Posted On 2014-09-17 In Communication

If God meets me on the stairs or in the supermarket

GERMANY, mda. “In our towns and villages there are courageous and shy people, missionaries or sleeping Christians. There are also many who are searching, even if they don’t want to admit it. Each of us is called, each has been sent out. However, this does not mean that the place of this calling is the parish centre. It doesn’t mean that its moment will necessarily take place in the comfort of a parish event. God’s call can reach us just as well at the assembly line, the office, the supermarket or the stairs, that is, the places of our everyday lives”. Those were the words of Pope Francis last year to the Austrian Bishops. On the new webpage “Trust GOD” (www.gott-vertrauen.net) you will not only find these words of Pope Francis, but also a number of experiences with a God you can trust. On the stairs, on the way to flute practice, or on the Highway.

My three-year-old son said, “I feel so sorry for you! When we are all gone – to Kindergarten, school or work – you are left all by yourself!” Then he saw the cross in our prayer corner and his face lit up, “Oh, no, you are never all by yourself! God is always with you!”

 

Many years ago, when my mother learned that she had cancer, she said that she would never have believed how quickly she would lose her faith because of her fear of death. Nevertheless, she never stopped praying and in the end her trust in this source of strength helped her to overcome this difficult time.

 

It was March and outside everything was bare and grey. I was pregnant for the first time when I went into labour in the fifth month.

After two weeks in hospital it seemed as though nothing would prevent the birth of our child. I was taken by ambulance to a large clinic that specialised in premature births. Everything happened so quickly. Before the journey I was given a tranquilising tablet, then we set off.

In the ambulance I looked out of the back window and saw the grey sky. I prayed for our child that all would be well and asked God, “Are you there?” Shortly afterwards the ambulance stopped at a crossroads and through the window I saw a cherry branch in full bloom. Sometimes God smiles at us directly.

Once I arrived at the clinic the contractions stopped. After a few days of observation the medications were reduced and after a further three weeks I was allowed to go home.

Our child was born six weeks early, but he was completely healthy. We have such a happy child whom we love with all our hearts.

These are three of more than a dozen simple, personal and true stories that people relate when they are asked: Does trust in God work? In the best manner of story telling.

Story telling, or, What the Bible does

If someone wants to achieve something in business communication, or selling a product, they won’t get around a seminar on professional story telling. Instead of relating abstract facts or apologetic arguments, simply tell a story. You don’t always have to talk about the start of a business in a garage, or a waitress who lived from tips and couldn’t take a day off when her child is was ill without collapsing financially … If you think of Steve Jobs or Barack Obama you will have heard these stories. Story telling isn’t something new; it has only been re-discovered. It counteracts to some extent the flood of information to which we are subjected, on the one hand, and the burden of theories and ideas, on the other. A story addresses people as a whole, involving mind and heart. The Bible did this already long ago. There is hardly a story telling seminar that doesn’t refer to the power of Biblical stories in the Old and New Testaments. It is only that at some time along the way the Church lost her trust in the power of stories, so that the story telling community became a teaching business, as the great Jesuit communication researcher, Dr Eckhart Bieger, put it. The story of a person’s experience, in which they passed on truths and values, was discussed, substantiated, attacked, defended and transformed into an obligatory doctrine. From the time of Schoenstatt’s foundation, Fr Kentenich based his communication concept on telling stories. He did so not only on account of a story’s power, but because of the freedom it gives his listeners. “How nice for them, I say as listener, and rejoice because this or the other thing did the story teller good – and remain completely free. I am not made to take a decision forced upon me from outside. – How nice! It would also suit me, I tell myself, and then my decision becomes my own inner decision; it has power, it upholds me and makes me still more free.” Those are the words of Fr Tilmann Beller, the great discoverer of Fr Kentenich’s story telling.

“On one occasion, in the diocese I formerly belonged to, I heard an interesting and lovely comment. Some people were talking about an old woman who had worked all her life in a parish. Someone who knew her well said, ‘This woman never had a bad word about anyone, she never joined in gossip, and always had a smile on her face.’ You could canonise such a person tomorrow!” Pope Francis commented during a recent general audience.

The new website of the project “GOTTvertrauen” (“Trust GOD”) follows in this tradition of telling stories.

Trust in GOD in actual practice

God is not somewhere far away in heaven; he is with me. He accompanies me along my path through life. He acts in my life, in my everyday life. I can count upon him. I can trust him.

The initiators of this project – a group of Schoenstatters who have entered into the covenant with God the Father that Fr Kentenich entered into in the Schoenstatt shrine in Cologne in 1966 – want to bear this onto the streets of life in the fullest sense of the word, through stories about trusting GOD.

Such as these:

Recently, as I drove to a prison in Hamburg to visit someone, I looked at my car and thought: You really need courage to advertise “Trust in GOD” on the streets and parking areas. Actually I had only stuck on the really beautiful label “Trust GOD” in order to take a photo. And in the end the people think that whoever drives in such a car needs to trust in God.

On the other hand, Pope Francis wants us to go out onto the streets, so I travel around with Trust GOD … for the moment. Besides, it is really difficult to get rid of the label!

Shortly afterwards I overtook a truck from Austria on the motorway. The haulier was advertising all along its sidewall: “You are in good hands with XXX – on every road”. At the back you could read: “With God’s blessing everything goes well”.

The sticker stays put.

www.gott-vertrauen.net

Original: German – Translation: Mary Cole, UK

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *