How do I, as a young, white, privileged American girl stand in front a crowd of incarcerated, impoverished Filipinas, and preach to them God cares for them? Darbie Guess was bothered by this question, but committed to finding an answer.
Anytime we have the privilege of traveling to our ministry hub in Tacloban, spending time studying the Word together is a priority. Amidst all the ministerial work we do, we prioritize training up people who are skilled in God’s Word. That was no different last month when Chris Cameron and I led a team of students from the Institute for G.O.D. International to Tacloban. Trip objectives included a ministry orientation for new interns and providing a music workshop for local youth. However, our primary energies went towards hosting an educational seminar on Biblical Interpretation. This seminar was geared towards Filipinos who were hungry to go deeper in their study of the Word and were willing to put in the work to attain helpful tools to do so.
The writer of Deuteronomy 8:1 instructs, “This entire commandment that I command you today you must diligently observe, so that you may live and increase…” The Scripture communicates a direct connection between our careful and rigorous approach to reading the Word of God, and the fullness of life we experience as a result.
There were 10 attendees to the seminar held at Tahanan, all of whom are regular participants at the community center. After a time of worship and exhortation to focus our hearts on the Lord, we introduced interpretive tools that help unpack the rich but complex texts that make up the Bible. These tools help readers discipline themselves to observing the genre, historical context, repeated words, etc… before arriving at an interpretation on it’s meaning.
In our plenary session we walked through an Old Testament passage (Micah 6:6-8) and practiced analyzing the terms and poetic format of the communication, before moving into a discussion of what message means for us today.
Breaking into small groups, attendees were given worksheets to practice the steps of disciplined biblical interpretation. Discussion followed, as facilitators gave feedback and fielded questions about this process. Attendees were enthusiastic about immediately putting into practice the things they learned in the seminar. Afterwards, several of the Filipinos shared how thankful they were to learn a new way to approach their study of God’s word. One participant, Mayel (age 25), stated, “I now have the tools to practice Bible study and apply God’s Word in my everyday life.”
I believe that as our South East Asia team continues to prioritize education in the word of God, we will continue to see the fruit of that investment in the lives of the young people at Tahanan committed to knowing his word and participating in his kingdom.
Hear more from the 2018 Biblical Interpretation Seminar participants on our VIDEO BLOG!