25 Sep Scripture Engagement in the Campuses
Scripture engagement means enjoying the Scripture with our mind, feelings and actions. It has to influence our whole being. Bible is the only book which transforms people. It is the maker’s manual of human being which will enable us to understand the purpose of our
living. The uniqueness of the Bible is the author, who is God Himself. He inspired 40 different people in a period of 1500 years to write
this Book. It is still relevant in our postmodern era.
When I was studying in the university, one of my friends asked me if I was going to become a Bible translator how much time do I spend reading and studying the Bible. I started reflecting on it and with the help of a questionnaire. This helped me find out that I was
giving less time to the Word of God. We used the same questionnaire with the believing students and the graduates and realized that we all face the same problem. This helped us to increase the time with the Bible in different ways. We need to develop an unshakable conviction that the living Word of God will change each and everyone even today. We can engage in the Word of God by reading, hearing, memorizing, studying, and meditating.
We get the overall idea of the Bible, the main points and the big picture by reading the Bible. When we read the newspaper, though we don’t know the author personally, we still believe what has been written. We need to believe as we read the Bible. We are aware that the Bible has 66 books and 1189 chapters (Old Testament – 929 chapters and New Testament – 260 chapters). Tim La Haye in his book How to Study the Bible by Yourself says if we read 3 chapters a day and 5 chapters on Sundays we will be able to complete the Bible within a year. Matthew Week – We can complete reading Matthew in a week if we read 4 chapters a day (28 chapters in Matthew). We can also complete Acts if we spend 3 hours continuously.
Reading the whole Bible in 50 days. Some EU/ EGF mebers in Gujarat have tried this as part of their Golden Jubilee celebration. When Dr Lilian Stanley accepted the Lord she started reading the whole Bible every year. If we read 15 minutes every day we will be able to finish the whole Bible in a year. There are many annual Bible reading plans which we can use (Bible Society of India). Some are available in the internet.
Bible Hearing is essential to grow in faith. Romans 10:17 says, “Faith comes from hearing and hearing through the Word of Christ.” Hearing will motivate us to spend time with the Word of God. Radio programmes like FEBA (Far East Broadcasting Associates of India), TWR (Trans World Radio) broadcast series of Bible studies. Some Agencies like Faith Comes by Hearing www.faithcomesbyhearing.com, Bible Gateway Resources www.biblegateway.com/resources/audio/ provide audio Bibles online. Faith Comes by Hearing and World Cassette Outreach have audio Bibles in mp3 format and in mega voices in different Indian languages. Dramatic versions of the Scripture are also available. We can use these resources in our prayer cells to hear and apply the Scripture in our lives. In a group, one can read and others can listen with the printed Bible.
Psalm 119:11 says, I have hidden Your Word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Memorizing is quite difficult but we need to do it intentionally. We can memorize verses based on themes like Bible, Salvation, etc. We can also memorize Chapters. Memorizing verses based on issues like bribe, corruption, dignity of woman and so on… will also help us. Write a verse on a card or a piece of paper and read it again and again throughout the day. Observing the phrases and repetitions will help us memorize easily. Remembering the reference is very important because reference is like the name of a person and the verse is like the person’s face. We need to review the memorized verses on a regular basis by visualizing and muttering. When we fail to review, we will forget what we have memorized. If we memorize two verses a week we will be able to memorize more than 100 a year.
We have to take time to study God’s Word like how we study our subject books in campuses. Ezra 7:7 says, For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the Lord and to do it and to teach His statues and rules in Israel. UESI is known for training on Inductive Bible Studies, personal and group Bible studies. If you have not attended one, take time to get trained. We must do the Bible Studies on a regular basis and conduct group Bible studies. There are other ways of studying the Bible. One way is by acting out. A Bible portion is given and the group has to be divided into two or three. The groups have to study and act the portion out, followed by discussions and reflection. Another way is by Character identification. The events of the Bible can be studied and we can choose a character, imagine that we are the character and share the feelings and thoughts. Peter is walking on the water. If we are Peter what would be our feeling.
(Matthew 14:25-33) There are various other creative methods of studying the Bible. You can log on to IFES page: www.scriptureengagement.ifesworld.org.
In Joshua 1:8 God commands Joshua, This Book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. Meditating is thinking again and again the portions that we have read, heard, memorized and studied. It is like chewing the scripture. As I heard, if we know how to worry, we will also know how to meditate. While worrying, we think of the problem again and again. In meditating, we think of the Word of God again and again. The time that we spend meditating on God’s Word in the morning is popularly known as Quiet Time.
The Quiet Time is like the breakfast which sets the mood of the day. If we enjoy our Quiet Time, we will feel God’s presence the whole
day. In Annamalai University, as believing students we used to first discuss what we learnt in the Quiet Time when we meet one another in a day. We need to remind ourselves in different ways like hanging a poster or a sticker which says ‘Did you take your Quiet Time today?’ Or to ask ourselves before we eat our breakfast. We can observe the Quiet Time in the best time of our day. It may or may not be mornings. Other creative ways of engaging in the Scripture We can be creative in spending time with God’s Word. Just to kindle our thoughts, some other methods are:
1. Composing scripture songs: Studying a portion/event from the Bible and narrating the event through a song.
2. Acting out a drama – Studying a portion / event from the Bible and writing a drama. The students can practise and act it out in evangelistic/believers meetings.
3. Storytelling – Studying a portion/event from the Bible and each one in the group can narrate the story and reflect on the portion.
4. Bible writing – Choosing a book and copying the portions without mistakes. This will help us understand the scripture and the feeling of the person who wrote or translated it in our language.
5. Bible movies – Watching the books of the Bible as movies, e.g. the Gospel of John. The whole Gospel is narrated and acted out in the movie. These movies can be downloaded from the internet.
Application is the key component as we engage in the Scripture in different ways. Application helps to bridge the Word of God to the real life situations today. Engaging in the scripture has to lead us
• To understand God and worship Him. For example, worshipping based on our study.
• Individually we can write a chorus based on the learning.
• To commit ourselves to a specific decision that will reflect in our life’s situations.
• To write an sms, based on our learning and share it to a friend.
• To create an atmosphere where the group is accountable to each other.
As a student movement, we are called to live life that will reflect the character of God in the campuses that will attract others to know the living God. This will become a reality as we engage in the Word of God.
About the Author
Josa with his wife are serving as Bible translators in Gujarat