God is so good! Let me tell you about the first month of Bible teaching in Mawerero. Here’s a quick run-down of the lessons Zach taught so far:
Lesson 1 – What is the Bible? We had to start here. It is Scripture that is “… able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus,” (2 Tim. 3:15). That is why we came to Mawerero. To teach the truths contained in God’s Word. Zach continuously encourages our friends to refer back to Scripture and test everything by the Bible, including what WE teach them. Zach showed a map, explaining that Israel is a real place (some here say Israel is in the sky, in the earth, in Sidney…), and that Scripture was written by real people.
Lesson 2 – God as Creator (Genesis 1) The implications of God being uncreated, and creating the heavens and earth are huge. Being the One who created you gives Him the right to demand obedience from you.
Lesson 3 – Who is God? Zach listed some truths that we learn about God from Genesis 1. This lesson encouraged me to love the Lord even more! He is truly set apart and so ‘other than’ us.
Lesson 4 – God made man (Genesis 2) There are so many false beliefs about the origins of man. Some believe different tribes had different origins (from water, tree kangaroos, various plants…) Zach showed how God did not make people of different races in different ways. Another important point is that the marriage relationship is good.
Lesson 5 – Satan the deceiver (Genesis 3:1-6, Revelation 12:9) This is a very important point to address in a culture seeped in fear of spirits. Satan is not a man, he is not God, he is not all powerful, he was created and is not equal to God. He is our enemy for sure! But if we love the Lord we need not fear him.
Lesson 6 – Adam and Eve disobey God (Genesis 3:1-14) The most important take-away from this lesson is that Adam and Eve can do nothing to pay back the debt of their sin. Neither can we. All we have that we could possibly offer God was freely given to us BY God. In the village, theft of vanilla beans is a big problem – Zach showed how ridiculous it would be if you stole someone’s beans, and then tried to repay that debt by giving him some of his own beans…
Lesson 7 – The curse and the promise (Genesis 3) If God made everything good why is life so hard? God is just, He is holy and sin cannot be in his presence. The curse is on ALL people because Adam’s sinful nature is inherited by all of us. But God is also merciful. Cassidy made a promises chart and Zach added the first promise: A Child, Eve’s offspring, will crush the head of the serpent.
Lesson 8 – Cain and Abel (Genesis 4) Why did God approve of Abel’s offering? God judges the heart. Something people here (and all over the world) desire is a ‘good’, easy life… But Abel’s faith did not result in God giving him a perfect life on earth. God justly punished Cain, but also showed mercy.
Lesson 9 – The descendants of Adam (Genesis 5) Lamech said, “Out of the ground that the Lord has cursed, this one shall bring us relief from our work and from the painful toil of our hands.” Could this be the Promised Child?
Lesson 10 – Sin (Genesis 6) Genesis 6:5 gives a clear description of the pervasiveness of sin: “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”
Lesson 11 – Noah (Genesis 6, 7) Zach addressed a very important concept. Noah obeyed because he believed. Faith and works are not the same thing. Also, we saw how Noah warned people of God’s coming judgment. But instead of turning from their wickedness, they continued living as if no payment would ever be required for their sin.
Lesson 12 – The flood (Genesis 8, 9) God kept his promise, and flooded the earth. He showed mercy, saved Noah and his family, and gave a promise that He will never destroy the earth with a flood again. But after the flood the problem of sin remained – earth was not washed clean.
Lesson 13 – Shem, Ham and Japheth and their offspring (Genesis 9, 10) Zach was able to address the false belief that all black people are descendants of Ham and therefore under a curse. Many here wrongly believe this curse is why white people have easy lives and the people here have to struggle daily. Zach was able to point out that we are ALL under the curse of Genesis 3. And THAT is our problem. But in Genesis 3 God also promised that a Child would come who would crush the serpent’s head!
Lesson 14 – The tower of Babel (Genesis 11) Men are proud and desired to make a name for themselves. God responded by confusing their languages and forcing them to obey the command He gave to spread out. Amelia organised a demonstration where we gave instructions to children in languages they did not understand (nDo, English and Afrikaans). It illustrated the confusion very well.
Lesson 15 – Review of Genesis 1-11
Lesson 16 – Abraham (Genesis 11-17) God promised to bless all the earth through Abraham’s offspring – the Promised Child will be Abraham’s descendant. And another essential verse: Genesis 15:6, “…he believed the Lord.” It was not what Abraham DID that made him a believer.
Lesson 17 – Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18, 19) The people of Sodom and Gomorrah did not believe God’s warning, and did not turn from their wicked ways. God is a just judge. He will not leave sin unpunished.
Lesson 18 – Abraham and Isaac (Genesis 21-22) Abraham’s faith was tested and God provided a substitute sacrifice. Amelia organised a drama to illustrate this and the actors were so convincing that Simeon’s (who was acting Isaac) little cousin, who is about 3, started crying…
Lesson 19 – Jacob and Esau (Genesis 22-25) God showed mercy and it was not based on human effort (Jacob the deceiver is shown mercy). None of the people we’ve seen God bless were all good, all the time. Also, faith does not guarantee a trouble free life on earth. In this lesson, we saw God’s faithfulness. Abraham died, but God’s promise remained and He renewed his covenant with Jacob.
We have been very encouraged by the response of the people who are regularly attending the Bible teaching. Not everyone talks about their thoughts so we realise that what we are hearing is only a snippet of what is happening in our friends’ thinking. But for the most part they are eager to hear ‘God’s talk’. When their thinking is challenged, they are open about the fact that it is hard. But despite this their seems to be an acceptance of the truth and thankfulness that the Bible is being explained clearly. After one of the first lessons a village elder told me, “I never knew that there was a real garden of Eden and a real tree. I used to tell people it is a ‘picture talk’. Now I’m calling people to my house so that I can show them the truth.” Our prayer is that this humility would remain.
The response that touched me most was on the day that Zach taught on the flood. People stood around after the lesson looking at the picture of people drowning. They were muttering, “I am afraid, I am afraid!” I saw a similar response during the lesson on God destroying Sodom and Gomorrah – there was only silence and serious faces as Zach described God’s judgment raining down. My prayer is that this fear of our holy God, combined with a realisation of personal guilt, will lead people to repentance and saving faith.
I have been praying for my friends and family too. As you follow along, I’m praying that you will discover anew the wonders of the good news of Jesus Christ. I’m praying that you will fear the Lord, take sin seriously, and marvel at the grace shown to humans. Finally, may you be encouraged to read Scripture more diligently, and keep growing in knowledge and love of the Lord.