After three days of difficult teaching, a pervading sense of
delirium has set in among our students and among ourselves. This is the
inevitable sum result of time together + familiarity + a general tiredness. I'm
grateful for it, really.
We have much to be grateful about, for
the privilege to be here, interacting with Filipino believers, laughing with
new friends, surely is a gift from God. Teaching within a fairly rural area in
a part of the globe that's known notoriously for its high humidity, I think we're
all grateful to teach in rooms with properly functioning A/C units, and even
with spacious white boards to boot.* Such amenities are so easily taken for
granted in the West, but, here, it has made a world of difference.
In fact, I'm constantly reminded of to what ludicrous
extent I take luxuries for granted. Personally, I flew from Tulsa
to Davao in a
modern-day odyssey spanning 18 total hours in my (semi-)comfortable airplane
seat, most of which time was spent watching movies and playing in-flight games.
Surely, I have reason to complain, right?
Yet, Ron and I co-teach a class of 13 pastors traveling
from cities throughout Mindanao, most of whom travelled somewhere between 8 to
11 hours by bus, cramped in their seats, crying babies all around, devoid of
headphones to tune anything out. They've made the arduous journey this past
week and they'll make it again many more times over the next three years, all
because they want to learn something from God in his Word. They commit to this
journey precisely because they want to acquire the necessary interpretive tools
in order that they might love God more deeply and serve Christ's church more
The road is difficult, both for the students and for the
teachers. Some times can be frustrating, when I wonder whether the pastors are
even comprehending our teaching material, much less internalizing it. Still,
other times can be truly elating - those times when an excited student's face
brightens as he makes insightful connections between different lessons. Teaching,
it seems, is an emotional pendulum between anguish and ecstasy. I've
experienced both this week, and I can report to the interested reader: the
latter far surpasses the former and makes it all worth while.
For example, today, we discussed how to find the
contemporary significance of any passage in the Bible. Together, we walked
through an exercise meant to apply everything the students have learned up to
this point. After diligently working our way through Daniel 7:9-14, the
students (and myself) seemed to erupt with excitement as we saw the passage's
significance for our lives and for our churches. God's Word, we saw today, is
exciting precisely because in it God speaks to his people concerning his
character, his expectations for their lives, and his promises. To see all
people know and love God's Word is precisely the reason for which organizations
like TLI exist, and that's a vision I can stand by and to which I can give my
Please continue to pray for our team and our students as
the week comes to a close. Pray for our Filipino brothers and sisters as they
endure persecution for the sake of Christ's name. Pray that they will apply
what they have learned this week in order that churches across Mindanao can know and trust that God is with them in
their suffering, and that they have an eternal promise in him.
*Shameless plug for the next trip to the Philippines in