Teaching the Bible has taken me around the world
Over the 19 years of my teaching career I have taught in 12 community colleges, colleges, universities, Bible colleges, and seminaries in the USA, and I have also been blessed to teach in Belize, Nigeria, and India.
In Belize I taught at a small Bible institute outside of the capital of Belize. It holds classes three times a year for one-week sessions each time. The institute meets at a Christian camp.
The students were amazing. They traveled from different parts of Belize to the camp, and they used different methods to get to the camp, but one of the students really stood out.
He lived in southern Belize on a five-acre plot of land. He was married, had two children, and they grew most of their food. He traveled for three days to get to the camp (and Belize is small). He walked, hitchhiked, and rode the bus, and slept wherever he was at night. He couldn’t afford to ride the bus the whole way.
We met in an open air pavilion for class. The students slept in one long building with two large rooms, men on one side and women on the other side. They slept in metal bunk beds and each side had a common bathroom. They did that three times a year for the 2 ½ years it took to graduate. Many of those students were not ordained and would not lead a church. They did it because they wanted to become better Sunday school teachers!
In Nigeria I taught at a seminary in a very rural area run by a Nigerian denomination. Nigeria is mainly Islam in the northern part and Christian in the southern part, and I was about in the middle of Nigeria. The seminary was Christian, but the king of the village was Muslim. Five times a day for the three weeks I was there the Muslim call to pray rang out over the village.
The students were amazing. Many of them were married, and each family was given a small plot of land on which to grow their food. Three days a week the local market opened up in the little village and they could buy meat there, if they could afford it.
I was shocked at one point: the denomination was excited because they were sending a missionary to a country they had been praying about for a long time: the USA. Today they have a number of missionaries in America!
The area had no electricity but the seminary had a generator which they ran for two hours each night. I asked why and was told that it allowed the students to study two hours longer. Sure enough, the library was packed each night with students studying as much as they could before it went dark.
In India I taught at a seminary in a city of four million people (Chennai). Many believe the Apostle Thomas lived and died there. I was able to go to a cave where he supposedly lived, and to a catacomb under a church where he was supposedly buried.
The students were amazing. They went to school from Tuesday through Friday. Each weekend they scattered to different churches and spent Saturdays and Sundays helping pastors. On Sunday night they came back to campus, and Monday was a free day.
On school days they wake up, eat, do a half hour of assigned chores, attend a half hour of chapel, and then go to classes until 2:00. The bathrooms have stalls with a hole in the middle which you squat over (no toilets). They are not allowed to have cars, and they have to wash their clothes on campus. Since the campus does not have washers and dryers, each person washed his/her clothes by hand and hung them to dry. Each student did that for four years!
I do run into some amazing Christians overseas: they make huge sacrifices in order to learn about the Bible. I love teaching them, getting to know them, and learning from them.
• Questions/comments contact Mark at firstname.lastname@example.org