Living a Life of Faith, Energised by Love
At the end here are ideas if you want to talk with God asking for his blessing on yourself, your family, our community and the wider world.
If you’ve got a Bible you can find this story in the book of Jonah.
Jonah was a prophet. That means that if God wanted to say something to one person or a group of people, he’d give the message to Jonah whose job it was to pass it on. One day God said to Jonah, “Go to the city of Nineveh in Assyria. Tell them that I know how just how wicked and cruel the Assyrians are. Tell them about me!”
But Jonah didn’t want to go. He didn’t see why God would care about the people of Nineveh. So he made a plan. He’d run away from God. So he want to the port of Joppa on the Mediterranean, bought a ticket and got on a boat that was about to set sail in the opposite direction to Nineveh.
He hadn’t been on the ship many days before a great storm blew up. The boat was heaving. The wind was wild. The noise was terrifying! The sailors were soaked to the skin and scared stiff. “We’re all going to drown!” They cried out to their gods to save them.
Two people race down the track by blowing their ping-pong balls, either through their straws or by just blowing.
Talk about any times you’ve been in a storm, strong wind or soaked through. Ever watched a storm at sea? This storm was scarily stupendous. How might the sailors have felt? When they were scared by the wind, they asked their gods for help. Who do you ask to help you when you’re frightened?
Jonah had gone down inside the boat and fallen into a deep
sleep. He’d no idea about this storm. The captain found Jonah and woke him up.
“Get up!” he said. “We’re calling on our gods to rescue us but it’s not working. Maybe your god is more powerful!” Jonah had told them he was running away from God. (These days people believed in many different gods.) The sailors decided Jonah’s god had caused the storm. “Who is your god?” they asked.
“I worship the true God. He made heaven and earth, the sea and the dry land.” Jonah knew deep down he couldn’t run away from God. God knew where to find him. As he had made the sea and dry land, he would always find Jonah. “Throw me into the sea!” Jonah ordered. “Then you’ll be saved.” The sailors decided they had to do this. They threw Jonah overboard...the storm stopped.
You will need: a tray; sand, shaving cream, hair mousse or slime; a Lego figure (Jonah); blindfolds; a timer
One person hides Jonah in the sand (or other material) so no one can see him. Put a blindfold on them and they try to find Jonah in the sand using one finger only – or a hand for smaller people. Take it in turns and time yourselves. Make it a race!
Talk about: what you do when you are searching for someone or something. Do you just run off and turn everything over, or do you have a plan? How did God know where to find Jonah?
Jonah must have thought he would drown, even when the sea and the wind were calm. God knew where to find Jonah at sea. He continued to look after him. He sent a big fish that swallowed up Jonah.
Inside the fish Jonah must also have thought he would die. But three days later he found himself on the beach! God hadn’t finished yet with Jonah. He still wanted him to go to Nineveh!
Decorate the fish and draw a tiny Jonah onto the fish.
Talk about: how Jonah would have felt in the sea and then inside the fish. What might he now have thought about his plan to run away from God? Does the idea that God knows you inside out make you happy, or worried?
Because you have used recycled materials to decorate the fish talk about the plastic-in-the-sea crisis and its impact on sea life. What more can you do in recycling?
PART 4: God spoke again to Jonah the prophet with the same message. “Go to the city of Nineveh in Assyria. Tell them that I know how just how wicked and cruel the Assyrians are. Tell them about me!”
Jonah went, grumpily. He stood up in the market squares and told people they needed to turn to God. And they did. Even the king. God did not punish them.
Jonah thought this was unfair. They deserved to be punished. He got cross with God. But God made it clear. He loved the people of Nineveh. He knew what was in their hearts. He was just asking Jonah to obey him and do the right thing.
Make small flags of different countries and place them inside the Olympic rings
Talk about: God cared for the Ninevites and he cares for people in every part of the world, even where people don’t know much about Jesus. What does that say about God? What one thing would you want to tell someone about God? He loves us? He knows where we are so we’re never alone? He knows when we do wrong things? He forgives us and helps us be kind to others? What else!? Who do you know whose family lives in another country? Talk with God about that country.
This Veggie Tales version is great but long (10 minutes) – the story starts 4:07 in.
Jesus is King is a simple song sung in many different languages declaring who God is.
Listen to this Sheffield version!
Adapted from, and with thanks to, Barnabas in Schools, Messy