I was inspired to write these stories through two events: (1) Having purchased, in Wales, in the early 1990s, a comic book, that I have never found since, of Gospel stories that used little animals to communicate the truth. My son loved them. I cannot find them. If anyone out there knows about them, let me know! (2) Vacation Bible School in the churches I have served. I have found that animal stories connect with the kids and help them to discover the truths of the Gospel. I thus, with proper credit to the wonderful comic books I have seen in Wales which did this so well, as well as to the children of Redeemer Presbyterian Church of Overland Park, Kansas, Kirk O’ the Isles Presbyterian Church of Savannah, Georgia, and First Presbyterian Church of Chattanooga, Tennessee, I dedicate these stories! Perhaps someone out there could use them as bedtime stories.
I want you to journey with me for a few moments into the jungles of Africa. There high in the trees, amidst the green leaves, lives a very bad, very mischievous brown monkey named Bunkie. Bunkie had some friends: Punkey, who was a grey monkey and Flunkey, who was a sort of orange monkey. Bunkie and Punkey and Flunkey would sit in their trees and they would eat bananas and coconut and pat their stomachs and think what a wonderful life they had. And they loved to sit up in the tree and look down at the other animals. Bunkie would say: “Look at that hippo. Oo – look at that one. How fat he is! How slow he seems to be! How ugly he is compared to a fine monkey like me!” And all of the monkeys would giggle and make fun other hippos’ way down below.
There was a very wise giraffe named Geronimo. Geronimo the Giraffe had a long neck and his neck went way up into the trees, where Bunkie, Punkey and Flunkey would laugh and make fund of the other animals. Geronimo once told them: “You should not make fun of others. That Hippo is not just a Hippo, that Hippo has a name. His name is Hugo and he is a fine Hippo and a fine animal. You should pay more respect to others. It is not just monkeys who are your neighbors, but hippos and others as well. One day you will be in trouble and will need help.” Bunkie and Punkey and Flunkey laughed all the more when they heard Geronimo say that.
Later that day, Bunkie wanted to go from tree to tree in search of some fresh coconut, and as he went he did a most unexpected thing: He fell. Actually he was frightened into falling by the loud scream of a crafty cat that had come in from another parable (wa-a-a-a-a!!!)! I tell you. You have to watch out for bad, crafty cats. You never know where they will turn up! And Bunkie fell down and down and down and he landed in the middle of a bog. A bog is like a swamp but it is all exceedingly thick and yucky mud that traps you. He thought, “Oh, how silly of me. I will now just go back to my trees.” But Bunkie couldn’t move out of that bog. Bunkie was in the Bog! And no sooner than he thought that, a bunch of laughing hyenas came out of their caves. And they began to circle Bunkie in the Bog. And they laughed and laughed at him and they reached out to try and get him to get him out of the bog so they could eat Bunkie! So Bunkie was either going to be eaten by Laughing Hyenas or Bunkie was going to die in the bog! Bunkie looked up, as he was struggling to get out, and he was by now also in great pain, and he saw Punkey hanging around up in a tree. “Hey, Punkey! Help! I have fallen in the bog and I am also being attacked by laughing hyenas! Help me, Punkey!” But Punkey was a very busy monkey and besides, maybe those hyenas would turn on him, too. Or maybe he, too, would fall in the bog. Punkey punted on that idea and swung away on a vine deep into the jungle. The hyenas meanwhile had placed a log across the bog and were going to walk across the log, get Bunkie out and then…well; you know what they were going to do to poor Bunkie. They moved in for the kill. They circled Bunkie and he knew it was all over. But then…he spotted Flunkey who was looking down from the banana tree that Bunkie had originally wanted. “Hey, Flunkey! Help me! I am trapped in a bog and encircled by killer hyenas. These hyenas are not happy they are insane and they want to eat me! Help me!” But Flunkey figured he wanted nothing to do with that bog or those laughing idiots who would probably eat him as well! Additionally, he had come to not only see that Hippos and other such animals were ugly and not worthy of his care and concern, but also brown monkeys were not that nice. He acted like he didn’t see Bunkie and just swung on to the next tree. The hyenas were coming in for the kill and would soon be eating monkey casserole! But then, out of the forest, a rumbling sound could be heard. Trees were being pushed up out of the ground, giant limbs were snapping, birds were flying, and the whole jungle shook as if it were an earthquake! Bunkie was shocked, but still scared. The laughing hyenas stopped laughing and stood with big eyes and open mouths wondering what was going on! Then, all of us a sudden, the reason for all of this commotion appeared out of the thick of the jungle: it was Hugo the Hippo! Hugo had heard from the Geronimo the Giraffe about the adventure of the monkeys in search of the coconuts in the far reaches of the jungle and was moved to go in search of them. He stampeded through the laughing hyenas and they scattered like buckshot! Then that giant beast, which Bunkie had talked so bad about, went into the bog himself! And he put his giant head under Bunkie and with his head lifted Bunkie up and out of the bog. No other animal might have done it. Only a courageous and loving Hippo like Hugo who was also strong and quite capable. Bunkie then ran along the back of Hugo—for his back was sticking out of the bog—and Bunkie make it to dry ground.
Bunkie was saved by Hugo.
Now, some people say that Hugo never came out. Some people say that saving Bunkie killed Hugo. Bunkie went back to his home and he told all about his adventure and near-death experience. And he told how no one would save him: not Punkey or Flunkey, who were fine monkeys. Only Hugo the Hippo. But, he said, “I think we shall never see him again.”
About that time, Geronimo the Giraffe announced: “Hugo is not buried in the bog any longer. Look!”
And there came that great beast, still muddy, but smiling the way that only hippos can smile. And Bunkie scurried down from his tree and got on the back of Hugo and hugged Hugo. And they rode off into the jungle together.
The Giraffe looked around at all of the other animals that had witnessed this (rabbits, snakes, turtles, little birds and big birds, and snails and monkeys) and he said: “Now Bunkie knows that breaking the law of the jungle can make you fall into a bog! But he also knows that Hugo is a true friend who will not let you stay there.”
The Lessons for our Lives
The Bible teaches us: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” All of us can fall into sin. Sin is not doing what God requires. And sin can be like falling into a bog. And it is impossible to get our without Jesus. He is the One who gave His life so sinners could be saved. Sinners like me and you.
Jesus is the one who gave His life to save us from our sins. And He wants you to pray to Him and He will always come to help you.
Let us pray.
Lord Jesus, thank you for coming to help me love you and love others. In Your Name I pray. Amen.