The truth shines through

Mavis Payne volunteers at St Paul’s to tell the Bible stories in the stained glass windows to the Cathedral’s many visitors.

“I do it because there’s nowhere else in my week I can have such focused conversations about Jesus.”

“Before I started this, I asked God for the gift of evangelism, because I wanted to see people turn to Christ.”

At 1-2pm every Monday, you will see Mavis Payne tell ‘Stories under the windows’, a ministry available to the up to 1000 daily visitors to the Cathedral.

“I learn the stories of the stained-glass windows and the mosaics, I pray, and trust that God will lead me to the people He has prepared to hear the story. Most people are open to listening to the story and talking with me about what they’ve heard.

“I was telling the story of the woman at the well to a Chinese lady visiting from Sydney. One of the things I learned through Mentac at St Andrew’s Hall is about shame/honour culture, and that’s key to helping some people understand the story.

“In the story, the woman tells Jesus that she has no husband, and He responds by saying:

“The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband.”

“And then I add, ‘Jesus told her this to show that He understood her shame, and that she hadn’t been treated well by people.’”

“When I finished, I asked her what she liked about that story?

“She said, ‘There’s a lot of shame for women about being divorced in China,’ so we went from there. We talked about how what God thinks about us is more important than anybody else’s opinion; that God gives us our honour.

“She said, ‘In China, I didn’t have any beliefs, but now I want to have belief. I want to get to know God, when I go back to Sydney I want to go to a church.’”

Mavis gave her a Chinese New Testament, showed her where the story was, and let her know that there would be a Chinese church in her area.

“Telling Bible stories is about inviting people to engage with Jesus. So I ask questions to invite the hearers into the story. ‘What would it be like to be the woman at the well?’ At the Last Supper, ‘What would it be like to sit around that table?’ ‘What would you say to Jesus?’ ‘What would you like Him to say to you?’

“That’s the pointy end really: ‘Would you like to know more?’” ■

Mavis gained these vital cross-cultural insights through programs at St Andrew’s Hall.

We pray that many more will go through St Andrew’s Hall to bring the living word to the nations.

However, the buildings have been unfit for purpose for years now, so CMS is planning a full site redevelopment.

To find out more, go to