February 25, 2009

Bethany Bible School

On Saturday, I had a great trip out to a rural village about 120-kilometers from Mthatha. I went with my friend Joe, a Mennonite missionary, who with his wife Anna runs a Bible school in the region that works with members of small, independent African Initiated Churches. (Anna stayed at home with their children for the day.)

I loved the experience. That day’s teaching session was in a small mud church that was a part of the pastor’s compound. There were about a dozen students and Joe taught for a few hours, partly him teaching inside and partly the students studying the Bible in groups outside. Joe clearly loves teaching about the Bible and he is very good at it. That day’s lesson was about the law (his texts were Leviticus 14:1-9 and Mark 1:40-45 and he used them in a really neat way) and pitched at a very high level. I learned several new things myself. There was good give-and-take and the students were attentive and had some great insights. Joe works (very smoothly) with a translator but he also has an impressive knowledge of the Xhosa Bible.
Joe teaching about the structure of the Old Testament - teaching Hebrew words to a Xhosa audience!

Attentive students

Bible study groups enjoying a respite from the near-constant rains we’ve been having lately. The church is in the background of the third picture.

Joe reviewing the Leviticus passage in Xhosa and preparing for the second session.

Joe and Tat’Adonis, one of the members of the committee that runs the school

Bethany Bible School runs on selected weekends during the year and offers 24 individual sessions on a rotation over six years. If each one is as good as what I saw on Saturday - and I’m sure it is - there will be a lot of literate and educated Christians in the rural Transkei and that surely is a good thing.

You can read more about Joe and Anna’s work on their family blog - http://joeannasawatzky.blogspot.com - and on Joe’s personal blog - http://josephsawatzky.blogspot.com. Check ‘em out.