Moe was drifting through town, looking for something to do. Unexpectedly, he found himself in a part of town he had never been to before. There, at the end of a shady alleyway, on the edge of an empty park, he found a bin fire, engulfed in wild flames and thick smoke. The flames shot up high, litter spat into the air, and there was a stench of burning plastic. As he watched, Moe noticed that the bin didn’t burn, and that the fire didn’t affect it. “This is weird,” thought Moe, “why doesn’t this bin burn up?”
So he went over to look inside, and a voice called out to him – “Moe! Moe!”
A bit confused, Moe mumbled something back.
“Don’t come any closer!”, said the voice, “pull down your hood and take off your bag – you’re on my turf.”
Feeling spooked, Moe jumped back and covered his face. Embarrassed by his own surprise, he looked around to see if anyone was watching, then put down his bag and pulled back his hood. Then the voice in the Fire continued, “I have seen the unhappiness and boredom of my people. I have heard them moaning about their home. Their complaint has reached me, and I have seen how they are treated. I am worried that they are all asleep. So I am here to wake you up – to give you a Fire that burns for change. So go! Get on your bike! I am sending you to spark life into your neighbourhood!
Getting angry, maybe even a bit scared; Moe yelled, “Who the hell are you? Where are you hiding?”
“I am the fire that never goes out,” replied the voice, “I have always burned, and I will always burn. I am the Fire of your family. The Fire that has burned for your parents and grandparents; aunts and uncles; brothers and sisters. And I burn for you.”
“What do you want with me? What can I do?” Moe shouted back.
“Gather your friends – Tell them that the fire that never goes out has sent you to spark life into the neighbourhood. They will listen to you. Work with them to put an end to your boredom and unhappiness; to change the way you are treated. I will send my Fire to help you do great things. And when they see them, people will follow – use their skills to do your work.”
Sensing the importance of the moment, Moe calmed himself, and asked carefully, “what if they call me a liar or tell me I’m imagining it”
“Show me what is in your pocket?” Demanded the Fire. So Moe pulled out his lighter.
“Throw it on the ground” said the Fire. As Moe threw the lighter to the ground, a great flame erupted from it, scorching the grass and surrounding bushes. Moe jumped back in surprise. When the flame faded, Moe bent down and picked up the lighter. “In this lighter,” said the Fire, “is all my power. Take it with you to remind you of what I can do”.
But Moe protested, “Can’t you send someone else? Anyone is better than me!”
The Fire in the bin raged. “I am sending you! And I will burn for you – so go now!” Moe reluctantly put his lighter back in his pocket, picked up his bag, and returned home without looking back.
Frontier Youth Trust is building a movement of pioneering youth work – encouraging youth workers and churches to take mission risks to reach young people. Contact us for help in exploring this thinking in your practice.
This is not really my own work. Ok this one is… this story was written in response to a spate of bin fires in my local area. Here I am trying to connect a piece of the Gospel story with young people’s lived experience. What story would you tell? For more stories like this, look through the parables on the FYT blog www.fyt.org.uk