For the brightest of lights, we need to squint and today I am squinting. Beaming upon my face is the classroom experience I’ve been witness to over the past three weeks. Today we finished Genesis, the first of five books in our Pentateuch class. We took a quiz covering the family line of Abraham, the 12 sons of Israel and the great themes at work in the Old Testament. During the final hour of class (which is 3 hours long) we played a game. I divided the class into three teams and I divided the chalkboard into three sections. The teams were to work from memory to retell every major event from their portion of the book of Genesis. Team #1 = chapters 1-11, Team #2 = chapters 12-36 and Team #3 = chapters 37-50. At the end, the teams would critique the other sections by finding “missing” events and try to persuade me to take points off that team. The team remaining with the most points at the end was the winner. Moments into the game I realized how much the students know. With only 4-5 persons on each team, they completely filled up their 1/3 of the board with detailed descriptions of chapter by chapter story line. When they began to critique each other, they could often quote not just the chapter but even the verse where the missing information could be found. All of this was done from memory. One student said, “Until I saw what we put on the chalkboard, I had no idea how much we really knew!” In their quizzes, they explained how sin is relational and how God is faithful in his covenantal relationships. Amazing! After class, one of my students told me he is from South Sudan and he would like advice on how to improve training among his people. A few minutes later he sent me an email describing the problems he deals within his country: “Our country has been in war for a long time and left most of the people uneducated. The church is the most victimized organization lacking qualified personnel.” This man is a part of the solution. He is a gift of the Church to the Church and I have the incredible honor of training him. I don’t know how to explain what fulfillment and joy is in my heart from serving God in this way. The excitement and emotion is so bright, I feel like I have to squint just to look at it. I tried reading through their quizzes in class but I was overcome by emotion and had to put them away.
I’m so thankful that God has asked me to drive over an hour across town in the middle of Africa and teach on a concrete floor with no equipment but a blackboard, chalk and a rag. I’m so thankful that my American culture is regularly overshadowed by the African majority in my class. I’m so thankful that my ideas of intensity and serious study fall short of these students worthy of deep admiration. I’m so thankful that a teaching position puts me in a student position time and time again. I’m so thankful that by opening my student's eyes to Biblical interpretation and theological accuracy, they are opening my eyes to sacrifice, faith and the reality of putting everything on the line for the Kingdom of God. I believe God had blessed me in this opportunity. I said “yes” to God and God said “yes” to me. God blesses yesses.