Eager students devour the Word. That is what I encountered in Rukungiri, Uganda. Arriving at our humble classroom (plastic chairs, no desks, huddled in the back corner of the auditorium) we engaged for eight hours a day studying the Bible. Their laps were full of notebooks, Bibles, and extra paper. They had questions from beginning to end. They didn’t want to quit. These are the kind of students a teacher seeks to fill the classroom. They were gripped by the subject that would help them defend the truth of the Scriptures against imposters parading through their communities claiming to be “prophets” with a message from God. “Learning how to interpret the Bible has put me in a position to defend against false prophets,” the testimony of one of the students.
May the word of God dwell richly
in my heart from hour to hour,
so that all may see I triumph
only through his power. ~ Kate B. Wilkinson, 1925
The commitment to know God’s Word deeply, required by the people in poor communities, is profound. It doesn’t come easily for them.
They must overcome:
- Lack of physical resources; like classrooms or desks
- No bible study material in their native language
- Loss of meager income when they take a day off to study together (some laborers earn only a few dollars a day)
- Lack of teachers willing to spend time teaching the members of a poor community with little educational background
- Distractions abounding in the open setting classroom
In spite of all this, I find the students that I engage among our churches to be the most eager and voracious students of God’s Word. They overcome difficulties and diligently apply themselves to gain much more. They often resist the persecution from neighbors or family members that don’t see any value in spending hours studying a “religious book.” They would say, “Just listen to the Priest or the Bishop, they will tell you what the Bible says you should do.” But these students are more like the Bereans. “Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” (Acts 17:11 ESV)
How can we help these members of our churches achieve a better, deeper understanding of the Word of God?
First, we can reward their diligence by providing study tools to give them better resources to explore the Bible and enhance their understanding. Thankfully, our friends at Southern California Seminary provided copies of David Jeremiah Study Bibles. We distributed these to the students that could read and understand English the best. Then we coordinated with them to establish reading groups so that a few students that only spoke Rukiga (the local language) could participate in a reading group with the English-speaking students who could make the resources in the study Bible available to all of the participants.
Secondly, we can expand the number of English-speakers. This would allow more students to absorb the teaching without the need for translation. We are praying for some volunteers that have the ability to teach English as a Second Language (ESL) that would be willing to travel to our Bible Institutes and use their skill to present English. Eventually, some of the pastors and their wives would be able to share the English classes as well. This would open up opportunities to attract people from the community to take the classes creating an open door to share the gospel.
Thirdly, we could provide a classroom. Although there is a “good feeling” about teaching people with their laps full of Bibles and notebooks – I believe that having the simple tools like; desks, lights, and marker boards would enhance the learning experience and material absorption. Pray with us as we guide the local churches to build classrooms and appropriate facilities to hold classes.
Fourthly, we can coordinate bible professors from our associate partners to present their material to these eager students. We are also working with ministry partners who have offered recorded bible classes which can offer additional training with local pastors coordinating the classes. Pray for us as we gather all the potential resources and then make them available to our ministry partners.
The need for biblical teaching is extreme. Resources are limited but by God’s grace and your prayers and support we can strengthen our churches. God is at work and is moving among our ministry teams in many different countries. Your partnership allows us to expand the outreach of the gospel and build a deeper understanding of God’s Word.
Together these qualities make healthy and strong churches. Our ministry goal is to provide the resources and support to the local church so together we can establish strong members who themselves begin sharing the gospel and come to maturity in Jesus Christ. Join us in this effort to establish local churches reaching their neighbors. They will transform their whole community as they live out the gospel in every avenue of their walk in The Way.
But this I confess to you, that according to the Way,
which they call a sect, I worship the God of our fathers,
believing everything laid down by the Law and written in the Prophets,
having a hope in God, which these men themselves accept,
that there will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust.
So I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man.
(Acts 24:14-16 ESV)