Learning God's Will: Biblical Education in India

“Wait, can you go back to the part where the Samaritan put the man on his own donkey? Does that also mean that the Samaritan had the means to do something for the injured man?”

As a Bible teacher, these are the moments that make you smile. Those moments when the truths of God’s Word start to come together, and people make meaningful connections.  I heard several comments and questions like the one above when I traveled last month to further the biblical education of our staff in India.

Biblical instruction is foundational in our approach to development work. God’s Word isn’t simply helpful for our spiritual life, it gives us direction for the totality of our life. Our approach to biblical instruction is to ensure that people are making decisions to apply God’s Word to their everyday life. Last month, we taught seminars on creating a healthy team dynamic, effectively using volunteers, and on evaluating and meeting the needs around them. Prior to every seminar, we taught a passage from the Bible that gave criteria and direction for practical considerations.

Biblical instruction is vital to our approach to community development because it’s empowering. Our staff in India have access to God’s insight through his Word. They are not dependent on keeping up with the latest trends or having some secret insight. Instead, God has made his way known through his Word.

The first time I saw this kind of dedication to teaching the Bible was in Africa in 2003. Gregg Garner taught on the meaning of the Gospel starting from Genesis. I remember sitting on a bench, listening and learning with our African friends. I witnessed people gain insight from that time that completely changed their approach to ministry. Jesus’ prayer, “May your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” took on new significance for me. Simply because people give themselves to God doesn’t mean they automatically know his will. Learning God’s will takes time and investment into his Word. But as people start to learn it, they get vision, direction, and energy for the task.

Jeff Sherrod teaches from Mark 10 in preparation for a seminar on effective service.

Jeff Sherrod teaches from Mark 10 in preparation for a seminar on effective service.

Last month, I continued teaching our Indian employees the timeline of the Bible to help them further make that investment into learning God’s Word. The Bible isn’t simply a set of answers to problems, but stories that reveal the will of God. It takes time to lay the groundwork so that people can see how the Bible applies to the their everyday life. Staff member Sneha Purti remarked, “I enjoyed the timeline of Old Testament. It helped me to understand the Word and interpret it within its context.” Manohar Paul, who translated for the Hindi speakers, remarked after the teaching that he was surprised when it was over because he found himself so engrossed in the story.

It was wonderful to hear our staff in India talk about their desire to meet the needs around them. At the same time, they noted that the sheer amount of needs they encounter can be overwhelming. “There are so many needs around us and the story of the Good Samaritan helps us to determine which needs we can meet.” Witnessing our staff not only learn, but appropriate and apply God’s Word to their lives inspires us! We are confident that it is God’s Word that will bring healing to India. We believe our collective efforts to learn, apply, and teach it is the best use of our time! God’s Word really does give us direction for the totality of our lives.