story," he said.
    Another child raised his hand with a confused look on his face.
     "Yes?" Esther asked, giving him permission to speak.
     His hand went down, but his face twisted even farther.  "Is your name 'Haman'?" he asked.
     Esther could not keep the twinkle out of her eyes.  "No.  No, it is not.  My name is 'Esther'...like the queen," she corrected him.  It was all she could do to keep from laughing.  Had the little boy been trying to guess her name through the whole story?  And what mother would name her little girl after the bad guy in the story?  It was too funny.
     But that is the fun of telling Bible stories to people who have never heard them.  The children's eager interest through that "loooong" story reminds you just how exciting of a story it is.  The questions are all new and fresh to them.
     And the children were bold to ask whatever questions that came to their mind.  There were questions about countries, about people, about the meaning of "obtaining favor in the sight of all" and what it means to be blessed by God, about the purpose of prayer,  about what it means to know God, about courage, and even questions about the bad guy. ;)

P.S. The story that Esther told came from the Bible.  There is a book in the Bible called "Esther" and it is 10 chapters long.  If you are curious, go read it!  If you don't have a Bible, you can find it printed online at some place like http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Esther+1&version=NKJV  Then you will see just why Esther, though amused, was adamant that her name was NOT Haman. :)
      

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