I seem to always be having too much fun in my life. So at times, I have hesitated and asked myself, am I guilty of having too much fun?
When we were doing medical mission work in inland China, we were of course technically a “medical” mission team. But we would commonly teach English in the secondary schools in addition to (instead of?) seeing patients. Definitely, teaching English was “much more fun” than seeing patients. And it definitely was much more fun than meeting officials, some of whom spoke in propaganda jargon.
The school kids were authentic, genuine, and highly responsive. At the slightest excuse, the medical team would go to the schools, and teach there. The kids warmly welcomed us. Often they lined up on the balconies of all the floors of the school. When we walked into the school playground, there was a loud cheer from the balconies. To us, it was like “heaven on earth.” We gladly wore ourselves thin, working till very late at night, even though this was not our “assigned duty.”
Indeed some leaders challenged us, and accused us of having “too much fun.” Yes! And I also think that in heaven there will be joy like this. I will not easily forget the beaming faces of those children, eageyir to learn, bearing great smiles, and constantly absorbing all the new information.
Back in Cincinnati, every year I jump at the opportunity to teach Vacation Bible School, VBS, at our Asian church. I have been teaching missionary stories for more than 30 years during VBS. Usually I teach for 15 minutes each day, for 6 stories. I use a lot of “props”. Sometimes there are huge panels drawn by artists from the church as background. At other times I bring out spears, arrows, whips, poison darts. At times, I bring out my human skull “friend” I’ve had since childhood; my father was an anatomist, and during my childhood, he brought home for me a real human skeleton set. When I came to the US, I managed to get him past customs, and he’s been living in my garage for years. He is a hit with the kids – “Is he real?” “Is he really your friend?”
回到辛辛那提后，每年我都抓住机会去教我们亚洲人教会的 “假期圣经课”。我已经在假期圣经课里教了30多年的传道士故事。通常我讲6个故事，每天每个15分钟。我还利用很多道具，有时是教会的艺术家们画的大幅作品为背景， 有时带着矛，箭，鞭，有毒的飞镖。 有时我还带着我从小就有的头颅“朋友”； 我的父亲是医生，在我小的时候，父亲就给我带回一套真人骨骼。在我来美国的时候，我把他带过了海关并在我的车库里住了很多年。 孩子们对他很着迷-“他是真的吗？”“他真的是你的朋友吗？”
Another prop is my favorite bean bag monkey, Abhu, who has long legs and feet, and can be readily tangled around different objects or my body. Abhu makes a cameo appearance every year at VBS time- somehow he is always easily weaved into any story!
I love to tell the missionary story in dramatic fashion, usually stopping each day at the high point of a critical action, such as the lion about to bite off legendary missionary Dr David Livingstone’s head. “Ohhh- oooh – time’s up!” is my usual announcement at the last minute of the day. Sometimes this would occur even at the last presentation of the VBS, at which point there is a huge loud sigh and protest, “no, no, no.” If I say, “come back next year for the continuation,” there’s an even louder protest from the children! What a lot of fun!
我喜欢把传道士故事以戏剧的形式呈现，通常每天在关键环节的高潮点结束，比如狮子就要去咬传奇传道士大卫利文斯通（Dr. David Livingston）的头的时候.“啊-啊- 时间到了！”是我通常结束当天故事的宣告方式。有时在假期圣经学校的最后一天也是这样，这时就会有很大声的叹息和抗议，“不，不， 不！”如果我说，“明年来了继续讲”孩子们就会有更大声的抗议！ 太有趣了！
I teach youth in a similar fashion. I commonly show my youth classes many slides of pictures that they have to guess. “What’s going on here?” stimulates great discussions. Fortunately, Mr. Google has a huge array of pictures that relate to biblical or non-Biblical topics, or a plant or animal conveniently related to a Bible study subject. Or a secular concept that is derived from the Bible. Or anything that is tangentially related, something to do with modern history, geography, or politics. This way the youth are kept on their toes constantly, and they definitely cannot complain that “I’ve heard all this before,” because they have not. They have to guess, and to come up with ideas that relate to the text that day. Many of these kids may have grown up in church, and have heard many Bible stories. Since real life often has a direct connection with many biblical principles, this approach allows the youth to make the connection, and activate any drowsy synapses. And the class livens up, while no one is easily bored. By keeping them on their toes, I can also learn a lot from this exercise too, and some deeper thoughts often pop up. Am I having fun?
我对青少年也采用类似的教育方式， 通常我给他们展示很多幻灯图片让他们猜。“这是什么？”然后就激起很多讨论。还好谷歌先生有大量关于圣经或非圣经话题的图片，以及和圣经故事主题紧密相连的动植物。或起源于圣经或受圣经影响的观念。或与圣经似有联系的现代历史，地理或政治相关的事物。用这种方式让这些青少年集中注意力听讲，他们当然也不能抱怨“我以前都听过了”，因为他们并没有。他们要猜，要有一些与当天讲的故事相关的想法。其中很多孩子从小就在教会长大，也听过很多圣经故事。 既然现实生活也与很多圣经原则有直接关系，这种方法让年轻人很容易建立联系，并激活他们疲倦的神经。当课堂活跃起来的时候，大家就不会无聊。通过让他们活跃，我也学到很多，有时一些深层次的想法也涌上心头。 我正享受这些乐趣呢吗？
Even when I am giving a message in the “adult” congregations, I have often used techniques derived from teaching children and youth. Commonly I would walk around with a live microphone, asking questions, making the slightly squirming audience read bible verses from the power point, and urging them to give an interpretation. I always make the comment, “no one is allowed to fall asleep when I’m giving the message. I remind them I’ve taught many sleepy interns, and they don’t get the excuse either.
即使我在成人大会上讲课的时候，教小孩子和青少年的技巧也用得到。通常我带着麦克风转一下，问问题, 让摇头晃脑的观众读幻灯片上的圣经章节，并要求他们做出解释。 我也总是说，“当我讲课的时候，没人可以睡觉”。 我也提醒他们，我也教过很多昏昏欲睡的实习医生，他们也没有理由睡觉。”
I also challenge the audience with pictures, to stimulate thinking and ideas. As I walk around, I can also look at the eyes of the people, and can see whether they are paying attention! Smiles, laughter, or even sadness, help imprint the verbal message. So, is this fun or not?
Finally, even in medical lectures, I use many of these principles. I basically imagine, in my mind that my audience are all like kids. The more I can keep them awake, certainly the better the chance that they will retain the message. I remember one pregnant remark at the end of one of my scientific talks, which included humor and emotional moments, weaved into the science. A distinguished professor came up to me and said: “That was deceptively informative”. Sounds like a good summary of what I try to do.
最后，即使是讲授医学课的时候，我也用这些方法。 我通常在脑海里想象我的观众就像小孩一样。我让他们越清醒，他们能记住这些信息的可能性就越大。我记得有一次在我的科研讲座结束的时候，幽默的情绪与科学相互交融。一位著名的教授走来对我说：“这真是一个具有迷惑性的重要信息 (“That was deceptively informative”)。”这个总结正是我试图达到的。
So am I having fun? Should I be having fun? Am I having too much fun? Guilty! A wonderful guilt to have. May this “guilty pleasure” be effective in communicating timeless truths.
所以我正享受这些乐趣吗？ 我应该享受这些乐趣吗？ 我所拥有的乐趣太多了吗？ 罪恶感！但我又承认这是很棒的罪恶感。希望这种“罪恶的乐趣”能有效的阐述超越时间的真理。