Incredible Message from a Christian in an ISIS War Zone… Forgiveness

Elisha shows mercy to his enemie

Elisha shows mercy to his enemies (2 Kings 6:8-23)

Just 2 miles from an ISIS battle zone, a Christian man is kept awake by the sound of gunfire and explosions.

Not many would blame him for feeling fear and anger… but he has a different message to share. A message of mercy and forgiveness. Amazingly, this man has created a set of pictures to show how Elisha, when surrounded by enemies determined to seize him, focused on the power of God. And then, when Elisha captured his enemies, he showed forgiveness by feeding and releasing them. That is the Bible story this Christian wants to share.

He has posted these images at FreeBibleimages for others to use. His story is as dramatic as the one he is telling in a refugee camps in the Middle East.

He writes, ‘We are praying for those attacking us. Christ commanded that we should love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.’ Please download these images and share this Bible story and the story behind the pictures. We hope it will encourage people to pray for Christians in the Middle East whose lives are under threat.

Revealing Pictures

Hidden Treasure

Reverend Malcolm MacKinnon tells the Parable of the Hidden Treasure

Artist and Reverend, Malcolm MacKinnon, (Big Malc) did some of the early work on the very first FreeBibleimages. He then moved from the UK with his wife Donna to work with kids and youth at Trinity Church, Felton, in California. Malcolm has a great gift for telling Bible stories while drawing and revealing pictures as he narrates. He has posted videos of some of these on his new web site. Do take a look and see how Malcolm uses artwork and great Bible story-telling to captivate those he is teaching.

12 ways a picture can improve the impact of your teaching

12 ways to use a pictureIt’s often been said that a picture is worth a thousand words. Images take you powerfully into a situation and can tell a story more quickly and directly than language. Children, who struggle with abstract concepts, are always drawn to pictures, as those of us who use visuals regularly in our teaching will know. In fact research suggests that we remember things we see twice as easily as things we hear. Here are 12 ways to use images to increase the impact of your teaching:

1. To Accompany a Story
The most obvious way to use an image is to provide another narrative tool. You tell the story orally but use pictures to cement it in children’s minds. This caters for the visual as well as the aural learner as well as providing concrete impressions of characters, settings and events. Ideally you need a sequence of pictures to tell the story step by step.

2. To Recap
Another option is to tell the children the story first then use the pictures to help them revise the events. This can be done in question and answer format.

3. As a Prediction Exercise
The first two methods suggest the telling of the story comes first. However you can also use pictures to encourage the children to interact with the narrative. Show them a picture and ask them to suggest what happens next. By stimulating them to speculate on events you allow ‘ownership’ of the story and this will increase their involvement and understanding.

4. As a Test of Understanding
Sometimes we think children have understood a story but we do not really know what they have grasped. Giving them a pile of pictures, either copied for individuals if you have a small class, or one set per group, allows them to sort the pictures into narrative order. Children love this! It gives them an opportunity to work with each other, to pit their understanding against other children (you can always make it a quiz and offer prizes) and to test their own comprehension of the story. It also allows you, the teacher, to assess what they have understood and to find and fill in any gaps.

5. To Increase Awareness of Other Cultures
Children find it difficult to imagine what people from other parts of the world look like. Culturally accurate images of characters help them to understand the appearance of people from different races. Pictures can provide a discussion point and help the children fix these differences in their minds.

6. To Increase Awareness of Other Times
History is another abstract concept children struggle with. Some bible stories took place over 3,000 years ago. That is hard enough for adults to grasp let alone children! Historically accurate images can correct any misunderstandings that children may have about the past and teach them a great deal about history without having to labour the point!

7. For Fun!
We mustn’t neglect the importance of fun in children’s learning! Educational experts believe E.Q (Emotional intelligence) to be as important as I.Q. Children who have fun want to come to your classes and if they have enjoyed an activity they will remember it better. Pictures can be cut into pieces to make jigsaw puzzles, which can be reassembled individually, in pairs or in small groups. The children think they are playing a game but you know they are also consolidating their knowledge of the story!

8. To Organise Groups
We all know the sad situation of the child who is never picked for a team (some of us were that child!) Allowing children to organise their own groups can be a hurtful experience for those left out. A solution to this can be to cut pictures into as many pieces as you require team members, distribute the pieces randomly and allow the children to find the rest of their team by working out who has pieces from their picture. This adds a fun and competitive element to the exercise and children often forget to complain they aren’t with their friends! (And of course they are also subconsciously preparing or revising the story as well.)

9. To Promote Life Awareness
Sadly all children will eventually encounter death and illness – and these topics occur frequently in the bible. Appropriate pictures help children meet these ‘rite of passage’ situations in a safe way and as teachers we can prepare them lovingly, often helping children to practise coping strategies before they are needed for real.

10. To reach Children with Special Needs
Pictures are great for children with special needs. They can communicate powerfully to the deaf, help mentally handicapped children grasp a story in a simplified way and cross cultural and linguistic barriers.

