From a literary perspective, the Bible is a decent read. Different genres, different accounts of history, different standout characters, conflict, climactic moments, resolution…it’s all there. But if you are a believer, you know it’s not the literary quality of the Bible that gives it its power.
For me, prior to seeing how the Bible could actually impact a person’s life, it wasn’t much more than something I had to bear hearing preached before a lazy Sunday afternoon. Unfortunately, making that connection took me a while. But once it did, I understood what a gift the Bible was, and is.
Around the time I was 18, I began to observe a handful of friends being impacted by God’s Word in such a way that it captivated my interest. They were overcoming drug addictions, befriending people that would have been at the subject of their mockery a year before, making sacrifices they would receive no accolades for, raising money to travel to Mexico to spend a week putting smiles on the faces of impoverished children, becoming hard-working and responsible employees, and so many other things that were a clear demonstration of someone’s life being impacted by the message of God’s Word.
It’s that kind of transformation that makes learning the Bible central to what we do around here. It’s a wonderful privilege to welcome people into the classrooms at our Institute, because we know that this education has the very real opportunity to change a person’s life. And it will not only transform their life, but the lives of those they are compelled to serve based on a call from God.
God’s Word moves us out into the world. It puts us among lonely widows, uneducated farmers, people without access to health care, underpaid laborers and so many others who deserve so much more. While it’s challenging, it’s an absolute joy to watch the lonely widow become a storyteller to younger generations, to watch the farmer learn how to diversify crops to provide for his family and community, to restore health to people who were otherwise desperate, to find decent work for people who thought they might not have another option.
Their change begins with our change. Unless our own lives are transformed, theirs won't be. So it begins here, in the classroom, hearing that same life-breathing Word that changed the lives of my friends, and then my own life, and now, so many lives I can't even count, but I've seen--from Tennessee to the Philippines.
We are thankful for the beginning of another year of learning because it means so much more than students headed towards a degree. It means possibility; the possibility of another person following Jesus and his profound example.