One of the students at the Bear Valley Bible Institute of Denver, Tony Johnson, continues his work with the Tamale Institute of Biblical Studies. His most recent report about the work is posted below. If you would like to see more of Tony’s posts with pictures, you can visit his blog site.
Just some random thoughts from the past week …
Thursday – June 2
The students continue to improve, which probably has more to do with their ability to understand what I am saying than my abilities as a teacher. They get a test first thing every morning over what was covered the day before so I can tell if they are understanding me or not. I let them use their notes as a way to encourage them to learn how to become good note takers (hint, hint, to all the instructors at Bear Valley.)
Friday – June 3
Last class of the week, and we worked on Old Testament poetry today. The students have a good foundation of knowledge for Bible stories, but have never been taught who the writers God used were, when these books were written, or why God wanted them written and added as scripture. Today we also had a practice test on memorizing the Old Testament books in the proper order. The spelling needs lots of work, but overall they did pretty well. Just like most people I know, including myself, they struggled with getting the minor prophets in the right order. They know that this will be part of their final exam, so hopefully this will encourage them to study a little harder over the next couple of days.
Saturday – June 4
Since I had the day off I decided to walk into town and see what was going on. If you like to watch people this is a great place to spend an afternoon. The women carry everything on their head except their babies, which are tied to their backs. Buses to and from nearby cities, which are really just vans, are crammed so full of people that it is a wonder no one is crushed, and even the tops are used to transport both people and animals. The most common form of transportation (for those who can afford something) is motor scooters, and it is not uncommon to see a women riding down the road on one with her baby tied to her back.
We also got the air conditioner in my room fixed today. It was blowing air, but it wasn’t very cool. The air conditioner is only large enough to cool the bedroom, but that is fine, and I’m looking to a cool night for a change. Tomorrow we are going to meet the East Tamale church of Christ to worship. I am looking forward to getting to know some of the brethren there.
Sunday – June 5
Wanted to post this to the blog site last night but the local internet was not working. Probably was due to the rain that come last night. Whenever it rains you can also count on the electricity going out as well, so that air conditioned night’s sleep I was looking forward to did not work out for me. I will post on Wednesday instead and get back to my normal schedule.
Worship with the East Tamale church this morning was very interesting. The service was in both Twi (pronounced “chwee”) and English. Twi is an Akan language which is widely spoken among the people of Southern Ghana, but not very much here in the north. Both congregations in Tamale use Twi, which does not make it easy for the local natives who speak Dagbani to worship with them. The plan is for the new congregation that will be planted next to the school to be a Dagbani speaking congregation, which will be a very good thing. The Bible class lesson was advice for those who were married or thinking about getting married, something they do the first Sunday of each month. The worship service was about benevolence, a topic that they struggle with, as do most congregations in very poor areas. The desire to do more is there, they just need to continue encouraging one another in what they are able to do. I was asked to give a word of encouragement at the end of the service, and since they were already running long I kept it really short. I reminded them that the church in Jerusalem had a concern with benevolence, and how they choose seven well respected men, full of wisdom and the Spirit, to work the problem out. As long as they use the Bible as their guide they too will work out whatever problems they face, to God’s glory.
Monday – June 6
Back to class and finishing of the Wisdom literature books. We also started on the major prophets, getting a start on Isaiah. The best news was that we had two more students who made it in over the weekend! They will have some work to do to catch up, but we are glad to have them.
Tuesday – June 7
Class this morning on was on the major prophets. A question about the “dry bones” of Ezekiel lead to an interesting discussion about dreams and visions. Most of the local tribes practice some type of traditional religion that place a lot of value on dreams. One of the errors (in my opinion) many mission groups make is trying to mix Christianity with the traditional religions. We talked about when God spoke to people through the prophets, and in visions and dreams, but using the Bible determined that God speaks to us now through His Son, who sent the Holy Spirit to the apostles and prophets who wrote the inspired letters. It was a good discussion and hopefully we dismissed any idea that God is still speaking to people in dreams or visions today.
During the afternoon we went to town to do a little shopping and get some more bottled water. While there I saw a person riding their motor scooter with a sheep tied around their waist. Don’t see that too often, even in Arkansas. The sheep seemed okay with it, so I guess I’m okay with it.
Oh, and more good news, we had another student arrive last night and start class this morning! Praise God!
Wednesday – June 8
Off today as another instructor has his class this morning. There are ten four hour class slots each week and three classes, so the schedule rotates a little.
Even with a day off, my days are pretty standard. Get up around 6 to get ready for the day. Breakfast is usually a couple of crackers with jelly and a glass of juice or a cup hot tea. I find I eat a lot less here, which is a good thing. Class from 8 to 12, lunch of crackers and peanut butter and some fresh fruit, then a couple hours of preparation for the next class, grading papers, etc. Sometime in the afternoon I try to get some laundry done (when you wash everything by hand you don’t let it pile up!) and then a walk around the neighborhood either before or after dinner. I have been spoiled with Steven’s wife Karen being here as she cooks most nights so I don’t have to eat my own cooking. Diner is usually something to do with chicken, rice, beans or spaghetti.
This afternoon I got a schedule change as one of the other instructors has to leave town for a funeral, so I will be teaching both the morning and afternoon classes tomorrow. This will also push their Old Testament final up to Friday instead of Monday as planned. Should be interesting.
That’s it for this week. Thanks to all who have made this possible through your support and your prayers!