11. To Help Children to Empathise
We often say ‘ what would you do if you were x?’ or ‘put yourself in their shoes’ but children are generally self-centered and find it hard to imagine being someone else. Again, pictures can help with this. If you can ask parents to donate copies of the child’s photo (or take them yourself with permission) you can cut them out and stick the child’s face over a bible character’s. Literally putting the child into the situation helps them to interact with it on a personal level and encourages skills of empathy and understanding. It also promotes some very interesting discussion…!

12. To Promote fairness
Pin the pictures from the story around the room. Give each child a post it sticker. If they are old enough, get them to write a question on the sticker and attach it to the relevant story. If they are too young to write, ask them to put a tick on the sticker and attach it to a part of the story they like or a question mark by something they don’t understand. You can answer the questions anonymously. This gives the shyer child a voice and ensures everyone has a chance to contribute without a few children being allowed to dominate.

Online Advent Calendar


Paul Higgins of Dart Design in the UK has created this wonderful online Christmas Calendar for FreeBibleimages. As you open each window the story of Christmas unfolds. Please share the links on your social media. There are two versions of the Advent calendar:

Date unlimited: (You can open all the windows).

Date limited: (You can’t open a window before the correct date).

What a creative way to teach the Christmas story. Thanks Paul.

Artist David Garibaldi paints live!


You have just got to watch the video how how this was created in minutes.

This video of artist David Garibaldi painting live is well worth watching. What a great talent and such an impact on his audience. With just a few brush strokes on a large canvas he amazes people with his art. Just click here to see him at work.

It just goes to prove that pictures can talk louder than words.

The best story plots – the Bible has them all

Writing on the wall

The writing is on the wall

According to author Christopher Booker, from the Bible to the modern day blockbuster and from Homer to Homer Simpson, there have only been seven enduring story plots. In this blog we take a look at what they are and encounter some famous Biblical examples.

1.  Overcoming the Monster
The classic good guy beats bad guy against the odds. Even Rocky Balboa’s triumphs dwindle in comparison to David the young shepherd vs Goliath the warrior Philistine.

2. Rags to Riches
Audiences were enamoured with the ghetto to the stars tale of Slumdog Millionaire but the original rags to riches story was Joseph’s from the pit to the palace, and from prisoner to Egyptian ruler.

3. The Quest
If you thought Peter Jackon’s Lord of the Ring’s quest was long enough, this was nothing on the Israelites 40 years in the desert before they reached the Promised Land.

4. Voyage and Return
Finding Nemo’s voyage seems to go pretty swimmingly in comparison to Paul’s missionary journeys.

5. Comedy
If you thought Toy Story was far fetched you would not believe the true comedy of Gideon’s 300 men with clay pots and torches defeating 120,000 dumbfounded Midianites!

6. Tragedy
Romeo and Juliet may have a tragic ending but the writing was on the wall for Belteshazzar and villians like Haman and Ahab.

7. Re-Birth
Even Clark Kent’s caped transformation is not a patch on Saul’s conversion, Matthew’s discipleship and of course, the ultimate re-birth: Jesus’ Resurrection.

So when you next tell a great story from the Bible remember you are relating a real-life story that is better than any Hollywood script writer could dream up. Get excited about it, relive the drama, build the tension and leave the ending to God.

Reaching and teaching adults with special needs

Shirley Dechaine in the USA uses FreeBibleimages and writes, ‘My listeners are adult special needs students in a Sunday School class. Most of them gave their full attention to the Bible story and the colored images brought it to life for them.’ We are thrilled Shirley is willing to share these great tips on building good relationships and helping adults with developmental difficulties to learn:

1. Enter the classroom early with a happy heart.
2. Be prayerfully and fully prepared.
3. As students enter, distribute hugs freely – being sure each student is warmly welcomed.
4. Touch is generally welcomed but be sensitive to each student’s needs. Some prefer a handshake to a hug.
5. Know that it is impossible for you to fail. Your giving heart has already passed the test.
6. Mistakes are allowed.  Let students know that you, too, make mistakes.
7. Take time to listen to their stories, even if spoken in faltering, slow speech.
8. Be compassionate but not overly-sympathetic.
9. Keep class time fun!
10. Teach only one Bible truth and repeat this truth in a variety of ways (role play, puppets, games, music, crafts, guests).
11. Follow your prepared lesson plan unless classroom dynamics require change.  Be flexible.
12. Keep lessons and crafts simple. Don’t get bogged down in too many details. (They won’t remember them anyway.)
13. Use as many visual images as possible. You have visual learners.
14. Involve students as much as possible.
15. Recognise individual capabilities in students. Make use of their strengths.
16. Use appropriate vocabulary. Use “students” or “friends” instead of “children”.  Such references are offensive to special needs adults.
17. Pray with students during class to meet individual heart needs. Encourage personal prayer.

More about this caring Christian ministry to those with special needs can be found at Open hearts extended.