Monday, July 15, 2013

a reading of Ruth

Currently our Bible School has five student-leaders who are enrolled in a certificate course with the Theological Education by Extension College (TEEC).  These are leaders whom we and their peers in the student body have identified for greater leadership in the school.  These five students have now completed their first round of assignments for the school year after much study.  They are receiving their first results now--and the reports we have received so far have been positive.

We received this encouragement firsthand from Nonyameko Dwele, one of these students, who bore witness to the insights she is gaining through her studies.  On a visit to our home last Saturday, Mama Dwele narrated the biblical story of Ruth and made specific applications of its main themes to her own social situation in South Africa (which was one of her assignments in the introductory Old Testament course).

Nonyameko Dwele (center, with pen) transcribing answers for a small group study at Bethany Bible School in 2012.

In her telling of the story, Mama Dwele emphasized the foreigner status of, first, Naomi, and second, Ruth.  Naomi, an Israelite, had gone with her family to the country of Moab to find food during a time of famine.  While residing there, both her husband and her sons died, leaving Naomi with her daughters-in-law, the Moabites Orpah and Ruth.  While Orpah remained in Moab, Ruth insisted on following her mother-in-law in her return to Israel.  Though a foreigner in Israel, Ruth found belonging in the house of Boaz, Naomi's relative, who became Ruth's husband.  Through their union a son, Obed, the grandfather of David, was born.  Consequently, just as Naomi had gone down to Moab as a foreigner and there acquired Ruth as a beloved daughter, so Ruth went to Israel as a foreigner and acquired a beloved son and grandson for Naomi.

Mama Dwele then made this application to her own world, which I paraphrase below:

We Xhosas have a hard time accepting foreigners.  But Naomi was a foreigner and the people of that land accepted her.  Then Ruth was a foreigner, and the people in Israel treated her well.  I took from that that we must welcome foreigners.

We were inspired by Mama Dwele's apt summary and application of the story in the direction of the love of God that crosses boundaries between cultures.


Friday, July 12, 2013

ESSA Winter Bible School

The week of 24-28 June I had the privilege of teaching a course on the letter to the Ephesians at the Evangelical Seminary of Southern Africa's (ESSA) Winter Bible School.  I was invited to do so by my colleague Andrew Suderman, who has taught classes at the institution for several years now, and was also leading a course during the week on the topic, What is church?.  We met in the ESSA library, adjacent to the stacks of the Anabaptist Network in South Africa's Peace Library, which is also housed there.  

The participants of the intensive week of learning are below.  Though we were few in number, the insights gained in studying the scriptures together were great.