Some Reflections at New Tribes Bible Institute ……
So it’s been two and a half months that I’ve been studying at New Tribes Bible Institute in Michigan, USA.
One word – Wow !
Last weekend we went to a friend’s home out in the country and we pressed apples that they had picked and made cider. Their mum also made fresh powdered donuts, and they were without a doubt the nicest donuts I’ve ever had.
I’ve been blessed to find a really great church – which is about 20 minutes from Jackson and have been getting involved with teaching Sunday school and we hope to be starting an outreach to Albion College soon. There are some lovely people there and they’re very kind to us New Tribers who go there, we are always invited back somewhere for lunch after church which is great.
Classes have been unreal, everyday I’m learning and understanding more of God’s word, which is incredible.
The teachers here are great, really down to earth and most of them have served out on the field as missionaries. They have alot of experience and knowledge to share and they make a point of being involved in our growth and development both in our studies and as people. It’s such a privilege to have God using them to invest in our lives.
It’s been very exposing already, God is revealing plenty in my life that shows how my thinking is broken and how I need to continually seek to transform my thinking to God’s thinking. This is tough. My human nature tells me that what I think and how I feel is reality, when actually God’s truth is reality. If we are living outside of God’s truth, and under our own, we have our heads in the sand. I’m starting to see the bigger picture of God, and a smaller picture of myself.
I didn’t come to New Tribes with a definite intention of going into tribal missions afterwards, but to gain a really solid Bible education – and now that I’m here it’s beyond how good I was expecting it to be. Yet being here and learning about God and who He is, His heart for people – I can’t imagine doing anything else. To be involved in God’s plan of sharing the Gospel to all nations – awesome. And that is not me being a good person, it’s simply me being obedient to God. And I cannot be obedient in my own strength. It’s not even about God giving me strength, but God showing His strength through me.
We had a guest speaker here, Ron Yearwood who is a tribal missionary in Guinea, West Africa and went through New Tribes here at Jackson.
After 5 years living in the tribe and learning the language, Ron was able to share the Gospel with the people for the first time. After hearing the message, a man asked Ron how long ago Jesus died – was it 5, 6 years? Because he worked out that it was about 5 years ago that Ron and his family came to live with them. He thought for such an important message, Jesus must have died not long ago, because this news needed to be spread straight away to all who didn’t know. Isn’t it incredible that Jesus died over 2000 years ago, and there are still so many who haven’t heard the news of the Gospel and God’s provision of salvation for us.
The Bible says that without the Gospel man is hopeless. It is only through belief on Jesus’ finished work on the cross that we may be saved and be declared righteous before God. There is no other way. So for those who are living and dying without having believed, there is no hope. But how can they believe on someone they have not heard about? This is God’s call for us all as believers – that we go out into all the world and make disciples of all nations. Now whether that is overseas in a tribe or in your home community, we are to share the good news of the Gospel. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto Salvation to everyone that believes.” Romans 1:16. When we step out of bed in the morning, we step onto our mission field.
This first semester we will have gone through the Pentateuch. We are in Exodus at the moment. It is unreal to see how God’s faithfulness to man, in spite of our depravity continues on from generation to generation. Human nature hasn’t changed over time. We are full of pride and unbelief, just as the Israelites were. We are totally undeserving of God’s grace yet He is gracious to us beyond all measure. He remains faithful when we don’t. God is at work, even when we can’t see it. He will achieve all He has promised – in His timing.
We are in Hermeneutics at the moment, which is one of the most useful classes we’ll take. We learn how to study the Bible. Tools and approaches we learn for studying God’s word are so useful, as we seek to first understand the historical, cultural and literary context of which a certain book was written, so that we may then correctly interpret and apply God’s word to our lives today, without drawing wrong conclusions or taking scripture out of context. It is amazing how much the Bible is packed with meaning, and how much God can reveal to us through His word when we really dig into it. God’s word is inexhaustible.
A great class we are also in at the moment is Evangelism. We have learnt about other worldviews and belief systems, in order to understand how to effectively share the Gospel with others who hold a different view of reality. We are talking alot about post-modernism which is very common in society today. This worldview basically says “whatever is true for you is fine, you go ahead and believe it, but I have my own truth.” It talks alot about tolerance and acceptance of everybody’s beliefs and opinions, and to let everyone form their own truth and reality – there are no absolute truths. There are many contradictions in this view, as even the statement “there are no absolute truths” is an absolute truth. We are learning principles on how to evangelize to individuals through building relationships, understanding and evaluating their current worldview, revealing need and faults in that view and presenting the Biblical worldview, so they may see truth. God’s truth – which is reality.
We recently finished Bibliology, which was a great class. We learnt about how we got the Bible, and how we have good historical evidence that solidifies scripture and proves its authenticity and authority.
Ecclesiastes was an elective class I took, and it really exposed alot of truths. As recorded in this book, Solomon – King of Israel sought to find the meaning of life. He pursued all earthly pleasures known to man. He had limitless wealth, fame and women. But he concluded that these things were all meaningless. Empty. They will never satisfy. It’s very easy to fall into the trap of searching for meaning in the world. What the world offers is appealing. Our teacher compared it to ordering a pizza that you have been craving and waiting all day for. The doorbell rings, your pizza has arrived. You smell the pizza and it smells amazing. You are wanting so badly to open the box. You sit down at the couch, your mouth is watering and you open the box to find it empty. You are disappointed – left dissatisfied and bitter. It wasn’t what you expected. The pleasures of the world don’t offer us satisfaction or meaning, they never turn out how we want them to. Though they are appealing and our sin nature desires them, they only offer us emptiness. We will only find meaning in what God says is meaningful. And that is our relationship with Him – to know Him and make Him known.
There have been many other great classes and I’m blown away everyday by something new. Our God is an awesome God and I’m so thankful to be studying His word in preparation for what’s to come. It’s Fall here at the moment, very pretty with the colours of leaves changing and falling, starting to get chilly though! Excited for the snow, but will be interesting to see how that excitement holds up 3 months in…
It is such an awesome opportunity to be over here, and I’m thanking God for His investment in my growth and training here at New Tribes.
November 2, 2010