The Monkey and the Fish

A Modern-Day Parable

by Dale Fisher

The missions class that I recently finished teaching was called “The Monkey and the Fish,” which was named after a book by Dave Gibbons who based his book on this eastern parable.

“A typhoon stranded a monkey on an island. In a protected place on the shore, while waiting for the raging waters to recede, he spotted a fish swimming against the current. It seemed to the monkey that the fish was struggling and needed assistance.
Being of kind heart, the monkey resolved to help the fish. At considerable risk to himself, the monkey moved far out on the precarious limb of a tree, reached down, and snatched the fish from the waters. Scurrying back to the safety of his shelter, he carefully laid the fish on dry ground.
For a few moments, the fish showed excitement but soon settled into a peaceful rest.”
The parable is sometimes likened to Western missions, whose missionaries don’t really learn the culture of the people to whom they're ministering before doing things that aren't good for the people they're trying to help.
My goal was to help the class members become more culturally aware and sensitive than the monkey in the parable. In many ways, I think that this goal was met. For example, two of our class sessions involved field trips: one to a local mosque and one to a Buddhist temple in the Los Angeles area. On these trips we learned first hand about these two other religions.
Over the holidays, during the final session that Dale taught this year at his church, titled, "The Monkey and the Fish Parable" missions class, he invited Brian, a missionary from Mexico, to share his experience with this parable. The monkey and the fish (seen climbing in the background tree) are characters in a parable about modern-day missions. In our last session, shown in the photo to the right (click to enlarge it and read its caption. Re-click to shrink it), I asked a couple who were ministering in Mexico to speak to the class. It was an excellent time of interaction: the class members asked questions of the missionaries; we got to hear their answers, as well as their story of being called into missions.
As I talked with the class, two of them said that they were currently on a pathway of becoming a missionary. It thrilled my heart to be able to be a small part of the process, helping them see their dream become reality.
Later this month, I hope to begin teaching another adult Sunday School class. This next class will be for new believers. Remembering to focus on and apply this important parable, I'll lead them through the basics of Christian life.

These are my life verses: 1 Corinthians 10:31–33

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 32Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks, or the church of God — 33even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.



January's family photo pages:

† Marti: By Invitation Only

† Dale: A Modern-Day Parable

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