Local pastor goes to India on mission

Biblical storytelling class in Bangalaru, India. (Photo submitted)

MAYFIELD — The Rev. Bonnie Orth of Mayfield Central Presbyterian Church traveled halfway around the world to teach Biblical storytelling to Indian Christians.

Spending nearly a month in southern India, her trip began on Dec. 31 traveling to three different locations to spread the “good news” to an often-persecuted minority.

“Christians are very much in the minority,” Orth said.

Orth said there are more Christians in southern India than northern India due to the evangelizing efforts of Apostle Thomas who first traveled to India spreading the Gospel.

This is not her first time in India; In 2000, Orth spent a year as a seminarian doing clinical pastoral education learning how to give pastoral care to people in Vellore, India.

Working at the Christian Medical College Hospital, a medical school for women that was started by a missionary’s daughter in 1900, Orth returned to the CMCH teaching workshops in Biblical storytelling to medical students and seminarians.

“It’s now a 2,800 bed hospital and is renowned throughout Southeast Asia as one of the best hospitals in the world,” she said of the hospital.

Orth has been involved with the Network of Biblical Storytellers International for the past five years, a group of people — pastors and lay people — who learn and tell Biblical stories by heart.

“Storytelling helps to bring the Bible to life to people,” Orth said.

She explained the Bible was originally spoken aloud, a practice that was lost with the invention of the printing press in the 15th century.

“When you actually hear a story told by heart, not by memory — because we believe it must be taken in by heart — it really helps the Bible to come alive in a different way for people,” Orth said.

Other workshops that Orth and other Biblical storytellers taught were built around themes. Orth’s theme was on Biblical storytelling in pastoral care.

“If you meet someone dealing with depression, mental illness, addictions, grief, or a serious illness like cancer, are there any stories in the Bible that could help that person understand what they might be feeling or going through to make sense of what’s happening to them and can help them?” Orth said.

Orth also spent some time sightseeing, visiting the Golden Temple, the Taj Mahal, an elephant sanctuary and other places in northern India before heading south to teach.

“What strikes me about the Christians in India is that they are very passionate about their faith, they’re very committed, and are very strong believers,” Orth said.

By Kerry Minor

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